Tech

Why Idols SA is so important to Gareth Cliff and Naspers

Idols SA is a chimera of sorts. For some people it’s wish fulfilment at its best — the chance to be South Africa’s next great singer or just that person who got their 15 seconds on television. It’s a delightful bit of escapism, providing the opportunity to laugh at the poor souls that enter the…

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How the university can recuperate itself

In my previous post I wrote about the question raised by Bernard Stiegler on the pervasive stupidity characterising global societies today, and the failure of universities to live up to their historical task under present circumstances. The latter amount to what Stiegler calls “hyperindustrial” society, that is, a society in which it is not only…

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The ‘stupidifation’ of our societies and failure of universities

It may come as quite a shock to learn that, contrary to what we are constantly told through the media, we actually live in the age of the systematic “stupidification” and infantilisation of society. What, I can hear most readers say with exasperation and indignation — we live in the age of information, of “knowledge…

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The aeronautics behind SAA’s unprofitability

Let me just say it straight up — neither President Jacob Zuma nor SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni are to be blamed for the operational unprofitability of SAA. South Africans are currently rallying together in the #ZumaMustFall campaign, which was in part triggered by the removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, allegedly due to…

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Idoru: Gibson’s astonishing glimpse of virtual reality’s future

William Gibson — creator of Neuromancer, among other gripping sci-fi novels — has arguably delved even further into the latent possibilities, or what Gilles Deleuze called virtualities, of the information revolution, in his quotidian dimension-surpassing novel, Idoru (Penguin 1996), one of the so-called Bridge trilogy. So much so that Peter Popham in the Independent commented…

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Can fusion energy be achieved?

Lev Grossman (“Star Power”, in Time, November 2, p. 24-33) calls fusion the “holy grail” of “the quest for clean energy”, and with good reason — it is as elusive as the proverbial unicorn in your garden (with apologies to James Thurber). By this I mean that, although scientists and technologists know what has to…

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Homo naledi, Piltdown and a lesson in African prehistory

Professor Lee Berger and his team of scientists caused a huge stir when they unveiled the skeletal remains of not one, but at least 15 members of a previously unknown hominin species they’d discovered at the Cradle of Mankind. While the team had made no claim to have found the missing link between man and…

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Dear Facebook, colour me unimpressed

On Saturday night I logged onto Facebook and noticed a curious pattern. Several of my friends (and people that Facebook tells me are my friends) had begun changing their profile pictures to a filtered version corresponding with France’s national flag colours: “Show your support for the people of Paris by temporarily updating your profile picture…

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How the #HelloChallenge brought Mzansi closer

Does the internet have the potential to unite people? Or does it merely alienate and isolate its users? It’s a debate that continues to rage on as internet usage increases and more people become netizens. A social media prank that has captured the interest of South Africans proves that the former is possible. It began…

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There are indeed proven solutions to our water and electricity problems

Scientists and entrepreneurs have developed solutions to South Africa’s most pressing problems that have been aggravated by the drought conditions prevailing all over our country. Israel, for example, has for years had to deal with scarce water and its innovations are readily and cheaply available to South Africa. Of course, these solutions need to be…

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