A Digital Tax, A Digital Purge & A Digital Detox
That's hello in Amharic.
It is fitting we use Ethiopian greetings to say hello, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's reform-filled agenda giving life to the Horn of Africa and the entire continent. It has been a series of eventful weeks since our last newsletter — I took the trip to the United States and followed this with a trip to Uganda after my return. Brace yourself for a much-longer-than-usual newsletter. If you've missed it, there's plenty of it to enjoy.
Firstly, I'd love to shout-out the people who have tweeted (Ravi), called (Gabriella), engaged me at a wedding of a mutual friend (Kenji) and emailed (Everlyne) about the newsletter. For Gabriella and Kenji, I was touched that the newsletter means this much to you despite us never having met before.
So allow me to start by thanking you all. You take the time to read this, and in the attention economy that counts for a lot.
If you miss the newsletter or it means anything to you and you've never left me a testimonial, just hit reply to this mail and share a few sentences on what you'd like to see us keep, start or stop.
That was America...
The trip to the US was intense. What seemed like a few cities I casually mentioned, each separated by a hyphen, turned out to be thousands of miles flown, driven, biked, bussed and subway-ed.
I began in Cambridge, Massachusetts by attending the Misinformation Conference. You've heard me mention Tristan Harris in passing in this newsletter. Google's former design ethicist is one of the web's leading crusaders for increased accountability regarding how smart devices manipulate our time and attention.
We've mentioned his manifesto, his movement — TimeWellSpent.io and now his firm HumaneTech continues to lead the global conversation is a recurring feature and link in the newsletters and I recommend this video to learn how our attention is being assaulted. I had the chance to meet him in person and get some thoughtful advice on StopReflectVerify.com and what we can do going forward.
The conference was a gathering of some of the top people in the Misinformation space. It was a springboard for so much during my entire trip and led to some great serendipity, including giving my trip to New York purpose (more on that later). I also met Claire Wardle from First Draft News and many other great leaders in the Misinformation space.
The world's first country with a social media tax. Uganda passed a law forcing users to pay a daily tax before accessing social networking sites. Thankfully the law is under review, with some levies that were imposed on mobile money transactions dropped entirely.
There was Uganda
Speaking of Uganda, we did a bit of tracking on some key hashtags from there and the discussions from Uganda's Women's March ( #WomensMarchUG) and
I have a theory that:
That said, let's get to what you came for: the tasting menu of links.
- Uganda's Kampala is the VPN capital of East Africa — since the internet shutdown, they mastered privacy at a national scale better than anyone I've found.
- Tanzania is the Visual capital of East Africa — their prolific Instagram and YouTube use is unrivalled in the region. Look out for an upcoming video on Digital Africa with Mark Kaigwa on their Top 10 most visited sites and what they signify.
- Kenya is the Verbal capital of East Africa — going for alliteration more than anything, to be honest. The prolific use of Twitter needs no introduction. If you've never downloaded my chapter on the history of the Kenyan internet seen through the lens of Twitter, now is a good time to download and read that.
What to Sip < 30 second read
We need to take urgent action now (on influencer marketing fraud) to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever.
Keith Weed - Chief Marketing Officer, Unilever.
This piece in The Drum used his stage at Cannes Lions and his $7 billion war-chest of annual ad spend to call out bad actors, dishonest practices and a lack of transparency.
It couldn't be more timely as Twitter, in a bid to give more certainty about follower counts, removed profiles of users with “locked accounts”. This shift, estimated to have been applied to +70 million accounts, led to interesting drops in followers in Kenya and the region.
Our YouTube channel, Digital Africa with Mark Kaigwa, is back. If you're yet to watch anything over there, do have a look and take your pick from videos tackling why content calendars are “dead”, how to be a better ambassador for digital initiatives in your organisation, or our most recent video on influence.
The video, Is Influencer Marketing Broken, shot last year, seems almost prescient given Twitter's shedding of followers and, despite being the longest, is one of our best-received videos yet. Understand how trust, value and leverage make up my 3-legged stool to figure out who is influential and who isn't — regardless of their followers.
What to Nibble <5 minute read
Our very own newsletter editor and word maestro at Nendo, Mark Renja, wrote a piece on Medium on Gikosh, a memorable photography, fashion and afrofuturistic exhibition that took place at the Junction Mall (disclosure: Junction Mall & Knight Frank are clients). His words, photos and personality shines through and it will be a pleasure for you to read.
Our creative, community and strategy nomad, Wamboi Kay, wrote a great piece on a social media detox she took and her reflections afterwards. If you decide to take one, you can always seek out older newsletters for resources on how to do it. My most frequent recommendation if you can't go cold-turkey like Wamboi is to do the 7-day long Bored and Brilliant challenge.
What to Bite (<20 minute read)
Nendo's friends at The Reboot has a fantastic 3-part report on the state, ownership and future impact area(s) of Kenyan Media. Some might be obvious/intuitive but interesting conclusions. It is probably a +40 minute read but if you glance over it, it is quite illuminating or if you skip to the end, the recommendations are intriguing.
Famous Last Weblinks
- Apple has made some fantastic moves in their new shift towards “Time Well Spent.” Brian Chen chronicles how he reduced both his and a 14-year old's use of their iPhones using time limits for apps: from six hours a day for her and three hours 45 minutes for him to just three hours for each of them.
- I found this short animated video narrated by Brené Brown on empathy, sympathy and connecting our feelings well worth a watch.
- Get a more gender balanced news feed on Twitter with #DiversifyYourFeed.
- You can now set up WhatsApp groups where only the admins can posts. No more awkward forwards and deletions so tell your uncles, aunties and neighbourhood watch about this.
Are we back to regular newsletter programming? Probably not just yet, still working towards a more regular newsletter (be it less commentary, more links) and we'll get there I'm sure.
Do hit reply to me if you'd ever like to speak to me or the team and pass along your feedback.
Until the next edition of The Letter N.
Mark & Team Nendo.