Monthly Archives: May 2006

Net advertising 'to overtake national newspapers'

Saw this in the Guardian Unlimited. I quote: “The internet will overtake national newspapers in the battle for advertising spending in the UK by the end of the year, it was predicted yesterday. GroupM, which accounts for about 30% of global media buying, says in a report to be published next month that the internet […]

The foreign press: Stop patronising Africa

A while back at the We Media conference in London, I became irritated at what I saw was the stereotyping and patronising of Africa. It is often unwitting and borne largely out of ignorance of this continent, with knowledge based on what is seen in the (generally negative) news and the movies. I had something […]

Full speech on media portrayal of Africa by SA deputy pres

Editors and their different media play a crucial role in ensuring success or failure in Africa’s quest to hold the world stage. There is, of course, enough competing news around these days to exert heavy centrifugal pressure away from Africa yet. I would still argue that we deserve and even demand attention for Africa…..

Why The Weekender will succeed

The Weekender is an excellent newspaper and a clever initiative by BDFM and Johncom. That it is going to succeed is obvious. I buy it every Saturday and spent a good fat hour or two on it. The articles are well-written and interesting. Here are reasons why I think it will succeed….

The state of the blogosphere

According to Dave Sifry on the Technorati blog (the blog search engine) the blogosphere is literally DOUBLING every 5,5 months. There are about 40,7 million blogs around today, so that means if this formula is to be followed that there will be 80-million blogs by the end of 2006. What’s more is that a blog is being posted EVERY SECOND on the world wide web. There are about 50 000 blog posts every hour and 1,2-million legitimate posts per day. Now that is alot of content and alot of blogging.

When’s Technorati listing? I want to buy some shares.

Technorati, del.icio.us added to Mail & Guardian Online


We’ve just added technorati and del.icio.us to the Mail & Guardian Online. I see we are also ranked 152 out of the 40.7 million sites in Technorati, which is nice. The M&G Online is one of South Africa’s leading online publishers, credited as the first online newspaper on the continent.

For those who don’t know what all this is about (you know who you are) — it’ll allow users and bloggers to see who in the blogosphere is linking to Mail & Guardian Online as a site, and particular articles we publish on the site. The idea is to start a dialogue with bloggers and encourage community around the M&G Online — hopefully to encourage bloggers to blog our site more. Blogs are, without doubt, a key driver of traffic for us. I’m not one for jumping head first into the latest trends, but this — as far as I am concerned — is a big part of the future of the net. Really.

I saw Dave Sifry, the Technorati founder, speak at the We Media conference in London this year, where I was also on a panel speaking (about New Media here). Was impressed by the man. If I recall he got into a heated exchange with some provocative old media type while on his panel. Was funny to watch. And good for him.

It’s phase 1 of the implementation which is fairly rudimentary. Next phase we’ll add a bit more customisation in an M&G Online template after working with the dev team at Technorati.

Check it out for yourself and tell me what you think. (The technorati links are at the bottom of the article pages)

Here is an article you can try out: Mugabe donates computers ahead of by-election

Citizen journalism, let's keep our heads shall we?

Did this interview with Herman Manson of Media Toolbox a popular media newsletter. Here are the questions:

To what extent is the M&G planning to make use of citizen/participatory journalism?
What are people writing about on your blogging service and how does this influence the content of your website and the paper edition?
Do you think participatory journalism will grow beyond community newspapers (for which it does seem perfect) to national news organisations locally? Internationally the BBC recently announced a move to integrate more citizen generated content into its services.

My answers over the page

Vodacom HSDPA 3G problems

Update: 13/06/2006 Problem solved Ok I got an SMS telling me the service has been fixed. It has now been working for the last two weeks efficiently. Credit goes to Vodacom for fixing it, however it has taken some time and perhaps their communication could have been a bit better. Now that it works, I am loving the speed. Apparently we were one of the first country’s in teh world to get the HSDPA upgrade. Go South Africa.

Update: 09/06/2006 Still no contact so I wrote an email asking them to come back to me about beginning of this week. Yep, its Friday and have not heard from them. Not terribly efficient service. Vodacom are lucky that they have a such a good product from Vodafone… its a pity they cannot back up the good product by service. I’ll post here if they ever get back to me.

Update: 30/05/2006 It appears that Vodacom fixed whatever problem seemed to be occuring because i now get regular access again. Haven’t received a mail from them confirming this, nor the promised contact from the local network operator guy… maybe I am wrong to expect world class efficiency from company that makes millions in profits.

Written earlier 20/05/2006
Apparently South Africa’s Vodacom is the second biggest network in the worldwide Vodafone group, beating even its own network in the UK.

But I’d like to ask: Is Vodacom the network of choice any longer in South Africa? I have a new HSDPA 3G card (generously traded in by Vodacom for free) and I never seem to be able to connect at certain periods of the evening. I constantly get error 619 or error 31. I used to have the Novatell card and never had a problem from my house in Linden. But ever since changing to the HSDPA card, I have had error after error. Admittedly a friend of mine who also uses an HSDPA card says he does not have any problems.

Internet useage in Africa: Top countries

It’s time to wake up, Telkom.

Here are the top ranking internet countries in Africa by internet hosts. I got this from Arthur Goldstuck’s comprehensive report, which you can get on his website.

Shows that, as a continent, we have a lot to catch up still. Thankfully the consensus is that South Africa is now set for more expansion, although expensive telecoms are still holding us back. A new challenger to the fixed line monopoly Telkom has been licensed but that is going to take a while to get up and ready and competitive. Broadband is beginning to make an impact here — but again it is expensive (thanks Telkom and cellphone companies).

At one stage South Africa was ranked 11th in the world, but we lost ground as a result of the cost of internet here which ranks among the highest in the world — it’s a wonder that South Africa, despite this, is still by far the top internet country in Africa.

Hopefully Telkom and the cellphone companies will wake up and realise how important ICT is for development of this country. They hopefully will realise that they can make profits without profiteering. South African cell companies (along with our banks who have amongst the highest charges in the world) rank among the most profitable in the world and appear to have so much excess cash that they are aggressive multinationals, moving into countries all over Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. It’s great for the country, but what about the South African consumer and economy. Give us a break.

Top African internet countries (by internet hosts)

Google vs Microsoft; Bush vs Blair

On Google Trends I plotted the popularity of Tony Blair vs George Bush and Microsoft vs Google. Interesting to see that according to popularity by search term, that it appears Microsoft is in slow decline, and Google is soaring to new heights…. In the comparison of George Bush vs Tony Blair — I think the graph illustrates who is really running the show… Do both of these examples mirror reality, do you think???

Mbeki vs Zuma, on Google

This is the latest gimmick to be launched from Google Labs, the experimental, new product development area of Google/ Google Trends allows you to plot the search history of certain topics to guage their popularity. You can even plot two or more topics against each other to see which is more popular.

I decided to put in names of our President and the former deputy president with interesting results — see below:

Where are users looking on my webpage?

Have a look at this Google “heat map” that I took from www.google.com/adsense/tips. It shows, according to Google, the locations on your website that users tend to focus on. Google uses this as a guide to show you where you should position Adsense on your site — or any other kind of advert for that matter… or if you don’t like adverts just put important content there. It is an interesting demonstration of where users tend to look on a site.

On the road again

Oh boy. I arrived back at home on Saturday from London, yet I find myself waiting 6am in the morning at Johannesburg International Airport, boarding another flight to Cape Town for an M&G Online board meeting with shareholders M-WEB today.

Dan Gillmor in London at We Media

Bumped into Dan Gillmor here, at Reuters at the We Media conference. Told him I loved his book. I did love his book. I mentioned Vincent Maher, a fellow South African media worker’s, rantings (yet well argued) about citizen journalism “being dead” — which Gillmor said he was aware of and that he appreciated the diverse opinions that challenge him and his ideas.

Technorati founder David Sifry appeals for sanity

Technorati founder David Sifry appealed to the We Media conference in London at Reuters to put the blogger versus big media issue “to rest”. He says we need each other! Bloggers need big media and big media needs bloggers.

Africa: Giraffes, war, famine, blah blah blah

You know it’s amazing. Why do people (particularly the West) talk of Africa as if it is one big amorphous mass — the same thing. Why is it that references to Africa are all about war, famine, poverty? Being in London at the We Media conference… this appears to be Westerners sole way to relate to Africa.

Every African politician and his blog

In the context of the We Media conference — I want to draw attention to a major blog innovation that took place in the South African online media. It happened a while ago — but I just wanted to highlight it again… it was something we did as the Mail & Guardian Online… read and tell me what you think…

Citizen journalism in hype phase

We are in the hype phase of the citizen journalism phenomenon sweeping the globe. This means we are overemphasising the positive aspects of the phenomenon and not looking closely enough at the problem areas. There are problem areas, for example a lack of formalised ethics, training, adherence to strict rules of balance etc etc among bloggers and citizen journalists… these are the problem areas.

Nitin Desai from UN wants a combined, killer new media and old media combination

Nitin Desai, Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, had a few original words to say on the new wave of “We Media” sweeping the globe. He says that the key challenge – and this is the original part of what he said – is that we face a challenge in finding a business model that can combine the professionalism of the traditional, established media (fact checking; sources; trained journalists; ethics codes and training etc etc) with what we have on the web – the power of collaborative communities, citizen journalism, blogs, collective intelligence, number power etc etc…

Blogs vs traditional media: the Iraq issue

During the first panel discussion of the We Media conference in London a delegate at the conference whose name I didn’t catch stood up and made a very interesting comment. He says he works for a newspaper and that it was his job to review Iraqi blogs for the paper he works for to source stories and comment. He said that ever since he started doing this, he began “losing trust in newspapers” …