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  • Wikipedia wants South Africans to contribute

    Despite being one of the most visited sites in South Africa, only a fraction of Wikipedia readers contribute to the open encyclopedia by creating or editing articles. A local movement wants to change that. Wikipedians and open source enthusiasts gathered at WITS University this weekend to discuss the formation of a South African Wikimedia Chapter. They plan to launch initiatives to address gaps in local content, with particular focus on minority languages. A recent count shows that South African languages are still tiny when compared to the almost 3.5 million English articles. Language Number of Articles Afrikaans 15,830 Swati 183 Tsonga 173 Venda 164 Zulu 145 Xhosa 115 Tswana 105 Sotho 69 Recording knowledge from largely oral traditions was...

  • 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...

  • 10 tips for outsourcing your web development

    Setting up or improving on an existing online presence for a small business or startup can be a daunting experience. This is especially true if you don’t have a trusted in-house team to rely on to build a great web or mobile site. There is a minefield of designers and developers out there who can take you for a ride and exploit your inexperience for their own gain if you’re not careful. Here are some tips for negotiating the minefield without wasting time and money, and coming out at the other end with an effective base for your online marketing...

  • Noah-gate: Lessons learned from Cell C’s controversial ad campaign

    There has already been reams written about the new Cell C campaign, including a whole raft of my own thoughts on the campaign. I wanted to step back and pull it all together after the ad campaign that launched and to look at what lessons can be learned from this whole saga. If you’ve missed it all, then let me recap. South Africa's third mobile network operator, Cell C, embarked on a new marketing campaign by creating a fairytale story about how Mr. Lars Reichelt, CEO of Cell C, was so distressed about a comedy skit uploaded on YouTube by...

  • Will the official Twitter button mean the end for Tweetmeme?

    Breaking news out of Silicon Valley this morning is that Twitter will be launching its own Tweet button towards the end of this week. In what seems to be a direct threat to the core business of Tweetmeme, Twitter announced a simple line of code that could be added to any website which enables that site to carry an official embedded Tweet button. Internet news blog Mashable reports that details are still sketchy, but "from what we can tell, the Tweet Button is designed to be the most comprehensive counter of retweets and shares across Twitter’s network." In...

  • 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...

  • How to use Flickr to grow your brand – Part 2

    In last week’s article, I gave a background to using Flickr, Yahoo!'s photography-sharing site, as a place to increase exposure for your brand and business online. Once you’ve set up your Flickr profile and begun uploading photos to your account, you're ready to begin extracting real value from the site. The best way to do this is to add value to the Flickr community, rather than just seeing Flickr as a traffic driver to your blog or website.  Although this shift in thinking does take more time and effort, the resulting benefits are well worth it. Here are some ways...

  • Interview: PesaPal’s Agosta Liko on African mobile payment solutions

    Agosta Liko, CEO of PesaPal, relocated to Kenya from the US to start Verviant, a software development company in Nairobi. Three years later, the team at Verviant launched PesaPal with a vision of enabling Kenyans to make online payments. PesaPal is making great strides in bridging the mobile and electronic payment divide in Kenya, and is set to expand to more African countries next year. Mark Kaigwa sat down with the CEO to discuss his perspective on doing business in Kenya, the African condition, and on how PesaPal was able to gain traction with ordinary people. MK: How would...

  • Ridley Scott’s Life in a Day movie receives 80 000 submissions

    Editing has begun on over 4 600 hours of footage for Life in a Day, the crowdsourced documentary that is the brainchild of Executive Producer Ridley Scott. Life in a Day is a historic global film experiment that enlisted the global community to capture a moment of their lives on Saturday, July 24 and to upload that footage to www.youtube.com/lifeinaday. Individuals whose footage makes it into the finished film will be credited as co-directors and 20 of these contributors will be flown to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival for the film’s world premiere. Submissions for YouTube’s Life in...

  • Cape Town Facebook page hits 100 000 fans after World Cup success

    I ♥ Cape Town, the official Facebook fan page of Cape Town Tourism, is celebrating a milestone after hitting the 100 000 fans mark in just one year. The page proved to be a powerful tool to convert visitors here for the World Cup into "Cape Town Fans" during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Almost half of the fan page’s new followers signed on in the last three months; the page grew by 40 000 fans between May and July 2010. It was up by an impressive 28 000 fans during the month-long tournament and it added...

  • Content sites, not social networks the hot ticket for reaching women: study

    When it comes to connecting and communicating with women an old-fashioned, bog-standard website may be a better bet than the in-vogue world of social networking. These are the surprising findings of a new US study by authoritative brand development and marketing insight consultancy Added Value in partnership with Yahoo!. The newly-released research, called Connectonomics, details women's needs and how they relate to the online channels they use on a daily basis. The findings are both interesting and surprising. The independent research appears to support Yahoo!'s business model -- one that exists predominantly in the online publishing space as opposed to...

  • What makes a Twitter user influential?

    I'm a big fan of Bernardo Huberman, director of HP Labs' Social Computing Lab, and the work of his team. HP has been applying rigorous scientific practices to the study of social media and it has a gold mine of research open to the public. It is worth emphasising that HP's studies are designed to the highest scientific standards; they are not isolated case studies or the musings of a "social media expert". They typically involve the study of very large numbers of people and thus they reveal some fundamental aspects of our increasingly online culture, and our common humanity. The...

  • How the social web saved a life during the Haiti earthquakes

    On the day the earthquake hit, well-known Haitian radio personality Carel Pedre was driving his car along the streets of the capital when the ground started shaking violently. Houses were tossed into the air and walls came tumbling down. As a trained journalist, Pedre’s intuitive reaction was to jump out of his car, take photos with his iPhone and try to post them on the web. He took six photographs of houses that had collapsed and streets that had been ripped apart but, because the earthquake had knocked out cellphone towers, he couldn’t post any of the pictures. Pedre, along with...

  • Kenya’s mobile money innovation boom

    Kenya is quickly gaining a competitive advantage in the mobile payments space. Led by mobile operator giant Safaricom with their Mpesa product, the market locally sees huge value in mobile money transactions. Add to that a regulatory system that is relaxed enough for innovation to be encouraged, and you have a great space for interesting things to happen. Pay.Zunguka The team at Symbiotic always have more than one iron in the fire. I was surprised by their most recent release of a new product called Pay.Zunguka recently. Simply put, it’s a payment gateway and aggregator, allowing merchants, developers and content providers a...

  • What WikiLeaks means for a government’s assault on media freedom

    What happens when a government moves to clamp down on media freedom? It might simply force journalists in that country to adopt the WikiLeaks model when it comes to publishing sensitive information.  Here's an example: The South African government recently announced a triple play to clamp down on media freedom in that country, a move which may force journalists to a model akin to WikiLeaks. Concern is mounting over the country's proposed apartheid-inspired Protection of Information Bill, which will give government sweeping powers to declare virtually any information "in the national interest" (and classify it), making it illegal for journalists...