Arthur Goldstuck
Arthur Goldstuck

Bloggers of the Week: The Mike and Justin show

I’ve been terrified of naming these two guys as Bloggers of the Week. When the concept for this blog was first proposed, the biggest criticism was that it would simply line up the usual suspects of the Web 2.0 world, such as Justin Hartman and Mike Stopforth.

But hey, we all have to conquer our fears. This week’s Bloggers of the Week are the duo that made Afrigator possible and give corporations that good old Web 2.0 religion.

Justin Hartman is new-media strategist at the Times (for which he was acknowledged as part of the team that was named the very first Blogging Player of the Week) and co-founder with Mike Stopforth of Afrigator.com. The site, which he describes as “a social media aggregator of blogs, podcasts, video and more for the African market”, has been named by Business 2.0 magazine as one of the top 31 Web 2.0 start-ups outside the US.

Mike is a self-confessed “social media entrepreneur, writer and speaker trying his best to build exciting businesses with fantastic humans, while having a ball of fun”. He is CEO of Cerebra, described as “The Social and Mobile Media Company”.

While Justin heads up Afrigator, Mike is the marketing and conceptual brain behind the project. But, as usual with the high priests of social media, it does not end there. Indeed, it never ends.

Justin also presided over the creation of the following Web 2.0-type projects:

  • Grabble.co.za, a South African search engine that indexes more than 35-million pages and provides relevant results to a South African audience.
  • Blog247.co.za, a free blogging platform, similar to Blogger.com and aimed at giving non-technical users the tools to enter the blogging arena. He subsequently sold it, as he did with the next two projects.
  • SAtopsites.com, one of the original top sites directories in South Africa, which “continues to serve hundreds of webmasters daily”.
  • Blogtopsites.co.za, which “began out of a need to rank and track blogging websites in South Africa, and prior to the aggregators was one of the popular choices among bloggers”.
  • Mike’s roll of honour is a little different. He is more active in developing a Web 2.0 presence for others, but he can claim credit for founding the “27 Dinners”, a monthly geek dinner he refers to as a “community-designed, face-to-face networking movement”. It is held on the 27th day of each month, according to its website, for “geeks, marketers, entrepreneurs, writers, media practitioners, speakers — well, just about anybody who is keen — to share ideas and news and opinions over food and drink”.

    Mike also founded a “dodgy marketing podcast” called Amplitude, which gives non-27 Dinner-ites a chance to view an instant replay of the guest speakers’ more dazzling moves.

    Justin is the veteran of the two, having embarked on his first Web 2.0 effort in February 2003, although his blogging debut came back in late 2000 on Blogger.com. “I have no idea what the topic was; however, I’m pretty sure it went along the lines of ‘This is my first post …’.”

    Mike embarked on a life in Web 2.0 in October 2005, and his first blog post appeared on the MWeb platform early that year. “It lasted one post. I killed it. First serious blogging effort was a blog on spirituality that is still up and running on the blogger domain. It has slowly ground to a halt since.”

    Mike’s ambitions are manifold: “At last count I had eight projects in various stages of completion, involvement and secrecy on my plate. That may have changed for better or worse in the last week. But I’m always dreaming up something new.”

    Justin keeps it simple. His next project, he says, is global domination. “There’s an immense sense of pride in knowing your products help to change the world — even if it is on a small scale,” he says.

    Amazingly, both Justin and Mike have a life.

    “Online is a major part of my life but occasionally I do switch off the computer to spend time with my wife, Colette, and four-year-old son, Luke,” admits Justin. Mike goes even further: “I’m also a husband and dad, musician (I play the drums), am quite involved at my church and love my sport — whether supporting or participating. I’m a pretty mean indoor cricketer.”

    You call that obsessed with Web 2.0? Next thing you know, they will claim that blogging will never replace traditional journalism.

    Wait a minute, that’s almost exactly what they are saying:

    “Video didn’t kill the radio star, and VHS didn’t kill Hollywood,” says Mike. “Both media will morph and adapt but neither will replace the other any time soon. If anything, the lines between them will blur even more.”

    Justin also sees it that way: “I am of the opinion that traditional journalism will evolve into an online arena. However, there really is no escaping good old journalistic experience and integrity.”

    So relax, Fred and Duncan and David. They aren’t coming for you. Yet.

    * Nominate your choice for blogging player of the week here or by email