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All posts by Vanessa Clark

Vanessa Clark
Vanessa is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s been writing about technology since the last century, mostly looking at people, businesses and technology coming together to make something useful and interesting happen. When she’s not deciphering tech-speak, she’s probably running on a mountain trail.
  • Help is literally at hand for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in South Africa

    In amongst all the frothing at the mouth about the latest Apple iPhone-this and Samsung Galaxy-that, I do love a good “feature phones change lives story”. So I eagerly joined today’s Cape Town launch of Help@hand, a mobile information service that provides people who are refugees, asylum seekers or migrants with a way to stay informed about their legal rights in South Africa. The USSD-based feature phone service is also a platform to report xenophobic attacks, corruption or unlawful arrests. Crucially, the first-of-its-kind in South Africa, low-cost service is available in English, Kiswahili, Somali and French, with Oromo due for...

  • Startups: forget consumer, B2B is where it’s at

    Pssst! Startups. Lose your fixation with consumer-facing services, take a look at solving problems for enterprises and start riding the “techquisition” wave. Techquisition is what Gartner is dubbing the acquisition of clever technology by businesses -- in any sector, and is one of the ways they are advising enterprises to get ahead as a digital business. What’s the background to this? Well businesses are entering a "bimodal" phase, says Gartner. On the one hand, they need to keep the lights on, minimise risk, keep costs down and steer a slow-and-steady course when it comes to technology. On the other, they...

  • Forecast for 2030: connected with a chance of smart

    Facebook, YouTube, the iPhone, Twitter, Uber and Instagram. These are all things that didn’t exist at the turn of the millennium. Which was only 15 years ago. Now fast forward a decade and a half from 2015. Given that the rate of change is speeding up, what will the world look like then? What should businesses be thinking about today, to set themselves up for success in 2030? While Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow speaking at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2015, held in Cape Town at the end of September, didn’t promise to predict the future, he did maintain...

  • ‘Because the CEO said so’ and 9 other cloud myths to avoid

    Cloud, schmoud, right? If you’ve been nodding your head sagely anytime the cloud comes up, while quietly thinking to yourself “what does cloud even mean?”, rest assured you’re not alone. No clear definition of cloud computing is still very much a challenge, and is partially down to "cloudwashing" -- calling anything and everything “cloud computing”. This is according to David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow at Gartner Research, speaking at the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015 in Cape Town. Some more reassurance: according to Smith, the number one inquiry at Gartner is "what’s a cloud strategy and how do...

  • Through the looking glass: why South African CIOs need to run to keep up with tech

    You know things aren’t business as usual in the IT world when Gartner vice president of research, John Lovelock, asks: “Have you read Alice in Wonderland?” He was referring to the scene in Through the Looking Glass where Alice is surprised that she hasn't moved at all after running until she was out of breath. The Red Queen explains: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must try to run at least twice as fast as that!” This is how Lovelock...

  • Defying Facebook: which emerging market social networks will stand tall?

    Social networking stalwart Facebook claims one-billion users. That’s around a seventh of the population of the planet. Sometimes it’s easy to believe the internet is comprised solely of Google, Wikipedia and Facebook. But what about more regional social networks, mobile social networks and specifically those with a strong foothold in emerging markets? How do they stack up against the behemoth that is Facebook? According to Italian social media strategist Vincenzo Cosenza although Facebook’s star is still ascending around the world, there are pockets of the globe where the social networking giant does not claim number one position. Cosenza’s been tracking these...

  • What we can learn from some of 2012’s biggest social media fails

    Previously a darling of the social media scene, retailer Woolworths had its fair share of digital travails this year, from Halaal hot cross buns, to accusations of ripping off Frankie’s Olde Soft Drink Company, to calls for boycotts over perceived racist job adverts. But it was not alone. Around the world companies – in fact, very often retailers as well – had online conversations turn nasty. In Woolworth’s case, things came to a head in September with calls for the stores to be boycotted after a so-called whistle-blower accused the company of being racist based on the content of its...

  • 9 of the most bizarre Christmas presents you can buy online

    Tired of the same old soap on a rope, bottle of wine or pair of socks Christmas present clichés? Want to liven up the present selection under the tree this year? Here are some of the most bizarre presents and festive season items to be found on Etsy and Pinterest. It might be a hangover from Movember, but there seems to be a much wider than expected range of moustache-related, festive-season themed paraphernalia to be had. So to keep the moustachioed hipster in your life happy, choose from the following: Chocolate Peppermint Holiday Moustache According to the Etsy write up, this product...

  • 12 Ways to have an ‘appy’, digital Christmas

    Christmas already, you say? Surely there’s an app for that? Of course there is and this Christmas we bring you the tops apps for a fun festive season, for Apple, Android and BlackBerry. Top iPhone and iPad apps for a happy Christmas 1. Christmas Tale HD This free app for iPhones and iPads was voted the best multimedia book for Christmas last year. Part advent calendar, part greeting card builder, part Christmas gift list, part multimedia story, part educational game – children’s Christmas favourites have been pulled together into this app. The app has been updated this year to include jigsaw...

  • Rise of the machines: is Google changing history?

    According to the experience of thousands of Australian students, Google might just be changing history. Back in the day it was my revisionist politics professors who took the blame for rewriting history, especially in early 1990s South Africa. At least their intentions were honourable and they were mindful of what they were doing (that’s not to say everyone agreed with them). Nowadays, however, it seems that it is possible to change history accidentally, carelessly, maliciously or just for fun. We’re told by the poster child of crowdsourced information, Wikipedia, that the system has the ability to heal itself and, to be...

  • 6 music apps that are rocking Facebook

    If video killed the radio star, then Facebook certainly gave it a second life. Internet radio and other music streaming services are seeing a massive uptick thanks to integration with the social media giant via its Open Graph platform. With Facebook changing so fast, and so often, it’s difficult to keep up with what has been around from the start, and what is a recent addition. Timeline integration with apps has only been around for a bit longer than a year, since Open Graph was launched by the company. And Facebook and music is a match made in heaven. Music is...

  • The online freedom of speech pickle: it’s only getting more complicated

    Figuring out when trolling becomes dangerous abuse or when a deeply held political opinion comes hate speech is difficult. Add in factors like anonymity the interference of government in a space that was philosophically intended to be open and you can see why freedom of speech online is such a muddy issue. Things aren't about to get any clearer either. Previously Memeburn has reported the concerns of Vint Cerf -- one of the fathers of the internet and Google’s chief internet evangelists -- about an authoritarian trend in emerging markets including India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and of...

  • Puns, goths and memes: 10 Tumblrs you have to read

    Now that calm has been returned to the blogosphere, after Tumblr’s recent six-hour outage, we thought this would be a good time to take a peek at some of the most popular sites on the microblogging-slash-social networking site. Sitting somewhere at the intersection of Facebook, Twitter and WordPress, the five-and-a-half year old site currently boasts 79-million blogs and almost 35-billion posts. At time of writing, 9.5 million posts had been published on this day alone. Towards the end of the last year, Tumblr received US$85-million in funding from existing investors and new investors, which include Richard Branson. Tumblr.com has a...

  • Demo Africa: the future of African startups looks bright

    Flowgear, a South African startup that offers application integration for the cloud era, was named one of the Demo Lions and will be joining four other African startups in the US for mentorship and introduction to potential investors. The Demo Lion awards are under the auspices of the US State Department. Flowgear offers companies pre-built connectors that allow quick and easy implementation for developers without the need for coding. The company bridges cloud and on-premise applications and simplifies integration management with full visibility of data flows. Read more on Ventureburn. var vglnk={key:"cc324b6567a9637aa0ff15bc9564b2a5"};!function(e,a){var t=e.createElement(a);t.type="text/javascript",t.async=!0,t.src="//cdn.viglink.com/api/vglnk.js";var n=e.getElementsByTagName(a);n.parentNode.insertBefore(t,n)}(document,"script");

  • The 15 most valuable emerging market technology companies on Wall Street

    Wall Street, home to Gordon Gecko, the Smurfs ringing the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) bell and eye-wateringly large initial public offering (IPO) valuations. It is home to the two largest bourses in the world by capitalisation, the NYSE and Nasdaq respectively. Unsurprisingly, the 20 most valuable emerging market technology companies listed on either the NYSE or Nasdaq originate in Asia. (I haven't included the telecoms giants from South America -- which are listed as public utilities.) South Africa’s Wall Street listings are all in the mining sector, but its top technology contender, MTN Group, listed on the Johannesburg Stock...