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All posts by Vanessa Clark

Vanessa Clark
A journalist by training, Vanessa Clark was tempted over to the dark side by a London-based startup in the early 2000s, and so her love affair with young businesses began. Back in South Africa she joined the mobile industry and also provided PR and marketing consulting services to growing businesses. She is currently the marketing director of Mobiflock, a service that gives parents the ability to keep their children safe when they are using their mobile phones.8i
  • Defying Facebook: which emerging market social networks will stand tall?

    Social networking stalwart Facebook claims one-billion users. That’s around a seventh of the population of the planet. Sometimes it’s easy to believe the internet is comprised solely of Google, Wikipedia and Facebook. But what about more regional social networks, mobile social networks and specifically those with a strong foothold in emerging markets? How do they stack up against the behemoth that is Facebook? According to Italian social media strategist Vincenzo Cosenza although Facebook’s star is still ascending around the world, there are pockets of the globe where the social networking giant does not claim number one position. Cosenza’s been tracking these...

  • What we can learn from some of 2012’s biggest social media fails

    Previously a darling of the social media scene, retailer Woolworths had its fair share of digital travails this year, from Halaal hot cross buns, to accusations of ripping off Frankie’s Olde Soft Drink Company, to calls for boycotts over perceived racist job adverts. But it was not alone. Around the world companies – in fact, very often retailers as well – had online conversations turn nasty. In Woolworth’s case, things came to a head in September with calls for the stores to be boycotted after a so-called whistle-blower accused the company of being racist based on the content of its...

  • 9 of the most bizarre Christmas presents you can buy online

    Tired of the same old soap on a rope, bottle of wine or pair of socks Christmas present clichés? Want to liven up the present selection under the tree this year? Here are some of the most bizarre presents and festive season items to be found on Etsy and Pinterest. It might be a hangover from Movember, but there seems to be a much wider than expected range of moustache-related, festive-season themed paraphernalia to be had. So to keep the moustachioed hipster in your life happy, choose from the following: Chocolate Peppermint Holiday Moustache According to the Etsy write up, this product...

  • 12 Ways to have an ‘appy’, digital Christmas

    Christmas already, you say? Surely there’s an app for that? Of course there is and this Christmas we bring you the tops apps for a fun festive season, for Apple, Android and BlackBerry. Top iPhone and iPad apps for a happy Christmas 1. Christmas Tale HD This free app for iPhones and iPads was voted the best multimedia book for Christmas last year. Part advent calendar, part greeting card builder, part Christmas gift list, part multimedia story, part educational game – children’s Christmas favourites have been pulled together into this app. The app has been updated this year to include jigsaw...

  • Rise of the machines: is Google changing history?

    According to the experience of thousands of Australian students, Google might just be changing history. Back in the day it was my revisionist politics professors who took the blame for rewriting history, especially in early 1990s South Africa. At least their intentions were honourable and they were mindful of what they were doing (that’s not to say everyone agreed with them). Nowadays, however, it seems that it is possible to change history accidentally, carelessly, maliciously or just for fun. We’re told by the poster child of crowdsourced information, Wikipedia, that the system has the ability to heal itself and, to be...

  • 6 music apps that are rocking Facebook

    If video killed the radio star, then Facebook certainly gave it a second life. Internet radio and other music streaming services are seeing a massive uptick thanks to integration with the social media giant via its Open Graph platform. With Facebook changing so fast, and so often, it’s difficult to keep up with what has been around from the start, and what is a recent addition. Timeline integration with apps has only been around for a bit longer than a year, since Open Graph was launched by the company. And Facebook and music is a match made in heaven. Music is...

  • The online freedom of speech pickle: it’s only getting more complicated

    Figuring out when trolling becomes dangerous abuse or when a deeply held political opinion comes hate speech is difficult. Add in factors like anonymity the interference of government in a space that was philosophically intended to be open and you can see why freedom of speech online is such a muddy issue. Things aren't about to get any clearer either. Previously Memeburn has reported the concerns of Vint Cerf -- one of the fathers of the internet and Google’s chief internet evangelists -- about an authoritarian trend in emerging markets including India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and of...

  • Puns, goths and memes: 10 Tumblrs you have to read

    Now that calm has been returned to the blogosphere, after Tumblr’s recent six-hour outage, we thought this would be a good time to take a peek at some of the most popular sites on the microblogging-slash-social networking site. Sitting somewhere at the intersection of Facebook, Twitter and WordPress, the five-and-a-half year old site currently boasts 79-million blogs and almost 35-billion posts. At time of writing, 9.5 million posts had been published on this day alone. Towards the end of the last year, Tumblr received US$85-million in funding from existing investors and new investors, which include Richard Branson. Tumblr.com has a...

  • Demo Africa: the future of African startups looks bright

    Flowgear, a South African startup that offers application integration for the cloud era, was named one of the Demo Lions and will be joining four other African startups in the US for mentorship and introduction to potential investors. The Demo Lion awards are under the auspices of the US State Department. Flowgear offers companies pre-built connectors that allow quick and easy implementation for developers without the need for coding. The company bridges cloud and on-premise applications and simplifies integration management with full visibility of data flows. Read more on Ventureburn.

  • The 15 most valuable emerging market technology companies on Wall Street

    Wall Street, home to Gordon Gecko, the Smurfs ringing the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) bell and eye-wateringly large initial public offering (IPO) valuations. It is home to the two largest bourses in the world by capitalisation, the NYSE and Nasdaq respectively. Unsurprisingly, the 20 most valuable emerging market technology companies listed on either the NYSE or Nasdaq originate in Asia. (I haven't included the telecoms giants from South America -- which are listed as public utilities.) South Africa’s Wall Street listings are all in the mining sector, but its top technology contender, MTN Group, listed on the Johannesburg Stock...

  • Google’s African affair: An internet giant puts its money where its mouth is

    At the start of last year I wrote an article for Memeburn with the only slightly tongue-in-cheek headline: “Instead of smallpox Google is colonising Africa with ‘cool stuff’”. As a rule I tend to prefer African solutions for African problems, and am also always somewhat sceptical of geeks bearing gifts (sorry!). Twenty months later, I need to concede that it does look as if Google is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to the African continent. It has offices in eight African countries and has launched, whether intentionally or not, products that have the potential to...

  • 8 African mobile money services that aren’t MPesa

    No, I’m not going to talk about MPesa, you can read all about the Kenyan grandfather of mobile money here, here and here. Rather, let’s look at other key mobile money products across the rest of the continent, as well as some up-and-coming, ones-to-watch that will be demo’ing at DEMO Africa in Nairobi later this month. 1. Zimbabwe’s EcoCash According to Econet, almost two-million Zimbabweans do all their business using EcoCash transfers and the service “moves millions of dollars every day from urban to rural areas” which has helped to “revitalise the rural economy.” The one-year-old mobile money transfer service from...

  • Why African social networks kick Facebook’s mobile experience in the ass

    Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the rest of their ilk are taking over the world, right, and forming a homogenous mass of consumer data and eyeballs across the globe from which no one can escape. Or not. Definitely not when one considers the local and regional social networks springing up, particularly in Africa. A key differentiator of these networks is often that they better serve the mobile market -- usually because this is their primary or only market -- whether on smartphones or not so smart phones. Those of us still mentally tethered to our desktops and laptops often forget what a shoddy...

  • Online piracy: how African innovators are tackling music’s biggest scourge

    Despite a cat’s cradle of challenges around digital rights and payments, not to mention the constant threat of piracy, digital music is seen as a large opportunity for African musicians and mobile industry players, according to speakers at the Mobile Entertainment Africa 2012 conference held in Cape Town this week. General sentiment is that making digital music more available will go a long way to thwarting piracy. According to Yoel Kenan, founder and CEO of AFRICORI, a digital music company specialising in emerging markets, up to 90% of music consumed online is not strictly legal, thanks both to piracy and...

  • How Google and its partners are making the web safer for SA kids

    Google South Africa recently launched an initiative to co-ordinate the efforts of government, industry and civil society to make the internet a safer place for children in South Africa. The launch coincided with Child Protection Week and International Children's Day on 1 June. It was applauded by a range of stakeholders, including the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities; the Department of Communications; the Film and Publications Board and Childline SA. As well as the co-ordination effort, the search giant also launched the South African version of its Family Safety Centre which is available in English, Afrikaans and...