Photography has always been a social medium. What other artform, after all, can claim “smile!” as its catchphrase? (“Cheese”, too, but that’s just another way of making you smile.) In the wink of a shutter, a moment is frozen in time, crystalised into a souvenir of memory that will outlast us all. Archaeologists of the future will be overwhelmed by the evidence of who we were and how we lived and what we looked like, captured as much by the lens turned inward on our selfies, as outward on the world around us. I must have held at least a dozen cameras in my hands over the years, from the Kodak Instamatic I took with me on primary school trips, to the Pentax Spotmatic I was given and ordered to use (but not shown how to use) on my first day as a cub reporter on a small town newspaper, to the little Minox spy-cam I picked up in a pawnshop, to the hefty Leica M4 with the whisper-quiet trigger, to the Nikon D200 with the 18-200 zoom that now feels as heavy as a mortar. But I never could have guessed that in the 21st Century, my favourite camera would be not a camera at all, but a simulation of a button on the glass face of a device that was originally built to make and take telephone calls. Instagram is a window on the world, not just the world as I see it, but the world as it streams into my life, here in this little square theatre where the lives of others are put on parade. Instagram connects us through the power of touch, and it’s no coincidence that the primary signal on the medium is a quick double-tap that turns into a heart. In 2012, according to an annual study by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, there were just over 100,000 Instagram users in South Africa. The latest study, released this week, puts the figure at over 1.1-million. That’s a lot less than Facebook (11.8-million) and Twitter (6.6-million) but it’s still a massive rise in percentage terms, and proof, once again, of the magic of the image, and the way it draws us to each other, across the gulf of distance and time. http://ift.tt/1wOjsl9
Typing on the iPhone has always been a bit of a challenge, which is why the new SwiftKey app for IOS8 is such a breakthrough. The Flow option is intuitive and it quickly learns your way of working. It’s on the Apple Store now, for free. Of course, Android users will tell you that they’ve had SwiftKey for ages, but then they’re always looking for an opportunity to start an argument. http://ift.tt/1qQo8Vx
Blessed be the Cheesemakers. Cheese Gourmet, fondly known as “Cheeses”, is one of the great Little Shops of Linden, along with Allbang & Strummit (guitars & drums) and Not Bread Alone (bread, but not bread alone). It’s always nice to browse at a village-style shop that is run by someone of single-minded obsession and in-depth knowledge. I recommend the Raclette. It’s very soft and melty. (I’m talking about cheese here.) The lady behind the counter, upon my enquiry, told me that the best way to store cheese is in a Tupperware-type dish with a little clamp, with a piece of dry pasta to keep it company. You’ll find the shop on the corner of 3rd and 7th in Linden, Johannesburg. Enjoy. http://ift.tt/XhfK43
Learning with an iPad, Bovet Primary, Alexandra. http://ift.tt/1sBMr8X
Children at Bovet Primary School in Alexandra, Johannesburg, await their teacher’s instruction at the start of a Grade 3 maths class. The children use iPad minis on a shared timetable system. This is the “hands-on-heads rule”, and it’s become a tradition at the start of an iPad-based lesson. When the teacher says “hands down”, the children can start using their iPads. Friday is Civvies Day at the school, but the class were asked to to wear uniforms because they had visitors for the lesson. http://ift.tt/1sBCfNG
Edward Makasani is the newly-appointed Principal of Bovet Primary School in Alexandra, just across the freeway from Sandton. The school consists of a few mobile classrooms, prefabricated from metal or wood, arranged on the perimeter of a bare and dusty playground. The classrooms are sweltering in summer, and freezing in winter. During “creative activities” - dance - the floors and the walls shake terribly, says Mr Makasani, with a laugh. Bovet is a Quintile 1 school, which means it caters for the poorest of the poor. It serves an area of Alex known as “Little Limpopo”, and lessons are conducted mainly in Tsonga or Venda. There are more than 1,600 children in the school. The Principal, a passionate educator who says he can’t imagine doing anything else with his life, plans to raise the average level of marks at the school from 30 percent to at least 75 percent. It’s a daunting task. But as he says: “Children from Alex also have ten fingers and ten toes. They are no different from children in Sandton. They can also succeed and achieve.” http://ift.tt/1sBCcRO
I went to an EasyEquities function tonight. They’re a new online trading platform that aims to make investing in shares accessible and affordable for medium-to-small-to-micro investors. Only a tiny percentage of South Africans invest directly on the JSE, because the costs and complexities are prohibitive. I think these guys are going to shake up the market. They remind me a little of Afrihost, who’ve done the same to the broadband and mobile data markets in SA. I think the JSE is probably a better bet than the LOTTO, but still, I’m going to hold on to the ticket, just in case. http://ift.tt/1xPLKNO
Change. Some fear it, some embrace it. But we all need it, every now and again. The Change Bowl at Seattle. http://ift.tt/1sqR19V
A late-winter Joburg sunset. The old season is sighing into the new. High above the beckoning branches, a thin slice of moon lies waiting for the dark. The air is still crisp, but the sun lingers a little later, as if in rehearsal. There are loeries flitting in the tree, and soon, the green will return. We don’t choose to live in a city for its climate alone. But it’s as good a reason as any to pause and watch the seasons turn. http://ift.tt/1nfrUkW
Willem Boshoff turns words into artworks. Artists’ Press Pop-up, Linden. http://ift.tt/1wRK6uy
Such beautiful line work. Judith Mason, Artists’ Press Pop-up, Linden. http://ift.tt/1wRK85x
Pomegranate, by Judith Mason. Artists’ Press Pop-up, Linden. http://ift.tt/1tWJPlu
Street corner scene, By Sam Nhlengethwa. Artists’ Press Pop-up, Linden. http://ift.tt/1tWJPlo
The desolate beauty of a Karoo landscape, by Kim Berman. Artists’ Press Pop-up, Linden. http://ift.tt/1wRK5H5
Yolandi Vi$$er, by Anton Kannemeyer. One of the many very interesting works at the Artists’ Press Pop-up in 4th Avenue, Linden today. Pop along and enjoy. http://ift.tt/1qdAVj9
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