FTW: Free the Web with naked ADSL

MWEB's Free the Web campaign (FTW) is highlighting the importance of Naked ADSL in a new social media movement. MWEB's Free the Web (FTW) initiative has taken up the cause of Naked ADSL, calling on South Africans to take a stand and add their vote to remove mandatory landline billing with ADSL lines.

Derek Hershaw, CEO MWEB ISP, says: "With Uncapped ADSL finally becoming the norm for fixed line access, the time has come for Free the Web to focus on the next cause. So we're asking consumers to take a stand and call for Naked ADSL. There are currently three costs associated with having ADSL connectivity in South Africa: the ADSL line rental; the cost of the ADSL data; and the cost of the landline rental from Telkom," says Hershaw.

As Telkom is bundling the landline with the ADSL line, consumers are unable to subscribe to an ADSL-only service, where they just rent the ADSL line and pay for data usage. If they want ADSL, customers are forced to also pay the rental fee for the landline, irrespective of whether they use it for voice calls. Although our voice lines do currently subsidise a portion of our ADSL line costs, consumers should still see a reduction in costs if you didn't have to have a landline.

"Since a landline is not required for ADSL connectivity, Naked ADSL calls for Telkom to unbundle landlines from ADSL lines, ensuring that ADSL customers who don't want a telephone line don't end up having to pay for one unnecessarily," says Hershaw.

Naked ADSL FTW Video Campaign

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXSMRFx54Jc[/youtube]

The Naked ADSL issue was once again brought to light at the recent Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) hearings held by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). These hearings discussed opening last mile access to the copper ADSL infrastructure, which is currently owned by Telkom. LLU would mean more competition within the Internet Service Provider space, which would benefit consumers.

MWEB sees Naked ADSL as being a step closer to complete LLU, as LLU is expected to be a very lengthy process.

"The FTW initiative has therefore taken up the call for Naked ADSL. South Africans can visit the FreeTheWebSA Facebook page, watch a quick video which explains the concept and campaign, and show their support for Naked ADSL via an Appeal Mosaic," says Hershaw.

The mosaic will feature a visual representation of South Africa's call for Naked ADSL. It will also allow people who have already made their mark to spread the word and grow the petition by sharing the mosaic with their friends - further spreading the message.

"Naked ADSL is another step in the process of driving down the cost of connectivity. It's also about the right to only pay for something if you want to use it which is completely logical," Hershaw concludes.

MWEB originally devised the FTW initiative to champion change in how SA connects to the Internet and to provide a platform for South Africans to come together and work towards a local Internet landscape that's aligned with international benchmarks. MWEB's pioneering launch of uncapped, unthrottled ADSL for R219 per month (data only costs on a 384kpbs line speed) in March 2010 followed closely on the launch of FTW.

Get involved FTW

  • FTW Twitter handle: @FreeTheWebSA
  • Naked ADSL Facebook Tab - where South Africans can show their support for FTW Naked ADSL via an Appeal Mosaic.
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Embracing Change in Online Shopping & Social Networking

The world is changing pretty fast - exponentially in many cases, particularly in the technology and online industries. It’s natural for anyone, regardless of age or creed, to feel overwhelmed by the library­ of choice. Laptops, iPads, notebooks, Kindles, iPhones, netbooks, iPods and gaming consoles are all on offer under different brands and with varying specifications. This is failing to mention the infinite range of smartphones.

The wearisome part is that most of these devices are able to do the same things - some better or worse than others. Buying new gadgets­ is fun and exciting but can be stressful and daunting at the same time. Having them all is impractical, and once they are outdated, they will likely become dust-gatherers a few years down the line.

The important things to ask oneself when considering getting that new device everyone is talking about are 1. “do I need this device in my life?” and 2. “how will this gadget add value to my life or improve the things I currently enjoy doing?”

Embracing Change in Online Shopping

Embracing ChangeSome go as far as ordering their clothing and groceries online. Most would agree that these are things that we want to touch and see before purchase. Electronics, on the other hand, are certainly worth buying online.

Consider that when you shop in a computer or electronics store, salespeople are arguably hired to try to sell you the most expensive version of what you’re looking for. The products will have a store mark-up; stores need to pay to have the goods ordered, packaged and advertised. This all adds to the price of most electronics.

Online stores are able to cut out most of these extra costs. Trusted online shopping websites often offer­ free shipping to your door for orders over certain amounts. We are able to read consumer or peer reviews and assess the ratings fellow consumers have given specific products. Other websites offer comparisons of similar products. And, with a bit of Googling, we can even find video reviews and unbiased write-ups to aid our decision-making.

Embracing Change in Online Banking

There is very little need these days to stand in banks queues. The transference of funds can all be done online via online banking and PayPal. If there are still banks that do not offer these services they won’t be around for long. The only thing to be cautious of is phishing - receiving a scam e-mail, for example, asking you to supply or “update” your banking details. A reputable bank will never ask such things of you via e-mail.

Embracing Change in Social Networking

Then there is the plethora of social networking sites and services - Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Google Wave, blogs, forums and the lot. Social networking sites are in a constant state of flux and new ones will emerge while others may wither and die.

The world of social networking should not be feared, but rather embraced for all its potential. This is fast becoming the preferred way to communicate worldwide. It is also how many companies recruit new employees, how business contacts are formed and how we consume our news and media.

The best bet is to stick with the tried and tested. With any free social networking site or service, we may have to deal with copious amounts of advertising, but this is a fairly small price to pay. Social networks are inevitably under the watchful eyes of their users. If any social networking site were to seriously violate any human right, or start charging users unfair amounts, they would soon be replaced.

Obviously one needs to be careful with what information you decide to provide on social networking websites, and this does not only pertain to profile information. “Liking” or becoming a fan of a particular brand or product might see you receiving related advertising or promotions for a long time to come...

Embracing Change: Online Shopping & Social Networking

Embracing Change (image: brainleadersandlearners.com)

It is also advisable to never defame someone on a social network. This can come back to haunt you. Jobs have been lost and relationships have been broken as a result. Understand that whatever you do online effectively creates an ongoing online record of yourself.

But again, the inevitable growth of the Internet and development of technology should not be feared. There will always be those who will try to take advantage and scam us. In fact, nearly two thirds of our beloved Internet is comprised of spam. But the more you practice being a savvy online user, the better equipped you will be to filter out the bad and make the most of the good.

The Consumer Protection Act guards us and I can say with confidence that the greater good will always prevail online. There is much to learn and discover as the Internet continues to bring our world closer together. It is my opinion that its fast-changing pace is both exciting and full of great potential. Embrace and work with it and it will ultimately enrich your life.

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GOING VIRAL: Popular People and Viral Media

I finished reading a thought-provoking book about things going viral, titled The Tipping Point (2000) by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, who is a well-respected journalist at The New Yorker. In his book Gladwell focuses on how ideas, products and messages reach a tipping point where they spread like viruses and enter­ into popular culture.

Several of the examples Gladwell uses are taken between the sixties and the nineties, with one of the earliest examples being the stirrings of the American Revolution. Gladwell asserts that word-of-mouth is still the most effective method for creating social epidemics. Spreading the famous phrase “The British are coming” for example, spread like wildfire and saved the settlers of early America.

Going Viral - The Tipping Point Explained

Going Viral - The Tipping Point Explained

Gladwell argues that out of any population of people it is only a few who are responsible for making something go viral. These people he refers to as Connectors — trustworthy, charismatic people who are a part of many social circles and are therefore well connected. Whether an idea, product or message sticks is dependent on what Gladwell calls The Law of the Few.

Never have Connectors been more important to this social process than they are today in the digital age. Today people don’t even need to know their online contacts or followers personally to help them make something go viral. Social media has made it possible for anyone to become an influential Connector. It doesn’t even take long for a viral e-mail to find its way around the world.

Going Viral - Demotivational Posters

Demotivational posters are one of the most viral forms of imagery on the Internet. A Google image search for ‘demotivational posters’ fetches more than one million results.

Advertisers still attempt to increase the popularity of products by using celebrity endorsements. Fans of such celebrities may very well be persuaded this way. However, there is a far greater chance today of a product or idea going viral based on what those same celebrities say on Twitter or on their blogs. If Stephen Fry recommends a good book on Twitter, there is a chance that over three million people will follow suit.

Viral Superstar Justin BieberThe Internet is a fantastic tool for self-education, but it has to be said that, generally­, people will follow the law of crowds. If 640 million people have watched Justin Bieber’s video Baby you are likely to assume that it must be good and proceed to watch it yourself; or, you may watch it just to see what all the fuss is about. When a record label catches wind of such popularity and comments are largely favourable, those 640 million viewers are counted as potential consumers and Justin Bieber becomes an overnight superstar.

Viral Superstar Susan Boyle - Going ViralYouTube has great power to influence popular culture as it continuously evolves. Social media research conducted in 2009 reported that every minute, 24 hours of video footage is uploaded onto YouTube. Whether any of this becomes sticky and goes viral depends on those few individuals who, firstly, spend a lot of time on YouTube, and secondly, who are well connected and widely followed. What the rest of the world will consider popular largely depends on what they will consider to be popular.

It’s an intriguing yet daunting thought. A reflection of some of the most watched YouTube videos of all time include “lolcats”, people singing or dancing, and people falling over or getting hurt. Cats hold their position as the second­ most popular pet in the world, two of the most popular TV shows watched today include Idols and Dancing with the Stars and there has been a proliferation of reality shows depicting dangerous stunts or bodily functions — Jackass, Crazy Monkey, Dirty Sanchez, The Dudesons, Balls of Steel and Kenny vs Spenny, to name just a few. One would imagine that countries such as Bhutan, which are not a part of social media phenomena, would find such epidemics quite bizarre.

It appears that cultural globalisation lies in the hands of a few. We can either choose to take part and be contributing spinners of the growing web or we can be susceptible flies caught in its sticky threads.

lolcats gif (image: www.lolcats.com)

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THE EXPONENTIAL TIMES: Extra! Extra! Etc. Etc.

I treated myself with the purchase of a NAG (New Age Gaming) magazine the other day, which came with a glossy-ink-scented E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) supplement. The accompanying DVD was also largely dedicated to E3 and consisted of around two hundred game videos, trailers and GameTrailers.com awards.

I do not work for NAG nor do I sell their magazines. I was merely mesmerized by how far gaming has come in the last few years. We are certainly living in exponential times with the bacterial-like spread of information and new technologies.

Gone are the days of chalkboards and letter posting in the developed world. The sale and consumption of hard-copy books is fast dwindling at the hand of the Kindle and other eReaders. If Wikipedia were to be published as a book it would be over two million pages long. There are now even babies in Egypt named “Facebook.”

Exponential Times in Gaming

3D graphics has reached a point beyond comprehension five years ago. The number of gaming devices and vibrating motion controllers on the market this year can have one gleefully immersed 24/7, if you have the time. The exponential rate at which new game titles are being released has made the task of writing letters to Santa quite a meticulous one.

Exponential Times in Social Media

In 2007, one out of every eight U.S. couples met online. It is now estimated to be one in five. When television first entered our lives, it took 13 years to reach a target audience of 50 million. Facebook took just two years to get the same number of people on board its platform.

Greater than the exponential development of technology, is the exponential availability of information. It is estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information that anyone living in the 18th century could have consumed in their entire lifetime. The amount of technical information available is more than double every two years.

Exponential Times in Education and Employment

This exponential growth of technology and information is changing the way children are educated. Students are now being prepared for jobs that don’t yet exist and being trained to use technologies that have not yet materialised. It has also been shown that students who are online tend to outperform those who receive more face-to-face education.

This is of course changing the way that people are employed globally. It is estimated that 95% of companies that are online today recruit people using LinkedIn; around the same percentage of businesses use social media for marketing purposes.

Exponential Times Year to Year

In 2008, more than 200 million cell phone calls were made every second. This has roughly tripled every 6 months since. In 2009, every minute or so, a day’s worth of video footage was uploaded to YouTube. In 2010, the number of Google searches completed every ten minutes could have powered Las Vegas for half an hour. This year there are roughly 80 million Farmville farmers versus the 1.5 million real farmers. The moment you’ve finished reading this, most of this information will be outdated.

Here are two of the videos where you can find this information as well as more and more and more...

Exponential Times in 2008

Exponential Times in 2011

** More Web Developments & Absurdities **

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THE INTERNET: Feel free to be a jerk

Guest post by Tharuna Devchand

SO a little while ago the Mail & Guardian suspended a journalist intern for an anti-Semitic comment on Facebook that amounted to hate speech and was therefore in conflict with the South African Constitution. Without a warning, the kid’s career was ruined because of a social networking site where groups like “My name is Khan” (a group that disrespects Hinduism) and “F*** Islam” exist with thousands of followers who spread the hatred.

I’m not justifying what Ngoako Matsha said, nor am I implying that M&G was wrong in suspending him, but consider the medium in which he said it — cyberspace.

In cyberspace, every person should be seen as a figment of their own imagination­. Nothing is real. Nothing we say is a true reflection of who we are. On the Internet, we are all Tyler Durdens. There are no boundaries, no policies and rules to keep us neatly between the lines, no reputations to uphold or cultural conventions to keep us in place.

The Internet is like a global Fight Club. It’s where we can guiltlessly des­troy something beautiful and return to our lives feeling better about ourselves. It’s cathartic and, since we all can’t be Jackson Pollocks, it may sometimes be our only outlet.

I constantly hear people complaining about how perfect their Facebook friends’ lives are or what interesting lives other people on Twitter have. It’s not true. It’s just what people choose to show you on the website that makes it all seem perfect.

Social networking sites house a giant­ community of people all suffering from small-penis syndrome. There is a constant war to keep up with the cyber Joneses. Saying that people exaggerate on the Internet about their lives, their feelings, their opinions and how great their lovers are is an understatement. If peer pressure in real life can drive one to do things one normally wouldn’t do, the pressure to be infamous on the Inter­net can land one in a mental institution. Gosh knows what Anthony Weiner was thinking when he tweeted a photo of his, um ... weiner­.

While it is never easy to work out the true nature of a person in real life, it is 1 000x harder in cyberspace. On the Net, you can be anything and anyone you want to be.

Those who aren’t that popular or who lack friends may upload albums of them being cool with photos of them sloshed with their heads in a toilet just to show that they can party with the best of them. People who are going through tough times may exaggerate all the positive things in their lives and leave out the hardships. And people who are quite restricted or oppressed in their real lives, may go cyber crazy, voicing outrageous opinions and desires on the Net — probably under a pseudonym. It’s a safe outlet that we believe has no consequences — until we lose our jobs for letting loose.

The problem is that there is no line that determines how far is too far until we cross it. We constantly push the boundaries of what is right and wrong just to see how far we can go, whether it’s driving at 129 km/h in a 120 km/h zone or voicing mad love for Adolf Hitler and his beliefs.

Contemporary society has become mostly unaffected by things that are shocking or at least used to be shocking a decade ago, and to deal with this, people try to raise the bar. Cartoonists, comedians and teachers are continually trying to shock people into thinking about things on a different level. Look at how far advertisements have gone to prevent people from drinking and smoking excessively, and to encourage people to abstain from sex, and you’ll see just how just how numb our society is.

Is it okay for me to call my black friend a k***** on her Facebook wall knowing that she won’t be offended? Is it okay to tweet angrily about how upset I am about something the DA said and in turn label it as racist, not because I think that they are racist, but because I just feel the need to put the party down? No, but it feels good.

The South African Constitution currently doesn’t apply to the Internet. Maybe it should, but I doubt that will stop people from saying things, uploading videos and creating images that are shocking. Every day there are more stories of people being judged by their online images. Employers hire people based on their tweets, courts implicate people because of Facebook profile photos, people are fired because of some YouTube video that shows them spray painting expletives on a wall. But it’s those things that make us cool on the Net, that get us hits, that make us believe that this could one day make us famous.

** More Opinion & Analysis Articles **

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