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  • Viral marketing with the creator of ‘The Oatmeal’ (SXSW2011)

    Meeting Matthew Inman, you’d never guess that this shy, slightly built 27-year-old is the caustic genius behind The Oatmeal, one of the web’s most phenomenally successful humour sites. You’d expect someone brash, angry, and overweight (like his characters). But then he opens his mouth, and the audience quickly goes from chuckling to screaming with laughter. Speaking at the interactive portion of the South by South West (SXSW) conference, Inman shared a few of his experiences in starting The Oatmeal, which in less than two years has generated a quarter of a billion views. Inman opens with a confession: “Disappointingly I don’t...

  • Could this be the world’s oldest computer?

    The seeds of the digital revolution were planted with the invention of the transistor in 1947, which led to the integrated circuit in the late 1950s followed by the world’s first microprocessor in 1971 that later gave birth to the personal computer. But according to archaeologists, the birth of the world’s first computer was much closer to the dawn of democracy than to the digital age. The so-called Antikythera Mechanism has become known as the world’s first analogue computer after a century since its discovery and decades of scientific research, including the use of cutting-edge 21st century computer vision technology in...

  • No NFC for the iPhone 5, says Apple

    Following a report of Apple meeting with several UK wireless operators, sources have disclosed that Apple’s anticipated iPhone 5 will not include NFC technology, stating concerns of a lack of clear standards across the industry. This wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has shown its hesitance in adding new features to its product range. It took years for the company to include a front facing camera, essentially developing FaceTime as a compelling reason to do so. Apple also failed to include the anticipated NFC technology on the iPad 2 and despite early rumours around Apple developing its own iTunes...

  • Social computing [Infographic]

    Visual frameworks which make sense of the variety of activity in social computing, can help marketers think more strategically about which tools to use. The popular Twitterverse by Brian Solis and JESS3 is busy, but interesting. Jan Mirius has put together a one page view of the roles of different types of social media sites. Jan was an Icon Added Value / AVNA consultant for 8 years who is now founding a social media startup, uNapse. He is self described as having one leg in Munich, Germany and one in Brooklyn NY. Cheskin Added Value put together a visual...

  • Formsly: A profitable approach to interactive ‘contact us’ pages?

    Formsly – Cape Town based, Silicon Cape start-up is adamant it is meeting the needs for a global market with its offering at www.formsly.com. Falling into the online tools and web-apps category of the tech industry, the startup is targeting individuals and small businesses. Formsly describes itself as a web app which allows users to create custom, feature-rich ‘contact’ pages for websites. Its features includes google maps, GPS, turn-by-turn navigation, social media links and integration, live support integration, as well as custom mailing lists and analytics. Formsly is available as a basic free service or a premium, paid...

  • Nanotechnology expert lays out a vision of the future

    A small but rapt audience in Cape Town had the opportunity to listen to one of the world’s foremost experts in nanotechnology last week. Christine Peterson is the co-founder and president of Foresight Institute, the leading nanotechnology public interest group and she serves on the advisory board of the International Council of Nanotechnology as well as NASA’s Nanotech Briefs. Interestingly, Peterson is also credited with inventing the term “open source” back in 1998 when the term free software was still being used. Speaking to a group of investors and financial analysts from Cadiz Holdings, she geared her talk very...

  • Could the internet be the greatest obstacle to free speech?

    Consider the internet as the greatest obstacle to free speech. Its sounds counter-intuitive, but according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the net serves as the “greatest spying machine the world has ever seen”. In an address to Cambridge University students on Tuesday, Assange said social networking sites such as Facebook gave governments greater scope for snooping. “There was actually a Facebook revolt in Cairo three or four years ago,” Assange explained. “It was very small… After it, Facebook was used to round up all the principal participants and they were then beaten, interrogated and incarcerated. “So while the Internet has in some...

  • Facebook’s India-style viral curve in Brazil

    If history proves a guide, Facebook will soon take over from Orkut as Brazil’s dominant social network. The curves on this graph show a familiar story of what happens when Facebook’s growth curve shifts into a sharp upwards direction. Similar curves were seen, for example, when the once-dominant Friendster died in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. In this case, I made a comparison to Orkut in India, since India and Brazil were the few major nations where Google’s social network dominated. The data is drawn from Google Trends, an indicator of what people are searching for in given geographies. Over the last two...

  • TEDx comes to Cape Town

    The highly successful non-profit global set of conferences, TED has spawned a program of ‘local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience’ – called TEDx – and it’s coming to Cape Town. The event, named TEDxCapeTown, will combine TEDTalks video and live speakers to ignite engaging, deep discussion and connection within a small group. The self-organized local event will be held at the Ratanga Junction theme park on the 16 April 2011 and will include speakers and well known personalities such as Springleap co-founder Eran Eyal, Cognician co-founder Patrick Kayton and SAB Environmentalist of the Year...

  • Baidu branded a ‘thief’ by Chinese writers

    Chinese writers have accused Chinese search engine giant Baidu of infringing their copyright. They have gone as far as branding it a “thief” in the latest claims of piracy against the company. More than 40 writers, including controversial blogger Han Han, have signed a letter claiming Baidu provided their works for free to download on its online library Baidu Wenku without their permission. “Baidu has become a totally corrupt thief company,” the authors said in the letter posted Tuesday on the website of government-linked China Written Works Copyright Society. “It stole our works, our rights, our property and has turned Baidu Wenku...

  • Staring through a glass screen: The limits of online interaction

    If you’re ever in doubt about how pervasively social media has reconstellated the boundary lines of peer-to-peer communication, privacy, and the online/offline divide, consider the story of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide off the George Washington Bridge late last year. When Clementi’s college roommate, Dharun Ravi, found out he was sharing dorms with a gay freshman (“Found out my roomate is gay”:22 August), he began his own voyeuristic cyber-documentary via a streaming webcam and Twitter. (“Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into Molly’s room and turned on my web cam. I saw him making out...

  • Groupon SA gives you a way to help Japanese disaster relief

    Groupon SA is working with its sister companies around the world to raise funds for emergency disaster relief for those worst affected by the earthquake and flooding in Japan. Japan is a developed nation, but the sheer scale of this catastrophic disaster has left emergency services reeling. The International Red Cross is providing immediate shelter, food and water to desperate people while national emergency services get up and running properly. If South Africans wish to contribute to the Red Cross’ relief activities in Japan, Groupon has set up its systems that you can buy a “Groupon for Japan” through MyCityDeal.co.za...

  • YouTube Symphony Orchestra debut to be live-streamed on 20 March

    The 101 members of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 have arrived in Sydney this week for a gala performance Sunday, March 20, that will light up the sails of Sydney Opera House and be live-streamed to YouTube’s global audience at 11:00 am South African time. Musicians from more than 30 countries — selected through an online audition that garnered millions of views on the YouTube Symphony channel — will join together for a week of rehearsals and concerts around Sydney which build up to the finale event. The March 20 performance will be conducted by award-winning conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas....

  • 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...

  • Microsoft reveals final version of IE9

    Microsoft’s latest version of the Internet Explorer web browsing software is free, it’s online and of course, it has been released to counter the challenges posed by competitors Firefox and Google Chrome. “IE9 has just released around the world,” a booming voice told a cheering crowd on Monday in Texas, where a launch bash was thrown to celebrate the arrival of the new browser. Internet Explorer 9 or IE9 as it may become popularly known, is available for download in 30 languages at beautyoftheweb.com. “Things are about to change,” Microsoft corporate vice president Dean Hachamovitch told journalists a few hours earlier at...