Sunday 29 July 2007

Naijalive: After all the comments

It would appear nobody saw the first two words in my blog about the advent of Naijalive's Nigeria Super Blog - it states; Thinking Aloud.
I am getting quite fed up of seeing references by the proprietors of this project trying to cast me as villain; excerpting for emotive aggrandisement elements of my posting and leaving out the fundamental principles I was raising.
After their lengthy apology and then unsavoury comments dotted around blogs about this matter, I have already requested and they have acceded in removing my blog from their forum.
I wrote that blog in the light and context of the deprecation or absence of service from the Nigerian Bloggers Aggregator (NBA) - I would note clearly that I specifically subscribed to NBA and by doing that I was accepting the way they were representing my information.
Consent is pre-eminent
My beef with Naijalive was based on the following:
They registered me in their forum without my consent, the first I heard of this service was when I received an email asking me to change the way my feeds are submitted.
When my blog appeared on that site, all the formatting I had for my blog had been subsumed into some bland nondescript format and then people posted comments that did not reflect back at my blog.
Whatever they might want to call their type of aggregation, that meant that my blog was being altered and duplicated somewhere else where I did not have any control.
Making an ASS of U and ME
From my experience, there was a particularly "Nigerian" attitude about this service, they automatically assumed everyone who is Nigerian or has a Nigerian affiliation would want to be a participant and hence no consent is required in some absurd sense of brotherhood.
No, that is not how it is done in polite society or Internet ethic circles, even when I register in more established forums, I have the option to opt in or opt out of their services, I control how they interact with me.
I took particular exception to them requiring I change my feeds for a service which they have lauded to my distraction as a beta and preview (That is just semantics, the site is live, public and under continuing development, see the definition of preview below), I have been blogging since December 2003, I have never had a request like that from established aggregators because they know the choice of how I want my blog syndicated is primarily MINE.
It begs the question how many people would take actionable suggestions from a business that has not had time to prove themselves who are in a trial phase of their project. It would be a completely different thing if I was asked to participate in some user acceptance testing or become a pilot user before the preview went live.
Amateur and pretender
I stand by my use of the words "amateur" and "pretender", they are words that can be read in the most wide-ranging contexts that you may care to have; that they have taken the most negative connotations of the words is their prerogative.
They are amateur because evidently, none of them are in any mainstream information technology occupation; the project is run by a petroleum engineer, a civil engineer and a microbiologist and a free site.
They might engage computer experts in this project, but it really did first look like a dabble, a "have a go" thing because everyone is into the stuff. By their admission their tasking careers give them little time to spend on the project amidst the protestations that they intend to make this project as professional as possible. It would be no surprise that essential blog management expertise might be missing in the flux of amazing ideas.
I employed the word pretender because we have already been used to other services which have provided us similar functionality regardless of how they try to differentiate their offering, many other knowledgeable people opined that their approach was suspect and suspicious.
Coming late into this business of blog management there fundamental things that would be expected of any new service and at my first review, it was not close on any account to services I was already familiar with.
Welcome to the harsh realities
There is no doubt that Naijalive is adapting to the harsh realities of starting up an Internet venture in the blog genre and changes have been made to accommodate many of the requests but the core principles still remains
  • consent is required prior to registering a blog in your site
  • the look and feel of the blog should be retained except where excerpts or quotations are extracted, if the whole blog is published, it should not be different from source material
  • comments made to the blogs in the project, should and must reflect back in the comment areas of the source material
As usual, the proprietors would try to bluff their way through this matter, one could almost say that is also a typical Nigerian trait, by castigating dissent and criticism, having apologised their comments in  other forums about my original "thinking aloud" blog simply showed they were in no way contrite by trying to play victim when in fact they were wrong - ethically and professionally.
Even one comment by probably an "expert" in Internet Law wondered why some people could be so anal - has someone's Emotional Intelligence just taken a plummet or what? If only people would address the core principles and spare us the emotional trips.
I have nothing against what Naijalive is doing, it has its purposes, none of which serve mine; but I got involved because I was co-opted without consent, it does not mean I should lose my rights to criticise their actions constructively or otherwise, be the business Nigerian or Martian, I take no prisoners on matters of principle.
Flexibility would help
In terms of advice, there is one last thing Naijalive requires, flexibility - make the superblog a collapsible outline, present the full text of the blogs if you must, but provide a button that collapses the blogs into just the title and the summary so that people do not have to scroll through pages of text to get to the blogs they really want to read. [This feature seems to have been implemented similar to that of the Nigerian Bloggers Aggregator, a duplication of an existing aggregator service, I would think].
There are people who write good summaries of their blogs too. By the way, it is Mr. Akintayo, not Mr. Akin, the effrontery of tyros is baffling, to say the least.
PS: For all who care to check, a preview according to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary is to see beforehand; specifically: to view or to show in advance of public presentation - by definition and reality, the Nigeria Super Blog is NOT a preview, it is like I said earlier, online and available to the worldwide public, not a select audience of reviewers. I think that puts paid to that charade.
About the Project | The NaijaLive Official Blog - No more as the original purpose.

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