My Digital Life – doing something that has never been done before – uhm, NOT

Hello again.

First off, stuff I’d like to invite you to visit lotSAreviews. My darling wife’s new website that is:

…a subtle humour review blog where the custard pies are more like crème brulée. Opinions backed by solid research involving porridge pots, disappearing cats, and a highly eccentric toddler

Pretoria Photomarathon
Some of you couldn’t participate in the Johannesburg Photomarathon because you were ‘doing’ the Design Indaba. Well Pretoria will have its very own Photomarathon on 8 September. Of course simply imitating the Jo’burg event wouldn’t do so the 2007 Pretoria Photomarathon includes a digital video category. See

Pretoria & Durban 27Dinner
Speaking of events inter-city migrating, 27Dinner – the regular informal networking get-together of media/marketing/geek types – is launching instances of itself in Durban on the 27th of July and in Pretoria on the 27th of August. Although open to anyone seats are kind-of limited and seats for the Johannesburg and Cape Town events typically fill up a week or two before the event. To get in put your name on the appropriate list at – highly recommended.

Another punt for good measure, do you know what Mrs Balls Hot Chutney has to do with thermo-pads, SA rugby and Google Adsense?

Finally, for those of you who consider me a friend – whether we’ve actually met in the real world or not – I’ll be having a little get-together at a coffee-shop in Norwood this Sunday, 10am-ish (how one’s paradigms can shift…:-), to celebrate my b-day. RSVP for the venue details.

One imagines that ‘News’ is the stuff worth knowing, online but instead the news feeds us the stuff that sticks out, nurse the sore thumbs of life. I love the observation Max Kaizen makes in reversing the brain.drain… “… especially after the numbing effect of news. The news presented by mainstream media, prostate (TV & papers particularly) is largely reactive, and leaves us feeling impotent to change the outcome of almost everything we’re offered.

She recommends reading Neil Postman‘s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

I think that observation is spot on, at least in terms of why the “News” is so incredibly depressing – the whole after the fact-ness. That there is F-all you can do about it except be grateful it is not you being written about – in most cases. Maybe the “News 2.0″ approach the folk of The Times are chasing will change all this. One can and should hope, and maybe do something to encourage it. Then “News” could be less show-bizz and more community fellowship – even bring us a little close step by step to those elusive ideals we most-all yearn for – the stuff that we want “Democracy” to be.

Let’s look at today’s top local on-line news headlines via some of the results of a Google of “South Africa News” ( I didn’t see The Times in the top 30 results, seems some SEO work still required. Though I’m including them and to give UGC initiatives some representation)


  1. 3 killed crossing railway line
  2. Crime down, Selebi tells CNN
  3. Durban ambulances suspended

  1. Hundreds gather at Sexwale leadership speech
  2. Manto: HIV down among pregnant women
  3. Mbeki documentary saga takes another twist

  1. Non-strikers’ cars vandalised
  2. Flooding shuts N7 on West Coast
  3. Three die trying to cross train line

  1. Three, including pregnant woman, killed by train in Mayfair
  2. Police continue search for missing child
  3. Rand down on a stronger dollar
The Times:

  1. Ministers jeered at Kalafong
  2. Flooding shuts N7 highway
  3. Three killed in train accident

  1. Please don’t criminalise spanking!
  2. SA Cricket has lost its shine
  3. Memorial service for Manu
  4. (Bonus:)Five die in horror accident
This is no way to start your day!

So the question is, how many of these articles do you think includes some kind of call-to-action inviting readers to contribute in some way to addressing the woes and traumas that are spicing up their morning coffee? E.g. click here to donate toward building pedestrian bridges etc. I think that will be my suggestion for our news-media practitioners – don’t just stop at user contributed content but innovate ways of facilitating User Generated Involvement not just in the media but in the real world that the media, and the rest of us feed on.

Max is starting a new weekly series on SARocks that me thinks is going to make for a most excellent read, go check it out.

In the meantime…

My Digital Life is doing something that has never been done before, rewarding you for blogging

So congrats to IT-Web on launching MDL.

Sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud though, syphilis but just for the record, paying bloggers to blog isn’t all that new. It intrigues me that ITWeb makes this claim, surely the editorial powers-that-be know better?

Surely they know about PayPerPost. PayPerPost have been paying bloggers to blog for the last year or so – with much controversy in blogland because essentially bloggers are paid to promote sponsoring clients leading to obvious conflict of interest issues and wreaking havoc with the presumed un-biased-ness and authenticity of the blogosphere. Andy Beard covers PayPerPost extensively and to see the other side of the story see Michael Arrington’s critique How Much Is Your Soul Worth? PayPerPost Now Lets Bloggers Set The Price There are also other players in this flield ranging from the very subtle to advertising systems like Google’s Adsense and our very own BlogKits.

Obviously what ITWeb are buying as much as they are buying content, is a membership base, in other words eyeballs.

Getting back to my point – I find this rather pedantic issue kind of interesting. ITWeb is going for a hybrid model mixing user generated content with professional journalism.

The invite says: “What sets it apart from other social networks is that it offers a mix of professionally prepared content AND consumer-generated content. It publishes not only views and opinions from people in the street, but also trustworthy, credible information from professional journalists.”

Stop, rewind, ‘trustworthy, credible information’ – but didn’t the editorial invitation just broadcast a blatant untruth? And does that mean we mere mortals from the streets and our opinions are not trustworthy or credible?

Was it an excitement induced oversight, or blatant lie?

Surely editorial and professional content is always more accurate, unbiased and above all accurate… not :-)

Either way all the best to the MDL gang and applause for embracing the social media thing. It should be really interesting to see how MDL develops.

2 thoughts on “My Digital Life – doing something that has never been done before – uhm, NOT

  1. Hi Andre, thanks for the feedback. It’s always good to get constructive criticism. It’s what makes us better at what we are doing. I think the wording of the “trustworthy, credible….” has been taken out of context and it in no way slights our citJ initiative.

    Apologies if it came across like that, but I think we all know what we meant. For the sake of being pedantic…you have a point.

    ito the “uniqueness” I think this is meant relative to SA market and The per impression…i.e “Pay per view”. Which itself is innovative and daring.

    As for Andy’s comment…sorry we can’t please everyone…but we seem to be impressing the +200 000 visitors to date.

    We’ve made significant design changes and are continuously evolving the Beta model.

    Thanks once again and remember “writing rocks!”

  2. Hiya Townboy

    I believe MDL was your idea – good going!

    I only just noticed MDL is on Joomla! That explains the horrible URLs and some other issues the site has. It will be interesting to see if you guys get those sorted, at what cost and if Joomla will cope. – the pretty profile URLs are already an great improvement.

    I met Charmed who was very helpful while I tried to get my head around how MDL sees blogging.

    Now I know that ‘description’ is the closest thing to a blog title – me and my pedantic semantics again ;-)

    My next gripe would be that comments don’t have links – not even internally to profiles, that’s a bit hectic.

    Surly simple author moderation would sort that out? – leave out the link until the blog author approves the comment, or something like that.

    As for risk, well I imagine you’ve done the maths and have a big old heap of CPM banner ads lined up. In the long term I imagine the quantity of the traffic is not going to matter quite as much as the quality of the traffic you can generate for advertisers.

    There is of course the matter of reporting and fraud – some thin ice thadaway.

    Further, because of MDL’s conceptual positioning its going to be very hard not to compare the functionality and aesthetics with those of say facebook – that is where I see your biggest challenge. My guess is that unless users earn a significant amount say R250/month or more, consistently (At 10c an impression, that requires 2500 unique impressions per month – I doubt many MDL bloggers will get to that kind of readership. It would be great if I’m wrong) they will gradually migrate to whatever the most popular and most jacked social media platform is… I’m not saying this is a good thing, and I’d really like to see you guys succeed – else I wouldn’t be bothering with any of this – just want to see how high you see the bar at.

    I’m curious how big the dev and maintenance teams are, how many people does it take to build and run something like MDL?

    Would you be willing to share about it and the behind the scenes stuff at something like 27Dinner?

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