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  • Is digital marketing becoming the new traditional?

    One of the “Big Discussions” in advertising at the moment concerns the growth of digital, and the effect it is having on the industry as a whole, as well as the agencies that belong to it. So-called “traditional” agencies are expanding into the digital space, while the digital agencies that started off on the more geeky side of online marketing are becoming more creative by the day. A fantastic example of a creative triumph by a digital agency occurred recently at the hands of South African digital agency, Quirk. A video produced for the web as part of a greater...

  • The best and worst Superbowl commercials of 2011

    For those of you not residing in North America, Superbowl Sunday only registers as a vague blip on the media landscape. But for Americans at home and around the globe, the Superbowl is a seismic event on the calendar — a de facto national holiday and the most-watched event on American television. While the game itself is important, the National Anthem, the half-time entertainment and the commercials that are screened during the game have become equally important, and act as a barometer of what’s hot and what’s not in the U.S. This year’s commercials were a mixed bag....

  • Twitter: All talk and no action on social responsibility

    The San Francisco Bay Guardian (SFBG), a local newspaper, has published an editorial that recommends the city government not give tax breaks to Twitter. The SFBG reports that Twitter “is threatening to leave San Francisco and take 350 employees to a new headquarters in Brisbane.” The move might be avoided if city officials come up with a favourable tax plan: “The latest plans call for a payroll tax exemption that would cap the company’s future tax bills at US$250 000.” The SFBG calls it “corporate blackmail.” This is all a bit much. When I went to see Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone...

  • Huffington Post bought by AOL for $315-million

    In a major vote of confidence for one of the world’s most well-respected blogs, US internet provider AOL will buy The Huffington Post, a rapidly growing news website with nearly 25 million monthly visitors, for US$315-million, the company announced on Monday. Approximately US$300-million will be paid in cash, it said. The Huffington Post is privately owned, but the proposed transaction is subject to government approvals. The boards of directors of each company and shareholders of The Huffington Post have approved the transaction, expected to close in the late first- or early second-quarter of 2011, the announcement said. Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post’s co-founder...

  • “1984”: The possible future of mobile?

    “To the youth of Egypt, beware of rumours, listen to the voice of reason, Egypt is above everything, preserve it.” — This is one of several text messages which were sent out by mobile operators in Egypt since mass protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak began on January 25. In a stunning revelation, Vodafone, a British-based mobile operator, said last week that all mobile operators in Egypt had been ordered to suspend services in some areas amid the protests, and that they were obliged to send out these mass text messages under Egyptian law. There is a dark...

  • What your mobile apps say about you

    The adage “you can tell a person by the contents of their handbag” may have been true once, but now all you really need to understand someone is to know how they use their smartphone. The secret to determining someone’s personality lies beneath the apps they’ve installed on their phone. Based on recent research commissioned by Nokia, society’s relationship with their cell phones has changed significantly. We are now a country of “app dependants” with 65 per cent of smartphone users in South Africa relying on apps to significantly benefit their lives while at home (50 per cent), travelling (13...

  • The politics of the Facebook friend

    Though they’re much criticised for their idiosyncrasies, the comments section on any webpage holds a morbid fascination for me. I know that the attitudes and opinions that one is likely to come across can be nasty, but just like a horror film, I can’t help but look. In my last article, a tale of, “How my ‘friends’ killed Facebook for me“, I couldn’t help but look. Besides the groundbreaking revelation that I am a “self-important pretentious git” (a turn of phrase I must admit I rather like), some comments made a very honest point. Essentially, what they argued was, if...

  • New dating website ‘steals’ photos from Facebook

    In an ironic case of art imitating life, a freshly-launched dating website that lets visitors seek mates by sifting through profile pictures mined from Facebook. Hacking and art mixed on Friday in a case that has many similarites to the founding of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg. Lovely-faces.com boasted Facebook pictures of about 250 000 people searchable in categories that included nationality, gender, funny, smug, and “climber.” The creators of the online “dating agency” were identified at the website as artists Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovic. ‘Our mission was to give all these virtual identities a new shared place to expose themselves...

  • Imogen Heap: Teaching us “Heaps” about the power of social media

    Imogen Heap sits at her see-through piano, the inside lit by coils of red-and-white Christmas lighting, a Chinese gong and the skeleton of an acacia tree dangling above her head. She flexes her delicate fingers over the keys, and then she freezes, struck by a fleeting thought. “First,” she says, turning to the audience, “I need my tea.” She hooks a dainty cup, takes a sip, and throws back her head, gurgling. Then she plays the piano and sings, the music dreamy and sinuous, her voice weaving in and out of the synthesized loops, as the stage darkens and the...

  • How US diplomats are using social media, inspired by the Obama campaign

    In 2009, the US embassy in South Africa embarked on a new approach to diplomacy. We set up a Facebook page, started a Twitter account and established a presence on MXit, a mobile chat service which attracts millions of youth. Our embrace of these social media sites reflected a shift in thinking at the US Department of State fuelled by the successful use of social media during Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign. But it is South Africa itself that has demonstrated how much we as diplomats have to gain by reaching out to citizens through new media. Our Facebook site...

  • That’s it folks. The internet is over

    The global warehouse for Internet addresses has run empty. The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) doled out its last five batches of “IP” numbers that identify destinations for digital traffic. “A pool of more than four billion Internet addresses has been emptied this morning,” ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom said at a Miami press conference. “It is completely depleted. There are no more.” He brushed aside fears of modern life being devastated by an “IPocalypse,” saying Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) worldwide will be doling out remaining addresses to support a shift to a bountiful new “IPv6″ format. “It is like running...

  • President Zuma gathers Twitter ideas for State of the Nation address

    Governments around the world are embracing social media as a way of communicating with their citizens. The role of social media in political campaigning gained much credibility after the US election campaign of 2008, which saw President Obama swept all the way into the White House. By using the most powerful social media platforms of the day, Twitter and Facebook. governments and political figures are seeking to leverage the platforms to their advantage. When South African President Jacob Zuma takes the stage for his annual State of the Nation address on the 10th of February, a selection of the...

  • Iconic shoe designer Kenneth Cole puts his foot in it on Twitter

    The ability to fire off a tweet in a matter of seconds without really thinking about the consequences is as much a blessing as a curse. Sometimes it really works, and sometimes the consequences are nothing but embarassing. New York-based fashion designer Kenneth Cole, famous for his men’s collection of bags and shoes, got it wildly wrong this week with a tweet that was the height of bad taste. Reaction was instant and scathing across Twitter. Particularly in light of the fact that tweets signed “KC” indicate that they are from the man himself, and not some intern with a...

  • If the geeks ran Hollywood

    Hollywood and Silicon Valley have always had an intense, complicated relationship. While the moguls who run the film studios watch jealously as all the investment capital flows to the startups, the geeks watch jealously as the fame and accolades are lain at the feet of the stars. Let’s imagine a scenario where the geeks were the ones developing storylines, storyboarding scenes and giving the green light to movie projects they would like to get made. The Fugitive Starring Julian Assange Tagline: “Guardian of the truth. Wrecker of international relations.” Julian Assange, founder of whistleblowing site Wikileaks, is forced to become a...

  • The 7 faces of the iPhone user [Infographic]

    Ahh…. the iPhone, the height of status in our society today. Those who have it won’t stop gushing about how amazing it is. Those who don’t have one wish they did (yes you do stop denying it). You see iPhone users all over town, always on their phones and busy with some “cool” app or other. Generally, when you meet someone with an iPhone it takes them less than 30 seconds to make it clear they have an iPhone. The fever is catching and the users are getting more and more interesting. Below is a fun infographic by AllAreaCodes.com...