On March 23rd, in Accra, all roads led to the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT, a venue known by developers and tech enthusiasts as a good venue for such events. For the second time, Ghana’s biggest association of bloggers assembled social media experts and persons interested in learning more under one roof, to learn, share and build networks. The first time such an event was hosted, it was at the same venue and there was an expression of interest from all attendees to have this even repeated.
Not too many people know how the BlogCamp idea begun but it all started when Social Media break-out sessions during Barcamp events in Ghana received the most patronage. When Kajsa Hallberg Adu, now the Chair of BloggingGhana first hosted the first Blogging and Social media workshop during Barcamp 2009 hosted at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), the air-condition in the room could hardly keep the many participants cool enough. The session was over-subscribed. A similar event was repeated during Barcamp 2010 at Ashesi and Barcamp 2011 at the Kofi Annan Center. By 2011, one thing was clear! There was enough interest in social media to host a full event on social media alone. At that moment a team in BloggingGhana was assembled to look into the possibility of putting together an event which will address social media and its issues. That was when BlogCamp was born, and has since then become the organisation’s flagship annual event.
At BlogCamp13, about 500 bloggers and interested bloggers showed up to be a part of the event under the theme, “Content is King”. This time around the organizers sought to bring to light the need for people in Ghana to tell their own stories rather than wait for others to do the story-telling for them. Very important issues that affect bloggers in their everyday life were discussed. Some of these issues included Plagiarism, responsibility for one’s own content, libel, Internet freedom, tools available to bloggers, how women can use social media to amplify their voices.
The juiciest part of the event was the Blogging and Social Media awards portion, where deserving bloggers and social media users were rewarded for their contributions under different categories. It came as a surprise when Ghana Decides, the organisation’s Social Media Election project was awarded for its exemplary social media activism. Twelve other prizes were given out, with the Best Blog Category, won by Adventures From, a sexuality blog authored by two women who believe in the advancement of women rights.
Social media has caught up with many players in Ghana, especially the corporate and media houses. It is not uncommon to see Tv and radio hosts reading comments and updates from twitter and/or Facebook. These have become the alternate channel for the SMS messages and phone calls. Sponsors such as Tigo Ghana, Intel, Samsung, Google and the US Embassy saw it fit to associate themselves with such initiatives which will ultimately ensure the advancement of local content online. When BlogCamp13 finally closed at 7 pm that day, there were smiles on almost every attendee’s face. They got exactly what they came in for, if not more. No one knows what the organizers have in store for BlogCamp14, I guess when the time come, they will do what they do best…..take our breaths away!