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All posts by Sam Beckbessinger

Sam Beckbessinger
Sam likes anything she can take apart and put back together again. This makes her a big fan of Linux and rusty old cars. She is a Digital Planner at Quirk, which is her dream job because it allows her to obsess about the internet, work with some fabulous clients on creative marketing strategies and do a lot of public speaking. She also writes, lectures and appears as a regular guest on the ZA Tech Show. Sam’s addicted to words, specifically those in 140-character combinations, loves Dr Seuss and spends more time listening to The Goon Show than is healthy.
  • Meaningful social measurement: a lesson from the underpants gnomes

    There’s an episode of South Park where the boys go looking for the underpants gnomes, magical little creatures who sneak into your drawers at night and steal your underwear (I myself suffer from a sock gnome infestation). When the boys come across the gnomes in their underwear-stacked subterranean hideout, they ask them for an explanation. The gnomes proudly show them their business plan: Phase 1: Collect underpants Phase 2: ? Phase 3: Profit! I often can’t help thinking about the underpants gnomes when I’m talking to marketing managers about why they’re investing in social media. The idea seems to be: Phase 1: Get lots...

  • Online insanity: will the web leave us all in straight-jackets?

    We all jokingly confess our own internet-addiction sins: how we always find ourselves lost in a black hole of Lolcats the night before a big deadline, how we send off 20 emails before we get out of bed, how we only know what’s going on in our partner’s life by following their Twitter feed. But more and more research is mounting up to suggest that it isn’t a joke at all, and that our internet dependences actually might be making us crazy. Books and articles about how the internet is making us go insane have been circulating for as...

  • FunDza: an experiment in mobile books

    No one will argue that the basic literacy situation in South Africa is dire. With access to books being so low (only 7% of South Africa’s schools have afunctioning library), several people have proposed utilising the mobile phone -- one device that is certainly not rare in South Africa -- as a platform for accessing books. This is an idea that’s been thrown around in South Africa since around 2007, and multiple...

  • Tablets and smartphones are heralding a media revolution

    When the press discovered that Amazon’s US$200 Android tablet (the Kindle Fire) is sold for US$3 less than it costs to manufacture, many people were confused. Why would a technology company sell a gadget at a loss? It all makes sense when you realise that, increasingly, the playing field is no longer about hardware; it’s about content. Tablets and smartphones are the key devices in this new ecosystem of content (although they’re certainly not the only ones), and we all know that these are the must-have devices for every regular consumer. Smartphone penetration in emerging markets like South Africa has...

  • 3 Stages of the web as a storytelling medium for brands

    The best brands are built on stories. No-one huddles around the proverbial water cooler and talks about Product XYZ's incredible new feature. But they will talk about Nando's "The Last Dictator" ad, or Coca-Cola's "Reasons to Believe" campaign. For decades, there's been an assumption in advertising that if you want to tell a grand story for a brand, then you do it in a TV commercial. But all indications are that this could be changing, and the web might be the next medium for great brand stories. The best TV ads have always had the ability to move audiences, get...

  • 5 Great online video marketing campaigns from 2011

    There’s no doubt that online video is becoming more and more of an important medium for brands. Here are some of the best campaigns we saw in 2011. 1. The Inside Experience (Intel and Toshiba) You know that experience when you’re watching a horror film and the heroine starts doing something obviously stupid (like running up the stairs) and you yell at the screen trying to tell her what to do? Well, Intel and Toshiba created an experience where your interactions could actually make a difference to the action. The interactive movie consists of a series of video clips that were released...

  • 5 Big ways the tech world changed in 2011

    In many ways, 2011 was the year when previously overhyped technologies suddenly became mainstream (you may not have noticed because you were too busy checking BBM). Gadgets that had been at the top of everyone's "Trends" lists for the past two or three years finally started making it onto people's Christmas lists, too. The social changes promised by the rise of "SoLoMo" (social-local-mobile) became felt when they supported enormous social upheaval during the Arab Spring. Here are five of the many ways in which technology changed the world in 2011. 1. The smartphone became mainstream Remember it seemed like the world...

  • Five reasons why QR codes are — mostly — a crock

    Dear everyone. Please stop using QR codes. Stop putting them on your billboards. Your posters. Your magazines. Your flyers. Your websites. Just stop. Until you sit down and think about it a lot more carefully. Thank you. It’s a funny thing when people get hold of a new technology. As people prone to hyperbole, we start shouting from the rooftops how this new thing is going to "revolutionise" (our favourite word) the way people communicate. With QR codes, we’re nattering on about how “virtual and real world communications have finally merged” and how we can now offer “a seamless consumer...

  • When SEO turns against you: Rick Santorum’s Google problem

    Being the top result of a Google search results page is a big deal: It's been estimated that the top result gets over a third of all clicks, plummeting to almost nothing (six percent) by position five. Because this top spot is so valuable, brands spend a lot of time and money trying to make sure that their website can claim it. But sometimes, just sometimes, this race to the top can yield some rather amusing -- or terrifying -- results. Just ask Rick Santorum, a current candidate in the U.S. presidential race and the victim of one of...