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December 21 2010

The 2010 technology of the year is ...

While Facebook and the iPad garnered considerable attention this year -- and rightly so -- it is the free micro-blogging service Twitter that gets my 2010 accolade for the most important technology product of the year.

Now with more than 175 million subscribers, an estimated dollar value that is double that of the New York Times, and 25 billion tweets this year alone, Twitter is becoming a formidable disrupter in multiple domains, including media and the enterprise.

In June of this year, responding to several of my friends and colleagues who were simply confounded by the merit of Twitter, I posted my first blog on the topic. Looking back now, six months later, I see that even I significantly underestimated the value of the service.


Why Twitter?

Twitter finally meets the two essential criteria for business success:

1. Is there a viable revenue model?

To that I say a resounding yes! This year, Twitter began the rollout of their suite of promotion features. A form of advertising, Twitter promotions call out sponsored hashtags and help to serve up associated tweets. As Evan Williams (Twitter co-founder) pointed out at the Web 2.0 Summit in November, a considerable challenge right now is managing the excessive demand by brands to have their products and services promoted. He also pointed out that there are many more ways to monetize Twitter that are in the works.

2. Does the service have sustainable utility for its users?

Once again, Twitter has proven this to be the case over and over again. I'll spend the remainder of this post exploring this point.

Twitter as a communications tool

There are few websites or TV commercials now that don't adorn themselves with the Facebook and Twitter logos. These services are quickly becoming the new destinations or originating points for people interested in learning more about products and services. Twitter, with its small footprint and timeliness advantage, has the ability to uniquely reach and drive sales to a global audience. For a broader set of marketers such as politicians, governments, entertainers, charities, media outlets, and non-governmental agencies, the service provides a new and valuable channel to spread a message.

I personally use Twitter to communicate my ideas and to highlight items of interest to my followers. I also enjoy reading tweets from those I follow that are both informative and entertaining (side note: like many of you, I've completely dropped the use of RSS for pushed content as a result of Twitter). It's also a knowledge discovery tool for me (more on that later below).

The usage of Twitter during the Iranian presidential protests in 2009 hints at the promise of a frictionless channel that rides above the limits of traditional communication tools.

Twitter as a disrupter of existing media

If you've had the chance to play with Flipboard for the iPad, it's clear to see that pulling in a Twitter stream illuminates the real-time zeitgeist in ways never possible before. It presents person-specific interests and provides options for content, such as video that you can be explored further if desired.

Too often we take an existing media and simply present the same content in a different digital context. Great innovation uses digitization for reinvention. For example, we shouldn't simply bring TV to the Internet; it should be different and use the unique capabilities of digitization to make it even more compelling. In Twitter, for example, the ability to serve up news in small chunks from a plethora of pundits results in the reinvention of news distribution. That's neat.

Twitter as a competitor to Facebook and Google

The September facelift of Twitter on the web, which included inline video and photographs, was suggestive of what may lie ahead. Rather than being limited to basic micro-blogging capability, the revised Twitter is a compelling place to share media and send and receive direct messages. Improved mobile accessibility and usability extend these capabilities beyond the desktop, too.

Twitter has become a destination to discover and find things. Some of that is by push (e.g. you follow a link someone shared), but increasingly it offers benefits in pull (e.g. you do a search for something). While the demise of Google search is not imminent, Twitter is a search paradigm disrupter that can't be ignored.

Twitter is natively a social network. It easily connects people and interests. Once again, while not a Facebook killer yet, a few additional features would align it against the core value-propositions of Facebook, but in a decidedly -- and potentially -- more compelling manner.

One can easily deduce why both Google and Facebook have been vying to acquire Twitter.

Of course it's not all perfect. Twitter has a lot of work to do. They continue to have service outage issues when utilization spikes. A symptom of success no doubt, but an excuse that is long past its free-pass status. In the same interview cited earlier, Evan Williams spoke about the need -- which they are working on -- to have more meaningful or relevant tweets somehow rise above other less valuable content. One survey found that 40 percent of tweets are "pointless babble." That's a lot of noise if you're trying to get real value from the service.

Fundamentally Twitter is important because it takes traditional concepts such as marketing and messaging and forces us to rethink them. Its API enables powerful data analysis of trends and discovery of patterns. It has spawned an ecosystem of more than 300,000 integrated apps that extend its capabilities. It's even sparked a healthy amount of copycats, both in the consumer space (e.g. and Plurk), and in the enterprise (e.g. Yammer and Socialcast).

I recognize Twitter as my 2010 technology product of the year for many of the reasons above, but specifically it is because of its potential. If the company makes a few smart decisions over the next few months and beyond, Twitter has the power to be profoundly important in many areas of our lives.


May 21 2010

South Africa: Build up to the World Cup

By Muhammad Karim

With 20 days left to the the greatest spectacle showcasing the “beautiful game” in South Africa, there has been a lot of preparation going on behind the scenes and a lot of talk in the South African blogosphere on various issues surrounding the World Cup. There is Official Government site covering the World Cup where all the “official” information and updates on what is being done to prepare for the World Cup can be found.

Still not sure what exactly the World Cup is and especially clueless on any information about the World Cup 2010? The World Cup Blog has a great Beginners' Guide to the World Cup which covers the basics very succinctly.

First up in the blogosphere, though, let's start with traffic situation. The Portfolio Travel Blog points out various road closures which will be taking place in Cape Town around the time of the World Cup:

The City of Cape Town has released the following road closure information for all in the Mother City during the World Cup.

“Traffic will be affected on match days in Cape Town during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ due to a number of necessary road closures. The City asks the public to be aware of these and to plan their routes and travel times accordingly.We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” said the City’s Director: Communication and 2010 Spokesperson, Pieter Cronje.

Public transport services have been extended as part of the City’s transport plan for the event.

“We encourage commuters to utilise these extended public transport services offered by the City,” said Peter Sole, Manager: 2010 Transport Operations.

All trains and certain train stations will have additional security for the duration of the World Cup. In addition, the use of non-motorised transport and car pooling is greatly encouraged.

You can get all the additional details on these road closures by visiting the full blog post. I hope the same is not the same for the other host cities. I'm sure this is a special case.

Keeping with the theme of transport, The Mpumalanga Explorer highlights how the FIFA World Cup Official page is misrepresenting information about one particular town which will host a few World Cup Games, Nelspruit.

The Mpumalanga Province is regarded as one of the most tourist-friendly provinces in South Africa. Despite its close proximity to some neighbouring countries, such as Mozambique, the province is also less than three hours drive from Johannesburg and some four hours from Polokwane” Fair enough all this is factual. I am guessing that at some point along the border of Mpumalanga you could get to Polokwane in four hours, but the facts are that it would take another 2 hours from there to Nelspruit. The FIFA World Cup™ tournament games are being held in Mpumalanga, but more specifically Nelspruit which is approximately 360 km's from Johannesburg, which distance can be covered in 3 hours with no stops and no other traffic if the rules of the road are adhered to. Polokwane is another couple of hours from Johannesburg going north.

Aside from the world-acclaimed Kruger National Park which is the main tourist destination in Mpumalanga Province, very little is known about this province and its surroundings.” What utter claptrap. Mpumalanga is known for more than just the Kruger Park. Making it sound like Mpumalanga is largely unexplored and wild is foolish. The roads in Mpumalanga, specifically in the Lowveld are largely tarred. We have many tourists visiting the smaller towns like Graskop, Hazyview Sabie and Barberton because of the attractions they offer. These towns are not unknown as much as FIFA wish to claim that.

The blog does go into other inaccurate information on the FIFA World Cup page. It seems FIFA's not done it's homework on this one.

Some great news now for World Cup Ticket Holders from Capeinfo blogs…there is free Metrorail for World Cup ticket holders:

Metrorail will transport match ticket holders of the 2010 FIFA World Cup free of charge on its special dedicated trains to host stadiums.

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) will run special commuter services through its Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl intercity services during the tournament.

This is an additional special train service over and above the normal services provided, and will be synchronised according to match schedules.

Additional rail services will be scheduled to cope with the demand as government has promised that by 2010 there will be a train available every five minutes during peak times. Train services will be running between 14 and 16 hours every day.

Metrorail Gauteng Region will service a total of 12 routes namely Soccer City with 14 train sets, Coca-Cola Park with 13 train sets and Loftus Versfeld with 14 more trains.

The short routes include Pretoria to Rissik station, Johannesburg to Nasrec station, Westgate to Nasrec station as well as Westgate to Doornfontein station.

All stations will start operating from 5am to 10pm on match days while for late games, stations will operate until midnight.

Each soccer train will be staffed with a team of ten ticket officers, both to and from venue stations. One inspector or supervisor will be deployed on each soccer train.

Shosholoza Meyl, with an active coach fleet of 1 223, already runs on 19 scheduled routes stopping at 95 stations, while Metrorail services 468 stations in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and the Eastern Cape.

Regional and cross-border train services have been revised to coincide with matches in the various host cities, this includes the scheduling of dedicated trains to matches and from outside the Gauteng region.

Passengers will be able to choose between the various products such as the Tourist Class Train Service, Economy Train Service and Premier Class.

The train services will run from Musina in Limpopo, Komatipoort, Rustenburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. Passengers will then connect to Metrorail trains to take them to their respective games.

Great news for World Cup enthusiasts wondering how they will be able to attend matches in different cities.

VOANews blog has a post giving a high five to the South Africa World Cup 2010 official Mascot, Zakumi.

World Cup mascots usually show a characteristic feature of the host country. One of my objectives during my first trip to South Africa in June is to give a high-five to Zakumi, the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup.
Zakumi is a leopard, a common animal found in South Africa, and his green and gold colors represent the national colors of South Africa’s national sports teams. A high-five for you, Zakumi!

Green Point Stadium and Capetown Daily Photo's gives us a great picture of the New Green Point Stadium taken from the old one:

Covering some humorous content around the World Cup, Dizzy Dee blogs about a US broadcast which actually confused which continent the World cup will be held on:

Note the photo in the article above shows South America, while the heading over the image reads “South Africa“. Seems like there is some confusion in the US as to which continent exactly hosts the Soccer World Cup during 2010.

Kameraad Mhambi blogs about a Netherlands based group called De Zoltans, which sings a song “Zuid-Afrika” based on the tune of YMCA and is all about the World Cup, absolutely hilarious:

A friend Lizelle living in the Netherlands sent me this. A song called Zuid-Afrika about the Football World Cup.

Moenie my glo as ek sê die Hollanders is sokkerbefok nie. Check maar gewoon hier.

Not quite Die Antwoord. The Dutchies are one of the teams with a chance of lifting the cup.

Just for your information, Die Antwoord are a white South African Based Hip-Hop group which has gained tremendous popularity with their music being spread solely over the internet. They are available on Youtube.

Bringing it all back on a more sombre note, Medialternatives blogs about Fifa, Racism and the World Cup.

FIFA continues to fund apartheid-era companies in South Africa. DSTV SUPERSPORT for example has rights to broadcast live coverage of the World Cup event in High Definition, but its holding company Sanlam/Naspers remains engaged in a lengthy labour dispute involving racism and discrimination in which gross failures in the coverage of issues affecting previously disadvantaged communities have come to light.

SuperSport channels “will provide spectators with full coverage of the World Cup event”. A DSTV official has stated: “there will be a 24-hour coverage and we will be bringing the games on High Definition (HD).” Yet millions without the luxury of HD languish in poverty caused as a result of FIFA partners.

Racism, whether in low or high definition is still racism, and apartheid however misconstrued via Satellite or Cable TV is still apartheid. FIFA should not allow its brand to be associated with a company which failed to make a submission to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

In the final report Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu questioned the sincerity of Afrikaner-dominated media houses such as Media24: “Is silence from that quarter to be construed as consent, conceding that it was a sycophantic handmaiden of the apartheid government?”

In the commissions findings Naspers/Media24/MNET were condemned for their complicity in the apartheid system: ‘[Naspers] chose to provide direct support for apartheid and the activities of the security forces — many of which led directly to gross human rights violations.”

It's an interesting viewpoint and one that isn't much covered in the blogosphere, let alone mainstream media.

An element of hope is stirred by kameraad mhambi again in a blog post on two rugby teams (one being known as the most ‘afrikaner' team) who, because of the World Cup, will be playing their match in Soweto of all places…

This weekend, due to the Football World Cup, history will be made when the Blue Bulls play the Crusaders in the Super 14 Rugby tournament in Soweto.

The Bulls, from Pretoria, traditionally are seen as the most Afrikaner off all South Africa Rugby Unions. The game will be an opportunity to smash or reinforce some stereo types.

Ending off on a very inspirational note, especially when it comes to motivating the teams themselves, Hyundai have had a competition coming up with Team slogans for each country which has qualified for the World Cup. Below are their results…

Algerie - Star and crescent with one goal: Victory!

Argentina - Última parada, la gloria - Last stop: Glory

Australia - Dare to Dream, Advance Australia

Brazil - Lotado! O Brasil inteiro está aqui dentro! - The whole of Brazil is in here!

Cameroon - Les lions indomptables sont de retour - The Indomitable Lions are back

Chile - Roja la sangre de mi corazón, Chile campeón - Red is the blood of my heart, Chile will be Champion

Cote D Ivoire - Eléphants, battons nous pour la victoire! - Elephants, let's fight for victory!

Denmark - Det eneste der kræves, er et dansk hold og en drøm - All you need is a Danish team and a dream

England - Playing with Pride and Glory

France - Tous ensemble vers un nouveau rêve bleu - All together for a new dream in blue

Germany - Auf dem Weg zum Cup! - On the road to get the Cup!

Ghana - The hope of Africa

Greece - Η Ελλάδα είναι παντού! - Greece is everywhere!

Honduras -Un país, una pasión, ¡5 estrellas en el corazón! - One Country, One passion, 5 Stars in the heart

Italy - Il nostro Azzurro nel cielo d'Africa - Italian Azzurro on African sky

Japan - 侍魂はくじけない!日本勝利! - The Samurai spirit never dies! Victory for Japan!

Korea DRP - 또다시 1966년처럼, 조선아 이겨라 ! - 1966 again! Victory for DPR of Korea!

Mexico - ¡Es tiempo de un nuevo campeón! - It is time for a new champion!

Netherlands - Let niet op de grote 5, maar pas op voor de oranje 11 - Don't fear the big five, fear the Orange eleven

New Zealand - Kickin' it Kiwi style

Nigeria - Super Eagles super fan united we stand

Paraguay - El león Guaraní ruge en Sudáfrica - The Guarani lion roars in South Africa!

Portugal - Um sonho, uma ambição…Portugal campeão! - One dream, one purpose… Portugal victorious!

Republic of Korea - 승리의 함성, 하나된 한국 - The Shouts of Reds, United Republic of Korea

Serbia - Igramo srcem, vodimo osmehom! - Play with the heart, lead with a smile!

Slovakia - Rozbehnime to: Slovensko do toho! - Shake the green field: Go Slovakia!

Slovenia - Z enajstimi pogumnimi srci do konca - With eleven brave hearts to the end

South Africa - One nation, proudly united under one rainbow

Spain - Ilusión es mi camino, Victoria mi destino - Hope is my road, victory my destiny

Switzerland - Hopp Schwiiz! - “Hop Suisse!” - “Forza Svizzera!” - “C'mon Switzerland!”

Uruguay - El sol brilla sobre nosotros. ¡Vamos Uruguay! - The sun shines upon us. Go Uruguay!

USA - Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Victory!

All in all the country and the world are excited about the upcoming World Cup. There will be a few hiccups I'm sure, but overall it all seems to point to a hopeful and colourful World Cup 2010.

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April 21 2010

April 19 2010



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Spannende Diskussionen in der Wienerzeitung zum Bescheid des Bundesdenkmalamts für den Konzertkristall am Augartenspitz und den Umständen...
Reposted fromgulyas gulyas

March 26 2010


Tags: Ada Lovelace - the Ada Lovelace Day, 24th of March - survey on articles via in 2009 & 2010

Pointer - Wegweiser ---------------------------------------------------

In occasion of the Ada Lovelace Day, 24th of March (a day to remember and encourage women in IT technologies, female engagement in all kinds of cyber-activism & blogging) I tagged all the articles I could find on my soup in 2009 und 2010 on Ada Lovelace (just click on the name and the postings will appear)

There are a lot of informations about engagements in politics interconnected with the fields of technological developement, human rights, privacy - btw, also about Franziska Heine from CCC - and even comics.

[oanth - muc -20100325]
Reposted bySigalon02 Sigalon02

March 25 2010

Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Women in Technology and Transparency Worldwide

Inspired by Ellen Miller's post on the Sunlight Foundation blog, which profiles the work of women who use technology to promote transparency in the United States, we decided to add to the list by profiling several women from around the world involved in the use of technology to make government more transparent and accountable. The following profiles were written and researched by Renata Avila, the lead of Creative Commons Guatemala, the Director of Primer Palabra, and our researcher for Spanish-language Latin America on the Technology for Transparency Network.

In Mexico, Irma Eréndida Sandoval heads up a laboratory to document corruption and research the best transparency policies. “Laboratorio de Documentación y Análisis de la Corrupción y la Transparencia” at UNAM, the Autonomous National Mexican University, is one of the most prestigious institutions in Latin America.

In Iceland, parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir is promoting the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a proposal to create a global safe haven for investigative journalism in Iceland that would improve freedom of expression and transparency worldwide by protecting watchdog groups and whistleblowers from libel censorship.

It is important not only approve good laws to promote transparency and openness but also protect a free country from becoming less transparent. An activist from Germany, Franziska Heine, initiated the most successful e-petition in German history, aimed to prevent a law which would give the German police the right to create and maintain censorship lists with websites to be blocked by German ISPs. It was signed more than 134,000 times. Franziska is part of the anti-censorship movement and is engaged in several activities and organizations which fight against surveillance, data mining, censorship and other threats to civil rights.

But good laws and proactive citizens are not enough; tools are also important to enable women around the world to take action and promote transparency. Margarita Padilla, an IT engineer and the former director of the magazine Mundo Linux is making a difference. She creates and maintains systems with a social approach and also promotes openness with her website Sin Dominio.

Mercedes de Freitas from Venezuela is the Executive Director of Transparencia Venezuela, the local chapter of Transparency International and is former Ashoka Changemaker Fellow for her work in promoting civic participation to increase government accountability.

These are surely just a few examples of women around the world who are using technology to challenge corruption, improve the performance of institutions, and create better policy to engage citizens and hold public officials accountable. As a recent article by Alexandra Starr notes, both the fields of technology and government have long excluded women from participation despite their impressive track record for approaching both policy and technology with more realism and tact than their male counterparts.

Software companies and parliamentary buildings around the world are still mostly dominated by men, but this is changing quickly thanks to a new generation of women technologists, activists, and politicians. I would be remiss to not highlight the work of our female researchers and research reviewers who, it must be said, have proven themselves to be the hardest working members of our team on the Technology for Transparency Network.

Renata Avila, who wrote the profiles of all of the women above, is a lawyer, human rights activist, the country lead of Creative Commons Guatemala, and the director of Primer Palabra. She has worked with the Rigoberta Menchu Tum Foundation, Harvard University, the Public Voice, and Women in International Security. Twitter: @avilarenata.

Sopheap Chak is a graduate student of peace studies at the International University of Japan. Meanwhile, she is also running the Cambodian Youth Network for Change, which mobilizes young activists around the country. She was previously advocacy officer of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) where she helped lead the “Black Box Campaign” to fight against police corruption in Cambodia. Twitter: @jusminesophia.

Rebekah Heacock is currently a master's candidate at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, where she studies the intersection of ICT and development and edits SIPA’s blog, The Morningside Post. She previously lived and worked in Uganda, where she co-developed and directed a series of conferences on post-conflict development for American and African college students. Twitter: @rebekahredux.

Manuella Maia Ribeiro is a recent graduate of Public Policy Management from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Since 2007 she has been researching how governments can promote transparency, accountability and participation through the use of information and communication technologies. Twitter: @manuellamr.

Namita Singh is a researcher and consultant focused on participatory media. She studied mass media and mass communication at Delhi University and has a Master of Arts in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Namita will soon begin her Ph.D. research in the UK on the processes and impact of participatory video. Twitter: @namitasingh.

Carrie Yang is a a postgraduate student studying new media at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The focus of her research is on citizen journalism and new media product development. She studied English at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China. Twitter: @Carrie_Young.

Sylwia Presley is a blogger, photographer and activist who is passionate about social media marketing for the non-profit sector and social media for social change. She has organized numerous events including Barcamp Transparency UK last summer in Oxford, which she hopes will be replicated in other European countries this year. Twitter: @presleysylwia.

Aparna Ray is an independent qualitative research consultant by profession who is keenly interested in people, cultures, communities and social media/software. She writes both in English and Bangla, (the latter being her mother-tongue), and covers the Bangla blog world on Global Voices. Twitter: @aparnaray.

Laura Vidal is a Venezuelan studying Science Education in Paris, France. She blogs at Sacando la Lengua about languages, literature and interactions in society, and deeply believes in the uniqueness and importance of every culture, and in the study of them as a mirror to our own.

Do you know other women working in the fields of technology and transparency? Please link to their websites, blogs, and Twitter accounts in the comments section below!

Reposted bySigalon02 Sigalon02

March 24 2010

Ada Lovelace day: Celebrating women in science

The annual event aims to raise the profile of women in science and technology. Rebecca Thomson picks out some of the most important people

Reposted fromsigaloninspired sigaloninspired
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