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  • 3 things ISPs need to learn from petrol stations

    Recently, I wrote a post about Koos Bekker and MWEB's decisive masterstroke over South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and this post is meant as something of a follow up. It's a, "Okay, so you've been played... now what?" piece. When I was growing up, if you wanted supermarket-style shopping, you had to do it at your local Spar between 9am and 7pm, any later and you'd hit the corner café. This model worked for years until one day a new player came back and obliterated it. That player was 7-11 and it was a major retail breakthrough - supermarket...

  • Mobile social network partners with TV station to create country ‘mood maps’

    The Grid, South Africa’s only location-based mobile social network, has partnered with e.tv to show the daily mood of the country during the morning weather report. Users on the Grid can set their mood to "happy" or "sad", or a range of about 20 other emotions. Using this data alongside users’ geographical locations, the Grid and e.tv are able to create a "Mood Map" of the country, similar to that of the weather map. The partnership, which sees a news broadcaster relying on a social networking platform for statistics, is thought to be the first of its kind worldwide. The Grid claims...

  • Mobile West vs Mobile Rest

    Mobile is the next big thing. Have you heard that before? I have. In fact lately that is all I've heard from every direction and every guru or evangelist out there. And I use the words guru and evangelist very, very loosely. Trying to figure out why everyone is saying that mobile is the next best thing, is actually the next best thing. Everyone is talking about mobile, but no one is being specific. All the big guns: TechCrunch, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, TheNextWeb and many others have constantly been batting around mobile ideas, thoughts and concepts over the past 12 months, but...

  • Q&A with SpeakZA founder

    Sipho Hlongwane is one of the more popular contributors on the Mail & Guardian Online’s Thought Leader blog. At the end of March, he organised an online, blog-based protest against ANC Youth League (ANCYL) Spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu’s attempts to leak a dossier of City Press journalist Dumisani Lubisi’s alleged finances, and the Youth League's subsequent intimidation of journalists who objected to Shivambu’s antics. Hlongwane named his campaign #SpeakZA, after the Twitter hashtag convention. Bloggers who agreed to participate in the protest posted blogs with the tag #SpeakZA in the headline. The online protest received a good deal of...

  • The end of the website

    Having been involved in this industry for a very long time, I have the benefit of a long and wide perspective of the business of making the web. This sometimes narrows my thinking, and I have been accused, for example, of not recognising the importance of mobile, or the revolution that is social media. However, it does allow me see how this industry has evolved, and to plot more points on the graph than many others. That doesn’t make me a seer, but it makes my guesses a little more reliable. This all by way of preamble to positing...

  • Reinventing the @NewsCycle #Eugene

    The murder of South African white supremacist Eugene Terre’Blanche early on Saturday evening is arguably one of the biggest news events in South Africa this year, and once again, traditional news outlets were beaten to the punch by Twitter and the blogosphere. Terre’Blanche was allegedly slain by two of his farm employees following a wage dispute the preceding afternoon. His death comes in the wake of litigation against ANCYL President Julius Malema by Afrikaner lobbying groups aiming to ban him from singing an apartheid struggle song with the lyrics “shoot the boer/shoot shoot”. While there were mixed reports as to who...

  • South Africans don’t know the meaning of the word ‘design’

    What is design? Most people will answer that question by pointing to a designed object – the iPhone, for example. Now that’s good design! The Mini Cooper. London’s famous map of the Tube. Anything ever built by Norman Foster. That’s design, right? Wrong. Design is not the object, but the process that created that object. It’s a process that is part creativity, part method. A process that takes a lot of time, many failed attempts and a great deal of thinking. And thinking is something that looks a lot like Doing Nothing At All. It’s very hard to explain this to...

  • SA iPhone app market poised to boom…

    According to AdMob, the world's largest Mobile Advertising Network, South Africans are slowly catching on to the worldwide iPhone phenomenon. Stats show that the penetration of the iPhone into the South Africa market has slowly increased over the last couple of months, as users of the device start seeing the potential benefits, both from a business as well as a personal perspective. South African iPhone developers have been growing quickly over the past couple of months, with corporates now also seeing the benefits of having an iPhone application included in their media portfolio. Media24 have seen a...

  • Open is the new black

    Open is a paradigm shift about how society is organised around simple rules that enable distributed co-operation, which breeds innovation and creates value. Open systems reduce transaction costs, allow interoperability and re-use. But open is opposed by a host of restrictive laws and practices, software patents, digital rights management and anti-circumvention provisions. An ever increasing number of open memes are changing our world. Open Source; Open Access; Open Standards; Open Licences; Open Innovation; Open Business; Open Spectrum; Open Data. What makes something open? A system is open when it uses simple rules to enable self-organisation in place of restrictive commands and controls that disable sharing. I make something, and...

  • The battle: WAP vs. APP

    Firstly, lets consider that WAP really is just 'the internet'. Gone are the days where reference was made to WAP and a superbly less-superior technology springs to mind. Today, WAP offers an entirely new breed of tech, but one that's due to the same brainfart that gave birth to the mobile application revolution. Often referred to as the smartphone - a device which has PC-like capabilities. Throughout this article I refer specifically to PC-like browsing on smartphones when I speak about the 'new WAP'). In the developed world, this is something that is already sporting a surging adoption rate, however in...

  • Smart phone made me feel stupid

    I have a friend who claims that her teenage son is an internet addict. She claims that this behaviour is damaging because the "excessive amount of time he spends on the web is interfering with his daily life". If I ever met this kid, I would hand him the Nokia E72 and tell them to set up a support group. There are many things I want to say about this phone, but my overwhelming experience of it was one of rising panic – I just could not get the thing to disconnect from the internet. Now I suppose that many...

  • 5 tips about the e-commerce gold rush

    It’s a brave world out there for the intrepid that roll the dice in the hopes of cashing in on the ecommerce 2.0 goldmine. My business partner recently equated the advent of the internet as akin to just that – the great gold rush. Have you used internet banking recently? Did you order your groceries online? 10 years ago these simple tasks we take for granted every day as being “just there” did not exist. Think of the gold rush – sure, the prospectors mined away and some struck it rich, but around the miners and their industry, sprung...

  • Google highlights 2010 hotspots

    With just over two months until the kickoff of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, Google’s aggregated search results data shows a significant spike in user interest in South African tourist accommodation and attractions. According to Google Search, the South African tourist attraction most consistently googled by international browsers is the Kruger National Park, followed closely by the Garden Route and the Wild Coast. The top ten list also includes perennial tourist favourites Robben Island, the Cape Winelands and Durban Beachfront. The latest Google search stats also give South Africa tourism industry players a strong indication of their prospective clients’ countries of...

  • Who paid the town crier?

    I heard the death knells three years ago. I was a regular features contributor to The Scotsman, the Scottish daily newspaper. I’d written an original colour feature which they’d splashed across the front cover, and I wanted to claim £50 for a train ticket. They told me it was no longer their policy to pay expenses for freelancers. In short: they could no longer afford it. The nuclear explosion of free news content, classifieds and jobs adverts on the internet had lured newspaper’s traditional readers online and left newspapers and their economic backbone -advertising - without an audience. The advertisers withdrew....

  • Avoid these 10 common mistakes made by brands on Facebook

    Like it or not, Facebook is the de facto homepage for a large chunk of the world’s internet users. They have around 450 million active users worldwide and around 2.6 million users in South Africa alone. In the attention economy your brand really can’t afford not to be on Facebook. Just be sure to avoid these common mistakes when starting out. 1. Starting a profile or group instead of a page Many brands make the mistake of starting either profiles or groups for their brands because both of these entities are older, wider spread and more commonly understood by Facebook users....