Archive for the ‘Central & Eastern Europe’ Category


Adventures in Media Development – This blog’s last post, come see my new and improved blog

April 10, 2010

Well, I finally had to bite the bullet and upgrade my blog. This one – – is now just an archive. My new blog can be found at

As I said in my blogpost “Give me some sugar, WordPress“, my taste for soured. The biggest thing was that I couldn’t use Javascript on, which was killing any chance of experimenting with social media widgets from sites like Twitter, Facebook, and especially CoveritLive–the kinds of tools that really driving blog innovation and online interactivity. In fact, it was getting to the point where I really couldn’t try much of anything out, and that’s a bad thing for someone in international media development. How else am I going to arm myself with new tools and tricks for my work in developing countries than to practice them myself?

I had held out for so long to the mantra that I would stick to free tools to maximize the likelihood that my perspective would stay, as much as possible, rooted in realities faced by the people I tend to work with in developing countries. Most people won’t or can’t pay for luxuries like hosting a site or learning the technical skills needed to do what is really rather advanced to your average person anywhere in the world. So, you have to come to them, meet them on their technological and financial terms.

But, I finally gave in. I was stunting myself too much.

So, there’s this new site now. It’s still very much in its beginning stages. I figured, rather than wait, it would be best to go ahead and announce it, and shift all operations over to it. Why slow down? This means that the design’s likely to go through some changes as I figure out what I want it to look like and how I want it structured, and it means that content will be a little light for a while. However, I am also going to transfer my content from my old blog here to that new blog, to get all of my content under one roof. That will take time. I’m not planning on running at full speed to get it all over there.

Let the new era begin.


Long live the Orange Revolution

February 8, 2010

Five years later, another election in Ukraine has come and passed. This time it looks like the winner will be Viktor Yanukovych, the one-time victor in 2004 who was abruptly ousted when a nation of millions stood up and demanded an election without fraud. And with his victory, the loser presumably won’t just be exiting president and Orange Revolution champion, Viktor Yushchenko, but the Orange Revolution itself.

I know that there are huge swaths of Ukrainians out there who will be feeling somber about this today, as they have been on a steady somber slide since the collective chant of “Yu-shchen-ko, Yu-shchen-ko, Yu-shchen-ko!” first filled the streets of Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and elsewhere.

I remember back to late 2005, early 2006, the mood in western Ukraine was already shifting back toward the pessimism from a millennium of outside invasion, brutal dictatorship, soul-crushing bureaucracy, scant traces of self-rule, and the din of empty promises. As the honeymoon of the Orange Revolution was beginning to fade, people said to me that they had hoped for a strong leader, and that it was clear that Yushchenko wasn’t the right man for the job. Read the rest of this entry ?


2009: A retrospective on my year of media development adventures

January 4, 2010

2009 was a banner year for me in terms of media development. It was not by any means my starting point in media, but it could go down as year in which my work achieved lift off. But all was done in the name of helping people spread information, express themselves, and/or strengthen their networks with other people to promote change. So, I thought I’d take a look back at my year in media development, get it all together in one place, take stock, establish something to compare 2010 to, reminisce a little.

Researching Extractive Industry Transparency and Journalism Development in Africa

I began the year leading a team through a study to assess needs and effective training practices to raise the level of business journalism in Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda. Our findings would then be synthesized into a report to provide training and media development recommendations to Revenue Watch Institute, which wanted to use training to improve business journalism, and promote extractive industry transparency. The best part of this project was that I got to spend two weeks in January in balmy Nigeria–a country the Bradt guide calls “Africa for the Advanced”–and meet face to face with Nigerian journalists, journalism educators, and media development experts. Lagos, in particular, was INTENSE. And fantastic. I also got a chance in this to bone up on my skills developing surveys and interview guides, building networks of contacts, designing a team research wiki, and producing a report of findings. Read the rest of this entry ?


A look at Fukuyama, social capital, and media development

December 30, 2009

I was reading Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold when I came across something he wrote about Francis Fukuyama:  “Fukuyama argues in his book Trust that there is a strong correlation between the prosperity of national economies and social capital, which he defines as the ease with which people in a particular culture can form new associations”. Huh.

That immediately struck me. The idea of helping people form new associations in the name of promoting prosperity within (and ultimately of) national economies is essentially a major driving force behind my work in media development. Reading this sentence pushed me to dig deeper. I began hunting down Fukuyama and what he had to say about social capital. I had read him before during my master’s degree work at SIPA, and remember feeling some connection then. I probably even encountered what he had to say about social capital. If so, it wasn’t till now that it caught my attention. Read the rest of this entry ?


My work has always been about relationships

December 8, 2009

“It’s time I sling the baskets off this overburdened horse. Sink me toes into the ground, and set a different course”. – Phish, from “The Horse

I learned something about myself last week. Something I essentially already knew deep down, but hadn’t had the opportunity to jam into my face for several days straight. Everything I do in media, everything I do period, comes from a relationship I have formed along the way. Relationships are at the root of everything.

This might not sound like much. Of course, you might say. Sure, of course. But it isn’t “of course”. You have to experience it first hand, perhaps through a social experiment, like I just conducted, in which one group of data points in your sample place relationships at the center, and one group of data points in which relationships are almost entirely removed. Read the rest of this entry ?


Why Spammers and Virus Programmers Are Worse Than They Might Think

November 16, 2009

New media, in case you haven’t noticed, have made it wonderfully and horrifically easier to send information to people you know and don’t know. The upside here is that it has been a boon to staying in touch with people, and communicating information to people who might well be interested, but might not yet be aware of you. The downside, of course, is the ever-increasing threat of spam and computer viruses.

I get that it is inevitable people will abuse the system. Some people will be able to sleep at night after a day of pummeling people’s inboxes, Twitter accounts, etc. with unwanted junk that unfortunately enough people will opt into to sustain the viability of this tactic. And, some people will have some kind of bone to pick with, say, Microsoft, that they will be able to sleep at night knowing that they stuck it to some adversary, outweighing the tremendous inconvenience it causes to otherwise innocent people just trying to get on with their lives in the digital world. Read the rest of this entry ?


Windows 7: Black Market Bound and Priced Against Progress

November 9, 2009

Thefalloftheberlinwall1989.JPGI was filtering my through TweetDeck the other day when I came across a tweet from a Ukrainian I follow on Twitter that captured something about Windows that has been bothering me for a long time. Microsoft often charges ridiculous prices that only serve to hurt developing economies.

@blogoreader: Скільки коштуватиме Windows 7 в Україні?

Translated, it says, “How much Windows 7 costs in Ukraine”.

Since most people in the world can’t read Ukrainian (though I can), I’ve created a translated version in Google Translate.

What immediately jumped out at me is that Home Basic, the cheapest version of 7, and presumably what the average consumer would buy, is $113 USD in Ukraine (about the same as in the United States). This is an outrageous price, if Microsoft intends 7 to be taken seriously in Ukraine, and if they hope to draw even 51% of the revenue from sales of 7 there. (Why 51%? To say that you got more than the pirates.) Read the rest of this entry ?