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All posts by Stuart Thomas: Motorburn Editor

Stuart Thomas: Motorburn Editor
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself to be thrown in the deep and did his best stay afloat. When not fused with his keyboard, you can find him running the streets and off road trails in and around Cape Town. He is yet to go viral.
  • Delta Airlines uses all the memes for new safety video

    Over the years, we've seen airlines employ a number of interesting tactics to get people interested in their safety instruction videos. Air New Zealand has made extensive use of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit tie-ins. Virgin America meanwhile put together one set to an elaborate song and dance routine which features contortionists, sassy child singers and a rapping pre-teen. And now US-based Delta Airlines has brought together as many memes as possible for its safety video. Everyone from Double Rainbow Guy to Nyan Cat and Overly Attached Girlfriend make an appearance. It's not just memes from recent history...

  • Why Automattic’s WooThemes acquisition is so important to South African startup space

    The acquisition of WordPress theme developer WooThemes, along with its signature ecommerce product WooCommerce, by WordPress.com holding company Automattic is massively important to the South African startup space. At US$30-million, it's a massive exit (although not the biggest in South African startup history). That's great for its founders and investors, but the acquisition is just another example of how the local scene is developing and also offers some valuable lessons for up-and-coming startups. Read more on Ventureburn.

  • Google, university researchers create astonishing timelapses from stock photos

    There are millions upon millions of stock photos available online and many of them are of the same places. That makes sense. After all, if a place is photographed regularly by ordinary people, chances are there will be plenty of people looking for photos of those places. That's great, but what if you could do something really cool with those photos? Well Google, together researchers from the University of Washington, has managed to do just that. The two have teamed up for a project that gathers stock photos from around the web and stitches them together, based on when...

  • Netflixification in full force: 330m to subscribe to OTT TV services by 2019

    If your idea of watching TV involves the terms "binge-watching" and "Netflix", and if you're completely baffled by the sight of ad break, then well done: you're ahead of what is set to be a massive wave of people subscribing to over the top video services. New data from Juniper Research has shown that subscriber numbers to 'over-the-top' (OTT) TV services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime will increase from 92.1-million in 2014, to 332.2-million globally by 2019. Continued growth in the North American market will see it remain as the leading region in terms of subscriber numbers, but...

  • #AskMmusi: was Mmusi Maimane’s Twitter town hall actually a triumph?

    Depending on who you ask, the decision by newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane to host a Twitter town hall on Wednesday afternoon was either a stroke of genius or a complete farce. Many, including myself, were quick to lean toward the latter. The more than 100 000 tweets attached to the #AskMmusi hashtag did, after all, completely overshadow the 40 or so questions he managed to answer during the event. Very few of those questions had anything to do with serious civic engagement either. Even bearing those factors in mind though there's a strong case to...

  • Dentsu Aegis’ John Brown buyout shows how the digital agency model is changing

    Global advertising mega-conglomerate Dentsu Aegis has acquired content marketing specialist John Brown Media for an undisclosed sum of money. John Brown Media was established in 1987 and has 225 staff throughout its London headquarters and offices in South Africa, Hong Kong and Dubai. While the agency initially made its name producing magazines for a number of high profile retail clients, it has made solid advances in the digital space, where it offers digital publishing, content management, website strategy, SEO, SEM and digital media buying services. Read more on Ventureburn.

  • Mystery group creates publicly accessible online Sapa archive

    A group of civic-minded hackers have come together to launch SapaFiles, a publicly available, searchable archive of articles belonging to the recently shuttered South African Press Association (Sapa), dating back to 1998. The group decided to make the archives available after it was announced that the 77-year old news wire service would be closing its doors on 1 April "We took the extraordinary step of saving as much as we could and making it public, because we believe that the Sapa archive represents an invaluable South African historical asset, that should not be controlled by one private company," the group...

  • 34 hilarious Tweets from Mmusi Maimane’s #AskMmusi Twitter Town Hall

    Update: The author of this piece has reconsidered his views and written a piece explaining why. Read more: #AskMmusi: was Mmusi Maimane’s Twitter town hall actually a triumph? Opening yourself up to Twitter is a risky business at the best of times. But when you're a recently elected South African political leader dealing with one of the most cynical Twitter communities on the planet, then things can go very badly wrong. That's the lesson DA leader Mmusi Maimane's had to find out the hard way today. Viewed by many as the opposition party's attempt to replicate the rapid rise of...

  • Boobs, cats, anything: Derick Watts & The Sunday Blues give a lesson on going viral

    If you've ever worked in the creative department of a digital marketing agency, chances are you will have had a client ask you to make something "go viral" at some point. Now the traditional advice when someone asks that is to tell them that going viral is something that happens spontaneously and which is beyond your control. If satirical duo Derick Watts & The Sunday Blues are to be believed however, that's a load of crock. All you need are boobs, kittens, a song about anything. The latest video from the group sees them giving fictional rock band STONE...

  • Mobile adspend set to top $105bn by 2019

    It's difficult to overstate the importance of mobile. According to GSMA, there are currently around 3.6-billion unique mobile subscribers around the globe, with another billion expected to be added by 2020. By the time that happens, Sub-Saharan Africa alone is expected to have more than half a billion mobile subscribers. With that growth comes opportunity, especially in mobile advertising, which is expected to worth US$105-billion by 2019. That's according to a new paper by Juniper Research, which suggests that as mobile adspend tops the US$100-billion mark, it will also account for 44% of worldwide digital adspend around. The...

  • The Snapscan effect: how mobile payments made QR codes relevant in South Africa

    Flash back a few years and things weren't looking great for QR codes. The Matrix barcode, first designed for the automotive industry in Japan, had its supporters to be sure, but the idea that they were largely a total crock seemed to increasingly be the consensus. Over the last year however, that's changed in South Africa, largely thanks to mobile payment apps like SnapScan. According to new research from technology research company World Wide Worx, the format first took off in the country thanks to BlackBerry Messenger, where it became the quickest way to add a friend. In the...

  • SA comedian, banking giant ask you to #RespectYourMamma

    Barring the odd exception, it's probably pretty fair to say that we all love our moms. How is it then that "your mamma" jokes are still a thing? Wouldn't it be better if we, say, flipped them around and showed a little respect? That's the question asked by a new Mother's Day campaign from South African banking giant Absa. Rather than getting South Africans to tell "your mamma" jokes, the bank has challenged the South African Twittersphere to flip them on their head and say something nice about their mothers. The people who tweet the best "mompliment", as the...

  • Meet Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad

    If you're a fan of complex, multi-film cinematic universes, there's never been a better time to be alive really. With Marvel currently king of the format, Disney's Star Wars universe and DC's Justice League equivalent are doing everything they can to catch up. The latest news to come out of the DC camp comes in the shape of a couple of tweets from Suicide Squad director David Ayer. Having already revealed what Jared Leto's Joker will look like, Ayer today tweeted out photos of the rest of the Suicide Squad, including Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang. The film...

  • We know autonomous cars are coming, but what form will they arrive in?

    Autonomous cars are coming. Sure we’ve still got a long way to go, especially when it comes to the ethics and safety behind them, but there’s no changing the fact that they will go into mass production in the very near future. Heck, you only need to look at the fact that an autonomous car just crossed to the continental United States to see just how close we are. But how will market for self-driving cars evolve once they do arrive? Will human drivers eventually become illegal, as Elon Musk predicts? Or is Bosch’s vision of drivers switching between autonomous...

  • The internet and the earthquake: how the web reacted to Nepal’s killer shock

    The earthquake which struck Nepal over the weekend measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and the devastation it wrought has been immense. More than 3 600 people are now known to have died in Nepal, India and China. A further 6 500 have been injured and 200 climbers have had to be evacuated from Mount Everest. Perhaps the most remarkable thing however is how quickly we've received this information and how rapid the response of some of some of the world's biggest tech companies has been. Experiencing disasters in (near) real-time It's not all that long ago that it would...