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All posts by Sandra Pitcher

Sandra Pitcher
Sandra is a techno-geek who is generally excited by anything with buttons, touch screens or flashing lights. Currently, she is a contract lecturer at both the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg) and Varsity College, specialising in social media, journalism and ethics, while simultaneously trying to grapple with a PhD that deals with newspaper cartoons and a socially responsible press in South Africa. As a wannabe academic, she has presented research on social media at several communication conferences, both locally and internationally, and published two academic journal articles and a book chapter in the past three years. She is also in the process of converting her Masters dissertation, which dealt with YouTube and copyright issues in the South African context, into a book.
  • 3 things Mobile Web East Africa taught us about the state of tech in Africa

    Last week, All Amber hosted the third Mobile Web East Africa conference in Nairobi. The event, which allows key industry players to share ideas, addressed various issues ranging from the mobile film industry, the work of NGOs in Africa, to startup developers demonstrating their wares. This helped provide greater insight into the mobile market both in East Africa and the rest of the continent; proving that Africa should be considered as one of the most important up-and-coming players in the global mobile market. The conference established that by 2016, there will be over a billion mobile phones...

  • 10 of our favourite viral videos of 2012

    Hands up if you’re surprised that the Mayans were wrong; better yet, hands up if, like me, you took their prediction as an excuse to spend way too much on wine to ‘prepare’ for the imminent apocalypse. But then again, the day’s not over so we might still face zombies, Horsemen or the Second Coming, wine in hand. Either way, 2012 is on its way out, and while we wait for whatever may happen, we can reminisce over the year that’s been with some of the best and most popular viral videos of the past twelve months. Kony 2012 Who can forget...

  • Can Myspace really come back from the dead?

    Could Myspace’s new re-brand finally give it the competitive edge needed to really challenge the dominance of Facebook? If the new design, launched by new owners Joseph Mark (and backed by Justin Timberlake) is anything to go by, it seems a likely assumption. By giving users a unique opportunity to enter a social network that caters to a specific niche demographic — musicians, filmmakers, photographers, and their fans — it deviates from the clutter that litters Facebook, and the abundance of lolcats and wedding dresses on Pinterest. More importantly, it bears no resemblance to Facebook’s Timeline (a tool...

  • How the Arab Spring and social media have changed the face of student protest

    In the wake of the Arab spring, and the fall of a number of government regimes, many writers and social commentators have highlighted the power that social media gives the ordinary citizen. This sentiment seems true if we consider that students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa used Facebook to help unpaid staff members to finally be heard and renumerated. The Facebook group ‘UKZN Student Action’, rallied together recently in protest, after it was reported that more than 700 contract staff members and tutors had not been remunerated since January. The group was started...

  • 5 Reasons Facebook Timeline’s time is limited

    By now, most Facebook users have made the transition to the new Timeline profile page, and it’s only inevitable that the resistant few will be forced to follow, as Facebook make the changes permanent in the next week or so. The change has been advertised as a way in which to “rediscover the things you shared”, but more importantly, as a way to map personal milestones that occurred in the days pre-social media. As with all Facebook updates, user response has been mixed, with many complaining that the new features are cumbersome to use; and to be fair, they’re...

  • How to achieve social media maturity in 5 simple steps

    There is no doubt that social media has changed the way in which people interact with organisational brands, and yet many companies still lag behind when it comes to developing a coherent strategy in regard to social technologies. In a recent report, Forrester, an independent research company, highlighted that one in five businesses do not use social technologies at all, and a third of all companies are still getting off the ground. Organisations can, however, change this trend and reach an active level of social maturity, in relatively little time, if the proper steps are taken, says Forrester. 1. Invest...

  • 5 Things you should know about Google’s new terms and conditions

    We all know that Google recently updated its terms, conditions and privacy policies. The company argued that the change would ensure that all Google services would be consolidated under one, simple to understand, universal set of conditions, rather than expecting users to navigate a multitude of separate policies for each of their services. Few analysts have been convinced, with many citing that Google is more concerned with turning a profit than protecting user privacy; either way, Google has gone ahead with its changes and, as Memeburn columnist Rowan Puttergill recently wrote, “if Google feels that its applications will function better...

  • 10 Weirdly useful things you can learn from YouTube

    YouTube abounds with information, some useful, some completely useless, and some that defies all reason to exist. You can find videos on how to pour beer, shower and tie your shoes in the correct way. Who knew that you’d been doing it wrong all this time? There are also hints on how to take apart an ATM, cheat on a test and stalk your ex-girlfriend. None of which is advisable, but you can still learn how to do it anyway. Every now and then, however, you stumble upon a video that could be useful (to some)...

  • Sky News, trust your journalists with Twitter

    Sky News has come under immense criticism after it was reported that it had banned all employees re-tweeting information provided by rival journalists and the general public. In an email issued to all employees on Tuesday, the news organisation stated that in order to maintain its credibility, new social media guidelines had been put into place. In the policy, journalists are no longer permitted to re-tweet stories which originate outside the organisation, nor are they allowed to comment on stories which fall outside of their “beat”. This, according to the email, will “ensure that our journalism...

  • A woman’s world: How social media has changed gaming

    When one mentions gaming, your mind is generally flooded with images of washed-out nerdy white guys, sitting in a darkened room, hunched over their computers for days on end. But if recent research is anything to go by, the stereotype is changing, as more and more female gamers enter the fray. A recent study conducted by PopCap Games (most famous for Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled) found that women were the most active gamers on social networking sites, making up over 55% of gamers. The study implies that there is a direct correlation between the rise in popularity...

  • How free should free speech be on Twitter?

    The Washington Post recently reported that Twitter had again come under criticism for its free speech policies. The story outlined the plight of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law group, which has threatened to sue Twitter unless the site agreed to shut down the account of a Hezbollah-affiliated television news station. Operating as @almanarnews, the account posts in Arabic, English and French, and as with most news feeds, reports on a number of global stories. Shurat HaDin claims however, that by allowing the account to stay open, Twitter is helping to aid a network which is sympathetic towards an American-labelled...

  • Memeburn’s top viral videos of 2011

    It’s that time of year again when we feel the need to look back and consider everything that has happened and been achieved over the last twelve months. YouTube recently published its official list, which contained few surprises. Our list is a little different and contains some our favourite viral videos of 2011. They may not have had the most hits, but they did have a tonne of awesome! 10. T-Mobile Angry...

  • Are social networks really killing privacy?

    It was recently reported that Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, had his private Facebook account hacked. The hackers were able to download a number of private photographs from Zuckerberg’s account and share them throughout the Web. They claimed that they were attempting to highlight the flaws in Facebook’s new privacy settings which were installed in late November. Interestingly, Facebook has refused to comment on the matter, but has subsequently repaired the “hole” which allowed the hackers entry to Zuckerberg’s private account. This ironic turn of events has opened up debates surrounding Facebook’s flawed privacy system again, and it is doubtful whether...

  • Five things you should know about intellectual copyright and online sharing

    Rewind to 1999. Napster, the first major peer-to-peer networks is launched. Its goal? To allow internet users the facility to share and distribute music files freely to hundreds of thousands of network users. It wasn’t long, however, before record companies began to cry foul, citing that the network was aiding piracy and infringing on the copyright of music artists. Napster, or at least its first incarnation, was eventually shutdown in 2001 and overall, online sharing was considered by many corporations and intellectual property (IP) activists, at the time, to be a major threat to IP rights. Fast forward to today....

  • What killed Myspace? Is Facebook next?

    With over 800 million users worldwide, Facebook has all but annihilated its oldest, closest rival Myspace, and left cyberspace littered with the remnants of social networking start-ups that tried to match its success. But how? What made Facebook so much better, and how did it manage to topple a company like Myspace which was expected to generate over US$1-billion in 2007? Overall, Facebook had a number of key successes which helped to elevate its status from young upstart to key financial player. A lot, however, has to do with a number of crucial mistakes made by Myspace...