Category Archives: Blogging


I’ve never felt guilty about being one of the haves. I was born white, middle-class, straight, Protestant to parents who saw that I got a good education, gave me a love of reading and learning, and who were well enough that I could take off to see the world straight out of college. Privilege is my middle name. I’m OK with that, but I spend a lot of time thinking about how these privileges can be extended to everyone else.

It’s particularly jarring as I prepare for the consumerist orgy that is buying our consumables on World Food Day.

Needless to say, I’m not as active here lately as I have been in the past. I find myself reluctant to speak about development, foreign policy, and even the role of ICTs in emerging economies in such a public forum, particularly when I’m not 100% at ease with myself and how my small family is readjusting to living in the States.

Fear not! I haven’t stopped writing entirely! I just do it in different places. I’m still chatting endlessly about health, pregnancy, and food at himynameistheresa. My latest project, just launched with several other Foreign Service folks, is Hardship Homemaking, where we writing about cooking from scratch, whole foods, and making a home at hardship posts. Look for lots of recipes from me, straight out of Benin!

Check ‘em out and let me know what you think!

Edited to note that himynameistheresa is now defuct.

On my new job (yes, I am just that awesome)

I have a new job. I mean, a new job in addition to running Benin’s most successful web development firm. Jon Gosier at Appfrica just relaunched and hired my magnificent self to blog about technology, entrepreneurship, and other awesomeness in Africa. I’m getting paid to write about things I love!

I know, I know, I know. Half of you don’t care about tech in Africa, and the other half of you wish I’d write about nothing but. Now everybody’s happy!

Along with all that comes absolutely no change here at SVO. I will still be blogging with stunning irregularity. I will still be complaining about annoying expats. I will still be utterly awesome in every way.

I will still be full of myself. I will be even more full of myself.

Solving the bandwidth problem when updating WordPress sites

wordpress_logo We use WordPress for many of our client sites because it’s dead simple to use and has a fantastic plugin system. The only problem? WordPress is stinkin’ huge. And basic functionality depends on JavaScript. No big deal on fast American and European connections, but it’s a huge impediment here in Benin, where connections are unreliable at best, and more typically, just unusable.

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Welcome back, Carpenter.

There are a million challenges to web development here in West Africa, not the least of which are poor and/ or expensive internet connections, a general ignorance of what the web can do (this is actually true all over the world, including the States), and computer illiteracy.

What do you do when someone who’s never sat down in front of a computer wants a website? And what do you do when they’re standard for professionalism is “Lots of zoom,” they tell us. Zoom = “moving flashing things like on yahoo.” And how do we teach these people how to update their websites?

I’m starting this blog taking this blog in a new direction so that I can explore some of these questions. People Online has a French-language blog, but it’s hard to write in French, and I’m lazy. And that blog doesn’t really have a direction yet. That is, we’re busy publishing articles, but we haven’t quite figured out what we want. This blog will be more focused. And hopefully, as I find my voice in English, I’ll find it that much easier to reproduce the effort in French.

So who am I?

I’m an American, working with a small NGO here in Cotonou, Benin. Our goal is to make technology more accessible to small and medium sized businesses. We set out to change the way the IT services sector, and specifically web development, works here. People Online’s motto is “Getting Benin Online” (La mise en ligne du Bénin), and so far, it’s working.

I do make websites. I also do a lot of book keeping, managing freelancers, and keeping the business side of the non-profit running correctly. Mostly, I work with WordPress. I’m a fan girl, which is embarrassing (for a web application? who falls in love with a web application?!?!). And I like to play.

Anyway. We’ll see where this goes. Professional blogging is probably harder than it looks.

Wish me luck!