Blogs and blogging Business and work Media Mindsets

We need more “whiney bastards” in the SA blogosphere

I just had a chat with Vincent about the Awards debate and we pretty much came to the conclusion that the real cause for concern is probably (most likely) not the processes that were employed in the voting and judging stages but rather what was (or wasn’t) said about them.  There are people who become concerned when there is less apparent transparency and when they voice those concerns they are not necessarily "whiney bastards" but, as Mike and/or Dave pointed out, their voice is important.  For one thing, those "whiney bastards" are making a really good point.  Blogs in South Africa are no longer only read by a couple geeks who don’t go out into sunlight much.  More and more people are sitting up and paying attention to blogs and when we start flaming each other it makes the local blogosphere look immature and not nearly ready to sit with the grown-ups.

That is not what we should be working towards.  Jonathan said the purpose of the 2007 SA Blog Awards is to showcase SA blogs.  Is this what we want to show South African business and local media?  In my previous post I flippantly asked whether the "A" on A-list stands for "Ambassador" and as I write this I think it does.  Our little industry or segment of the media industry (for lack of a better term) is getting big and we are starting to be noticed by all the right people and if their first impression is a bunch of geeky flamers then so much for the mainstream adoption of new media for the next year or two.  All we need is an article in a mainstream newspaper painting a picture of SA bloggers as a collective joke and we may as well go back to using our blogs for personal diaries to talk about our sticker collections and that boy/girl/hermaphrodite at school we like.

I’m not saying we must suddenly become serious and talk about spreadsheets and pie graphs (many of us are Mac users dammit – ok, obscure joke) and that we should do anything other than express our authentic voices because I am most definitely not.  We have to keep doing that, expressing that voice.  What we do need to do is remember that we are not alone anymore.  Mommy and Daddy (or big brother and big sister if you prefer) are taking an interest in what we do and if we don’t start acting like grown-ups we won’t be treated like grown-ups and we all know how that goes … early bedtimes, eating veggies we don’t like and no pocket money.

As for the Blog Awards, what would really help is a post or two from the organisers revealing the behind the scenes stuff at the Awards.  Mike has mentioned that being a judge he saw how fair the whole process was (Jonathan made the point that our humble Blog Awards are probably better designed that the Bloggies and that wouldn’t be the first time South Africa outdid the rest of the world – think the 2004/2006 Constitutions which were groundbreaking in many respects).  I believe that what we need is for Jonathan or someone else who is in a position to speak to be a bit more transparent and let us see behind the curtain at what the Wizard was doing to make all that smoke and noise.  Once they do that I believe we will see just what an amazing job Jonathan & Co have done for us the last few years and there will be some pretty embarrassed people, I reckon.

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Blogs and blogging Mindsets People

A little disappointed …

Tertia sent around this email to a couple bloggers this morning.  I think her email is fair comment in light of the controversy over the 2007 SA Blog Awards and she gave me permission to republish it here:

Hello guys

i know i am a big girl, and i know i am hormonal, but i have been really disappointed and annoyed at how whingey and whiney and moany the SA blogging community have been.

All (some) people seem to do is whine and moan about every thing. The 27 dinners, the blog awards blah blah blah. Ok, ok, you can’t please all the people all the time, but why can’t we at least try and see the positive?

And then, when something really great and positive happens to one of us, one of our little group of local bloggers (I am talking about been short listed as a Blooker prize finalist), hardly any one blogs about it. it is making international headlines, this is a big deal! Can’t believe the names on that list – Frank Warren, Seth Goldin, the guys from Daily Kos! tertia albertyn, , , ,

Blogs and blogging Business and work Mindsets Web/Tech

Spanning Sync sneaks in “free trial”

Spanning Sync, the cool utility that allows Mac users to synchronise Google Calendar and iCal (both ways) has emerged from beta testing as version 1.0.  This is great news and as soon as I found out, I downloaded the latest update and installed it.  I should have been a little more cautious though, when I saw an interesting looking download link in the sidebar that said "Download free trial".  WTF?

Before I continue, let me just point out that I think Spanning Sync is a fantastic service and short of something like Calgoo, it is probably going to remain a vital part of my GTD stuff on my PowerBook for the near future.  As soon as I heard about it I thought to myself that this is a product I would pay for, it is that good and that much needed.  I have about half a dozen calendars on Google Calendar and a couple more in iCal so the ability to synchronise them is worth money!

That being said, I am not happy at all with the way the Spanning Sync people brought this new trial to my attention.  Aside from the link in the sidebar, this was the first real mention of a free trial:

This, of course, is the dialogue you get after you have installed the application.  If you click on "Buy" you are then taken to the following page:

The pricing isn’t too bad.  $25 (more or less R190) for a year is not terrible for something I use every day and which could save my ass one day if something goes poof.  I certainly wouldn’t pay $65 as a one time purchase fee.  I am not alone in this, there are numerous comments on the post announcing version 1.0 where the major complaint is the price.  It looks like the installed user base is going to drop quite quickly if the prices remain at this level.

What irks me is how it suddenly came to my attention that I am now paying for the service.  Could they not have sent out an email or published a post to announce the charges?  Don’t catch me by surprise, even if I privately (or even publicly) decide to pay for the service.  Doing that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

For those who are interested, there seems to be a very interesting app called GCALDaemon that works across multiple platforms and synchronises between Google Calendar and desktop apps like iCal, Outlook and Sunbird.  There are reports that version 1.0 of Spanning Sync is a dud so I’ll bear this other app in mind if my 14 day trial proves to be less than satisfactory.

What a good example of how not to make customer evangelists out of your users!

(Source: Read/Write Web)

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Blogs and blogging Events and Life Mindsets

The controversial 2007 SA Blog Awards … revisited

The debate over the 2007 SA Blog Awards has been pretty intense.  I had an opportunity to chat to Jonathan Cherry, the co-ordinator/facilitator of the SA Blog Awards for the last three years running about much of the criticism that has been levied against the voting process, the judges and the alignment of the stars when the nominations were announced.  Jonathan made an effort to explain some of the processes in a comment on Wozafriday but I don’t think the good stuff has gotten out just yet.

What I understood from a fairly lenthy chat with Jonathan (and to the extent this is wrong, it is all my fault, I wasn’t taking decent notes) is that rather than being an annointing of the top blogs in the various categories in South Africa (and the top SA blog), the Awards are intended to be a showcase of local blogs or blogs by locals.  The blogs that ‘win’ are not intended to be represented as the best blogs in South Africa but rather a best of the bunch on show.  As Jonathan pointed out, there are some blogs in South Africa that have the most amazing content and yet they were not nominated by enough people to rise to prominence (obviously Wired Gecko is one of these blogs … kidding!).  I am not referring to any blog in particular because I still think that visibility in the local blogosphere determines whether enough people are going to give your blog the thumbs up and get you on to the shortlists.

All this criticism about the whole process and we are missing the point.  Events like the SA Blog Awards are meant to boost our collective profiles in South Africa and help us to a point where blogs become a firm part of the mainstream consciousness in our little dorpie.  This morning’s segment on SABC 2‘s Morning Live is an indication that the Awards are having their desired effect.

In short, the SA Blog Awards is no about you, it is about us and showing the rest of the country what awesome content we publish.

(yes, I know this post doesn’t address all the issues raised – such as the voting process and how the process is judged – so if you have some productive suggestions to improve the whole thing for next year, speak to Jonathan)

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Mindsets Travel and places

You really can’t drive them into the ocean …

What a moron: Man drives Cherokee into the sea.

I reckon he made up the story about the fight and wanted to see if there was any truth to those ads depicting 4X4s driving in the ocean.  If he didn’t make it up then he is a complete moron for risking his wife’s and his children’s lives like that.

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Not a single envelope to be found …

I was at Sandton City this afternoon for a movie and I wanted to deposit a cheque I received from Google (yay me!) so because I bank with Standard Bank I went to a Standard Bank ATM to deposit the aforesaid cheque and found … no deposit envelopes.  So I tried the next one … and the next one … and the next one … until I had tried every Standard Bank ATM in Sandton City and there was not a single deposit envelope to be found.  What crap is that?  It seems the bank doesn’t want my money because it is too much effort for some employee to do the rounds and make sure that there are envelopes in the machines and perhaps a couple extra ones in case the ones in the machines run out or are stolen to make pretty blue and white hats!

Of course I don’t really expect a response from the bank to this post.  They don’t really respond to blog posts by their customers.  I think there is actually some kind of special Bank Code with a fancy handshake and passphrase which pretty much involves sticking their heads into the ground and pretending everything is fine.  Just the same I thought I’d share my frustration.

Inspired.  Motivated.  Involved.  My ass!

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Events and Life Mindsets People

We don’t have children anymore, we are raising sociopaths

There are two stories in the last week which bring home the cold, hard fact that many of the so called children going through schools today are not children, rather they are sociopaths.  A sociopath is defined as "a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience."  To take it a little further, antisocial personality disorder, according to Wikipedia, is the following:

Antisocial personality disorder (abbreviated APD or ASPD) is a psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM-IV-TR recognizable by the disordered individual’s disregard for social rules and norms, impulsive behavior, and indifference to the rights and feelings of others. The World Health Organization’s ICD-10 diagnostic manual uses dissocial personality disorder instead. The concept psychopathy (not to be confused with psychosis) generally denotes a related but more severe personality disorder.

Sociopathy is sometimes claimed to be a less formal synonym for this disorder based on terminology from an older edition of the DSM. Various experts have co-opted the terms psychopathy and sociopathy inconsistently to mark differences in meaning they believe are theoretically important although there is a consensus that both terms refer to personality disorders with prominent norm-breaking and socially disruptive behavior.

The first story is about a scary discovery made by a teacher at Paarl Gymnasium.  He came across three students who were described in IOL as doing the following:

A teacher caught a girl, 14, being sodomised by a matric pupil, 17, while she was providing oral sex to a grade nine pupil aged 16 on the school premises, Son said.

Said the 16-year-old: "We were making a ‘sandwich’ when the teacher arrived. She was in the middle, I was in front and my friend was behind her."

The three students were expelled.

(Source: Splattermail)

In the second story, the following video emerged from a class at a school I understand to be Grey High School.  What seems to have happened is that the teacher was trying really hard to do his job and found his class less than interested in what he was trying to do and instead, they were intent on doing whatever their dear little black hearts inspired them to do.  The end result is yet another distraught teacher who perhaps went a little too far in expressing his feelings about the situation.  Listen for the noises the students are making while the teacher tries to talk.

What really blows my mind is that these students don’t seem to care what they are doing to this teacher.  They have no apparent grasp of the notion that their teacher is a human being who is trying to do his job.  Another interesting point which was made by a commentator on the post on Jo’blog is the following:

Did you hear them baiting him at the beginning? It was clearly a setup. A kid just *happens* to be recording the video as all the other kids cause shit and the teacher loses it? And then at the end of the video, the boy in the next seat says “can you bluetooth that to me?”. They knew what they were doing.

These students just give rocks.  They do what pleases them with no regard for the consequences of their actions.  They have no sense of responsibility.  These are not children.  They are sociopaths and I am not looking forward to this generation stepping up to the plate in a decade or so.  Imagine one of these delinquents becoming President.  You think George W Bush is bad?

(Source: Jo’blog and Splattermail)

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Blogs and blogging Mindsets

Just have to tell you something …

I know this will sound like a bit of hero worship combined with some fanboy-ism (ok, a lot of both) but I got two emails from Guy Kawasaki today!  How cool is that?!

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