Friday, May 30, 2008

We're all guinea pigs in Google's search experiment

SAN FRANCISCO--When it comes to search quality, Google has a split personality.

Google uses a method called split A/B testing to measure exactly what changes it should make to its main search Web site--both to its famously Spartan search box and to the results it produces. With the approach, Google shows different versions of the pages to users and measures how they respond, said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, in a speech at the Google I/O conference here Thursday.

For example, Mayer said, the company wanted to find out how many search results to show users--the customary 10, or 20, 25, or 30? When asked directly, users said they'd like more results on a page, but testing showed otherwise.

Specifically, Google found that when the results increased to 30 per page, people searched 20 percent less overall, Mayer said. After much analysis of server logs, the company found it was because it took about twice as long to display the longer results list for the user, and speed matters.

"As Google gets faster, people search more, and as it gets slower, people search less," she said.

The same effect happened with Google Maps. When the company trimmed the 120KB page size down by about 30 percent, the company started getting about 30 percent more map requests. "It was almost proportional. If you make a product faster, you get that back in terms of increased usage," she said.

Split A/B testing also led Google to refine exactly how much white space to pad around its logo and other elements on the search results page. And it changed from the industry practice of a pale blue background behind ads to a pale yellow background. People not only clicked on ads more, they also searched more in general, she said.

The subject clearly is close to Mayer's heart. She's an engineer who also has an interest in the more aesthetic realm of design.

"On the Web in general, (creating sites) is much more a design than an art," she said. "You can find small differences and mathematically learn which is right."

A history of Google's search page
Google's search page, with its abundance of empty white space and its almost boastful "I'm feeling lucky" button, looks downright ordinary today. But it wasn't always the case.

Mayer said that back when Google was a relatively unknown 80-person start-up, the company tested Stanford students on how well they could use Google to find which country won the most gold medals in the 1994 Olympics. The result: students would sit in front of the Google screen for 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, a minute...Google was perplexed.

So Mayer would eventually intervene and ask what was holding up the searchers. "I'm waiting for the rest of it," they'd say. Clearly they expected more of the flashy ads and busy text of other search pages of the 1990s.

"The very first home page was that misunderstood. People didn't resonate with it," Mayer said. One woman even thought the Web site was a fake construction that was part of a psychology experiment.

As a result, the company put a copyright notice at the bottom of the page. "It's not there for legal reasons," Mayer said. "It's there as punctuation. That's it. (It tells the searcher) 'Nothing else is coming; please start searching now.'"

Mayer oversaw much of Google's design, but the sparse start page wasn't her doing and wasn't even part of a plan, she said. Instead, it was the design of co-founder Sergey Brin.

Why so minimalist, she wondered? Sergey's response: "We didn't have a Webmaster, and I don't do HTML."

Google also decided against presenting newbie and expert versions of its search page, Mayer said. People figure it out quickly, so the company aims its product at the experts.

"The learning curve on search is really fast," she said. "People go from 'Where can I get spaghetti and meatballs in Silicon Valley' to 'italian food san jose' really fast," she said.

The complexity of search
Google tries to look simple from the outside, but its search process is, as no one will be surprised to hear, quite complicated.

A typical search will require actions from between 700 to 1,000 machines today, Mayer said.

That's grown more complicated as Google moved to what it calls universal search, in which the regular search results are mixed with results from its other search areas such as books, news, blogs, images, and maps.

With those other, narrower search services, Google lost sight of the simplicity users need in its haste to bring the services to market, Mayer said.

"The urgent can drown out the important," she said. "It's great we did these urgent, expedient search indices, but what we really need to do is put them on the same page."

Indeed, in the longer run, she envisions universal search growing far more sophisticated, with a page filled with "images, videos, and graphs--not a list of 10 URLs but as a holistic answer to your query."

Search also will become more personal, with results tailored for individuals. (Google has begun offering personal results for those who sign up.) One reason personalization is important, she said: a very useful factor Google can weigh in its search results is what a person just tried searching for previously, she said. Knowing that, "We know what you discarded or are refining from," she said.

"We know 10 years out search will probably be a lot more personalized," she said. "And there will be a lot more content to index. When we think how to build search, it's important to think about the 10-year case."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Let's Grab Google's Gazillions

By Roben Farzad

Tough times we live in. Gas is at $3.80 a gallon, with milk not far behind. Mortgages and consumer confidence are curdling, while public coffers underfloweth: The city of Vallejo, Calif., just went broke. Whatever is a Presidential candidate to do?

Channel your inner Hugo Chávez, I say. The Venezuelan strongman has been blissfully expropriating the profits of oil companies. But back here in the U.S., even amid the embarrassing riches of $130 crude, Big Oil is no easy target. Just ask Valdez, Alaska, where all its Exxon oil spill money is.

So I hereby propose we smack a windfall-profits tax on, yes, Google (GOOG). A cartel unto itself, the Internet megaplayer wields a $180 billion market cap, has boatloads of cash, and enjoys Pablo Escobar-ian profit margins. Moreover, Google's "don't be evil" credo is an expired link. Its profiteering, in fact, brings pain to many—and cries out for the healing and justice of a targeted fiscal transfer. A results-minded taxpayer, I proffer this bill of particulars:

Google Promotes a Too-Free Press. As the ultimate dot-com toll collector, Google is the ultimate enemy of the journalism that we constitutionally cherish.

Digital convergence and Internet migration are certainly great phrases to stick in an annual report. But as far as journalism goes, these are utterly bankrupting ideas. "The notion that the enormous cost of real newsgathering might be supported by display advertising, or by the revenue-sharing of a Google search box on the side of the page, is idiotic on its face," says Craig Moffett, vice-president and senior analyst at Bernstein Research. Not that Google needs to care: By next year, it will either run or broker half of the world's $55 billion in online advertising. For every dollar of traditional ads it displaces, Google's intermediation kicks back mere nickels to content providers.

Although Google profits wildly in the process, it won't pony up the money to station and protect correspondents in Baghdad, nor will it pick up the martini tab when a reporter interviews a hedge fund manager's whistleblowing mistress.

Last year saw the largest cut in U.S. news staffs in three decades, with the online-only side failing to grow sufficiently to absorb all the jobs lost from print. The ad revenues and market values of U.S. newspapers and magazines have effectively been annexed by Google. Explains an investor at a large tech hedge fund: "They siphon it off everyone else but only spritz it back out every now and then." Case in point—Google's $1.7 billion purchase of YouTube cost more than half the value of the New York Times Co. (NYT) and twice that of McClatchy (MNI), owner of 80 papers. The waste. The insult.

Pity me, too. Thanks to Google, my professional destiny is to end up blogging in my bathrobe about, well, Google. Surely the inveterate fat cat could spring for my unemployment insurance.

Google Thumbs Its Nose at Soaring Food Costs. There are maize mobs in Mexico and rice riots in the Philippines. I've downgraded to USDA subprime beef. Google's staff, meanwhile, enjoys unlimited helpings of soy milk shakes, macrobiotic salad greens, and risotto-porcini omelets adorned in gold foil. Who says there's no free lunch (or breakfast, dinner, and all-day snackroom access)?

According to Silicon Alley Insider's Vasanth Sridharan, Google spends somewhere between $70 million and $75 million annually on feeding its 9,600 already well-paid employees at its Mountain View (Calif.) and Manhattan headquarters. Even the word "headquarters" does little justice to the in-your-face West Coast Googleplex, a campus of funhouses decked out with fitness equipment, a massage room, a baby grand piano, foosball and pool tables, free washers and dryers, and more entitlement than seen in all 73 years of the Social Security program.

How can Google afford its food tab? "Easy, of course," writes Sridharan. "Last year Google earned $4.2 billion."

Unless we tax away such profligacy, famished, price-gouged swing voters could storm the Googleplex—and the only thing awash in milk shakes would be that baby grand.

Google Stifles Innovation. All this largesse might be understandable if Google weren't so nefariously bent on snuffing out progress. As Google hoards 70% of the lucrative U.S. search market, the company is using its heft and excess cash to promote free for free's sake—a nihilist m.o. if there ever was one. We're all the worse for it.

Poor Microsoft (MSFT) has devoted decades and billions to bequeathing us Word, Excel, and the indispensable Vista. It repelled Netscape's pesky onslaught and beat back regulatory apparatchiks. In thanks, Google ate Microsoft's search lunch, flooded the system with its free, open-source Office alternative, and giggled diabolically when the house that Gates built failed to land Yahoo! (YHOO)

And have you seen YouTube lately? If Google is indeed the torchbearer for free, why hasn't it put some of its billions toward defending the site's once-glorious cache of pirated clips, instead of letting lawyers water it down? Maybe it's that Google is too busy partnering with Chevron (CVX) and BP (BP) on some solar-power project. Well, it takes a windfall profiteer to know one.

Ever the callous monopolist, Google has more money than it knows what to do with. I say that it's high time we took a chunk of it back.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New York Times Embraces Link Journalism

According to Scott Karp from Publishing 2.0The New York Times is increasingly embracing link journalism - the idea that online journalism should heavily rely on one of the Web's main attributes, hyperlinking, to increase a story's editorial value.

Karp has been grappling with the idea of link journalism for some time (see his posts here).

The Times' Lede blog makes intensive use of 'link journalism'. In one of its posts, it links back to several external sources including the Wall Street JournalBloomberg NewsWashington Monthly,Washington PostUSA Today, and an independent blogger.

But according to Karp, 'link journalism' extends far beyond the simple act of hyperlinking: 

The Lede's posting "isn't just lazily linking to these stories -- he's read them, compared them, identified shortcomings, extracted key facts and issues, and connected the dots.

"In a traditional newspaper article, all of these facts and analysis would have been synthesized, but the reader wouldn't have had the opportunity to read for themselves the source material. This post does what journalism is supposed to do -- empower people with facts, understanding, and perspective about important issues."

The challenge for newspapers and their websites is to strike a balance, between remaining synthesizers of a wide mass of information (because consumers still expect journalists and editors to do so), while also becoming aggregators and relay points for news consumers who may want to access more in-depth sources on particular topics.

Uganda honours journalism excellence

A twenty-eight-year-old television journalist and radio talk show host, Simon Kasyate, was on Saturday night adjudged Uganda's Investigative Journalist of the Year, 2008.

Simon's television feature of a displaced family's struggles to rebuild a shattered, previously blossoming country-side life, picked first prize from a field of 73 entries by 65 journalists.

Only in April, this year, he had been assigned by NTV to cover the official signing of a government peace deal in Gulu, but with the programme called off at the last minute and without much of a notice, he decided to employ the genius in him – landing the touching story of a helpless but unyielding peasant family life which had patrons at an impressive 4th Annual Uganda Investigative Journalism Awards ceremony held at the imposing Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, clapping in endless applause and admiration.

Two women came close to the ultimate title though, with Leylah Ndinda of WBST picking 1st Runner-up and Barbara Among of New Vision, following up as 2nd Runner-up.

The Uganda Investigative Journalism Awards, instituted in 2005, seeks to raise the profile and frequency of investigative journalism in the country in the areas of corruption, human rights and rule of law, as well as peace and conflict reporting.

It is administered by the Department of Mass Communication, Makerere University in collaboration with Eastern Africa Media Institute and supported by DANIDA, NORAD and DFID.

An elated Kasyate told Myjoyonline Editor, Isaac Yeboah, (In Uganda to attend the Africa Media Leadership Conference), that he prays for an era where professionalism will dominate media ownership and practice in Uganda to expedite the development of the country.

"My argument has always been that the biggest threat to media practice in Uganda is not so much the State, but the absence of professional media owners and professional media practitioners. The combination of both will make the journalism practice in Uganda go a notch higher firstly, and then in East Africa."

Professional challenge

He threw a challenge to media owners to seek to employ professionals who would impact rather positively on the image and ultimately, revenues of their businesses instead of putting profit maximization ahead of the investment equation in the media.

"My employers may not quite understand me because as usual they are companies, they are looking at improving or maximizing profits and minimizing costs, but eventually I think they are beginning to understand that the business they are in, which is media, has a lot to do with as well the people that you employ; a highly motivated and extremely professional and trained. They should be looking at that and if they haven't thought about this seriously, it's time for them to think about it seriously."

Kasyate, CNN Africa Journalist of the Year 2004, (Radio category) was presented with a plaque, a laptop, a digital camera and a recorder, and will also benefit from a four-week paid journalism training programme in Denmark.

The runners-up also received a plaque, a laptop and a recorder each, while Leylah received a digital camera in addition.

Dr. George Lugalambi of the Department of Mass Communication, Makerere University, told Myjoyonline that Investigative Journalism practice in Uganda is an uphill task in spite of the Constitution and the promulgation of laws to ease access to information.

"Still you find that public officials are not very willing to give out information because they are used to a culture of secrecy and so it's very difficult for them to now come around despite the presence of the law to make information that is in the public domain available to the media and to the members of the public. We are aware journalists still face those problems," he lamented.


SIMON KASYATE(NTV) declares the Winner of Uganda Investigate Journalism Awards 2008

Simon Kasyate of NTV was declared the overall  national winner of 4th Uganda Investigate Journalism Awards 2008 held on Saturday May 24 at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, Uganda, organised by the Department of Mass Communication, Makerere University and Eastern African Media Institute Uganda Chapter with support of DANIDA, NORAD and DFID for his TV  story on " Picking up pieces : Displaced Persons trickle back home "

Saturday, May 24, 2008

It is time to redesign your newsroom website - today and now

when was the last time, you redesign your news organization website ?

what factors did you consider in the redesigning process

1. What is the benchmark for a successful redesign ?

2. What elements did you decide to keep and what did you let go?

3. What time table ?

4. Re -branding issues ?

5. Why redesign ?

6. Who should be involved in redesign ? and what is the place of your audience

7. What are the do's and dont's

Two leading news organization have re-designed recently

- Recently,

see the story below

It is time to let go of your beautiful website and redesign it as a pretty futuristic website

let us know about your website re-design plans

bye for now


Today we launch a redesigned home-page for Those of you who were familiar with (and even fond of) the previous version will naturally wonder: why the change? We wanted to do three main things—make the page simpler, deeper and more enjoyable for the reader.

First, simplicity. The new page is far shorter than the old one. We have cut clutter (always something The Economist likes to do). There are fewer advertisements. The page is cleaner, with images that stand out more clearly to flag featured content.

We have removed long lists of articles and replaced them with a pithier selection. The navigation that runs down the left-hand side of the page, and throughout the site, is now completely visible right away, with no need to scroll down "below the fold". By rolling your cursor over the main categories of content you can reveal more detailed sub-categories.

A second aim was to make more content readily accessible—strange as it may sound, to combine greater simplicity with greater depth. At the top, four main items of content rotate before settling on the lead story. You can readily scroll through all the columns. There is more breathing room for our blogs. Articles from the print edition are easy to find via the cover image.

A new feature brings to the fore the articles that have proved most popular with readers. You can choose between three different measures of this: the articles that have attracted the most comments, the ones that readers have recommended the most (by clicking on the "recommend" button next to the text) and those that have been most read. So you get to influence what appears on the home-page.

That is part of our third aim: to make the page a more enjoyable experience. It shows not just what we select, but what readers are finding most interesting. Readers can also switch the top story by scrolling over the four main features. The page will be "alive" in other ways, too, changing throughout the day, so it will be worth returning to more often.

There is one other novelty to mention. We have introduced an area where you can learn about events and special promotions from The Economist. We hope you find this useful.

Indeed, we hope you find the new home-page as a whole a big improvement. But change is not always welcome, and we won't have got everything right in one go. So we'd welcome your views, negative as well as positive. You can submit these, anonymously and without logging in, using our site feedback form.

Web users 'getting more selfish'

Web users are getting more ruthless and selfish when they go online, reveals research.

The annual report into web habits by usability guru Jakob Nielsen shows people are becoming much less patient when they go online.

Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.

Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.

Search rules

Instead, many are "hot potato" driven and just want to get a specific task completed.

Success rates measuring whether people achieve what they set out to do online are now about 75%, said Dr Nielsen. In 1999 this figure stood at 60%.

There were two reasons for this, he said.

"The designs have become better but also users have become accustomed to that interactive environment," Dr Nielsen told BBC News.

Now, when people go online they know what they want and how to do it, he said.

his makes them very resistant to highlighted promotions or other editorial choices that try to distract them.

"Web users have always been ruthless and now are even more so," said Dr Nielsen.

"People want sites to get to the point, they have very little patience," he said.

"I do not think sites appreciate that yet," he added. "They still feel that their site is interesting and special and people will be happy about what they are throwing at them."

Web users were also getting very frustrated with all the extras, such as widgets and applications, being added to sites to make them more friendly.

Such extras are only serving to make pages take longer to load, said Dr Nielsen.

There has also been a big change in the way that people get to the places where they can complete pressing tasks, he said.

In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there.

"Basically search engines rule the web," he said.

But, he added, this did not mean that the search engines were doing a perfect job.

"When you watch people search we often find that people fail and do not get the results they were looking for," he said.

"In the long run anyone who wants to beat Google just has to make a better search," said Dr Nielsen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Accra hosts World Telecom Standardisation Assembly

Officials of the Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau (TSB) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will meet next week in Accra to participate in the Africa Region's Preparatory Meeting for the World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly (WTSA).

The meeting precedes this year's WTSA's Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa from October 21 to 30 2008 that would adopt working methods and approve the ITU-T work programme as well as appoint chairs and vice chairs of Study Groups.

Ghana's host slated May 26 to 30, 2008, is to offer African countries the platform to deliberate on world standardisation issues of common concern to the continent and adopt common proposals for presentation to the WTSA.

Standardisation is a universally agreed set of guidelines for interoperability, and the ITU -T is the body responsible for setting globally accepted standards for ICT. The WTSA is convened every four years by the ITU.

The Accra meeting would organise a forum on the theme: "Bridging the ICT Standardisation Gap in Developing Countries" in recognition of the continued shortage of human resources in the standardization field of developing countries.

The Standardisation Gap is defined as disparities in the ability of developing countries, relative to the developed ones, to access, implement, contribute to and influence international ICT standards, specifically ITU recommendations.

The Ministry of Communications and the National Regulatory Agencies have in the past involved in ITU standardization activities to help in the standards requirements for new technologies and technological convergence in ICT that are creating major standardization challenges. 21 May 08

'$100 laptop' unveils new design

the new xo-s laptop
The XO2 looks and acts like an electronic book

The wraps have been taken off the new version of the XO laptop designed for schoolchildren in developing countries.

The revamped machine created by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project looks like an e-book and has had its price slashed to $75 per device.

OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte gave a glimpse of the "book like" device at an unveiling event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The first XO2 machines should be ready to deliver to children in 2010.

Dual use

"This laptop comes from a different point of view." he said.

The new version loses the green rubbery keyboard, sporting instead a single square display hinged at its centre.

This allows the device to be split into two touch screens that can either mimic a laptop with keyboard or the pages of a book.

"Over the last couple of years we've learned the book experience is key," he said.

The idea is for several children to use the device at once, combining the functions of a laptop, electronic book and electronic board.

"It is a totally new concept for learning devices." said Prof Negroponte.

the new XO2 laptop
There are two touch sensitive displays and the machine folds out flat
The new machine will also be more energy efficient, half the size of the first generation device and lighter to carry.

It will continue to sport the XO logo in a multitude of colours so that children can personalise them.

"The XO2 will be a bit of a Trojan horse," said Prof Negroponte. Initially it will be promoted as an e-book reader with the capacity to store more than 500 e-books.

"Currently developing nations such as China and Brazil are spending $19 per student per year on books," he said.

Dual boot

The launch of the XO2 is being seen as an effort by OLPC to revitalise adoption of its machines. Initially, Prof Negroponte set a target of selling 100 million machines by 2008.

So far OLPC has only sold about 600,000 machines. Prof Negroponte he said he expected a further 400,000 orders in the next "60 to 90 days".

Many countries have been reluctant to buy the machines because they did not run Microsoft's Windows operating system.

XO laptop running windows
It has taken a year to make XP compatible with the XO
In mid-May OLPC announced a deal with Microsoft to make Windows available on the XO machine.

Previously the machines used a version of open source Linux operating system.

"There is no question that demand goes up when you offer dual boot," said Professor Negroponte.

The laptops which originally had a target price of $100 now cost $188 each.

The OLPC project believes the price tag for the new devices will be achieved thanks to falling prices for flat panel screens, the most costly of all laptop components.

At the MIT event, Prof Negroponte announced the resumption of the Get-One-Give-One programme to allow people in wealthy nations buy two XO laptops and donate one to a child in a developing country.

The programme will be open to people in North America and Europe and start in August or September.

Prof Negroponte said the previous programme enabled OLPC to distribute 30,000 additional laptops to children in Rwanda, Mongolia and Haiti.

tools and tactics for communicating your cause

Do you want to use multimedia, online or offline tools to advance your cause? Creatively and effectively? To reach the broadest possible audience?

Do you want to create and distribute audio programmes, comic books, posters and newsletters? Set up a website or a blog to champion your issue?

The DIY Communications toolkit from Tactical Tech offers a collection of tried and tested, accessible free and open source tools. The toolkit is designed for small and medium-sized NGOs, advocates, and citizen journalists to help them create and distribute content for their advocacy efforts while exploring the constantly evolving world of campaigning and communications.It contains a series of how-to's, hands-on-guides and tutorials that walk you through the processes of creating and distributing content for awareness raising and online activism.

DIY Communications for Citizen Journalists is divided in to four core sections

Over the coming year we'll also be adding sections on video and using mobile phones in citizen journalism. Please subscribe to the announcement list if you are interested in being kept up to date about when these sections are release.

Monday, May 19, 2008


The Ministry of Communications in conjunction with the ICT Community organised the second national ICT Awards 2008 at the Accra International Conference Centre. It was a night of celebration, excellence and innovation. The awards ceremony was attended by 400 persons from the ICT community, business, academia and industry in the presence of dignitaries including His Excellency President John Agyekum Kuffour (represented by Hon Kan Dapaah, MP, Minister of Defence), the Hon Deputy Minister of Communications, Frederick Opare-Ansah, Hon Kojo Armah, MP and chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee and Mr. Yoofi Grant of Databank chaired the awards night programme.


In a speech read on his behalf, His Excellency The President John Agyekum Kuffour said, " I am proud of our performances in the sector as a nation and I am even proud of the excellence that some Ghanaians have exhibited in the sector". The performances of the Ghanaian hardware and software engineers have demonstrated that when it comes to the use of brainpower, the Ghanaian is a force to reckon with. Today when the names of the "Great in the Industry" the geniuses, are published a number of Ghanaian names feature".


During the programme a minute silence was held to commemorate the memories of three personalities of the ICT community who had been lost namely – Guido Sohne, software guru, Julianna Kaufmann, a Telecom expert and Fred Nutsugah Secretary to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications.  In his speech, His Excellency President John Agyekum Kuffour said " I convery my condolences to the bereaved family, friends and compatriots of the late Guido Sohne, the distinguished software engineer who made a mark on the International Scene.


The awards, which took place on Saturday, May 17, 2008 as the world celebrates World Telecommunications and Information Society Day, rewarded individuals/companies in 13 (thirteen) catergories with the flagship award being the ICT Personality Of The Year 2007, which went to Mr. Akwasi Pianim Osei.  His citation read, "Tonight we are here to acknowledge ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Akwasi Pianim Osei, one of the leaders in the field of ICT in Ghana. IT Consultant for the planning, procurement (involving major tenders), and implementation of real time banking packages and related services for Ghana's top financial institutions and team leader in the implementation of computerization projects and studies in various government, public, and private sector organizations over the past 20 years. Based on these many achievements by Akwasi Pianim Osei, The Ministry of Communications and the ICT community in Ghana has unanimously agreed to confer the prestigious ICT Personality Of The Year award to Akwasi Pianim Osei for his leadership in advancing ICT in Ghana.


Other award winners include

  1. TELECOM COMPANY OF THE YEAR - TIGO with KASAPA as first runner up and MTN as second runner up.
  2.  TOP ICT TRAINNING INSTITUTION went to IPMC with NIIT as first runner up while KNUST COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT was awarded second runner up
  3. INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR – the winner was BusyInternet with Zip Net and Netafrique Ltd coming as first runner up and second runner up respectively.
  4. TOP ICT FOR DEVELOPMENT PROJECT OF THE YEAR – the winner was Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) with CEPS(GNET) as first runner up.
  6. TOP GOVERNEMENT ICT PROJECT OF THE YEAR – the winner was Office of the President, Ghana ICT Project, first runner up Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) and the second runner up is National Fibre Optic Project.
  7. GUIDO SOHNE TOP SOFTWARE COMPANY OF THE YEAR – the winner was Rancard Solutions, with Somuah Info System as first runner up and B system was awarded second runner up.
  8. TOP HARDWARE COMPANY OF THE YEAR – went to IPMC with Masai as the first runner up
  10. LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD went to Busy Internet for their pioneering work in the provision of shared Internet Access through the

establishment of a world class cyber café which has set the highest standard for Ghana's cyber café industry and beyond

The winners of Ghana ICT awards will be entered into the African ICT Achievers awards scheduled to take place in South Africa.


The 3rd National ICT award is scheduled to take place on Saturday 16th May 2009. 






Thursday, May 15, 2008

Africa’s media bosses examine emerging digital media platforms

Press Release

JOHANNESBURG, May 15 – Leaders of Africa's news media meet in Uganda in a week's time for an annual summit focusing on how the continent is embracing new media technologies to serve the changing needs and interests of their customers.


The senior editors and CEOs of media firms stretching from South Africa, Namibia and Swaziland in the south to Kenya and Ethiopia in the north and from Senegal and the Ivory Coast in the west will meet in Kampala for three days from May 25 for their Africa Media Leadership Conference.


The conference is co-hosted by Rhodes University's Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership ( in South Africa and Germany's Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation (


"This year's conference is looking at a range of digital media platforms that have emerged and continue to emerge around the world and the challenges that face media companies in Africa in adopting and adapting these platforms for their competitive advantage," said Francis Mdlongwa, Director of the Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI).


"Given the breath-taking technological changes which are re-shaping and even redefining the entire media industry, we felt that Africa should pause, take stock, look at what works and does not work in our part of the world and why, and plan ahead," he added.


The SPI is Africa's only university-level institution offering high-level media management and leadership training programmes to both practising and aspirant media leaders from across the continent. It runs a post-graduate programme in media management and leadership and a series of certificated management programmes for senior editorial and business media managers.


Frank Windeck, the head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung's Sub-Sahara Africa Media Programme, the sponsor of the Africa Media Leadership Conference series, said: "These meetings give Africa's top media people a unique opportunity to network at the highest level and to examine key industry and other issues which concern them and to seek practical solutions by examining case studies drawn from Africa."


The conference will be attended by 40 media executives.


The conference series was launched by the SPI and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in 2002 to promote high-level interaction among Africa's media chiefs and to seek  practical, innovative and creative solutions to challenges faced by the African media.  


The conference meets annually in an African country, and past conferences have debated topics such as Revenue Generation for Robust African Media (Cape Town, South Africa); South Meets East: Strategic Challenges for African Media (Nairobi, Kenya);  Managing Media in Recession (Mauritius); and Policies and Strategies for Media Viability (Maputo, Mozambique).



Issued by:

n      SPI Director Francis Mdlongwa (email:; mobile phone +27-(0) 83-629-2312; office phone +27-(0) 46-603-8781; fax +27-(0) 46-622-9591)


n      KAS Director for Sub-Sahara Africa Media Programme Frank Windeck (;  office phone +27-(0) 11-214-2903)

Please contact either Francis or Frank for any further information on the Africa Media Leadership Conference.





Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Google Friend Connect

Google Friend Connect lets you grow traffic by easily adding social features to your website. With just a few snippets of code, you get more people engaging more deeply with your site.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Alarm at Google Yahoo partnering

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Regulators in the US are being urged to investigate any potential online advertising and search partnership between Google and Yahoo.

The call by a coalition of 16 American civil rights and rural advocacy bodies comes despite the fact no firm deal has actually been announced.

"We all suffer in such mega mergers," Gary Flowers of the Black Leadership Forum told BBC News.

The justice department is examining a trial the companies did in April.

It has been widely reported that it is looking into the anti-trust implications of last month's two-week test.

However, the department says it has no comment on the coalition's demands because there is no definitive agreement between Yahoo and Google at the moment.

But reports say that the two companies are presently hammering out the intricacies of a future potential advertising and search agreement, and are sharing their plans with antitrust regulators.

At Google's shareholder meeting on Thursday, Chairman Eric Schmidt said: "If there were a deal [with Yahoo], we would anticipate structuring the deal to address the anti-trust concerns that have been widely discussed."

'Never positive'

This assurance is not good enough for the coalition which is made up of the League of Rural Voters, the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the American Agriculture Movement.

It also includes the Black Leadership Forum, an umbrella group of 36 civil rights organisations including the NAACP and the National Urban League.

In a letter to Assistant Attorney General Thoma Barnett, head of the Justice Department's anti-trust division, the coalition argues that such a deal would give Google almost 90% of the search advertising market and strengthen its influence over internet users' access to information.

"We face a possible future in which no content could be seamlessly accessed without Google's permission," the letter states.

The effect Mr Flowers says of such large partnerships is never positive and would for the black community, as for other communities, "condense competition, increase prices and limit new business opportunity on the internet".

'Do no evil'

League of Rural Voters' executive director Niel Ritchie claims that the do-no-evil mantra may no longer apply in today's marketplace in which Google's reach is apparently without bound, touching more and more aspects of our everyday lives.

"We believe the government should give this agreement very careful scrutiny," he says.

Mr Flowers says:

"Google has already exhibited a pattern of violating privacy, engaging in anti-competitive conduct and using its monopoly power in the search market to drive internet users to its affiliated services and its viewpoints on policy matters.

"Any joint combination with Yahoo could dramatically worsen these problems."

The Centre for Digital Democracy, a consumer advocacy group, is also willing to push regulators to block any deal and wants European consumer groups to raise concerns with European Union officials.

"You can't allow Google to operate a portion of its leading competitor out of its back pocket," Jeffrey Chester executive director of the CDD told the Associated Press.

There has been no comment from Yahoo or Google.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/05/10 00:10:24 GMT


Friday, May 09, 2008

Sunlight Foundation offers reporting tools to cover U.S. politics online

The Sunlight Foundation ought to be in the bookmarks list of any journalist covering U.S. national politics. OJR talked with Sunlight's Ellen Miller two years ago about the organization's efforts to enlist readers to help keep a watchful eye on Congress. Last week at the NewsTools 2008 conference in Sunnyvale, Calif. Bill Allison, senior fellow at the foundation's Sunlight Labs, described some of the new online reporting tools on which the foundation is working.

Sunlight Labs has been digitizing a variety of federal disclosure data and making that available online via application programming interfaces [APIs]. Current projects include a widget that pop-ups a hyperlinked profile of a member of Congress when someone mouses over his or her name on your webpage and a Google Map mash-up pinpointing the geographic location of almost all earmarks from last year's Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill.

But it was the Labs' newest project that Allison demonstrated in an early-morning break-out session at the conference. "Influence Explorer," still under development and not yet released to the public, will allow readers "one-click disclosure" of a lawmaker's earmarks, contributions, expenses and trips.

All the data that Influence Explorer will access is available now to the public, through a variety of services, including many of those listed on the foundation's Insanely Useful Web Sites page. But tracking a lawmaker's disclosures through multiple sites and databases can consume hours. What Sunlight Labs wants to do, Allison said, is to consolidate search requests and return multiple results from a single click.

"Why should you have to go to 15 different places to see what your congressperson is doing," Allison asked.

Allison demonstrated how Influence Explorer's "data chewer" could help a reporter use a press release to get useful background about a Congressional earmark, for example.

[A lesson in Government 101, for those not familiar with the term: An "earmark" is money that Congress assigns to a specific projects, outside the executive branch departments' normal allocation procedures. It's how members of Congress funnel money to their districts. Here is the Office of Management and Budget's definition.]

Allison pasted a snippet of text from a press release about a Congressional appropriation for a new project. Influence Explorer used text analysis of the snippet to find common phrases and names with other releases and entries in its associated databases. It then returned a wealth of context for a journalist reporting the story.

Other earmarks from the same representative. Top contributors to the representative. Campaign contributions from employees of the company receiving the earmark. Expenses filed. Trips taken.

All the juicy details that helped take a ho-hum story about a grant and turn it into a far more interesting tale about a firm that suddenly started giving thousands of dollars to a member of Congress, then received millions on federal funding soon after.

Allison said that the core technology behind Influence Explorer is not new, and that corporate lawyers have been using "data chewers" like this to perform textual analysis to cross-reference documents for some time. Putting this technology in journalists', and the public's, hands would help level the field, Allison said.

The downside? It ain't ready yet. Allison wouldn't give an ETA for the project's public release. Still, the foundation does have many other tools available. Allison invited conference attendees to work with the Sunlight Foundation to find access to data and data analysis tools that could help improve and inform their coverage of Washington politics. Allison and others at the foundation can be contacted through the foundation's website, at

For notes from other sessions at NewsTools 2008, please visit the NewsTools website.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Times online 'incorporates SEO in news'

The editor-in-chief of Times Online has claimed the site features complete integration between journalism and search engine optimization (SEO).

Press Gazette reported that at a recent digital seminar held as part of the PPA Conference in London, Anne Spackman stated that search engine Google is the main driver of external traffic to the site.

Web writers for the online news source currently undergo a newsroom search training process to learn about SEO - training which is of particular use to print journalists, she claimed.

Ms Spackman also explained that many journalists are using searches to learn more about readers' interests, partially by monitoring search terms that are entered into the site.

"Times readers are obsessed with house prices and road tax," she said, adding that this helps the newspaper tailor its online articles to audience demands.

Meanwhile, David A Utter of WebProNews recently claimed that SEO techniques tailored specifically to Google are most beneficial to companies looking to improve their search rankings.




DATE: 17TH MAY SATURDAY 2008 (World Telecommunication and
Information Society Day






   1. Front Desk, BusyInternet, Ring Road Accra, Tel : 021-258528
   2. Mr. Desmond Boateng, MOC,  021-685608
   3. Festus William – 0244-386042
   4. Front desk, Ghana Multimedia Centre, High Street, Accra 021-689580







Public Voting Opens For Second National ICT 2008 Awards

The public voting for the Second National ICT Awards 2008 to be held
on Saturday May 17, 2008 as the world celebrates World
Telecommunications Day and Information Society Day has opened. The
awards is being organized by Ministry of Communications and Ghana's
ICT industry stakeholders.

Members of the general public can vote either by going to
www.ghanaictawards. com or send the full name of their choice to
1419(all mobile networks in Ghana) via SMS until 13th May 2008.

The categories opened for public voting are as follows:






















The winners from the second national ICT awards would be entered into
African Achievers Award to be held in South Africa. The awards night
slated for the evening of 17th May 2008 will be a celebration of
excellence in Ghana's ICT sector.

Friday, May 02, 2008

District Information Officers urged to make use of ICT

The Information Communication Technology (ICT) capacity building programme for 20 District Information Officers (DIO) on Friday ended in Accra with a call on participants to prioritize the use of ICT to enhance development at the district levels.
Mr. Frank Agyekum, Deputy Minister of Information and National Orientation (MINO), addressing the closing ceremony reminded the participants that ICT was now a must-know in the world and there was no better way for them to do their work than making use of ICT.
He said government had established Community Information Centres (CICs) in the various districts where people could access information pertaining to the development agenda of the country and stressed that DIOs should share the knowledge gained from the training to make the CICs effective.
"Participants who benefit from these programmes are also called upon to be creative, innovative and self-motivated to make their presence felt wherever they may be posted to," Mr Agyekum said.
He called for collaboration between the Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies and the DIOs and urged the local government officers at the districts to give possible assistance to the information officers at their district to enable them to discharge their duties effectively for the benefit of the people in their communities.
Mr. Fredrick Ampiah, Partnership Adviser at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), pledged his organization's commitment to support government to develop Ghana into an information society
He stressed the need for the DIOs to work closely with the CICs to make the project a successful one where information on the governmental portal would have an important content that would enhance development.
Mr Ampiah said the UNDP would provide participants with computers and other multimedia related equipment that would be used for effective gathering, packaging and disseminations of information.
"We would also equip the Information Ministry with cutting edge Local Area Network and other network services for effective and efficient transfer of information and making relevant information available and readily accessible at all levels of development."
Mr. Ampiah said the UNDP would also support follow-up programmes to make sure that programme achieves its long-term objectives.
Mrs. Patricia Dovi-Sampson, Acting Director at MINO who represented the Chief Director of the Ministry urged participants to download the ministry's policy on national orientation and make use of it in their educational programme.
Mr. Seth Ofori, a Participant who is the DIO for Adansi North said they were taken through basic concepts on ICT including the use of computer, Managing files, Microsoft Word, Excel, Power-Point, messaging and collaboration.
Participants were taught how to create and update blogs for their various districts.