I have been meaning to publish a post about Mail & Guardian’s relaunched blogging platform, Amagama, for a couple weeks now and just haven’t gotten past staring at my open browser tabs before tumbling back into some other task. So what is Amagama? Well, put simply is is a public blogging service based on the WordPress Multi-User edition where anyone can create a blog and be up and running in just a few minutes.
I asked Vincent Maher, one of the brains behind Amagama, about their plans for the service and whether they involve world domination. He hesitated, briefly, before changing the topic. Amagama is the successor to the first hosted blogging solution in South Africa called Blogmark. Interestingly, Blogmark ran on version 3 of Drupal, the ancestor of the content management system which powers this site. Blogmark had about 5 000 blogs and of those about 3 500 were identified as inactive or identified as spam. 1 500 blogs were migrated across and the response has been interesting. Some bloggers objected to the default comment moderation. Some people have raised concerns that bloggers can edit comments left on blogs and yet more who first threatened an armed revolt armed with nail files and who subsequently capitulated and made offerings of Jagermeister.
For the most part Amagama is part of the Mail & Guardian’s social media strategy that fits with other social media developments like the popular Amatomu. Vincent told me that there are more developments coming that will expand the social media offering and judging from Amatomu (which I am a big fan of, personally) and Amagama, I think the social media space in South Africa is going to be a more vibrant space very soon. One of the other big players in this space is Johncom which operates the Sunday Times and its spin off, The Times (disclosure: I write for The Times and am being paid for it) and it interesting to see how each media company is developing its own social media platform.
When I asked Vincent about Mail & Guardian’s social media strategy, he said the following:
The ultimate goal is to offer a comprehensive collection of social media services that all fit into each other and make logical sense to the user when used in conjunction.
Matthew Buckland mentioned to me that in a month or so Amagama is generating around 120 000 page impressions. That is pretty impressive. I thought I would run a comparison for the last month between Amagama and two other similar services in South Africa (MWeb blogs and My Digital Life) and the result was pretty interesting:
Of course the big appeal of sites like Amagama to me is that they help introduce the mainstream to blogging through easy to use blogging tools and that is pretty important. Perhaps more important than which service is the most popular, at least from a new media evangelist’s perspective. That being said, great job to Matt, Vincent and the Mail & Guardian team!