With his characteristic dry, wry wit in full force, I sat down with entrepreneur-at-heart Simon Dingle for an exclusive interview after his Catalyst Africa presentation, on why an open internet that connects people is a winner for every industry.
Simon Dingle, in action at Catalyst Africa.
An interview with Simon Dingle is always a treat. Known by most as former host of (tech)5 on 5FM, his fast speech is peppered with his own observations as well as interesting factoids you probably wouldn’t have heard anywhere else. And when he goes off on a tangent, he always finds a way to weave it back into the original topic.
So, whether you’re spending five minutes or five hours with him, you’re sure to walk away thinking about the world and how it works in a different way, as Dingle is not only interesting to talk to, but always interested in how we can do things better, especially when it involves fintech.
For example, his current project Lettuce is aimed at improving the world of money, and he was part of the teams that started 22seven and Luno, which streamlined fintech acceptance in SA.
Here’s the highlights package of my recent chat with Dingle post-Catalyst Africa…
We first chatted about a decade ago. What would you say has been the biggest tech catalyst since then?
For me, personally, it’s been cryptocurrency, because I’ve been working with it for the better part of the last decade. More fundamentally, it’s been seeing the internet continue to spread and transform industry.
Advertising and promotion in the digital era is becoming a prominent fixture. It might be hard to master, especially in the cryptocurrency sector, as this is still very much a niche that is just now evolving into a mainstream industry...
What we’re currently doing with blockchain and associated technologies wouldn’t be possible without the internet. We’re still seeing battle lines around anachronistic ideas of intranets, for example, being reintroduced now as terrible ideas, like private blockchains.
The same companies that were selling snake oil to enterprises in the software space, with service-orientated architecture and other crap 15 years ago, are now trying to sell their crap under the guise of blockchain, and it’s still crap.
Lately, I have been followed. The man who is following me has good hair and dead eyes. It would seem wherever I go on the internet, he pops up. He is young, very young, but is constantly telling me that he has the wisdom and the secret stuff that can help me...
Luckily they’re not doing so as convincingly anymore. Many chief information officers (CIOs) didn’t know what the hell they were buying 15 years ago, and could afford to spend R100m on technology they were never going to use in the organisation.
Now, that ship has sailed. It’s a very different world today.
Twenty years ago, there was no Wi-Fi, Google, social media, podcasts, Kindle and Netflix. A decade ago, there were no iPhones, smartphones, tablets, Chrome, GPS, Airbnb, Uber, Bitcoin or Blockchain. While all of these demonstrate the fast pace of change, all of them have been massively disruptive to how we produce and consume content...
That said, it’s the open internet that still wins in every single example. Your company doesn’t need, nor should it want, an intranet. Your company does not need, nor should it want, a private blockchain. The same goes for the country.
A good gauge for me is whether the latest iteration is something that connects people, whether it’s giving us a global way to transact, or if it’s just creating new domains and more siloes and loci of control.
If it’s the latter, I don’t think it deserves our support. If it’s the former, you’re literally on the money.
The internet gives us the platform to do that in any industry imaginable, and cryptocurrency is how we do that with money. That’s been the biggest catalyst, both in my personal life and career-wise over the past decade.
Interesting. Two of the points that resonated with me from your Catalyst Africa talk were on the news and storytelling link, as well as the ‘borderless-ness’ of the world. Please comment on the role of the media as a catalyst for growth, and how we often get it wrong.
This is something very close to my heart, as I come from a media background, and I worked as a journalist for a very long time. My startup called Lionheart is looking at tackling some of these problems.
Lionheart is a platform that makes it easy for individuals to support the journalists and investigators fighting fake news, corrupt politicians, dictatorial regimes, censorship and bad business.
We have some interesting ideas but it’s early days, so I’ll reveal more later down the line.
Media outlets are clearing their throats, pulling up their socks and clarifying their editorial policies following the 'Sunday Times fake news fallout'. Here's what you can do, even if you're not affiliated with mainstream media...
Journalists are underpaid and expected, in some cases, to risk their lives to expose the truth, especially with Trump in the USA telling us “journalists are the enemy of the people”. It’s a pernicious and dangerous lie that we need to stomp on as soon as possible.
I’m incredibly disheartened by this era of fake news and the idea that the media is the enemy and never gets it right.
Certainly, the part about ‘never getting it right’ is likely true to an extent, but that to me is more a story of under-resourcing and the fundamental changes that have taken place, to what it means to be a journalist in the 21st century.
Media funding is not only about finance; it is about media freedom. This makes the current problems around funding in journalism a crisis. This was the topic of the second in the Future of Journalism Series held at the Goethe-Institut...
We’ve replaced the cheap and pointless five-minute discussions with long narrative, long-form conversations around a single topic, where we actually gain a better-than-average understanding of that topic.
There is nothing so simple that you can reduce it to a two-minute soundbite on radio or TV, and that’s what we’re used to seeing from the news now, as everything is more complicated and in-depth than that timeframe allows for.
So, I’m also optimistic about how media is being reimagined in the 21st century. What I think is missing is some of the rigour and discipline of traditional journalism in terms of verifying facts, querying sources and, most importantly, fighting against the taint of advertising in the media.
Tech genius Simon Dingle started podcasting in 2004 when the global community was small and there was barely even a word for what they were doing. Over a decade later, things are on a whole new level with the launch of Binary...
There's a paradox at the heart of modern journalism and news production: consumers like the convenience of social media as a delivery device for news, but the prevalence of fake news has made it harder for readers to trust and verify their sources...
Styli Charalambous, the CEO of The Daily Maverick, elaborates on a remarkable year of growth that the publication has experienced and shares his thoughts on how membership is carving out a place as a sustainable business model for public interest journalism...
Whether you agree with his views or not, there’s a lot of misunderstanding around the man.
But his model of audience-supported media means that when I listen to his podcast, I know that none of his opinions are being formed or influenced by a mattress company or underpants company trying to sell their thing in that time – interestingly, these are literally the two top advertisers in the world of podcasting.
One of the biggest trends we're set to see this year is a plethora of marketing messages facing ever-decreasing attention from consumers. Take note of the clever planning required for yours to stand out from the snowballing amount of spam...
Jennifer Thomas, an award-winning, veteran American broadcast journalist, was invited by the United States Embassy (South Africa) to address the Cape Town Press Club on media coverage of elections in the age of fake news late last month...
Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.