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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]

Bitcoin at 10: Ponzi scheme or herald of a new world order? We may need another 10 years

Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? It’s a decade-old question that has gotten more and more attention since this mythical figure came up with the idea for Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology. Bitcoin, the world’s newest and perhaps most controversial currency, turned 10 this month; prompting a wave of nostalgia and innumerable commentaries about its significance to the world. Nakamo...[Read More]

Bill and Hillary Clinton give stark assessment of the internet and its problems

Although the internet has enabled an “amazing advance” for humanity, it has “real problems” with social networks, the addictive nature of smart devices and the loss of our personal privacy, says Bill and Hillary Clinton. It was an unusual scene: a former US president and former first lady, the two most powerful elected officials in America some might say, sitting on a stage...[Read More]

A year without the biggest social network on my phone has made me a freer person

“So you just view it in Safari,” a friend asked me with great bewilderment when I explained I didn’t have the Facebook app on my phone and the interactions he saw were through my iPhone’s browser. Just over a year ago I deleted Facebook off my phone. Not long afterwards I deleted its companion Messenger app. I can safely report that I haven’t missed anything. When I first wrote a...[Read More]

Ready, set, go – Black Friday is here!

It’s that time of year again: Christmas decorations are hitting the shelves, stores are rediscovering their love for Boney M. and Michael Bublé, and retailers are already sending out their Black Friday marketing. Yes, it’s the start of the summer campaign season – the stretch from Black Friday to Christmas to Valentine’s Day, and right through until Easter, where the retail sector is at its ...[Read More]

Apple CEO precipitously warns that “data industrial complex” needs to be resisted

Perhaps because it was Apple CEO Tim Cook sounding the alarm, his admonishments that our personal data “is being weaponized against us with military efficiency” are all the more real. Cook, the long-time Apple insider who took over from Steve Jobs, shares his predecessor’s stance on privacy, which is a rare difference in the world of tech firms who make money from their users. Fa...[Read More]

The debate about whether an algorithm will replace your job is becoming more pertinent

Most of the conversations about artificial intelligence (AI) seem to be focussed on the potential job losses this new form of automation will result in. Some 800-million people could lose their jobs by 2030 according to the figures from a study by the McKinsey Global Institute last December, which also predicted AI will affect 800 various job types and occupations in 46 countries. That’s 20%...[Read More]

Calling founders of Instagram “product leaders” being interpreted as the ultimate put down

When it first burst onto the app scene in 2010, Instagram was a revelation. This little picture-sharing app let iPhone users not only share their pictures but add clever filters at the touch of a button. Suddenly everyone could be Obie Oberholzer, the extraordinary South African photographer whose richly coloured images are artistic genius. Earlier this month the co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike...[Read More]

This time there can be no excuses about whose fault it was for 50m users being hacked

This time Facebook can’t blame a third party for last week’s major hacking of some 50m accounts, nor its seemingly scandalous use of cellphone details for marketing purposes when they were logged as security backup numbers. When the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook tried desperately to paint itself as the victim by an outside party that said it would delete user details but didn&#...[Read More]

Has smartphone innovation peaked? Has our interest in these devices peaked?

As expected… I began writing about this month’s iPhone XS launch and realised that phrase summed up the last few years of Apple product launches. The Steve Jobs years were characterised not only by his showmanship but by his iron-clad insistence on secrecy. No supplier would dare leak any details about upcoming product launches. When an iPhone was mistakenly left in a bar one year, it was co...[Read More]

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