Toby Shapshak

Editor, columnist, strategist and speaker; Toby writes and speaks about Innovation. And Africa. Most eloquently about Innovation in Africa. Through a range of media, from newspapers to television and radio, he speaks regularly on the trends in technology and innovation; and where they are going.

The doomsday scenario of malware taking over the world happened last Friday

Last Friday, science fiction became reality. In countless movies about the future terrors of our digital world, doomsday scenarios have ranged from hackers taking over nuclear power stations to siphoning off millions from bank accounts. But on Friday the most improbable of terrible predictions of cybercrime came true. A massive ransomware attack affected over 100 countries, crippling courier giant...[Read More]

There is a darkness in the world unless we fight for privacy but tech can shine a light

Austin Kleon calls himself a “writer who draws” and has created modern-day poetry by blacking out all but a few words of a New York Times newspaper page to create seemingly random, but remarkably poignant poems. It’s a delightful, serendipitous kind of artistic process that yield surprisingly results, which he has previously joked: “The blackouts are like if the CIA did Hai...[Read More]

AR has the potential to be much more practical and useful than VR

This is the year when augmented reality (AR) is going to reach the mainstream public imagination, although it may take a few years to be fully ready. Several signs point to this nascent trend going mainstream, including Facebook’s F8 conference last week where AR took centre stage with giant glasses projected above Mark Zuckerberg’s head. Calling it a way to “mix the physical and...[Read More]

Elon Musk brings down the cost of space travel by (finally) reusing a SpaceX rocket

Late last month a South African did something that the entire world is not only awestruck by, but immensely proud of. It was not Jacob Zuma or any of the ANC leadership, although there was a Pretoria connection. On March 30th, the history books will show, space flight was forever changed when SpaceX reused a Falcon 9 rocket that had already made a trip to space. Having landed back on Earth on Apri...[Read More]

As great as our smartphones are for taking pictures, you need a smart way to back them up

Nooo, my friend’s Facebook status cried. A stolen iPhone meant he had lost 10,000 treasured photographs. It’s a common problem of our smartphone era, where our mobiles have become the centre of our lives. With more powerful cameras, that let us instantly post to social media, they are also the device we use to take all our pictures. Those treasured pictures of small children taking the...[Read More]

After Note 7, corporate scandals, the Galaxy S8 is the response Samsung needed

The only people who have had a more annus horribilis than President Jacob Zuma are Samsung. Although they are a giant chaebol that makes everything from smartphones to jet fuel, and despite accounting for a fifth of South Korea’s exports, they had a torrid time in the past year. First their flagship Note 7 phablet began exploding last year and was ultimately recalled, costing an estimated US...[Read More]

Why a home-grown satellite service deserves to be the awarded the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa

Why does a satellite decoder deserve to be included in the annual Most Beautiful Object in South Africa, which has previously been won by dresses, art films and elegant jewellery? Organised by that creative hive that is Design Indaba, I was asked to nominate something home-grown for this index of beautiful object. This year’s winner is a five-minute steam punk fashion video, oozing the kind of des...[Read More]

Ads next to hate speech, overstating of views ravage YouTube, Facebook’s reputations

The only surprising thing about major brands pulling their YouTube advertising for appearing alongside extremism and hate speech was how long it took to happen. Google has been criticised for years about the problems with its YouTube advertising – which sees adverts appearing alongside undesirable, sometimes illegal content, including antisemitism or videos advocating violence – about which the la...[Read More]

Alternatives to meat help solve environmental strain, issues of factory farming

Uma Valeti makes a mean meatball. It’s perfectly round, sizzles when you fry it in a pan and tastes good. But unlike most meatballs, it was grown in a sterile brewery, not a cow. Memphis Meats, the company that he co-founded, has been called “the hottest tech in Silicon Valley” by Fortune magazine and is aiming to revolutionise food production. Dr Valeti is a cardiologist who was...[Read More]

The internet has revolutionised our lives but still faces challenges with our privacy and misinformation

“I’m the chief internet evangelist at Google, so I speak in parables,” Vint Cerf joked at last week’s South by South West (SXSW) conference. Cerf is often called one of “the fathers of the Internet” for co-inventing the TCP/IP protocol that underpins how computers connect and transmit data on the internet in the early 1970s. “Imagine you live in a little t...[Read More]

As expected the Snapchat listing has been meteoric, the largest since Alibaba’s in 2014

If you want to see the changing nature of social media, then Snap’s listing last week is it. The biggest IPO since Alibaba’s US$168bn in 2014, the Snapchat parent listed at three times that of Twitter, valuing it at $24bn on its first day, $28bn on its second. And it still doesn’t make money. In fact, on revenue of $404m last year, it lost $514m and $373m the year before. But the...[Read More]

MWC is still a gadget-lover’s event as smartphone launches dominate the conference

Like so much else in life, it’s who throws the biggest party that tells you who is the most popular kid in school. That trend is just as true at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where each February the telecoms industry gathers for the largest mobile conference in the world. In years gone by, it was Nokia – which at its height sold two out of three 2G phones in the world – that was the most...[Read More]

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