Naked Data
Issue #300 || The Soft Scoop Edition || 2021-11-29
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South Africa’s social influencers curiously interested in powerships

Food, fashion and Turkish powerships are what really get South Africa’s top social media influencers up in the morning. At least it did on 13 May, just as the Kapowership project, a bloated, floated, fossil-fuel burning white elephant received some pretty bad press in the mainstream media. In just over two hours, the influencers seemed to spontaneously spurt out 970 original tweets.

“In addition, there was a large volume of activity from a relatively small group of users, some tweeting more than 100 times in a relatively short period. Also, the topic seems odd for many of these accounts, which tend to tweet about music, make-up, food and beverage, and sport. It is slightly odd to see a cosmetics ambassador tweeting more than 200 times about a powership,” writes Andrew Fraser in TechCentral, where you’ll find a great piece of social media analysis on the mysterious machinations.

The battle for Kapowership’s online reputation didn’t end with the Twitter campaign, however — one day later, Twitter put warnings on the account of South Africa’s most prominent investigative journalism team, amaBhungane, after it published two damning stories on the project. (JNY)

# Don't Miss

The cost of the climate crisis

So it’s going a few rands to retool our global grid networks and get carbon emissions down. But even if you don’t believe it’ll be worth saving trivial things like ice caps and Cape Town from sinking into the sea, the economic cost of not doing anything is staggering. How staggering? Vox Europe has simplified and illustrated the European Environment Agency’s recent report into the cost of climate events in the EU alone over the last 40 years. Read it here. (And then check out the Guardian’s explanation of why solar power is “insanely cheap” and we should all just use it already. (AO)

Not all places are equal in the youth unemployment crisis

An investigation by OpenUp finds that while unemployment in South Africa is generally bad, it’s shocking for the youth, and worse for women than for men. Thanks to census delays, we don’t have an up-to-date picture of the unemployment figures, but working on 2011 stats, OpenUp discovers that the problem is geographically uneven, with some municipalities burdened with over 80% youth unemployment. The investigation also compares genders, and finds that in most cases, women are harder-hit with unemployment, even with higher levels of education on average. (JNY)

Will SA's action plan on gender-based violence work?

When it comes to femicide, gender-based violence and sexual abuse in South Africa, there’s two things to know. There’s a lot of it – more than anyone can know (see Jason’s Rape Convictions page here) – and there’s a lot of talk and little effective action at reducing its incidence. The latest government intervention is the National Strategic Plan (NSP), and Bhekisisa’s Joan van Dyk has an incredibly detailed and insightful look at the positive and negative potential of the NSP, as well as some serious thoughts about the data that underpins it. (AO)

Finding female voices for the media

Quote This Woman+ is a South African media NGO that publishes a fortnightly list of expert female media sources. They’ve just sent their latest edition, which focuses on vaccine experts, but previous topics include everything from blockchain to trans womens’ rights. You’ll need to subscribe to see the lists, but to give you an idea of what to expect, it includes a health specialist prof from Jo’burg, a Stellenbosch science communication researcher, and a pharmacist and advocate for women, health and development also from Jozie, just for vaccine hesitancy. While it’s mostly South African-focussed, it does include notable women available for interviews from Africa, in the latest edition from Kenya and the DRC. (JNY)

# Nerds

What gets copied 20 311 933.5 times a week?

The answer is “code snippets from Stack Overflow”. If you’re a regular reader of Naked Data, the stats that have been published by the help-site hosts may not surprise you (nor will the fact that the |html|css|tag is the most copied from). However, we bet you can’t guess what the most copied code over the two week period studied was. That will surprise you, so find it out here. (AO)

Google’s new window to the other side

Yes, Google has launched yet another chat product. But this one, dubbed Starline, is pretty impressive. By smashing together very good video, machine learning and AI, nifty compression and assumably serious internet connectivity, it’s created a video screen that makes you feel like a person you’re chatting to via video conference is really there, just on the other side of a window. See the video here... (JNY)

# My Corona

Understanding risk post-Covid vaccine

The New York Times has done a brilliant analysis of how US epidemiologists are behaving post-vaccine, because unlike random shouty guy on the internet, they actually know the risks of certain behaviours. The tl;dr: remain cautious; avoid large groups like concerts and sporting events; and try to ensure two of the three of being outdoors, wearing a mask, and keeping social distancing. (JNY)

# Finally

The epic tale of the ice cream machine

Can you turn a MacDonald’s dessert into an incredible piece of longform journalism? Wired can, with this brilliant look at the conflict between the fast food giant and hacky startup Kytch. Kytch started out life as an all-in-one frozen yoghurt machine, but the founders pivoted when they discovered their tech could help franchise managers at MacDonald’s with an endemic problem – preventing their McFlurry machines from breaking down. From seemingly trivial beginnings a familiar tale of corporate overreach emerges, crushing the dreams of a plucky startup that just wanted to help store managers sell soft scoop with the power of a Raspberry Pi like so much candy topping. It’s got everything, from corporate spinning to the right to repair, if the movie rights aren’t bagged already, they will be soon. (AO)

Who the hell is Jason Norwood-Young?

Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery, Jason was one of the first South Africans to really grasp the importance of data in the newsroom and has remained one step ahead of the trends in the field all the way. Even Naked Data was conceived before email newsletters were cool again. But what does that tell you about the measure of the man? Nothing, that's what. He hides the superman CV behind a truly mild-mannered and overly modest persona and is best described as "one of the nicest guys in the business". When he's angry, it is righteously so, and his anger always wears velvet mittens. The true signs of his genius include the ability to create multilingual puns on demand (witness the alternative Naked Data strap "Putting the heita in to data") and the fact that he offered me a job. (AO)

Who the hell is Adam Oxford?

Adam combines the best features of his Britishness — polite, sincere, witty, and pasty-white — with the best of South Africanness — enthusiastic, involved, socially conscious, underpaid and overly committed. He wears an incredible amount of hats , including the driving force behind Hacks/Hackers Jo’burg; an "innovation agent" with access-to-justice accelerator HiiL; an editor; a technology journalist; a data journalist; and a budding machine learning and AI expert. His latest gig with Naked Data is a natural progression for a gent that brings a sense of excited purpose to all of his myriad projects. (JNY)

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