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All posts by Mandy de Waal

Mandy de Waal is a writer, thought activist and investigative journalist with a fondness for smart atheists, intelligent writing and well-constructed arguments. Read her Blog or follow her on Twitter.
  • Ethan Zuckerman on why rich nations dominate news

    Ever wondered why Nigeria gets so little media coverage and why places like Japan enjoy so much more attention from the world’s press? That’s a question that concerned internet intellectual Ethan Zuckerman while he was doing research work at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “Japan and Nigeria both have a population of about 130 million people. But if you look at a major newspaper outside of the African continent, you are about eight times as likely to see a story on Japan as you are on Nigeria on any given day,” says Zuckerman who started developing what he...

  • Is your social network making you stupid?

    Ever heard of homophily? If not, there’s a good chance that you’re in a social network where more of the same isn’t exactly sparking your neural pathways or making you smarter. In fact famed internet intellectual Ethan Zuckerman, with tongue firmly in cheek, would go as far as to say that homophily is making you dumber. “I’m over-simplifying and being a bit cheeky when I say that the internet is making us stupid. However what I mean by it, in a serious way, is that homophily has a tendency to isolate us from certain pieces of information. At the same...

  • Interview: Herman Heunis, the mind that made MXit

    It’s been seven years since a little known games company in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was looking for a cheap alternative to SMS and invented the country's first mobile instant messenger service. MXit is now a legend with more than 20-million users in 120 countries which send an average of some 250-million messages a day. According to CEO Herman Heunis, what started out as a small team of eight people has mushroomed into well over a hundred staff after global expansion to new territories like Mexico. “We want to conquer the world -- at least the mobile world -- and...

  • Clay Shirky on ‘freak-outs from Africa’ and becoming Clay Shirky.

    Clay Shirky is crazy about Ushahidi. He thinks the crowdsource crisis tool is the perfect technology for demonstrating cognitive surplus in action --the positive power of what people can do with their free time and how it benefits society. But what other technology does Shirky rate and what’s his advice to local entrepreneurs Memeburn spoke to the best selling author on the line from New York. “In terms of technology, obviously the most exciting thing is what is going on with the mobile phone, that is the transformative technology,” Shirky said from New York. “I do a class...

  • Interview: Clay Shirky on cognitive surplus and talents of a connected world

    How exactly did Clay Shirky, the best selling author of “Here Comes Everybody”, connect Lolcats and Ushahidi to come up with the concept of “Cognitive Surplus”? The epiphany came after Shirky got pissed off by a television producer who famously asked him “Where do people find the time?”. The off-handed question was elicited by Shirky’s explanation of Wikipedia and issues raised by collaborative crowdsourcing. "No one who works in TV gets to ask that question,” Shirky shouted at the producer, incensed that someone in television dare ask ‘where people get the time’. “You know where the time comes...

  • Interview: Shuttleworth opens up to Memeburn

    An intensely private person who rarely gives personal interviews, Mark Shuttleworth spoke to Memeburn.com about what he values most in life, why he doesn’t want to be a role model, and what the sexiest technology is around today. The founder of Canonical and Ubuntu, Shuttleworth became a billionaire after selling Thawte to Verisign. He is the founder of investment company Here Be Dragons and The Shuttleworth Foundation, which aims to make the world a better place by investing in education and technology projects that drive significant social change. Shuttleworth also made headlines around the world when he became the...

  • Startup tips from Mark Shuttleworth

    South Africa is the best place to become successful says Mark Shuttleworth, who made it big when he skidded over twenty and then promptly became a billionaire by selling Thawte to Verisign for some R3.5-billion. “The fact that South Africa doesn’t have a Silicon Valley shouldn’t deter anyone from being an entrepreneur in South Africa,” he says. “The existence of Silicon Valley is held up as a reason for California’s success with technology. The simple fact is that there were a bunch of people there who had the confidence and the audaciousness to start stuff, so it has become a...

  • Integrity and gumption are key to success, says Dave Sifry

    When it comes to Silicon Valley start-ups, Dave Sifry has been there, done that, and gotten quite a few T-shirts. He founded Technorati as a little science project in his basement, is the creator of Offbeat Guides, and was the brains behind Linuxcare. A software entrepreneur who has spent over twenty years starting up Open Source and Web businesses, Sifry has built, managed, got funding and enjoyed huge success. He’s also experienced the lessons failure can bring. He spoke to Memeburn.com from San Francisco. What's the secret to raising VC funding? Step 1: Build something fantastically great. Step 2: Know how...

  • How to present like Steve Jobs

    The co-founder of Apple and Pixar is the ultimate front man, one of the most charismatic businessmen alive. Steve Jobs doesn’t just present, he evangelizes. And when he gets onto the stage he takes no prisoners – it is difficult to listen to Jobs and not be recruited as an Apple brand advocate. There’s a lot that start ups or emerging entrepreneurs could learn from Jobs, and there’s no person better placed to teach them than Carmine Gallo. An Emmy award-winning journalist and former anchor for CNN, Fox, CNET, and CBS, Gallo is the author of "The Presentation Secrets of Steve...

  • Freeconomics: The art of making money by giving things away for free

    At the same time that Chris Anderson was penning a Wired article that would become the seed concept for a controversial best-seller, Vinny Lingham was launching yet another internet business. It was 2008 and both Anderson and Lingham were obsessed with the same concept – making money by giving away things for free. Anderson’s article - Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business – would prove to be the precursor for his book Free. The Future of a Radical Price, while Lingham would launch Yola , a business based on giving away websites for free, and would raise $25m...