Figuring that the only way to get off the bottom is to start bit by bit, Afghanistan is hosting its first social media summit in Kabul next week. The summit is called “Paiwand”, which means either “connection” or “unity” in Pashto. Hopefully the former, since the latter word forever reminds me of Ubuntu’s destruction of their user interface, but if I digress into talking trash about various Linux distributions, we’ll never get to the interesting bits.
The website is at paiwand.af, not to be mistaken for paiwand.com as several news outlets did, pointing their articles towards an organization in support of Afghan refugees in the UK. Though that group could have used the vacant paiwand.co.uk. Learn your country TLDs, people, that’s what they’re for!
The conference aims to feature some 200 participants, from 24 provinces out of the 34 in the country. Looking at the schedule on their website, they’re really packing in the speakers and workshops, sometimes with half a dozen speakers per hour, over the course of two days. Given that the country has only 5% internet penetration rates and that whole violence thing going on, it’s a decent turnout, though their Twitter stream is less than encouraging. It’s only got 118 followers, a number which one would really hope to be at least as large as the number of attendees. But perhaps more strange is that the conference is maintaining two Twitter accounts, one in Dari and one in English. The Dari one only has 38 followers and only 110 tweets to the English stream’s 149. That strikes me as strange, and I can’t help speculating that one would see something like that with a shell of an event propped up by American money. That would be a depressing explanation that I hope simply isn’t true.
The summit is being followed up with by single day workshops in five other parts of the country in order to provide training in the use of social media.