Friday, February 6, 2015

Wrap up

Writing this sitting in the green grass of the garden of Sakani Camp in Arusha, in the shade, not so humid, nice temperature. Starting tomorrow, I probably will not have any internet connectivity while watching hippos, elephants, wildebeests etc,  so please do not stay up late waiting for updates...

There were 3 days left before I would leave Dar on Thursday. We tried to make those as useful as possible. Unluckily we were not able to get in touch with some of the participants, present in the Dar workshop, who said to be very eager to learn more technical details that we only could touch upon during the workshop. We could use the free time to start working on our evaluation report. Now the things we done are still fresh in our memories.

On Tuesday we had an Skype call with surprisingly good sound and video quality from my hotelroom with the two Elsevier volunteers coming in April and May, Charon and Evalyne. We discussed the possible programs they might want to offer on online publishing models, open access and marketing &  sales. They both wanted to know what the participants might want to know exactly. There's only one way to know that: ask. So Evalyne and Charon will draw up a list of questions that Maaike can distribute among those who might be interested in attending their workshops / seminars / whatever-form-they-can-think-of.

Wednesday we took Maaike for a farewell dinner. Sushi and other seafood, good South-African wine: a good way to close the Digital Publishing part of Publishing without Borders.

But it was not really  the last time we saw Maaike. She had agreed with Erica, coworker at COSTECH, to meet on Thursday to discuss the online library that COSTECH maintains.
We talked on the way the backend application Greenstone was set up and user rights were probably not implemented correctly; we searched some wikis and online manuals of Greenstone; we learned that other participant Mlenge proposed Dspace, a library tool used by Muhimbili University; and we noticed that some publications on the current library were not categorized correctly because of incorrect metadata. At the end of the morning Erica had a couple of great ideas to help her library improve further.

We had lunch with Walther and Mkuki Bgoya to celebrate the end of the digital Publishing workshops in a very never lunchroom downtown, close to Walther's bookshop. It would have been better had we started the series with this lunch, but hey, this was good as it is. Good to hear that Walther and Mkuki are seriously thinking at suppliers to help them digitizing their back catalog. Also we talked the current Tanzanian government policies to publish all educational textbooks by the ministry itself. Disaster waiting to happen, if you ask me, but Tanzanian publishers are not strong and united enough to withstand this. And how digital publications can get the youth of all Tanzania to read, so to change their "reading culture". Distribution is a big problem!

And this was the end of Dar for me. VSO driver Swedy was very grumpy today because he had had a small accident with his car earlier this morning and reparations would cost him at of money. Still, he managed to bring me to the airport safely. Couple of hours later I was standing at the Kilimanjaro international airport to be picked up in a large Toyota Land cruiser to start our safari. Posting will be difficult from the Serengeti, so bye and see you all in The Netherlands, or maybe even Tanzania! Who knows?

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