Very few sites tipped off the visit of comic book author Jim Lee to Cairo, and to his book signing at Kotob Khan on September 3. And few know of the early murmurs of Andrea Bocelli’s upcoming visit to Cairo. How do people that are in the know, know?
“Never reveal your sources,” goes the maxim. Here’s to us breaking that rule.
But you may already know of Cairo Live Events Guide (CLEG), the one-stop shop for information on Cairo’s nightly gigs and jaunts. In a city that knows no sleep, keeping abreast of the cultural scene is a noteworthy feat. Yet the anonymous blogger with the moniker CairoWanderer manages CLEG as a one-man show. We also discovered how.
“Other than through the web, I do not have direct connections with any of the venues or event promoters,” said CairoWanderer in an email interview with Daily News Egypt, “I chose to remain anonymous to guard this independence.”
No money goes into or comes out of the blog. The newsletter, which includes a weekly agenda on the music scene, runs on a free blog site rather than a paid-for website. The blog is a voluntary advertisement-free service. “I chose not to put ads in the blog because I am not doing this as a job.”
One of the first things the non-Cairene blogger did upon arrival to the city was to scope out the cultural, and especially the musical, scene. “I started to get familiar with the various venues and attended as many concerts as I could.”
CairoWanderer soon became the guru on the goings-on in the city.
“I started to send out an email with what I considered the ‘highlights’ of the week,” said CairoWanderer. “Reading local newspapers and magazines, researching on the internet, and talking to people” provided the information.
A growing number of friends, and friends of friends were interested in the list. “Before the summer of 2008, the mail group became more than a hundred strong, and, because of this, mail started to land in spam.”
“Thus started CLEG,” and communication moved from email to a blog site. “The first post came out on August 31, 2008,” and while the blogger claims to be no technology savvy, the site “has been visited more than 80,000 times.”
CLEG continues to consult regular sources such as the web, the press, newsletters, friends and event promoters.
Also, since CairoWanderer does not read Arabic, loyal followers keep the blog updated. “Blog readers write to notify events I missed or [provide] general information.”
“What makes me particularly proud,” says CairoWanderer “is the fact that many of the readers are actually Egyptians.”
With useful links to artists and venues, viewers tend to like that “all the information is laid out clearly in one place.”
Readers especially appreciate descriptions of the venues, “something I started because the most common questions from friends are … where is X? How do I get there?” Directions to venues are provided with useful tips to nearby metro lines.
While private blogs often get tagged with PayPal and Google AdSense to provide revenues, CairoWanderer’s service comes with no strings attached. And it provides a fair enough reason to reveal our source.
“I like to believe that the blog stimulates people to go out more often and attend local events,” says the blogger, “ultimately a benefit for everybody involved.”
Visit CairoWanderer’s blog at http://cairoliveeventsguide.blogspot.com.
Originally published online at Daily News Egypt on Sept 14, 2010.