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All posts by Matthew Stone: Columnist

Matthew Stone is a smart guy in Research and Analysis at The Rubiks Room (TRR). Matt supplies sick beats and writes a lot when he’s not exploring the intimate regions of the Internet and its citizens. You can hire him to be a CPR training model.
  • Online music licensing: The good, the bad and the ugly

    Rumour has it that Spotify is looking around for yet another huge round of investment, one that would take the company’s valuation from around US$1-billion to over US$3-billion. One might ask why a company that seems wildly successful to most always needs new investment. How, with over 2-million paying subscribers, does Spotify continuously end up far in the red? How much in the red you may ask? 2010 saw it post a reported loss of US$42 million… (up from US$26 million in 2009). The numbers aren’t out for 2011 yet, but it’s expected that the losses are still increasing....

  • The rise and rise of reddit

    Earlier this month, social news site reddit became operationally independent from its owner Condé Nast Publications, forming Reddit Inc. as a subsidiary of Advance Publications, Condé Nast’s parent company. Condé Nast acquired Reddit in October 2006, when reddit was still considered the smaller, tighter knit, cousin of Digg. Back then reddit was receiving around 700 000 page views per day. Now reddit “routinely gets that much traffic in 15 minutes“. Over the last four years reddit has been steadily growing into one of the less well known, but more influential online social communities. Probably most impressively, it is...

  • What has the digital revolution actually done for musicians?

    There are few industries that have felt the move to digital and online more acutely and publicly than the music industry. The rise and fall of Napster, the move from CDs to mp3, viral sensations, piracy, the iPod, iTunes, Spotify. Many have fallen and floundered in the change, others have fed and flourished. As established ‘music industry’ revenues sit at record lows, Apple’s rise to one of the most successful companies in the world counts the success of the iPod as one of its primary turning points. While Lily Allen throws in the towel, claiming one cannot make money...

  • The black marks: Zuckerberg’s legal legacy

    As with most semi-biographical films, The Social Network convinces many who watch it that they develop a comprehensive knowledge of its subject matter, in this case the origins of Facebook and its founder’s misdeeds. As well researched a movie as it was, there is more to the litigation surrounding these two then what was included in David Fincher’s chronicle. So, in order to level the playing field, this is all the dirt we know about the man who created the system that knows all the dirt about us. The metaphorical photo album that Zuckerberg would surely want to un-tag...

  • A much needed (Song)kick to online concert bookings

    South Africans may have noticed the influx of international acts venturing tours to their fair shores. Until now, we have generally had a poor showing with regards to big artist concerts (with the exception of the ill-fated Coke festivals). Artists have to fly all the way to the south of Africa, where there are only three cities that can really support large scale concerts, and then have to span an entire continent...

  • A new age in cyber warfare — Anonymous, LulzSec and Stuxnet

    Growing up in the nineties, television and film made me believe that hackers could do anything. I pictured an emaciated Russian teenager typing on the keyboard of his multiple monitor display, green text scrolling down a black screen. Those scrawny fingers could assume identities or muddle up traffic lights. They were the dark practitioners of mysterious arts. Those were the early days of the web, though, when it was all still a bit wild west. It was before the September that never ended. The internet is supposed to be safe and established these days. Surely internet security experts,...

  • The future of music charts

    Up till now, judging who is top of the music game has been relatively simple. Music Award shows like the Grammy’s and the MTV Music Awards reward the top and popular artists through judges or votes. The Billboard chart shows us who the best-selling artists are, judged on CD sales and radio plays. MTV and VH1 have decided what the top videos are. But things are changing. In the last few years, music culture has transformed. CD sales are being usurped by digital sales, but even the latter are under pressure as music fans stream their favourite tracks through a...

  • Google Music: What it is and what it means

    The internet and music industry waited with baited breath for the highly anticipated Google Music to finally make its first appearance. With the massive amount of clout that Google has online, people have wondered how Google Music might change the digital landscape and perhaps offer some sort of competition to Apple’s dominion over online music. After much talk and speculation, Google finally launched Google Music beta by exclusive invite to certain users in the US. So what exactly is Google music? In short Google Music is a cloud based music streaming service. It allows users to upload up to 20 000...

  • The cutting edge: Look to the future, but don’t get lost in it

    One of the keys to success in the fast paced world of technology and internet culture is keeping your eyes on the horizon. It’s always about what’s on the up, what the next big thing is. It’s not enough to know what’s happening now; it’s all about what’s happening tomorrow. With the internet’s information machine distributing everything almost instantly around the world, no one wants to be the slightest bit late in hearing the buzz. It is obviously important to follow future trends. But looking in any one direction can have its drawbacks. The future may be important to bear...

  • Who is making money in online music?

    There has been much talk about the turmoil facing the music industry, and its fragmented online state. If you keep your ear to the ground, you can get an idea of the online music services that are popular. It’s fairly easy to find rough estimates of user base and internet traffic for this shifting landscape. But popularity alone cannot keep a company afloat, only income can. What is less available online are indications of where money is actually being made. In an industry that is infamous for it’s failed start-ups, and even the quick fall of its old guard, who...

  • Artificial limitations: How will copyright hold up to 3D printing?

    As content moved into the digital realm, copyright found itself facing tremendous new challenges. Digital content may require resources to create, but it requires nearly nothing to be replicated. Slowly but surely, our media lost all limitations with regards to distribution. First the written word fell to word processors, photocopiers and printers. Photography followed suit. With CD/DVD writers and broadband connections, audio and video are going the same way. All these media have become practically free to transfer and spread. This was a mixed blessing for the content creators; as distribution costs dropped, so too did the value of their...

  • Could Bitcoin be the global online currency?

    With the rapid growth of eCommerce over the last decade, online payment has become a hugely influential area. This niche has made fortunes for credit card companies, and services like Paypal, providing the ability for real currency to be used online with relative ease. With the estimated total value of eCommerce approaching a trillion US$, there is another solution that may be even more useful. Perhaps it is time for a global online currency? Bitcoin is such a currency, created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. It is an anonymous, open source and peer to peer fiat currency. There is no central...

  • For developing nations, online music remains out of reach

    It’s no secret that the global established music industry is in a tumultuous period. 2010 saw album sales dropping another 12% in the USA, by far the world’s largest music consumer. The increase in digital sales (which now make up 46% of music purchases) has not been enough to offset rapidly declining CD sales. It has become clear that capturing online music now is key in determining the future music industry superpowers. This is not to say that the battle hasn’t already started. The online music landscape is a crowded marketplace, with many services jockeying for their position. The...

  • It’s elementary, dear Watson

    In a spectacular showcase for IBM, supercomputer Watson defeated two quiz show heavyweights on the American show Jeopardy! over the first half of last week. This was the first time a computer had ever been entered against a human opponent on the show. Watson was trained for years before finally facing off against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the respective record holders for biggest winner and longest champion streak. What is particularly interesting are the parallels to IBM’s previous success… the famous chess victory of Deep Blue back in May 1997. The chess-playing computer beat world champion Garry Kasparov...

  • WikiLeaks: A morality tale of the modern media

    It is a captivating story, isn’t it? Julian Assange, the face of WikiLeaks, is now an enemy of some of the most powerful people in the world. This Australian born ex-hacker, questionably accused of sex crimes, is now on the run from Interpol and hiding out in Europe. The recent leak has spread like wildfire over news sources, while its web origin is under constant DDOS attack, at least in part by a hacker known as “The Jester” (@Th3J35t3r). It’s the closest thing, at least in my lifetime, to watching a political psychological thriller occurring in front of the...