Technology Stress presentation at Joburg 27Dinner

This is the presentation delivered at the 27Dinner event in Johannesburg. I will be updating this post with a summary of the key points discussed. Although you can download the file from Slideshare.net because it has sources and references in the presentation notes.

 

Are robots the sex partners of the future?

This article is a few months old but I wanted to highlight it because it illustrates the state of affairs when it comes to how technology is replacing human experience. Read the full story: hardwired for love here.

Technology can never replace human experience because it is a simulation of the real world. However, if you consider how real dreams feel when you’re dreaming, maybe you will wake up from the dream and be thankful it was only a dream. The experience of connecting with another human being is only enhanced by technology when you are physically in different locations.

This reminds me you may want to look at the virtual sex scene from the movie Demolition Man with Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone.

 

Ever heard Israel Kamakawiwo'ole singing Somewhere over the Rainbow?

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole Facing the FutureIsrael Kamakawiwo'ole Facing the FutureWell up until this weekend I never heard of this guy. However, like me you it is very likely you have heard his medley of Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a wonderful world. Israel was an award winning Haywain singer who lived from 20 May 1959 to 26 June 1997.

What a coincidence tomorrow is 20 May so happy birthday IZ, wherever you are. You have given us all a blessing with your music. You have been a superb example of what is means to be a human being. Your passion and love shines through your music every time it is used a movie. “Somewhere over the rainbow/What a wonderful world” was used at the end of the Forbidden Kingdom (Jet Li, Jackie Chan), which I watched this past weekend. Anyway here’s the brilliant tribute to IZ. If you find yourself shedding a few tears like I did, don’t worry be happy…

 

How healthy a blogger are You?

This is the full interview for a story published on Health24 on 12 May 2008.

Questions

1: As we are a health website, the article is mostly focused on the psychology of blogging. Why do you think people blog and why do you think it’s so popular?

People have an inherent desire to express themselves. The mainstream media is controlled by a few companies and bloggers, who tend to more educated, better access to the Internet, realise they don’t have to play by society’s rules to say what they want to say, when they want to say it and how they want to say it. It is popular because it gives the author complete freedom. So you have everything from blogging about what cereal you ate this morning to campaigning for the release of political prisoners across Africa. The fact that it is an open medium makes more transparent than any publishing medium in the history of the world.

2. Do you have a blog? If so, what is the sort of information you share on it?

Yes, I have multiple blogs:

www.netucation.co.za where I blog about the psychological impact of technology and specifically about how to supports or detracts from personal relationships between parents and children, between teachers and learners, between spouses and couples, and between management and employees or teams.

www.ramonthomas.com where I have been blogging about personal development and dating in the 21st century for South Africans. This started out as a personal blog but now I take it seriously as a way to spread the good news that you can take control of your life. You can change habits one at a time, and you don’t have a choice when it comes to dating and not rely on fate or destiny.

There are a few others that are more esoteric like www.credomutwa.com which is about Credo Mutwa, a zulu sangoma and a national treasure to this country that most people don’t even know about.

3. Many psychologists are concerned that too much personal information is shared under the perceived veil of anonymity; what is your experience of this? Are people sharing too much? How much is too much?

People are sharing information on blogs wilfully. What I mean is they understand to a large extent the consequences. It is more in the realm of social networks that they DO NOT understand the risk of the vastly increased amount of personal information being exposed to the world. The biggest crises in the future of the Web will be the loss of personal privacy. In a very weird way people are submitting to (George) Orwellian -1984 like society where every movement can be monitored and for the most part they know this. Website usually have a button saying something like “confirm if you want to proceed” and people still do. So in one way you can say it has to be ignorance and another perspective may be that people just do not care that much about personal privacy. I believe it’s the later that’s the real underlying motivation for this behaviour. There is a voyeuristic element to reading blogs or social networking profiles (Facebook, MySpace) that is filled with personal titbits.

4. Psychologically, how are our blogging habits affecting our social lives and our ability to interact with others, and do you have any suggestions for combating this?

The latest research confirms that blogging helps you expand your social life. So it comes full circle from the self-expression mentioned earlier to lifting your mood. When you are in a remote part of the world, or South Africa, you can tell you story and allow interested people to find you, and interact with you. So the only suggestion I would make is for people to meet people face to face, as soon as possible and not fall into a online relationship, which can raise expectations, only to be disappointed because of that elusive element in relationships called “chemistry.” You can never get to know people as quickly as when you meet and socialise with them in-person.

5. Why do you think blogging is such a phenomenon in SA in particular?

It ties in with this post-Apartheid mindset. South African for the most part are upbeat, besides crime, besides Eskom, etc. Blogs mostly focus on what’s good and a few drool on the negative like the SA Male Prostitute blog, which has been taken offline after the guilty party was apprehended. It is important to note that bloggers helped track down this person, because he abused the implicit bloggers code of ethics.

6. Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own blog, but not fall into the trap of turning it into a daily diary of their lives?

Yes, this should be easy if you know yourself. What I mean is if you have an awareness about things you are passionate about. For my girlfriend that is beauty and skincare and for others it may be Reiki and meditation. What I mean here is hobbies and interests make the perfect topics for blogging. Now if you do not have hobbies or interests, the chances are you are overworked or depressed. And once again blogging can help you find your voice. Before I forget I want to emphasise the explotion of podcasting (audio) and video blogging. I personally use my Sony Ericsson W880i to record both audio and video podcasts from time to time. A brilliant example of this is Khaya, a South Africa, with over 10,000 subscribers on Youtube.

 

TEDAfrica 2008 suspended, a temporary setback for South Africa

According to an email from Chris Anderson, the curator of the TED Conference, TEDAfrica due to be held in Cape Town at the end of September 2008 has been suspended. This news has also been posted on the TED Blog where I have already posted a comment and I encourage you to do so as well. This is a sad moment for Africa and more so for South Africa, which would have been the 2nd country to host the amazing TED Conference.

Last year I was blessed and honoured to attend TEDGlobal in Tanzania as a Blogger and Fellow. There were many, many connections and friendships established at this conference. George Ayittey described it as the most important conference about Africa at the beginning of the 21st century. And I agree wholeheartedly with him on this statement because never before has so many experts NOT politicians come together in support of Africa. There was a real sense of urgency among the speakers as the the aid vs investment debated heated up over the four days in Arusha.

Anyway why is this a setback for South Africa? We need to shift the focus from all the crap from Eskom, crime, Jakob Zuma, Zimbabwe and more. TEDAfrica in Cape Town would have been a dream come true for me because it represent an affirmation in our country and continent’s direction. The momentum built with the launch of the Next Einstein event in Cape Town, is a testament to the African’s ability to cope under the most severe circumstances. The students from the AIMS 2008 graduation represent the hope for future generations. So I held my breath when I first heard of the TEDAfrica announcement. But now we need to stand together more than ever before. The people on the TEDGlobal group on Facebook and members of the TED discussion group on Google need to find ways of following up and following through with promises made in Tanzania.

Remember we are the Cheetah’s and not the Hippo’s! Cheetah’s do not ask for permission from government to create value and opportunities for others. We are entrepreneurs and we stand on our own feet and make our own decisions. My dream would be that we can finally launch the annual African Bloggers Conference and an bi-annual TEDAfrica, maybe hosting the first one again, as originally planned in Cape Town in September 2009. In the mean time spread the word about TED Talks.

 

Wanna start your own Internet Cafe in 2008?

First Internet Cafe Workshop Johannesburg 2007After many, many requests the next date for the 2008 Internet Cafe workshop has been set. Please note I only do ONE workshop every 6 months like this. The next one will be in Cape Town in November.

** All workshops have been postponed till 2009 **

Now I am proud to announce I have an excellent business trainer with me, Yusuf Mahomedy, who regularly writes for The Star Workplace and HR Future on employment and jobs. He will teach all the basics of moving from employment to self-employed and running a business that employs people. While I will focus on the Internet business strategies, computer hardware and networking equipment and software for time management and billing your Internet time. There is going to be an interactive Q&A section so write out all your questions before hand and we will answer them in detail. Also bring along any documentation like business plans or application forms for government funding.

What is this training worth to you? A 4-hour half-day workshops covering:

  • Small business basics
  • Bookkeeping, Tax, UIF, hiring employees
  • Government funding vs loans
  • Internet Cafe set-up (hardware/software)
  • Direct marketing strategies with flyer’s, SMS, etc
  • Ongoing training for you and your staff
  • Billing & Time management system to sell airtime
  • VOIP set-up and packages
  • Additional revenue streams
  • Business plan basics
  • Q&A about your situation, your location

You can save hundreds of hours of research because I have done that already for you. You will receive my recommendations on all equipment and what Internet connections to use because I have evaluated most of the options for the best price/performance ratios. Translated this could save you thousands of Rands, which can be better spent on your own training and marketing. You can get going quicker, and have more confidence of the success of your new small business venture: An Internet Cafe or to help you have more freedom, more cash flow and create jobs while uplifting your communities computer literacy and giving them access the world through email, VOIP and the Web.

Trainers:

Date: Saturday, 31 May 2008
Venue: Sandton Library (on Nelson Mandela Square)
Time: 8am-12h30pm (4 hours)
Cost: R300 per person or R500 for 2 people

RSVP: Cell. 082 9407137 with your # of people and your full contact details.

You will receive a CD with audio, video resources on strategic planning, business building, marketing and sales. It also contains a sample Internet Cafe business plan. And 1-hour consultation (value R750) with me to discuss your needs in private. This may have to be done telephonically (at your cost) as I travel frequently across South Africa on lectures and talks.

 

Visualize The Secret to Planet Earth from South Africa

The Secret has caused a stir worldwide, especially after the book was published. Some people love it and some may hate it but I does get people thinking differently. Maybe it is to simplistic and maybe its just the way it was always meant to to be. Both Larry King and Oprah has interviewed the teachers from The Secret and this helped create a tipping point in the mainstream media.

I bought the Secret DVD directly from their website soon after I first discovered it in 2006. Shortly after that I attended a talk by Dr John Demartini at Michael Mount Waldorf School and immediately signed up for his Breakthrough Experience seminar. In South Africa the Secret DVD retails for about R400 which is about 50% more than you pay when you order it online. I do not recommend the book because its simply a transcription of the DVD. You can gain much more from viewing the DVD than reading the book.

 

What does 7.5 million MXit users mean to Parents

MXit chat room conversationIt’s been a while since I reported on the growth of MXit. And I finally found a confirmation of the current numbers from this Moneyweb article. The worldwide growth has now reached 7.5 million users with 6.5 million in South Africa. And that means 1 million international users. This is 43 million off from their stated goal of 50 million users by the end of 2008. However, their new general manager, Paul Stemmet, believes they have cracked the code of what works with its teenage users.

What is really surprising is that 60% of MXit users are now aged 18-25 years old. Not long ago (1 year) this segment accounted for 30% of MXit users, while 12-18 year olds accounted for 33% of total users. So there is now a marked shift to older users. And this demographic overlaps much more with Facebook users demographic. However, it should be noted Facebook still has less than 1 million users in South Africa.

Anyway so what does this mean for parents? Well the obvious things to note is that MXit is continuing to grow at a healthy rate, easily between 10,000 to 15,000 users per day. So even with 10,000 new users per day MXit will be touching the 10 million mark by December. You know it is a given that cellphone usage, SMS messages and MXit usage spikes over the holidays as society embraces the Christmas spirit. So its a given that MXit will crack that magical number. And once they reach the double digits I believe that will open the flood gates even further for adoption.

I have said in the past that Vodacom’s The Grid and MTN’s NokNok are poor imitations, even though I have not used either. It’s simply this fact – they launched long after MXit became the de-facto chat application used by the masses. And they are simply playing catch-up with a smaller, leaner and meaner company.

However, MXit has long planned a clothing line, which goes against all the best branding strategies I have learned from Al and Laura Ries. The clothing line is what’s called a line extension and is bound to be popular initially and later on die down. This is a distraction from the core focus of the company. And if they do not partner with a specialist on this project it is doomed before they print the first t-shirt.

Parent’s and teachers need to pay careful attention to the growth of MXit users because it means that the likelihood for cyber bullying, abuse and addiction grows. The best way to combat this is through setting boundaries at home, offering guidelines to children and working with teachers and their schools to reinforce good online etiquette from the earliest ages when they first are given cellphones. The biggest elements missing in school computer curriculum’s is a combination of online safety and online etiquette.