New Media & The War on Gaza

I got called up to do an interview on Al Jazeera English today…. The topic was the role of New Media in the War on Gaza… 

We have been pretty darn busy in the New Media office getting stuff up and running for the situation in Gaza. You can follow our official Twitter stream (@AJGaza) to stay up to date with the latest info, if you would like to have your views heard on air, you can submit them through our new “Your Views” site for English and “Sharek” for Arabic…

We have a few other projects in the pipeline which we hope to rollout in the next few days…. Watch this space…

Global Lives… A video library of Human life Experience

The Global Lives Project is a collective effort of more than 150 volunteer film makers, artists, architects, programmers and everyday people from around the world to build and display a video library of human life experience.

The folks over at Global Lives are working on a very cool project… The idea is to give you an idea of what everyday life is like for various people around the world. The concept is to follow someone around with a camera for 24hours. They have quite diverse group of people from around the world that have been recorded so far (Brazil, USA, Japan & Malawi).

Our goal is to record 24 hours in the lives of ten people that roughly represent the diversity of our planets population. These ten lives will come together in an innovative video installation and form the basis of a collaborative online video encyclopedia of human life experiences.

If you’ve got pretty good language skills why dont pop over to the dotSub site and help translate some of the videos to your mother tongue….

BlackBerry Storm….

I’ve been talking about the BlackBerry Storm to my colleagues ever since I first heard about it. After using my iPhone for quite a while- the thought of having a touch UI with a “clickable” interface seemed to hold some promise…. Could this finally be a device that would provide the best of both worlds? Well… After reading this review on TIME – “BlackBerry Storm: The Novelty Wears Off Fast”, I guess not. I’m still keen to get my hands on one to play around with, however I dont think i’ll be purchasing a new device this month *sigh*

“The trouble with having to push down on the entire 3.2-inch screen every time you type a letter or confirm a menu choice is that it slows you down. The idea behind the clickable screen is that it will minimize errors by getting you to think before you press. Instead, it took much of the fun out of using the device.”

I guess the name says it all…. its fantastic to watch a storm….sooner or later you’ll be wanting the sun to come out so that you can get on with your life.

Collaborative Education

Over the past few months I’ve been having discussions with a couple of people in the education field. The concept of “open education” came up and seemed to be great idea that could allow institutions, teachers, pupils and the community to share and start discussing their thoughts & challenges. The concept was to allow schools to use online tools (possible wiki concept) as a means to start sharing their syllabi and best practices. The natural challenge is to first get a school to buy into the concept… I was successful in convincing two principals in South Africa to buy into it, unfortunately my trip to SA came to end prior to having a chance to actually implement the idea. I’ve now got some friends on board, hopefully they can take it over and run with it… I’m sure this is already happening elsewhere in the world- need to do some serious research to find success cases…

A friend forwarded this link through to me, the “Social Media Classroom” – I haven’t had a chance to go through it in much detail, but the concept is fantastic. Seems like something def. worth having a play around with… Technology is always just a tool for us, and if used correctly it can really bring about constructive change.

The Social Media Classroom (we’ll call it SMC) includes a free and open-source (Drupal-based) web service that provides teachers and learners with an integrated set of social media that each course can use for its own purposes—integrated forum, blog, comment, wiki, chat, social bookmarking, RSS, microblogging, widgets , and video commenting are the first set of tools. The Classroom also includes curricular material: syllabi, lesson plans, resource repositories, screencasts and videos.

Who Will Rule the New Internet?

Came across this article on the TIME website, its about “Who Will Rule the New Internet?”

Its def. worth a read….

According to Josh Quittner, Apple, Google & Facebook are the technology standard-bearers of todays age. Google- with its “open” web, Facebook- with its huge user base and “walled” off approach & Apple- with the highly controlled “experience.”

The article goes on to explain the success & strategies of three companies, one of the interesting points he raises with regards to Googles “Open” Web strategy VS Facebook is:

Social networks are a threat to that business; users tend to stay within their network and communicate among themselves or simply fool around with apps. When Facebook’s users are playing Scrabulous or tagging photos, for example, they’re not using Google. Indeed, they’re more likely to discover new things via friends or in-network applications such as iLike, a service that matches your friends’ musical tastes to your own.

The flaw in this theory is, facebook may be the biggest thing today, what happens when users get bored and start moving on to the next big site? It was MySpace yesterday, today its Facebook, tomorrow its going to be twitter? Or a microblogging site similar to it? The life cycle on a specific social networking site is still to be decided. Users are like sheep, and who is to say next year we wont see a mass migration to something completely new that has not even been developed yet?

According to Josh, Apple doesnt really care who wins the online war- as long as we use an Apple device to access the content. He quotes Matt Murphy (a venture capitalist) as saying:

He claims that the iPhone will “absolutely be the driver of the post-PC world.” Murphy points out that the kit needed by developers to build iPhone apps has been downloaded more than 200,000 times, and he estimates that about 1,000 applications will be available to consumers when the iPhone-apps store launches with the phone. “If you look at so many of the constraints that have held back the mobile ecosystem, Apple basically takes all of those away and provides an open platform, a great device and a user base that’s rabid for these new kinds of applications,” he says.

The best part of this article, is that Josh did not forget to mention Android. Googles open mobile platform that is due to hit the market place later this year. Andy Rubin, Googles Director of mobile platforms says:

Developers have so far written more than 1,800 applications, which could be distributed on a Google site arranged according to popularity, as YouTube is. “There’s some pretty innovative stuff there,” Rubin explains. “This is merging the handset and the Web and coming up with something completely new.

We’re in for an exciting second half of the year, with the iPhone 2 coming out in a couple of days & Android later in the year, its going to be very interesting to see which company will take the market by storm. Two companies, with very different go-to-market strategies. The problem Google may have, will be the actual device Android is running on… They have already signed deals with many companies (Moto, LG, HTC etc.), but if these companies are not able to provide a compelling UI like the iPhone, this would most likely see users moving towards the iPhone.

Nokia are also due to launch the N96 later this year, i’m sure Nokia will sell the most handsets, but their market share will be sure to take a bit of a knock with some serious competition from Android & Apple. For myself, this is the first year that is a seriously tough decision on which handset to buy? Will Nokia be able to come up with a device that provides a compelling user experience like what we have seen so far from Android and Apple? I doubt it. Regardless of who wins, its great to finally have some quality devices coming to market.

I suppose Google still has a 1 up on Apple & everyone else in the market- anyone who lands up buying an iPhone/Nokia will in the end, still be using Google/Youtube on their handset.

As for the battle of the internet, if Google actually own the platform on which you’re accessing facebook or the next big thing on your mobile, they dont have much to be worried out. At least in the short term…

Lets wait and see how this plays out in the coming months….