Storing and Distributing Content Online

One of the key aspects of the Ulwazi Programme, was to make available local, indigenous information online. We trained participants in digital media production as well as content management using a number of tools.

There are a number of ways to store information online so that it is accessible to a variety of users. Each of these uses different systems and software, has its own nuances and applications, and one may be more appropriate than another depending on the type of project. More than one of these approaches can also be used simultaneously depending on the specific project requirements.


A database is simply information that has been organised using digital tools so that each piece of content can be individually accessed and managed. Each item within the database is defined according to a number of set criteria, allowing users to retrieve and present content in different ways. Databases hold data that has been categorised and made accessible. However, without other software such as a Content Management System (see below)  this data is not easily accessible as it is not filtered and presented in a user-friendly way.


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Recording Content on Mobile Phones

Africa needs to move from a continent that consumes media to one that produces it. With limited traditional media skills and budgets available for large-scale production projects, the answer may lie in our hands. Many modern mobile phones have the capability to fulfil a number of different media-recording and publishing roles, as such, can be vital tools for developing a digital media industry.

Mobile phones can be used to tell Africa’s stories to the world

Mobile Phone Capabilities

With the rise of smart phone technology, it is possible to carry around one device with the combined functionality of an audio recorder, video recorder and digital camera. While premium (and costly) brands such as the iPhone are often the first examples of smart phones that come to mind, there are also a range of more affordable options that offer comparable performance at a greatly reduced price. These include a number of handsets running the Android operating system (e.g. Samsung) as well as devices from brands like Huawei, ZTE, Sony and LG. 

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ICTS for Indigenous Knowledge Preservation

I recently had an article published in the ICT Update magazine, in an issue focused on ‘Crowdsourcing and engagement’. My article was on how libraries in South Africa are using ICTs and community journalists to collect indigenous knowledge.

ICT Update is a bimonthly printed bulletin, a web magazine, and an accompanying email newsletter and mobile website. Each issue of ICT Update focuses on a specific theme relevant to ICTs for agricultural and rural development in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Local Users, Local Language, Local Content

Presented at the IAMCR 2012 Conference, Durban, South Africa.

The Ulwazi Programme uses the public library infrastructure, Web 2.0 technologies and the community to collect and disseminate indigenous knowledge and local histories. This user-generated content is compiled in an online digital library in the form of a website and access is provided through current mobile and web technologies. In this paper I describe the history of the programme, its objectives and its structure. The website’s usage statistics are then unpacked to reveal the demographics of its users and popular content, with a focus on the use of the regional vernacular, Zulu.