A few weeks ago Humeira tweeted me to ask about a venue to host a small talk on Ghost. At first I thought about the University of Mauritius but lately I haven’t met anyone from the Computer Club and I do not know whether they’d be able to host the talk on the university campus. I suggested she gets in touch with JoKi who might have a better idea. Indeed, the perfect hangout on such a short-notice could be no other than Flying Dodo. That’s it! The meetup was set for a “happy hour” in the early evening of Wednesday 8th February 2017.

John O’Nolan, the founder of Ghost, was visiting Mauritius and he agreed to give a talk on Ghost, particularly on the future of journalism.

RSVP on meetup.com showed like some 20 people who were interested with the event.

Flying Dodo, Bagatelle

Shelly, Nirvan and I reached Flying Dodo at 17h30. We were thirty minutes ahead of the scheduled ‘talk’. A couple of minutes later JoKi showed up, followed by Humeira and Joffrey. As we had the usual geek chat the others arrived and finally John came. He took a few minutes to settle down, greet everybody, have a sip of water and reached for the middle of the table to be able to address to everyone with his soft voice.

John O'Nolan

Humeira, a big fan of Ghost, who sat right in front of John, introduced him to fellow geeks of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community. She quickly went through the “who is John O’Nolan?” and asked him about his journey before Ghost.

Some of us were having beer, some chilling with coke while John continued the conversation as he answered Humeira’s questions.

  • What inspired you to create Ghost?
  • Tell us about your Kickstarter campaign in 2013?
  • Ghost is a non-profit organisation, what motivated you?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face working remotely and how do you overcome them?
  • What is the biggest benefit that having a distributed team has afforded your company?
  • Do you think you lose anything by working remotely?
  • JS stack, NodeJS, Why NodeJS? There was no blogging platform built using NodeJS before Ghost. Why did you guys end up choosing NodeJS instead of PHP? Was it because to standout of others or simply just fooling around to get things done?

The above list of questions is not exhaustive.

Then there was the question about the future of Ghost and “Ghost for Journalism”. That was the part that I was waiting for. I attended the talk mostly to know more about the ambition, passion & vision of the people behind Ghost to have an idea like “Ghost for Journalism”. There couldn’t be another person other than John O’Nolan himself to speak about Ghost for Journalism.

In fact, in the beginning while he answered the question “why the name Ghost?”, John told us about his idea of having something you would not see, like a ghost; something which is there under the hood but it does matter because what matters most is what it stands for. That is when he explained that the whole vision of Ghost has been to publish and inform people; to have a society of better informed people so as they make better choices and decide wisely. The whole point of Ghost for Journalism is about bringing social change through information.

Besides another story that inspired John to choose the name Ghost is that of ghostwriters in Mexico who would publish their message without compromising their identity using blogs.

The technical director of LSL Digital, Loïc Forget, also attended the talk. He shared his views on journalism in a more connected society. They both talked about internet penetration in some parts of Africa as well as the quality of connectivity that could become an impediment to work as a digital nomad.

Ghost meetup at Flying Dodo

Nirvan and JoKi took turns to shoot the talk. The photos I use here are from Nirvan’s “Ghost - Happy Hour Q&A with John O’Nolan” album on Facebook.

Two years ago I installed Ghost and gave it a try. Humeira made a theme for me and I ran a tech blog for around six months. Not wishing to maintain two blogs, I dropped the idea of continuing with Ghost and maintained hacklog.mu which ran on WordPress. After last Wednesday’s talk I tinkered a bit more with Ghost and I migrated hacklog.mu from WordPress to Ghost. I will cover the technical aspects in a separate post.

I finish this post by thanking John O’Nolan for sharing his experience with us, Humeira & JoKi for organizing the meetup and everyone else who made that a great evening.