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All posts by Julia Breakey

  • 2017 in review: this year’s absolute worst of the worst

    This year has been a whirlwind of racist scandal after sexist scandal after "How have they been running a business? Holy shit" scandal. So if you think you made poor choices in 2017, grab yourself a bottle of red, slap on a face mask, and let's indulge in the unhealthiest form of self care there is: relishing in the relief of not having made that mistake. This is Memeburn's list of the perpetrators of the dumbest public mistakes of 2017. This is part three, involving heinous individuals who intentionally physically hurt other human beings -- and this year finally received their reckoning. Click here for Part 1 and...

  • 2017 in review: the heinous horrors that got you angry this year

    This year has been a whirlwind of racist scandal after sexist scandal after "How have they been running a business? Holy shit" scandal. So if you think you made poor choices in 2017, grab yourself a bottle of red, slap on a face mask, and let's indulge in the unhealthiest form of self care there is: relishing in the relief of not having made that mistake. This is Memeburn's list of the perpetrators of the dumbest public mistakes of 2017. Part two involves heinous mistakes that mostly tarnished institutions' names rather than individuals. Part 1 can be found here. Travis Kalanick Uber founder Travis Kalanick's terrible, horrible,...

  • #ANC54 is a reminder that Twitter is still crawling with Guptabots

    When Twitter was outed for housing hundreds of thousands of propagandist Russian bots during the 2016 US election, it vowed to do better. The company became committed to "transparency", donated the ad revenue the propaganda pulled in, and made a bunch of promises as to how they would avoid this manipulation in the future. As Twitter was making promises, though, South Africa was discovering the extent of its own misinformation campaigns. Twitter has promised the US more "transparency", but has kept mum on SA's Guptabots In November 2016, The Daily Maverick first identified 100 Twitter accounts that all touted similar messages with "white monopoly capital" as...

  • 2017 in review: the public mistakes you smashed on social this year

    This year has been a whirlwind of racist scandal after sexist scandal after "How have they been running a business? Holy shit" scandal. So if you think you made poor choices in 2017, grab yourself a bottle of red, slap on a face mask, and let's indulge in the unhealthiest form of self care there is: relishing in the relief of not having made that mistake. This is Memeburn's list of the perpetrators of the dumbest public mistakes in 2017, starting with the people who may have made a dumb mistake, but at least they didn't directly hurt anyone. Two additional lists covering the heinous and downright disgusting are...

  • Facebook says social media is only bad if you do it wrong

    Facebook has admitted that social media can be bad, but only when you're not doing it right. As part of the company's "Hard Questions" blog series, director of research David Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke attempted to answer whether or not spending time on social media is bad for us. The duo examined a couple of academic studies that pointed towards social media's detriment: psychologist Jean Twenge's analysis of the correlation between depression and smartphone usage; psychologist Sherry Turkle's assertion that mobile phones make us "alone together". Facebook knows social media can be bad, but it's placed the blame on users But, Facebook...

  • Last week in trailers: Annihilation, South Africa’s Catching Feelings, David Bowie doc & more

    It's not a good time to release trailers: Star Wars: The Last Jedi just came out, it's almost Christmas, and everyone is hyper-focussed on taking a much-needed break. Unwilling to compete for that attention, major studios have avoided releasing trailers -- which is why this week we have a hodgepodge collection of indie sci-fis, a local drama, and cheesy Christmas fun. Annihilation Based on the eponymous novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation tells the story of Lena, a biologist who volunteers to explore an environmental disaster zone that seriously injured her husband. The film is directed by Ex Machina's Alex Garland and stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa...

  • Lens Studio lets anyone create lenses for Snapchat

    Snap's latest desktop app Lens Studio lets anyone from students to full-time developers create their own lenses for Snapchat and its users. The app lets users design any kind of augmented reality lenses, including static and animated objects, ones with interactive taps, and ones that show a "window into another world". Users can then share their completed designs with friends using a Snapcode that will unlock the lens for 24 hours. The app includes guides, templates, and 3D modelling software. Lens Studio also offers challenges -- like the current one accepting submissions for New Year's-themed lenses -- in which creators can win prizes like an iPad...

  • Facebook sees you when you’re creeping, rewards you with repeat content

    Will Facebook ever stop trying to be the absolute creepiest it can be? Probably not. In a small update issued to the News Feed this week, the company will be monitoring the pages users "proactively seek out" and offering more of that content on their News Feed. The company also believes that "repeat viewership matters", and will show users more content from creators and publishers that they return to "week after week". The latest Facebook update accesses user's behaviour to give them content from creators they already watch The update is relatively small (and most users probably won't even notice), but it's yet another...

  • Stars Wars: The Last Jedi: frenetic, powerful, a joy to behold

    Stars Wars: The Last Jedi does not start well. The exposition plods, the editing jars, and the dialogue feels unnatural. Just as emotional moments pull you in, director Rian Johnson rips you away to comic relief. Every time you try to reconnect with the characters you've missed, you're met with a quick two-second shot of some (albeit very pretty) landscapes. But as I caught myself thinking the worst (could this film be bad?), Rian Johnson hit his stride so brilliantly I couldn't help but stare in awe for the remaining two hours. Because The Last Jedi -- despite its clumsy open...

  • Messenger doubled its real-time video chats to 17b in 2017

    Facebook Messenger has had a pretty interesting 2017, despite some embarrassing mistakes like that Stories clone "Day" no one used. According to the company, there were 17 billion real-time video chats on the platform between January and November this year. Messenger boasts 1.3 billion active users a month -- meaning the average user was only making around 13 calls a year. Facebook Messenger boasted 17 billion video chat sessions in 2017 -- an average of only 13 per user More popular than video chats were GIFs, which were sent 18 billion times in 2017. But most popular? The 500 billion emojis sent in just one year....

  • South Africans were asking Google about Dumi Masilela and bitcoin in 2017

    Google has released its year in search, and while the global results are interesting (Cash Me Outside was the top-searched meme, sadly), South Africans had a locally-specific year filled with tropical storms, high-profile fights, and cryptocurrency. According to Google, South Africa's top search of 2017 was for the late Dumi Masilela, who was killed in a hijacking earlier this year. Masilela was best known for his role as Sifiso Ngema on Rhythm City, though he was also a musician and former soccer player. The second-most searched? Zimbabwe -- the country that endured the most this past month. And in third place was Cyclone Dineo, which battered...

  • SA’s box office: There’s no Justice Fatigue

    It's Justice League's last week at the top of South Africa's box office (Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out this Friday) and what a time it's been. The superhero film held onto number one for an impressive four weeks, and it needs the win after after pulling in the lowest worldwide gross of the DCEU franchise. But how did the other films fare this weekend? (8 - 10 December) Bad Moms Christmas couldn't sustain its opening week momentum and crashed like a hungover wine mom on Boxing Day. The film dropped two spots down to fourth, despite not competing with any chart newbies. Justice League is enjoying its...

  • #RhodesWar: Expulsion of Rhodes students ignites online outrage

    #RhodesWar, an online campaign supporting expelled Rhodes University students, was trending in the top spot on Twitter this morning as many took to the platform to express their outrage. Two Rhodes University students were excluded from the institution for life last month over their involvement in students' anti-rape protests in 2016. Another was reportedly excluded for a period of five years. Two Rhodes University students were expelled for life for being part of a vigilante group that targeted rape suspects on campus The students were found guilty of assault, kidnapping, insubordination, and defamation for being part of a mob justice group that targeted rape suspects...

  • Netflix users watched 1 billion hours of content a week in 2017

    Netflix doesn't like giving out numbers -- we still don't know exactly how many South Africans are on the platform, for example. But the company has revealed that in 2017, users around the world were watching over 140-million hours of content a day. And according to the company? It all amounted to over a billion a week. But that's not all its year-end blog post revealed -- so here are some of the more interesting facts. There was a user who watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl every day for the entire year. My guess for the masochist? The hosts...

  • Bullied Keaton Jones went viral, then Twitter learned of his racist family

    A young boy named Keaton Jones went viral yesterday after a video of him discussing being bullied gained the attention of A-list celebrities -- but the boy's family instantly dropped in esteem when photos of them holding the Confederate flag were revealed. This is Keaton Jones, he lives in Knoxville and he has a little something to say about bullying.pic.twitter.com/coyQxFp33V — Everything TN (@Everything_TN) December 9, 2017 In the original viral video, Keaton asks what the point of bullying is. When his mom prompts him to explain what the bullies do to him, Keaton says they make fun of his nose, call him ugly, and...