I gave you a preview of what you can expect at alt.conference about a week ago. I have managed to finalise the program for the two events. Well, pretty much. I can’t really decide which event is likely to be more interesting. There is a terrific bunch of speakers lined-up for both the Cape Town and Joburg events. I am also really excited about the final session of the day. We will have 3 very dynamic people facilitating a sort of idea-storm session which could be pretty interesting indeed!
So here are more details for the Joburg event:
Welcome and intro
09:30 to 10:00
Welcoming everyone and outlining sessions
10:00 to 11:00
The ISLabs initiative
11:00 to 12:00
Experiencing SA Rocks
12:00 to 13:00
13:00 to 14:00
Enterprise-level social media implementations
14:00 to 15:00
Dynamics in Social Networks
15:00 to 16:00
… and the Cape Town event:
Welcome and intro
09:30 to 10:00
Welcoming everyone and outlining sessions
10:00 to 11:00
Online Reputation Management – not an introduction
Update: I can’t figure out how to add the html code for a banner but you can use this version of the logo if you would like to create your own banner!
Alt.conference is around the corner and there are already over 80 people who have joined the Alt.conference site. So what is this all about? Well, here is a nifty poster I just whipped up which gives you the nutshell details of what I hope will be a pretty exciting event:
Please feel free to download the promo poster and pass it around to anyone who would be interested in attending. I’d love to see more social media pros there as well as their clients who would like to see what else is going on in the SA online space.
I am also interested in anyone who is interested in sponsoring the event (if anyone is interested, I have a sponsorship package which may be of interest).
I’ve managed to put together a pretty exciting lineup for the Joburg and Cape Town events. Both events are going to be really interesting and I am kicking myself that I decided to arrange them for the same time. Next time they’ll run on different days so I can attend both. So here are some of the smarties you can expect:
I have also set up a FriendFeed channel which will update realtime (just include the tag “altconf” in your tweets, Flickr uploads etc and the channel should import your mentions). The channel will probably look a little like this:
I chose FriendFeed as the aggregator because it updates in realtime and has terrific conversational capabilities but feel free to chat about alt.conference wherever suits you best and let me know if the FriendFeed channel isn’t importing your feed and I’ll add it.
Alt.conference is being run by my impromptu event business which I am calling Its All Geek To Me (aka Leo Archer CC). The cost to attend is R250 and payments must be made into the following account:
Account holder: Leo Archer CC
Bank: Standard Bank
Branch: Sandton (019 205)
Account number: 42 096 219 0
Very important: Please include a payment reference using the following format: First_initial Last_name C/J (depending on whether you are attending the Cape Town or Joburg event)
In a way our trip to Mtunzini to visit the Seacom landing station on 28 May 2009 was a great analogy for the Seacom cable’s impact on South Africa’s degree of connectivity to the Internet. It took us about 2 hours to fly from Johannesburg to Durban and back again and about double that amount of time in a bus travelling to the presentation in Ballito, the site itself and back to Durban International. Put another way, South Africa is poised to boost its bandwidth more than tenfold from its current capacity when the Seacom cable goes live in the coming months. This is a big thing for South Africa although it isn’t quite what the hype has led us to believe.
The hope has been that when someone flips a switch at the end of June 2009 we will see prices drop by an order of magnitude; we will all be able to view YouTube videos without buffering first; Telkom’s monopoly will be thwarted and we will have abundant bandwidth, government will operate efficiently and honestly and all will be right with the world. Unfortunately many of these hopes will be dashed and the immediate effect of the Seacom cable going live will be more gradually felt in South Africa.
That being said, the Seacom cable will eventually facilitate a very different Internet experience for a great many South Africans who should see prices for their data drop noticeably. There have already been a number of price reductions, probably in anticipation of Seacom’s arrival, so we can realistically expect prices to drop a further 40% or so from their current levels in the coming months and years. The shift to a fibre connection from a predominantly satellite connection should mean better quality connections which more technical people can explain using terms like latency and so on.
Aside from the eventual benefits, I found Seacom’s CEO Brian Herlihy’s talk about open access particularly appealing. While some of his presentation is what you would expect from a marketing pitch, he spoke quite passionately about how the Seacom cable’s tremendous bandwidth could help under-serviced communities leapfrog older connectivity options and reap the fruits of a high-speed Internet connection. He talked about communities in Rwanda laying fibre optics cables inland which will help transmit the cable’s 1.28tbps (terabits per second) to schools, villages and cities. This kind of connectivity could be the catalyst for an African Google and create a truly level playing field where Africans can better compete with the rest of the world.
Another thing the Seacom cable may well help achieve is a shift in mindsets about Africa and its data usage. Africa is apparently perceived largely as a “voice” market because data is traditionally too expensive for widespread adoption. The cable could help change this through reduced data prices. It also helps that the African countries who will be fed by the cable have committed to its success.
In South Africa powerhouses such as Tata, Neotel and Internet Solutions are “anchor tenants” and our mobile networks are in the process of establishing the infrastructure necessary to tap into this firehouse when it turns on. We may not see price reductions right away but the industry is definitely about to change dramatically. This degree of broadband will also mean a different experience of the Internet. As Herlihy put it, “real broadband is about dynamic media”, not just web pages and embedded videos.
There are a number of unrealistic expectations of the Seacom cable and, at the same time, a tremendous amount of promise. It will change our Internet consumption patterns (barring even more collusion from the networks and more rampant profiteering at any rate) and quite possibly change the South African economy itself.
… something, I am sure. I don’t like predictions for the new year. People often think they have a handle on what will strike it big in the new year and they are rarely right. Industry analysts in particular don’t really have a clue and probably pick predictions from a hat and add a couple new buzzwords in an effort to sound knowledgeable. Bah humbug!
Here are a couple things I would like to see happen this year. They aren’t predictions but if I turn out to be right, I told you so.
My son will smile at me and he will start to sleep for the 5 or 6 hours (or more!) he sleeps at my mother in law;
I’ll start my new part-time gig in just over two weeks and that will prove to be a challenging and life-changing experience for me and my family;
This year’s iCommons Summit is in Sapporo, Japan and I look forward to going;
I plan to build stronger ties to people in the iCommons/Creative Commons ecosystem (there are some really amazing people working in this space) and become more vocal about the possible uses of Creative Commons licenses in many areas of our culture, not to mention contributing towards a greater awareness of legitimate uses of content subject to copyright;
The emphasis of my law practice will change from more run of the mill stuff to a stronger new media advisory role;
We’ll see Google Android devices and I will start thinking of things to sell so I can buy one, just before I come back down to Earth and decide to wait a couple months;
Neotel will talk more about the stuff it has under wraps while other providers surge ahead and present a decent alternative to Telkom;
Did I mention my son will start sleeping longer hours?
There you have it. The things I’d like to see happening this year. They might happen, they might not. This list may also grow and shrink depending on how I feel about things. Other than all this, I will continue to blog, try out new services, develop my ideas about the Social Web (and whatever else pops up this year) and work harder at building a better life for my family.
I had lunch with Heather today and we chatted about projects we are collaborating on, might collaborate on and we are working on on our own or in our own organisations and it struck me how much I enjoy being a digital socialist. I love the thought of working on a project that will make me absurd amounts of money, sure, but I really love the idea of doing work that has as its focus making a real contribution to the community itself. This is the stuff job satisfaction and the warm fuzzies are made of …
I just got back from a Wild West-themed party hosted by Bizcommunity at Party House in Northgate. The event was held to thank Bizcommunity’s clients and prospective clients for their business and interest. I had a couple really interesting discussions about satellite TV in Africa and the upcoming CNBC Africa launch on 1 June (which is expected to really shake up local and African business news on terrestrial and satellite TV) and new media adoption in South African businesses (there certainly seems to be quite a bit of enthusiasm for new media elements like blogs and what is needed is more analysis of what is appropriate for a given business).
The event was co-ordinated by Bizcommunity’s National Ad Sales Executive who dressed up for the evening in a kind of Wild West showgirl outfit (I am dredging the memory of what Wild West showgirls wore on old movies up from the recesses of my memory so I could be wrong about the style of the dress). I would like to thank Simone Puterman for inviting us to the party.
I have a few more photos on Flickr. Please excuse the poor image quality – my aging Nokia 6630 doesn’t cope very well with low light situations.