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December 16th, 2008

It has taken us a little while to decide what to do with chilibean. Victoire and I had a chat the other day and we have decided to archive this blog. Thank you for visiting this blog and supporting us all this time. Feel free to wander around and look back at how the social Web developed from our perspective.

If you would like to see what we are up to now, visit our blogs:

Posted in Legal stuff | Comments (0)

Social media in plain English

June 1st, 2008

Here is a great video from the Common Craft people about social media:

Social Media in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

Just looking at their site there are a couple things that really tickle me. For one thing their videos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives license which means you can download them legitimately, post them on your blogs (which I think you could do through YouTube, Vimeo and anyway through their terms of use) and even pass them around as long as you don’t re-sell them, use them commercially or mash them up). I also like that you can license the videos to use at work (the link didn’t work when I tried it now so hopefully they’ll sort this gremlin out soon).

Common Craft produces a really fantastic service which helps explain some of the confusing jargon to people new to these concepts.

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Posted in Entertainment, Tutorials | Comments (0)

The state of the SA blogosphere

May 5th, 2008

I just read a post Arthur Goldstuck published to Tech Leader (Mail & Guardian’s latest group blog and companion to the very successful Thought Leader blog) about how the SA blogosphere is beginning to mature.

The numbers are pretty revealing. In December 2006 there were roughly 4 941 South African blogs. A year later there were 26 179 although of those, only 3 789 blogs were active. These numbers are pretty insignificant in the context of the global blogosphere (Technorati is presently tracking around 112.8 million blogs) but the growth rate is still pretty impressive. The explanation of what active blogs are compared to the total number of blogs is worth repeating:

The total number of blogs represents the extent to which blogging captured the imagination of aspirant bloggers. Active blogs, on the other hand, are a barometer of the commitment of bloggers. This indicates that, despite many blogs being deleted and many bloggers going back to their day jobs, commitment to blogging is still growing at a rapid pace.

Of course the number of active blogs is not terribly impressive if no-one is reading them. This is not the case in South Africa. According to Goldstuck, the average monthly page views for 2007 was around 5 226 million page views a month. In January 2008 alone, there were roughly double this number of page views - 10 448 million page views. That is a lot of people reading blogs and proof that blogs are not just a fad. I would like to know how significant these numbers are in the context of Internet usage in South Africa generally. That could be pretty interesting. Arthur?

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Posted in Blogging, Blogs/Sites, Our blogs | Comments (0)

A suggestion for Muti

May 4th, 2008

I just started submitting stuff to Muti again and I thought I’d see what happens when I submit a duplicate post so I re-submitted the Iron Man/Audi ad post. When I submitted it I got the following message:

Muti submission duplicate.png

My suggestion is that where submit a duplicate link, there should also be a link to the item being duplicated so I can either vote on the already submitted item or check out the original link and decide whether to submit anyway. Just a thought.

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Posted in Sharing, Useful stuff, Web 2.0 | Comments (1)

Print media: more of a generational thing

May 3rd, 2008

Every so often a story about how print media are dead surfaces and depending on your take on factors like declining newspaper circulations and who you work for, you either agree or you don’t. One thought about the future of print media is that it will become a niche luxury item (thus giving hope to big media and advertisers that they can still tap the wealthier readership).

What isn’t in dispute is that circulations are in decline. The problem with print media is that it is just so wasteful and very much out of touch with the current pace of technology. As the New York Times put it in 2006:

Newspaper circulation has been in a long, slow decline for decades. But the pace of loss seems accelerated now, as the industry tries to adjust to the steady migration of readers and advertisers to the Internet.

I can’t imagine things have improved much for print media since then. There has certainly been a fair amount of discussion about how to survive this shift to digital media and a number of industry pundits have boldly declared that one or another technology will become the dominant platform for the content presently printed and which all those people out there clearly still want. After all, there will always be a place for quality journalism and writing. I agree although I think it is important that mainstream media realise that they are content creators almost on a par with bloggers, podcasters and other not-so-mainstream content creators. I am starting to wonder if the distinction between the content I could get from, say, The Times or Mail & Guardian and the content I can get from the likes of Ivo Vegter, Robert Scoble and Read/Write Web is fading fast to the point where I place as much (and often more) value in what I read on a blog than what I read in a mainstream publication.

Another issue is that actual print media is so wasteful and cumbersome. All that paper being printed and distributed across long distances over periods of time that could render the news obsolete before the publication arrives. Why not save the cost of all that production and the trees that were sacrificed for the idle pleasure of rustling pages and explore digital alternatives which can be so much better for the rainforest?

(Image credit: 02.Newspaper.DupontCircle.WDC.30mar06 by ElvertBarnes published under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)

Although the hot platform at the moment is your mobile phone (lots of mobile phone users translate into more advertising bucks if only mainstream media could figure out how to monetise all those little eyeballs), I see the future of media (mainstream, not so mainstream and downright on the bleeding edge) being on a variety of devices feed by RSS and its successors. Ok, this isn’t exactly breaking news but it does help if the big media people take a look at this issue from the perspective of an end user. Have they actually tried to read feeds on a mobile phone that doesn’t cost R7 000 and have a large screen? It isn’t a pleasant experience.

Instead media should be available on whichever connected device you prefer. My personal preference is a tablet device of some kind (the one I dream about and which no-one has manufactured yet) or some iteration of what the iPhone could be. I want a large enough screen to comfortably read the feeds I have subscribed to and remain mobile where I want to be and also continue my reading on my large LCD monitor when I return to home base. Still not exactly news to most people but the point is that the focus should rather be on making the content available in a relative platform agnostic manner using a standard technology that can distribute that content (again, RSS works well here).

This isn’t to say that big media has to give up its subscriptions and squeeze more out of their advertisers. I noticed that the local publications whose feeds I subscribe to publish truncated feeds which force me to visit their websites to read the full article. This drives me nuts. I use a feed reader to read my feeds, not to link to web pages. I would pay a subscription fee to have receive the full articles in my feeds and I would even tolerate a relative innocuous ad if it means I don’t have to open yet another tab in Firefox or NetNewsWire to read the article. This option would mean the ability to add a password protected feed (presumably) and given the demand for this those feed readers that don’t support this functionality soon will if they are worth their salt, so to speak. I subscribe to Fortune magazine and it would be fantastic to be able to subscribe to a digital edition and receive full articles in my feed reader. Of course the second part to this fantasy experience would be a device that makes my content portable enough that I can meaningfully consume that content just as easily when I am at a coffee shop as I can at my desk with my MacBook (it would also be great if my preferred feed reader - NetNewsWire at the moment - would allow customisable media download options for offline reading).

That content could be formatted in a variety of ways and a nice example of this is a new feed reader which has recently been released and which is called “Times“. This newsreader aims to change the way we read our news in a digital format:

Instead of treating news like email (as most RSS readers do), Times presents you with headlines and photos from a variety of sources all in one place, letting you more easily discover the news you want to read. Like your own personal newspaper, you can put feeds into separate areas, create pages for different subjects, and more.

Although I think Acrylic Apps is missing the point a little with Times, it is still a fantastic example of how news and feed fed content in general can be presented to users. It doesn’t all have to look like this:

Feed fed content could include news feeds, blog feeds, ebooks, podcasts, music … whatever. The range of devices could be just as diverse and could include existing devices such as the iPod Touch/iPhone, mobile phones, Internet tablets, laptops, large LCD screens and future derivatives of those devices. In fact, I think a worthwhile exercise for a major publication is to investigate distributing a decent RSS enabled panel device to its subscribers (perhaps subsidised by a 2 year subscription like the mobile phone networks) and updating those devices over the Internet with the latest issue or latest articles rather than delivering print editions.

Print media may not be dead just yet but it isn’t getting any younger. Digital platforms far surpass print media in terms of immediacy and freshness of content and the growing trend towards digital consumption means that it is becoming more and more expensive to produce print editions of these publications. Why would I buy a newspaper except to paper my floors in case my puppies need to pee? I certainly don’t need to read a newspaper to find out what is going on in the world. I can do that online and in many instances, I can get better information on the Web. What about you? When was the last time you read a newspaper to find out what is going on in your world?

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Posted in Devices, Feeds, Media | Comments (1)

Introduction to FriendFeed for the uninitiated

April 12th, 2008

I just came across this introduction to FriendFeed for the, as yet, uninitiated:

It was posted by Tim Steward over at Web2-Oh. Catchy name Tim.

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Posted in Lifestreaming | Comments (0)

Video on Flickr!

April 9th, 2008

There have been rumours that Flickr might get into the video business too after being so successful with photos and these rumours have been confirmed! If you are a pro (in other words, a paying user) you can post small video clips to the site. I like the way Flickr sees these short video clips as “long photos” …

Video! Video! Video! The rumours are true and ‘soon’ is now. We’re thrilled to introduce video on Flickr. If you’re a pro member, you can now share videos up to 90 glorious seconds in your photostream.

90 seconds? While this might seem like an arbitrary limit, we thought long and hard about how video would complement the flickrverse. If you’ve memorized the Community Guidelines, you know that Flickr is all about sharing photos that you yourself have taken. Video will be no different and so what quickly bubbled up was the idea of ‘long photos,’ of capturing slices of life to share.

classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"> flashvars="photo_id=2378570351&photo_secret=9a8b282640&flickr_show_info_box=true" height="300" width="400">

Will this service replace your regular video services? Probably not, but it does add another option for those short clips you’d like to include with photos rather than go and post them to some other location and try string them all together.

(Source: Laughing Squid)

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Posted in Media, Useful stuff, Web 2.0 | Comments (0)

Low-down on Hulu from Daisy Whitney

April 4th, 2008

I came across this video which turned out to be a quick video about the popular Internet video site that has a number of mainstream shows in the US called Hulu:

The woman in the video is Daisy Whitney who I found out about in This Week in Media. Actually I listened to an episode and heard her voice and she kept coming back onto the show. She sounded really interesting so I looked her up and found her site.

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Posted in Entertainment, People, Podcasts | Comments (0)

Enhanced Internet banking using tags

April 3rd, 2008

This is a cross post from my personal blog. The idea isn’t so much to use social tagging but more to apply tagging technology in a very pragmatic and useful way.

Here is a thought for the likes of Standard Bank and FNB (the two banks I use at the moment): add tagging functionality to your Internet banking services to improve their usefulness.

My thinking is that it would be great to have the ability to add descriptive tags to line items in my bank statements/transaction listings. My bookkeeper often has to check with me what various transactions are for and it would be really handy to be able to go in and tag various line items with references or even add descriptions to items.

Just a thought …

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Posted in Infrastructure, Tools, Useful stuff | Comments (1)

On a personal note …

March 31st, 2008

After much gnashing of teeth, various installs and domains, my personal blog has a new home.

I managed to register a couple domains I have been after for a little while now and have (once again) moved my blog. Please change your bookmarks for my personal blog to:

The feed has already been re-routed so you don’t need to make any changes if you have subscribed to the following feed:

I am not going to comment on my compulsion to keep shifting things around - it has become one of those things you just shake your head about. Anyway, I prefer this domain anyway. It creates a nice clean split between my work and personal sites.

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Posted in Blogs/Sites, Our blogs | Comments (0)