Archive for October, 2009

Kontax on the BBC

BBC World ServiceKontax was featured on the BBC this week! (Well done to the m4Lit team.) Steve Vosloo was interviewed by Gareth Mitchell on the World Service radio programme Digital Planet (listen live or download the mp3 of the interview).

During the programme one of the regular readers and commenters on Kontax, Sugar, was called. She made some very interesting comments about the story — in particular that she looks up words that she doesn’t understand in a dictionary (the printed version), which means that the story is improving her vocabulary. This is also what Sexyeyez — another reader and commenter — said in the interview on Bush Radio about why she liked the story (it improves her vocabulary).

After the interview, Gareth Mitchell asked his co-host Bill Thompson whether reading an m-novel is going to lead someone to actual books. Bill responded:

It might do, and even if it doesn’t it’s going to encourage them to read narrative fiction, to read stories. And I think given that so much information presented these days is in chunks, e.g.  on social network sites or as emails, anything that gets young people reading longer forms is a good idea.

It’s well established within the world of children’s fiction, where there’s a genre called “high low” fiction (stories written for older children with younger reading age) — that these are very successful. So I think projects like this that engage with children do stand a good chance of working.

Kontax was also written about on the BBC website (Mobile novels switch on South Africa by Dave Lee). A great quote is given by Bernard Kedge, manager of Galloway and Porter, a Cambridge bookshop which sold its first book in 1902.

This is sometimes how education works. Anything that actually encourages people to read more is a really excellent idea.

Other recent coverage of Kontax includes:


  • Steve Vosloo was interviewed on SAfm by Karabo Kgoleng (19 Oct)
  • Nkululeko Mabandla was interviewed on Umhlobo Wenene fm by Nobathembu Kani (23 Oct)



Usability lab South Africa-style

Source: Marion Walton

Andile, Marion and Nkululeko waiting for the teens to run our basic user testing – or technology observation – of the Kontax mobisite with them. Andile’s garage in Guguletu was the perfect impromptu usability lab!

Coverage of Kontax (part III)

Coverage of Kontax continues as follows:




  • Steve Vosloo was interviewed on Metro FM by Azania Ndoro (15 Oct)


m-Novels on the rise

m-Novels on the rise is a piece by Steve Vosloo about m-novels and Kontax in particular for M&G’s Tech Leader. is “mobile ready”

The mobiReady testing tool evaluates mobile-readiness using industry best practices and standards. We ran through the test and came out looking good! We got 18 passes, 5 warnings, 3 fails and 2 comments — so there is some tweaking that could be done. But the overall score was 5 out of 5. See the full report.

Well done to Fontera, the mobisite developers.

Coverage of Kontax (part II)

In the week after the launch of Kontax, we’ve had the following coverage:




  • Steve Vosloo was interviewed on Bush Radio (3 Oct). It was blogged about by the Bush Teens crew.
  • Steve Vosloo was interviewed on SAfm by Michelle Constant (10 Oct)
  • Steve Vosloo was interviewed on Good Hope FM by Carl Wastie (10 Oct)


  • Bilingual cellphone novel may get teens reading by Sue Blaine in The Weekender (Business Day) (3 Oct)

Kontax goes cross-media

Kontax is exploring what South African youth make of cross-media stories. We have a couple of tricks up our sleeve, with the first one being unveiled tomorrow. In the story, Sbu is trying to find Adelle. He has her cellphone so he goes through her contacts and calls each one. We’ve used real numbers and created voice messages for each so that readers can call or SMS the contacts.

Azure Hotel: 083 763 2623
Hyena Personal Guards: 073 658 9100
East London Township Museum: 083 716 8551
The Daily Eye: 078 739 3536

Why not try it yourself?

Inspiration for this came from the popular cross-media teen novel Cathy’s Book. In the book, which is Cathy’s lost diary, the numbers, email addresses and web addresses are all real, taking the reader from the print medium to other media as he or she explores the back stories and extras surrounding the story.

It worked in America. Let’s see if it works here. Perhaps in South Africa we need to create MXit profiles — it’s cheaper than making a call.