Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Investigating Twitter & Blogs impact on the Xenophobia issue

I have decided to do a quick study on what the impact of social media has been on the recent Xenophobia issue. I believe if we know how it impacts on a situation we can make use of that knowledge to actually make a difference a whole lot quicker.

Stii was kind enough to provide me with a dump of all blog posts that were tagged with 'Xenophobia'. Though there is currently no way to link twitter usernames to the blog posts. Therefore i have uploaded the spreadsheet to Google docs, anyone can edit it as long as you have an account. Please add your twitter username to all your own blog posts or any others that you may recognize. the rest of the fields are optional. If you cannot edit the spreadsheet send me your blog url and i will capture it:

Twitter: ismail
Invite to collaborate on the document:

I've shared a document with you called "xenophobia_blogs_google":

Capture Directly onto the sheet (Use this to see if your blog post is included on the list):

Capture in the Form (Use this, it's the easiest option)

It's not an attachment -- it's stored online at Google Docs. To open this document, just click the link above.

Doing an analysis on effects of social media / twitter / blogs in a
crisis situation, I need to link up the blog posts to twitter
usernames. If you have blogged about the Xenophobia please claim it and
add your name under the column 'Twitter username'

I would also appreciate if you could pass this on to any bloggers you know that have blogged about the situation.

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Friday, 23 May 2008

Technology for change - Repost

The blogosphere has been up in arms over the recent xenophobia attacks. It is extremely sad and depressing to see our country in a state like this. We can debate and debate but all that will matter is taking action. We have to ask ourselves how can we use technology to make a difference?

Stii suggested we create a non profit organisation, in which people donate which is a great idea but i believe with the brilliant people and the range of skills we have we can do a whole lot more.

Read write web recently ran a great article on how to use social networking and media for social change and Muhammed Karim has an interesting post on using web 2.0 to fight hate. With technology the costs of coordination is drastically reduced. As a collective group lets think about ways on how we can use technology to make a difference. For example, How can we use technology to educate people? To stimulate entrepreneurship and self owned business? To reduce crime?

Internationally there are sites like kiva who offer micro-lending to entrepreneurs. Sites like wikicrimes or ushadi which are Google maps mashups that show you the hotspots. There are more then 3 different events being held monthly in South Africa for business networking, surely we can set aside time to make a difference and brainstorm some ideas?

To get this ball rolling i have created a page on the South African Twitter Wiki, add your name to the list and any ideas you may have.

Let's solve real problems.

** Update: Rafiq and the guys from quirk e-marketing have created a site similar to usahadi which can be found at
** This has been reposted here as i initially posted to techleader but it has not been published as yet.

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Thursday, 22 May 2008

Ten days...

Well, its been over a week since i last posted for now posts will be sporadic here, though you can find me blogging at techleader or StartupAfrica, And for the lighter side of things my totally random tumble log.

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Saturday, 10 May 2008

Twitter Business Model, Why google is scared

Read Write web recently ran a post on monetizing twitter with a business model using ads. The post was good, and i believe it makes sense However i believe they missed one key point. Twitter can be used from your mobile phone.

When Google launched image based mobile ads. i briefly covered what google mobile ads were missing and why context (what is the person doing?) is important. Twitter offers that context, add a location to that and your pretty much have killer mobile advertising. Its contextual to what the person is doing and localized.

No one out there can offer advertising for mobile as relevant as that right now , not even Google. This is the reason Google was quick to snap up Jaiku, they realise that twitter is actually a threat to their mobile advertising business. Some people may have been confused about why i sent this tweet, it seems a far fetched but Twitter is actually a threat to Google mobile ads business, which according to reports could be a larger market then internet advertising.

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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

IPhone available soon in South Africa, Need cheap replicas for Africa

Fin24 reported this morning that the IPhone will be available in South Africa. Often i have conversations like this with people regarding the phone

Friend: So how is that phone?
Ismail: The best phone i have ever used
Friend: But you cant MMS / It doesn't have 3G / You cant forward SMS
Ismail: yes, but it's still the best phone i ever had

Now, please note i have never been an Apple Fan having said that, it is the best phone i have used thus far. Iphone is impacting on mobile internet usage like how blackberry did on mobile email.

Recently a guy ran the girl friend/wife/significant other usability test on Ubuntu Linux, basically to see how easy it is for a non tech savvy user to complete basic functions. The IPhone passes these with flying colours. All my previous phones (HTC, Nokia) failed dismally with functions other then calls and SMS.

I believe this is important. Lets take a look at how access to communications can stimulate economic growth and raise the quality of living.

In a study (PDF) by Harvard economist Robert Jensen he reported that when mobile phones were launched in kerala in 1997, Fisherman used the phones to call local markets while still at sea. This in turned helped raise profits by 8%, lowering consumer prices by 4% and reduced catch wastage from 6.5% to practically nothing.

This is just with access to voice communications, now imagine what easy access to knowledge and information (The Internet) would do?

Mobile phones have been available for a decade in most parts of Africa and there are more people with mobile phones then computers. Africa only has about 4% Internet penetration compared to 29% mobile penetration. Also remember that a number of people using mobile phones in Africa may never have had access to computers or the internet growing up. The environment in Africa may be best for mobile internet. Though mobile internet has been stifled by high data prices, cost of handsets and complicated interfaces.

So what does this mean?

I do not expect the IPhone to actually make a difference since Apple caters for the higher end of the market. Though Nokia has been been working in Africa and if they can develop something similar just as intuitive with easy access to the internet at a much lower price they would win back a fan. With data prices lowering this would allow masses of people access to the large body of knowledge found on the internet. Good times ahead!

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Monday, 5 May 2008

Free Album from Nine inch nails, The future of music

Today Trent Reznor announced on the official Nine Inch Nails website that he would be giving his new album album "The Slip", free of charge under a creative commons license.

From their web site:
"We encourage you to remix it, share it with your friends, post it on your blog, play it on your podcast, give it to strangers, etc."

Now, this is not the first move like this, prince has been selling directly to the public for years. Last year we saw radiohead offering their album on the internet and you got to choose how much you wanted to pay. Now both these moves make sense, and are very significant.

Are we we seeing the end of the record labels as we know them?

I believe so. Take a look at the costs that go into producing an album, only a small fraction of that goes to the artist.

For years the recording industry have fought technology, refusing to embrace it yet technology and the internet allows you to bring down the distribution costs and lower prices.

With the internet most of these costs are zero, therefore artists can offer them at a fraction of the normal price or even free as NIN have. The future will be the democratization of music, previously artists had to make the right contacts and hope they would be noticed and get 'signed'. Now that wont matter anymore. The time from when music is actually recorded to when it will be released will be much quicker, and here is the best part:

We get to choose who are the best artists, and which artists get played on the radio and not the record labels.

P.S Lets hope the other band that was 'subtly' referenced in this post follows suit
P.P.S if you figured out the band, give yourself a pat on the back
P.P.P.S Posts to this blog will be a bit sporadic as i am working on another project

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