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John Grierson (1898-1972), The Art of Making Quality Content

John Grierson (1898-1972) was an icon well ahead of his time. Today’s TV personality are usually described according to their respective roles. But Grierson was an epitome of several roles and personalities melted into one. He was a producer, media manager, director, commentator, critic, content producer and many more. Today, Grierson would have to be cloned. But it is not so much of the multiple hats that he wore that was most resonating. There were three core components of his personality that is profound and worth reflecting on:

  1. His desires for Quality Content
  2. His realisatin of the role that Quality Collaboration brought to quality content development
  3. His quest for Equitable Quality Content Distribution mechanism

Quality Content
Though Grierson’s focus was to bring content to the homes of people as opposed to ordinary media delivery mechanism which, in his day, used theaters and public arenas, he felt a responsibility towards his viewers. A responsibility to produce quality materials that would be enlightening, informative and of educational value. Grierson used his role in media to advance the courses of positive propaganda. While he sees the TV (medium) as “an instrument of domestic ease,” he would still use the same medium to distribute content to his viewers. The difference – the quality of the content that he produces. TV should not be about entertainment only, as it was the order of his day, but one in which real life situations and realities could be brought into the homes of people. It is as if to say that while this could be an instrument of domestic ease, why dont we make the most use of it? Grierson recognised the need, the desires of viewers for quality content, information and not just entertainment, better than what they were used to. This is visible from the focus of his documentaries, everyday people – miners, soldiers, female soldiers; from the angle of his camera shots, the close ups of axe-picking, gold-digging miners; from the voices of his narrators – which spelled reality in visible and vivid terms. These were brought into the rooms of his audiences. Grierson sees art as, “not a minor but a hammer.” His reference here reminds me of affordances – the use of the right tool for the right job. It was as if to say that it is only when you have a better understanding of the tool and its process of use that you can better deliver results with its application. The quest for quality content production led Grierson to a better understanding of documentary production and its process. This same quest for quality content will take Grierson to India to understand the principles of birth control; or the life interview format which brought commentaries by everyday people, from their living rooms, out to the homes of others. Grierson’s perception of quality content was the ability to use TV as an instrument of “making peace as exciting as war.” An instrument to advance the quality of life of the viewers which he ever so brilliantly targeted.

Quality Collaboration
Grierson saw collaboration, not as a limitation of his abilities but as an extension of his skills towards quality content production. Grierson did not know animation but recognized the power animation brought to quality content. He would utilize the skills of Norman McLaren to bring alive the positive values of war propaganda; or Lorne Green’s baritone “voice of doom” to give weight to his narratives. Grierson explored and pushed voice, video and animation to the limits. He would be intrigued now to see how this same principles have affected film production today. The Avatar (the movie), Pixar studios, Disney are a reflection of some of the possible outcomes of quality collaborations.

Quality Distribution
The distribution of content could make or mar any production. Grierson recognizes this and ensures that his content reaches both the elite and and the people on the street. He will distribute his content, not only on TV but would utilise the train station, streets to challenge traditional forms of distribution. By doing this, Grierson cut out the middle man in the content distribution process and strove to reach the most audience. His production would be most effective if he could bring it home to more people beyond the means and ways in which content was distributed in his day. Such realization would lead to a new level of quality content distribution besides the traditional studio-home broadcast model. It was as if he challenged the distribution model of his day, to say that, though it [TV distribution] achieved the objectives of meeting certain target audiences, it fell way short of the larger audience for which such TV production would be most effective. Similar to the way peer-to-peer (p2p) distribution mechanisms have challenged today’s media industry. With the advent of viral videos and open media distribution platforms such as youtube, Grierson will be pleased that content can reach anyone but will be displeased at the quality of the content that is actually being distributed. The sweet and sour forms of content distribution today may be charting new courses in ways by which content could be more pervasive and most effectively distributed. This has remained true for most ground breaking technology deployment which would commence with fanfare, chaos and completely unregulated vigor but would eventually lead to innovation. P2P has challenged distribution mechanisms but have led to innovation in terms which are common to us now such as video on demand. For that Grierson will be happy.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave – Technology? What Technology?

My initial forage into philosophy takes me down Plato’s lane, to seek understanding of his future foresight in describing what did not exist in his day. Perhaps this hindsight would provide direction for the future; define tomorrow, what today may be completely senseless. Perhaps, Plato’s future is a microchip embedded in the head that mathematically analyses images it receives through the human eye and translates its meaning to the human brain in a screen like image only visible to the enlightened human brain. Sort of like a mathematical/mechanical device that takes over the natural sensory functions that happens when images are translated between the retina and the brain. Perhaps Plato was talking about a higher knowledge not now conceivable, but such as could only be translated limited by our current understanding, sight. Perhaps we are the prisoners in the cave even though we may seem more enlightened than others. Perhaps there are levels of prisoners, and what we do not quite see from Plato’s allegory is the various levels of closeness or nearness the prisoners were to the tunnel of light. Or does Plato just describes two levels of insight. You either know or you dont! And that there is no in-betweens?

“Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance…” Was he talking about rear projection systems1 for a flat panel screen? Or some form of overhead projection like in the movies? Whatever the projection, the images displayed were large enough for all the prisoners to see. They did not peer into a small box. And the happenings behind them, the objects that cast the shadows on the screen, perhaps this was the beginning of reality TV. “Spontaneous multimedia.” Indeed, we see certain forms of it in Youtube and other user generated content sites. Plato talks about, “…see[ing] anything but the shadows…” Perhaps the shadows reflect technology’s pseudonyms, pseudo-names, and the pseudonymous nature that characterizes the TV, Internet and the media of today. Maybe, “…the prison had an echo which came from the other side” reflected today’s surround sound technology2. And perhaps surround and future sound would actually be generated by a microchip embedded in our heads connected to an FM (or whatever future) signal transmission mode, connected (or not) to the source of the sound.

And when the prisoner is turned towards the light, Plato thinks they are released “…and disabused of their error.” An appropriate analogy to Norman McLaren’s “Opening speech.” Was the microphone an error? Was the realignment and refocusing towards the screen a release from prison? Does the migration from one technology towards another emancipate and liberate from one restrictive state? Perhaps today’s computers are a “prison state” of some future technology just like McLaren’s microphone.

“And if he is compelled to look straight at the light…” What compels us? Or what would? Compulsion, synonymous with a single option choice. “Take it or leave it. Sink or swim.” Is this what emerging technologies would tell us? For how long can we manage without them? How long would the policies against technology use in schools, for instance, remain with us? Would we need to be compelled by the itinerant need or would necessity compel us? And would such compulsion actually cause us pain? Pain from letting go of our comfort zones – such as compulsive use of miniature screens (mobile devices) for large flat panels? Or flat panel embedded on the palm of our hands or behind our retinas to replay pre-recorded scenes? Pain caused by the invasion of our privacy. Perhaps the forceful compulsion to see ‘light’ or the momentary blindness to reality is but itself another level of ‘imprisonment’. And that we are more imprisoned by technology now than they were a couple of years, a decade, a century ago. And that true liberation actually lie with seeing true light. And what is true light, if prisoners are only ‘prisoners in stages’?

ICTs as a Tool and a Means to an End

I have been in civil society circles for sometime and one of my greatest arguments, indeed, my greatest worries is the misconception that pushes ICTs as a tool. It is not uncommon to hear statements like, “ICTs for governance” or translated, eGovernance; ICTs for Education; ICTs for Development – the field of development work we all currently engage in. The challenge of definition makes it hard for a proponent of technology solutions to culture and society to pass meaning and influence perceptions of the true meaning of ICTs to custodians and decision makers of society. For instance, you would hear the statement, “mainstream ICTs into gender or governance, or HIV/AIDs”, etc which but gives the often myopic and simplistic meaning to ICTs, hence the short changed definition of ICTs as a tool.

Of course, ICTs can be seen as a tool if the definitions of ICTs remain the way they are. D. Hlinka (2008) argues that it is more than a tool. This low level definition is usually attributed to ICTs for the following reasons:

1. The lumping of information AND communication together to describe technology
2. The assuming understanding that technology is only a medium without the necessary comprehension of the entire ecosystem (source, target, medium, content, D. Hlinka (2008) that makes up the ecosystem).

So, where does this limiting definition of ICTs come from, especially within the civil society circles? Could it be an attempt at understanding how best to effectively carry out CSO activities, objectives, goals and the breakdown of measurable indicators by which CSO work will become more visible (ie the number of computers installed in a project)? Or is it that ICTs are already an integral and inseparable part of civil society activism in a way that attempting to understand it creates a limiting definition — as a tool? Either way, it currently has a limiting focus and that must change for us to effectively carry out civil society development type work. Whether in the purely ICTs area or in what may seem to be any other area in which our now brainwhased traditional understanding would seek to separate it.

ICTs go beyond just being a tool but an integral part of our day to day workings. The TVs, cellphones, radios, pens, watches, shoes, clothes, we put on have a bit of technology to them or rather, are technology in themselves. It becomes difficult to separate them from the core undertakings we may be engaged with.

Another definition that baffles me is one that defines ICTs as a, “means to an end” and not an end in itself.

My simple argument to this has been the simple fact that the designers of goals and objectives such as the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) did not see the integral benefits of ICTs to the other MDGs and have thus led to the creation of a definition that separates ICTs from objectives and goals, creating a definition that will seek an implementation of a ‘tool’ that brings about the achievement of that particular goal. Recent adjustments to these shortcoming, especially within CSOs has led to the adoption of ICTs as a tool to achieving some, if not all of the MDGs.

Perhaps it is the fact that ICTs can ‘easily’ be achieved that makes it a goal less ‘sexy’ for clear cut definitions. Easily, because, goals are set in what we may traditionally call technology and such goals are achieved compared to goals and objectives in other ‘non’ technical fields that may require the stability of other social and external factors, etc. The rapid implementation and achievement of technology goals makes it th more less challenging for proponents of society’s solutions who think a solution may be very complex for it to achieve the status of an endeavor worth carrying out. It is this ‘difficult’ definition of goals and objectives and when applied to the field of ICTs that makes it hard for a more integral and better definition of ICTs.

I have not attempted to dissect, the acronym, ICTs, for D. Hlinka (2008) did a better job of it. I have used ICTs in its lay sense, perhaps that by so doing it would appeal to the readership and would at least bring a semblance of understanding to what the reader may already be used to.


D. Hlinka(2008), A Conceptual and Definitional Focus of the Meaning of Educational Technology in the 21st Century.

Norman McLaren – Welcome

I will attempt to describe McLaren based on the first seven minutes of his film, “Welcome” that I saw today. I have not looked at any reference, I have not googled him up before commenting on this work. In fact, I do not know if the name of the film is actually “Welcome!” I have simply decided to do this so I can evaluate my understanding of McLaren’s work as I go through my study. Perhaps I can get to understand McLaren as a proponent of technology use, back in the day. Perhaps I will see technology now and in the future if I could see what McLaren saw when he created the film. Then I will come back and correct my perceptions, …ah perceptions! The Innis Mode! I cannot bask in a point of view but to seek a deeper and greater understanding and knowledge as I dissect “smaller pieces” of McLaren’s work to gain insight into how they interrelate with themselves back then, connect with today’s technology and what understanding and insights this gives me into understanding future technology.

McLaren spoke of technology in “Welcome” as inappropriate – the medium by which you pass a passionate message may not necessarily be the best tool to do so. Technology as unsuitable and non dominant in telling “how much” (quantity) and “how much” (quality) one can actually convey. Technology may be limiting but also enabling at the same time. Technology may not be as complex as we make it to be. It may also not be sufficient to do what we intend to as we patch it up with all sorts of inappropriate solutions and try to make it work. On the overall, it may lead to a better technology but we may never be able to discover that until we have failed at some previous attempt at appropriating technology. Technology grows and becomes better when we make several attempts at it. A nip here, a tweak there and we may arrive at ‘a’ solution. Yet, that could be the basis of something more appropriate to come – a tip of the iceberg. McLaren says, there is no end to technology as it constantly evolves and calls for invention. There is no end to evolution and so will we need to appropriate technology and evolve along side it.

Now I will come back again, revisit this post and hope that what I think about McLaren at first sight remains what he truly was!

Proactive and Equitable Spectrum Management Regime: My take at the #IGF09, Access Panel

Global debates on Access have moved from just Infrastructure based arguments to issues of policy, regulation and rights. Undersea cables have arrived in under-served coastal areas; mobile phone proliferations have characterized the landscape where previously copper cables have been inexistent. Tele-densities have increased and will continue to do so.

Even with these advancements in infrastructure, there remains certain challenges; landlocked countries still struggle to access coastal cable infrastructure; broadband remains a major challenge; the rights to landing stations continues to pose problems to cable companies; the cost of making mobile phone calls and of sending SMS messages still result in approximately 50% disposable income expenditure of the average African or better put, a sizable fraction of a day’s wage to the Rwandan farmer.

The difference between the current state of access and a future progressive ‘opportunity for all’ state remains with three critical and strategic moves; policy, regulation and rights.

Appropriate steps taken to handle policy, regulation and rights will determine how and what progress will be made in the coming years. The access debate has moved from infrastructure to these issues.

These policy, regulation and rights issues touch on several things but I will focus on Spectrum, which I believe is the life blood of making infrastructure more accessible to the under-served and unreached.

And until these issues are handled appropriately and effectively within the spectrum space, we will not have efficient, effective and optimal use of these infrastructure.

We must begin to see Spectrum and its management as a major, and fundamental component of Access.

So, I will talk about Spectrum from 3 major perspectives:

1.Reclaiming unused spectrum space:
2.Effectively leveraging the benefits of digital dividends
3.Specific advocacy and policy recommendations

Reclaiming Unused Space: Managing Spillovers and Guardbands
Spillovers are out of band emissions that happen within a defined frequency range. Spillovers are what happens when you cross one border in country A into another, country B. and the FM receiver on your car radio automatically switches to the new station in country B with some radio interference. Spillovers are managed by regulators in neighboring countries or regions. Perhaps we could allow spillovers to happen for certain frequency bands and then define appropriate policies to manage them across borders or regions. This will force innovation in effective policy on cross border spectrum management.

Guardbands on the other hand are spectrum space designated between usable bands so that out of band power leakage would not impinge on nearby signals. Guardbands were regulatory measures introduced to accommodate inefficient technologies that characterized devices in the immediate past. These transmitting and receiving devices have themselves become smarter requiring that the provisions for Guardbands are to be revised to reclaim these spectrum spaces.

These reclaimed spaces should be effectively managed by policies that include regional spectrum regimes or such as support spectrum harmonization across regions.

Digital Dividends
The benefits of Digital Migration is digital dividend and stakeholders have claimed that it will lead to more available spectrum spaces. Further, through innovation in compression, these spaces will be optimized resulting in more available spaces.

Effective technologies such as Agile or Software Defined Radio will encourage further innovation and better and efficient utilization of these available spectrum. The bottom line is, that there will be more spaces available for more applications. But this can only be true if and only when specific measures have been taken to effectively and collaboratively plan the potential spaces that will result from Digital Migration or Switch over. Ultimately, the spectrum management mechanisms and methodologies, policies and regulations of the past, may not be sufficient for this future spaces. New mechanisms are required as the factors have changed somewhat. A specific case of pouring new wine into new wine skins.

So, What proposals do I have?

That these issues of policies on access, ie. Spectrum and infrastructure, should be looked at:

1.As a Rights based Issue: Access to spectrum should and must be couched under themes such as Access to Information or even Freedom of Expression. How can these happen? Certain policy measures on cross border spectrum needs to address public good, rural development and under-served areas. Moreso as reclaimed spectrum bands can and should be reserved and specifically targeted to address broadband deployment of under-served areas, for instance.
2.As a Social Responsibility Issue: Social responsibility of current spectrum administrators or regimes to their citizens requiring that provisions are made to incentivise service providers who will utilize these reclaimed and available spaces spaces for broadband rural connectivity.

Another Sad Case of a Pathetic African President

At a time when governments of the US and North Korea are engaged in high level diplomatic release of journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling by President Clinton, an African president is spiraling down the same road, in the opposite direction. Even the most repressive of regimes and reclusive of persons (Kim Jong Il) today understand press freedoms, pardons and what it takes to maintain global peace in a global world and its associated politics but an obscure and myopic president as Mr. Jammeh plunges the opposite pathway in an archaic, unpopular and totally unnecessary fashion.

He has just convicted six (6) Gambian journalists on six (6) counts of
defamation and sedition using archaic defamation laws, wrongly interpreted and ruled against unfair and biased legal practices.

It is this same person that has continued to remain silent on the disappeared journalist, Chief Manneh whom his security agents had held; and has raised no finger in the case of the Deyda Hydara murder within a state he governs.

He has openly defied the ruling of the ECOWAS court on the Manneh disappearance, an indictment on the court and the ECOWAS system which he and ECOWAS leaders all signed up to.

In a day when press freedom and democracy walk hand in hand, what is the Jammeh administration saying to its people, the regional economic commission, the African Union and the international community?

Another sad case of an African president waiting to go down.

Pathetic state of African leaders

I am in Accra on the same the day that Barack Obama visited, and I listened to him deliver an inspiring and memorable speech in his ever so charismatic and eloquent style.  I had mixed feelings.

I was happy that he did not hold back or minced words in speaking the truth to die hard, stay long African leaders.

But I also have this rather sad and shameful feeling that African presidents needed to be reminded by another peer president of what their obligations and responsibilities should be in simple words and terms so basic that any one could have uttered them in precisely the same forms and ways but they would hold not much meaning except if they came from an Obama.

Now, will it make sense?

Future of [Technology] Education in Africa

If the statistics of primary and secondary school enrollment sits at 150 pupils (in the place of thousands) in the Niger Delta, and if at the higher levels, only a few African students are ‘schooled’ by professors to carve knowledge spaces for themselves in the future, then the future picture of Africa in the knowledge arena is scary.

If a recent ICT4D conference and a number of other fora where future interventions in the development area, intellectual property, education, governance, has anything to go by, where no, or perhaps one or two Africans can (or are allowed to attend due to travel restrictions, etc), then the future is bleak and worrying.

So education needs in Africa has to be looked at again. At all level, primary and tertiary, most especially. Not so much from redefining curriculum but specific attempts at changing enrollment rates, basic issues as changing the deplorable lives and living conditions of teachers and professors for the better, paying particular attention to research and development and giving support and funds to a massive Doctoral program.

Democratisation of Democracy: Web 2.0 Tools and Its Disruptive Tendencies

Background

The democratization of democracy is what modern internet technology brings into traditional people culture and society. The democratic features of web 2.0 tools have completely unfounded the rather stifling tendencies that may have characterized governance and the styles with and in which it is practiced. Combined with the pervasiveness of mobile phones, modern web tools have, and will continue to disrupt the once centralized power centered governance forms and transform them to those in which powers are extended to the edges, the peripheries, where standard forms of governance were, in the first place, designed. It is as if participatory governance was waiting for a catalyst that will accelerate the combustion of citizen involvement and power management at the center; a bridge that would link two very dependent but often disjointed entities in the governance process – the governed and the governors. The glue that will crystallize the relationship that is required for progressive and forward thinking nation states – entities. It is perhaps the conceptualization of web 2.0, not as the end in itself but as a means to an end2 that seeks to bring a certain dimension of ubiquitousness to this technological sphere. Indeed, technology, in and of itself may not in any direct way change the course of nature but it is its application to the socio-economic aspects of living that brings about this very disruptive tendencies that we only now see a tip of. It is yet still in a phase where life is totally dependent on it but it is not too long before over-dependence gives way to what becomes tradition, culture and finally defines an identity of a people or society. For it is the layering of certain forms, norms, and habits onto tradition that results in culture and identity.

Certain characteristics define today’s internet technology developments. For instance, the social networking platforms carry a collaborative characteristics of sharing, of community ownership, and of dependence for and on information flow. They further highlight the fact that the voice of the community do actually lie with the people of the community themselves. It is in these forms that modern forms of technology assumes an African attribute of dependence, of communal living, of democratic voices in the community village square, of ubuntu – a state of living that consist not of itself alone but of the community as a whole and as an entity of itself and by itself. So, when modern technology tools are adapted to the traditional African society, they present a form most powerful, most pervasive and most disruptive of what have become a large deviation and a variation of our traditional governance structure and style. Indeed, these tools could play an important role in the return to the forms of governance and administration as we once knew it – in the village square participatory forms, in which every citizen has a say in the price of fish in the next market day. Perhaps the adaptation of technology to normal societal forms may pose the greatest of challenges to the revolution of our now imbibed governance styles, but that may be the reasons for which they must and should be introduced in the first place. Like alluded, not as an end it itself but as a means to an end. In a form that it does not change what already consists but rather a layering of it to existing culture and tradition. This is expressed today in the way, for instance, the mobile phones have become an essential and integral tool in African society. Perhaps leveraging our vocal culture but more so layered over it to provide a now visible but unobserved and unrecognized neo-techno-cultural African society – the dependence on technology for daily living. It is this unobtrusive but pervasive adaptation that I speak of.

The Ghana Elections and the Role of modern technology in cultural democracy

As with any process, culture or society, things will happen whether technology is present or not. The sun will rise and set, business will run as usual and society will engage in its affairs as always. People will speak to each other whether the mobile phones exists or not. They do not need modern social networking internet tools to relate with themselves. Indeed, the very topological structures and forms of their immediate community is designed in forms that social networks have assumed, way before these tools ever got invented. Ultimately, Africa do not need these tools to run its affairs.

But also, as with everything, a little help as provided by technology goes to accelerate if not complement the efforts of normal practices. An abacus would help tally the numbers much more effectively than if the counting was done on the finger tips or if the marks were made on the sand. So, would a calculator and consequently a computer aid in the final sales of fish by the local fisherman in the traditional village setting.

So, when the opportunity to layer modern collaborative technology tools became apparent during the Ghana elections, it was not only out of necessity but more to leverage what have already become an integral part of the African society today.

To start with, social forms were recognized and leveraged. For instance, the social relationship between the electoral commission and the media was synonymous with existing cultural and traditional forms. I would argue that this relationship was the bedrock of the transparency that characterized the electoral process in Ghana – the establishment of a trust relationship that must remain respected throughout the electoral process. Indeed, the trust relationship was necessary in order not to call the election before its time even though the immediate sense of reason seeks to do otherwise. While technology itself cannot ensure the firmness of a trust relationship, it is the layering of technology on the relationship that enhances the trust itself. To expatiate, the use of twitter, (a web 2.0) tool, which is democratic in nature, to announce provisional results in an up-to-date form, while the use of a blog site to announce Electoral Commission verified results only goes to enforce that relationship. Images, flickred to the site further provided an eye to the happenings at pollen stations and around the elections in ways that benefited the absent. Together, these tools have ensured a powerful but yet simplified and transparent forms of monitoring. Eyes, voice and ears were needed everywhere, and the tools only went to ensure that these happened.

Now, the Ghana process was initiated with journalists, media persons, that themselves were new to the process. While they may have received their capacity reinforced in the use of modern technology tools for election monitoring, the global sense of their contribution may have eluded them. It is this lack of a fuller, more holistic understanding of the process that may pose a challenge to the larger more disruptive nature of participatory democracy. For if, only an ‘elitist’ few media practitioners are skilled enough to ‘contribute’ to knowledge on the elections, this certainly would not be representative of the electorate nor its wishes. The electorate is a number that far surpasses the the quantities that our representative eyes, ears and voice offered during the Ghana elections. Indeed, the ideal is for citizens themselves to be empowered in the use of the ‘tools’ that have become an essential part of their culture and identity. To use these tools in airing their views, opinions; and to participate in the democratic process. The quality of gleanings will improve, the voices will be numerous and transparency would be insurmountable If a check and balance, as provided by these tools were to come into play in the electoral process. While this larger test bed may present ambitious intentions potentially jeopardizing these concepts, it may be possible to incentivise citizen participation. This should be the next phase, not only in the process leading to the elections but, most importantly, the post election process where citizens are themselves involved in the monitoring of new governments and administrations.

Conclusions

We are only beginning to see the impact that Web 2.0 tools have on the daily lives of an average citizen, indeed, in the cultural and traditional forms that define today’s global citizen. The potential, mind blowing tendencies will define the way people interact with themselves, live amongst themselves and determine how they arrive at decisions – critical or trivial. If it does not outrightly take over the forms by which democracy is characterized, it would not be long before it actually takes over completely. And we would be best prepared to handle its disruption by the way we position ourselves.

— footnotes

2I would argue for a shift in perception of ICTs as a ‘means to an end’ to an ‘end in itself’ for the fact that ICTs have been seen as tools for development whereas they themselves spell development. The MDGs do not have an exlplicit declaration of ICTs as a goal but the role that ICTs play sure does go a long way in alleviating poverty. Perhaps the measuring of ICTs as a goal would change perceptions of poverty when these goals are achieved in Africa. However, in this case, the concept of defining the ROLE that ICTs play as a means to an end is best suited.. would

Expression and regulation

What rules guided ‘blogging’ in ancient days and how can we correlate
the freedoms of those days with those of today?

The expression of knowledge as defined by Egyptian hyroglyphics was a profound and fundamental way of  self expression at a time when the world still grappled with tacit knowledge. The one way of stiffling this art of self expression was the ban placed on it by the invading romans. Today, hyroglyphics is lost and there are hardly any present expressions of it.

This is akin to the repressive stifling laws that have characterized the media today.  Represeive regimes have used draconian laws to suppress the voices of the media and these laws will make their way to the Internet space as
countries continue to grapple with cross border issues, jurisprudence, jurisdiction, laws, norms, regulations vis a vis the highly unrestrictive and perversive nature of the Internet.

Could it be that the blogging in the past were purely self regulated?
Who gave the spaces for self expression in the caves and what forms of
rules were employed for self expression in those spaces? Can those
characteristics be use to define a framework for self expression in
the blogosphere today and by extension, the online media? Or must
totally newly created rules be formed to govern this new space?

I believe that an expression of whatever guiding principle we choose
must reflect an African position such as recognizes our orality and
culture and not merely an expression of an internationally implemented
law which does not in any way reflect our African realities.

Self regulation may be sufficient but we all know that self regulation
in the African governance space may not last long before it is twisted for selfish gains.