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If President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Sona address argues for the importance of telecoms, why are the ministers all as wacky and out of touch?

What is it about the portfolio that the communications minister so often seems bereft of their senses? During the ongoing Please Call me saga between Vodacom and its former employee Nkosana Makate, Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams last month tweeted: "Just shut up Vodacom and do the right thing. ’Talk to Makate’ instead of this poor PR stunt. Don’t talk to us until you have reach...[Read More]

Facebook is a teenager tone deaf to its self-centred destructiveness. Also, happy birthday

Turning 15 is a drag. Just ask any teenager about this most awkward age of life and the pain of living through it. Imagine then that you’re Facebook. Last week as the largest social media network reached this milestone it seemed every bit the gangly kid trying to look cool while being beset by angst and self-doubt. And being hated by the rest of the class.

Though the Vodacom Please Call Me saga is unresolved, at least inventor Ari Kahn has finally been acknowledged

Who really invented the Please Call Me service? It’s the question that’s been repeated innumerable times as the free messaging service saga reached a crescendo last week with threats, accusations and demonstrations outside Vodacom World. The answer – as is now common cause – was Ari Kahn, MTN’s lead data consultant who pioneered this innovative idea. “Callme” as he first na...[Read More]

By combining its various messaging services, Facebook is treading on dangerous ground with privacy and anticompetitive monopoly

Facebook intends to combine is messaging apps – WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram – into a single backend so people can message across the various platforms. While Facebook clearly believes it will make it easier for its users to communicate, the rest of the rational world is alarmed at its unprecedented monopoly of communication getting worse, and potentially compromising our data privacy even mo...[Read More]

Who really invented Please Call Me? The long-running saga is in the news again, but will the true story ever come out?

This column first appeared in Financial Mail in 2015.  It has all the makings of a grand story of a rags-to-riches story: a resourceful man who had a great idea that took off. It gets better, that inventor didn’t get a cent from his invention but now, in a David-vs-Goliath confrontation, he will wrest glory (and royalties) back through a lengthy and protracted court battle. But, is that inventor f...[Read More]

Telegram and Signal are the main alternatives to WhatsApp because they promise greater security

In the last few years while WhatsApp was being sued by privacy watchdogs in Europe for data infringements, Telegram was sued in Russia for refusing to compromise on its users’ privacy. Telegram is a messaging app that prides itself on its encryption and privacy. It was created in 2013 Pavel Durov – often called Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg – specifically to prevent his own government from eavesd...[Read More]

Facebook sued by European regulators for breaching privacy, and it’s only getting worse

I’m not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. After years of trying to fulfil these improbable, sometimes impossible, behavioural change tasks, I – like everyone – gave up on this annual tradition. But this year I have a goal, a resolution, if you will. I want to move way from WhatsApp – and to use Telegram. As one of the largest messaging networks in the world – with over 1.5bn us...[Read More]

Trends 2019: Digital with a Purpose

In 2019, it’s not the technology that matters – it’s the thinking behind it. Disruptive technologies that once seemed revolutionary are fast becoming ordinary parts of our lives and we are reaching the point where digital stops being a thing and becomes everything. My take on the trends presents a view of how we as humans can consider some of these technological advances that are intrinsically par...[Read More]

After a stratospheric 21-year run, gravity has finally caught up with Apple’s share price

Wow. After a charmed 21-year stratospheric run, gravity has finally caught up with Apple’s share price. It has grown steadily since Steve Jobs took over in 1997, and became not only the most valuable listed company in the world, but the first to hit the unprecedented US$1-trillion mark last August. Until last week. In a 1,400-word letter to investors, CEO Tim Cook that Apple was expecting a ...[Read More]

The defining tech story of 2018 is that social media is a modern-day version of slavery, using personal data for financial gain

When George Soros warned at the beginning of the year that social media had become a “menace” to society and “obstacles to innovation”, he could scarcely have known his admonitions would be proved so correct this year, as Facebook imploded in a privacy storm and he himself would became their target. By the end of this year, whatever niceties were left in our opinion of Face...[Read More]

Voicemail, that old voice era hallmark, is dead. But app-centric voice messaging is very alive

Just over a month ago I turned off my voicemail. After voice calls and SMSes, voicemail has been the longest used service I’ve had since I bought my first cellphone in 1996. It was an essential part of the cellphone era, wasn’t it? To say I hardly miss it, hardly needs to be said. Like just about everyone I know these days, my voicemail has politely implored people not to leave a messa...[Read More]

New minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has her work cut out to reinvigorate this essential part of our economy

It was easy last week to focus on the failure to fire South Africa’s two most incompetent Cabinet ministers – Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane – but the country should be heartened by our new communications minister. It might be facetious to say Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is infinitely better than any of her predecessors because they are such a motley crew of useless and corrupt Zumaïtes...[Read More]

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