The ‘Digital Open’ is now open

Friends Jess Hemerly and David Evan Harris have asked Simon Dingle and I (from SA, at least) to be judges in this awesome competition/community initiative from BoingBoing, Sun and the Institute for the Future where they work. As always, the devil is in the detail, and I really love the details of this competition – great social networking features and badges that will be unlocked when users achieve things like writing 10 comments etc. Best among the prizes (gear, tech, bags etc) is that winners in each category will be featured on BoingBoing Video.

Institute for the Future, in partnership with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing, invites youth worldwide, age 17 and under, to join us as we explore the frontiers of free and open innovation. The Digital Open: An Innovation Expo for Global Youth will celebrate projects in a variety of areas ranging from the environment, art and music to the more traditional open source domains of software and hardware.

From April 15 until August 15, 2009, we’ll accept text, photos, and videos documenting projects from young people around the world who want to contribute to the growing free and open technology community.

But the Digital Open is more than an online competition. By submitting a project, you’ll become a valuable member of a community of creative young innovators working in the exciting world of free and open technology.

Collaboration is encouraged! In addition to a variety of prizes and achievements you can earn through community participation, the top project in each category will earn a fantastic prize pack and be featured on Boing Boing Video!

The future is yours to make! Get started at

The organisers are looking for stewards to help get the word out and gather submissions in South Africa (one of the target countries). If you’re interested in helping out, please contact me.

The Joburg

Gil Hockman has started a rad project called ‘the joburg‘ – an open calendar for events happening in Johannesburg. It’s a total community-driven, non-commercial project – factors which I think will make it grow exponentially in the future.

According to Gil,

The way it works is a follows:
Google have a very cunning online setup called Google Calender (you can link to it very easily with or without a Gmail account). One of the features of Google Calender is that you can create a calender and share it with a whole bunch of people. Any of these people can then add events to the calender.
So we have created a Google Calender for events that are happening in Joburg and then linked it to this page, which is visible to anyone on the internet. Now, whenever anyone adds and event (a gig, exhibition, show, etc) to the calender, this site is automatically updated.
Easy peasy.
This is a free project. No one is paid and no one makes any money. There is one guy who has registered the Domain name but it only costs about R150 year and he’s cool to pay it.
How to add events:
Step 1) Email to say that you want to add an event
Step 2) You will be linked to The Joburg’s Google Calender (if you do not have a Google Calender account you will need to sign up for one, This it is very easy. All that is required in an email address – and it doesn’t even have to be on Gmail)
Step 3) Login to your Google Calender account
Step 4) Click on the appropriate date on the calender and add your event
If you need any help with this or have any comments or suggestions, email
(ps, this is not a Google project in any way but they do have loads of useful free stuff)

IEC website now available to non-Microsoft users

Great news from Tectonic about the Independent Electoral Commission’s website now being open to non-IE users. Congrats to everyone who made this happen. The hundreds of emails, blog posts and complaints to the South African Human Rights Commission has done the trick.

I love the comment by Friedel Wolff from below:

Writing a feature on this for Global Voices.

The relationship between openness, competition and innovation

Stuart Theobald has written a great piece for the Sunday Times yesterday on the leak of confidential sections of the Competition Commission inquiry into the South African banking sector on (which neither I nor Bekka can get to for some reason – check it out and let me know if you’re also having a problem).

Theobald writes: ‘The irony is that putting such information into the public domain may actually help the cause of competition, as the banks can take each other on, knowing much more about their competitors.’

Theobald discusses some of the information about profit margins from the report and notes that ‘banks which co-operated the most are prejudiced the most.’ I’d be really interested in seeing how the industry and consumers react to this information and what the overall effect is going to be both for those who disclosed details (including FNB and Nedbank) vs those who kept them secret.

Open data please!

David Sasaki mentioned the lack of open data in last year’s SA blogger survey in this post, but it was glossed over, I guess, because of his more controversial statements about blogger diversity. Now, after reading the results to find out more information about the South African blogosphere, I’m surprised that no one else (that I can see) has demanded the release of the raw data.

Instead, the controversy has focused on the really weak interpretation of the data. But if it had been open, then this interpretation would have been just one weak interpretation among many others published by a diverse range of interested bloggers. Our fabulous eagle-eyed bloggers pointed out a few errors based on the slides, but what makes us believe that there are no others?

It is clear that we need better data next time round, and as someone who completed the survey before, I for one won’t rest until there is a guarantee for the raw data to be made available to all. I’m also certain that at least some of the companies supporting last year’s survey (, Afrigator, Amatomu, MoneyWeb Life, Bizcommunity) would be supportive of that too.

Next time, let’s see the data.

Open Innovation Studio opens in Cape Town


Dirk Visser of Brightest Young Minds just sent me the great news that their new co-working space in Cape Town is now open. The prices seem really affordable, the location is great, and Dirk says that ‘There are still a few more features that will come on-line in time such as a podcast studio and even a bed for overnight visitors.’ There are a range of different prices – from part-time to full-time – and most important is the commitment to ‘good coffee’.

Interested? Call them on 021 476 4760 or email

Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of their Own

I just received a copy of David Bollier’s new book which goes out for sale today. I had the pleasure of meeting David on a few occasions where he asked all the right questions about the commons movement around the world. In the future, we’ll talk to our kids about this time, so it’s great to see the book as ‘the first comprehensive history of the attempt by a global brigade of techies, lawyers, artists, musicians, scientists, business people, innovators, and geeks of all stripes to create a digital republic committed to freedom, transparency, participation and innovation.’

You can buy a copy on Amazon or New Press. The inside cover of the book says that you can download a free, CC-licensed copy from or but I can’t find the download link. Have asked David but if anyone finds it, please let me know 🙂

UPDATE: download the book for free at (thanks, Paul!)