Ask almost anyone whether they are using open source software (OSS) and you are likely to be met by a blank stare. Many people would be surprised to hear that they are either using it on the mobile device they own or on their social media platform of choice, says MUGGIE VAN STADEN, CEO of Obsidian.
In short, the average person uses OSS daily and does not even know it.
Facebook is an open source (OS) platform that allows users to become their own moderators and content producers.
Mobile open source is becoming more prolific, as we can see through the uptake of Android in South Africa. Management consoles in new cars are starting to use Linux: most animated movies are rendered using Linux. So if you phone a friend to see if they can go to a movie, search online to book the movie, drive there and then enjoy the show, you have been aided by OSS technology throughout.
The popularity of sites like Google, LinkedIn and Twitter mean that most technology users have come to rely on OSS in some way in their daily lives.
Proponents of proprietary software might say that the growth of OSS is simply the result of coming off a very low base and that the majority of users still feel more comfortable in living their connected lives on a more “closed and stable”” platform.
But the flip side is also true. OSS does not only mean that it is the source code that is available for everyone to copy and distribute and change to their heart’s content. Certainly, those who want to programme and want to make their own software find a natural calling to OSS.
However, the majority of people do not really care how the software they are using came to be. But think about the concept of collaboration. This has been around for centuries. There is an often used saying that says it takes a village to raise a child. Today, the power of a community, in whatever shape or form, is essential for the success of most endeavours. If people do not work together but in isolation of one another, then goals will not be achieved nearly as effectively and the chances of failure are increased.
Collaborating means that people build something together and collectively act better than a single entity. The growth of Android is partly thanks to its ability to adopt to change much faster than proprietary systems. That has seen it become the dominant mobile platform globally.
The concept of open source extends beyond search engines and mobile devices. Today, you can find anything from open source hardware to aircraft and even beer.
The fact is that people enjoy working together. If the internet has shown us anything it is that communities of interest develop around those who share similar tastes and passions. This results in them inevitably starting to do things together to help grow those shared interests.
If you fancy yourself a decent home baker but want to take your skills to the next level, it is highly unlikely that one of the big multinationals will share some of their trade secrets or recipes with you. However, there are millions of people online doing just that. They are working together and sharing recipes and tips and tricks to enable the specific community to growth through shared knowledge.
And that is what open source is all about: empowering each of us to develop our skills as individuals through the power of working together. Yes, there might be financial rewards associated with that, but it is not the end goal. By doing something you are passionate about, you are giving yourself the opportunity to enhance and refine that skill and help other people do the same.
So the next time you switch on your phone, or post that message on a social network, take some time to think how a lot of these things would not be possible without OSS.
Triggerfish launches free digital learning Academy online
Platform designed for anyone wanting to understand more about career opportunities in animation.
Triggerfish, in partnership with Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, has launched Triggerfish Academy, a free digital learning platform for anyone wanting to understand more about the career opportunities and how to get started in the field of animation.
The website features 25 free video tutorials, quizzes and animation exercises introducing animation as a career and the principles of storytelling, storyboarding and animation, as well as several additional resources to help guide aspiring animators into a career in animation.
“The South African animation industry is growing – and so is the demand for skilled animators globally,” said Noemie Njangiru, head of Culture and Development at Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, pointing to the success of recent Triggerfish projects like the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes; Mama K’s Team 4, recently announced by Netflix as their first original animated series from Africa; and this year’s New York Children’s Festival and Shanghai International Film and TV Festival winner Zog.
Njangiru also highlighted the opportunities for animation outside the traditional film industry, within fields like advertising, app and web design, architecture, engineering, gaming, industrial design, medicine, and the motor industry, not to mention growth sectors like augmented reality and virtual reality.
The course was created by Tim Argall, currently the animation director on Triggerfish’s third feature film, Seal Team. He’s roped in many of the South African animation industry’s brightest stars, from Malcolm Wope, character designer on Mama K’s Team 4, and Annike Pienaar, now working at Illumination in Paris on Sing 2, to Daniel Snaddon, co-director of the multi-award-winning BBC adaptations Stick Man and Zog, and Faghrie Coenraad, lead dressing and finaling artist on the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes, as well as Triggerfish head of production Mike Buckland. The featured talent share not just their skills but also their stories, from how they broke the news they wanted to be animators to their parents, to common myths about the animation industry.
“As kids, animation is part of our lives, so we don’t really think about the idea that animation is actually somebody’s job,” said Argall. “When I was a kid, I loved animation and I loved to draw. I remember when I was about 12, I thought: ‘I really want to see my drawings come to life. I want to be an animator.’ But I had no idea where to even begin.”
Triggerfish Academy is his attempt to make it easier for the next generation of African animators: an accessible starter kit for anyone considering a career in animation.
“By the end of working through this course, you’ll have all the background you need to know whether animation is a good choice for your career,” said Njangiru.
Aspiring animators can also use Triggerfish Academyto learn how to write and animate their own short story, then post their animation on the Academy’s Facebook group for feedback and advice from professional animators.
Triggerfish Academy is set up so that youth can play with it directly, but it’s also been designed to double as an activity plan for teachers, NGOs and after school programmes to use. Schools, organisations and other animation studios who are interested in using it can contact Triggerfish for additional free classroom resources.
Triggerfish Academy is just one of a number of Triggerfish initiatives to train and diversify the next generation of African animators, like sponsoring bursaries to The Animation School; the Mama K’s Team 4 Writers Lab with Netflix; the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company and the Department of Trade and Industry; Animate Africa webinars; Draw For Life; and the Triggerfish Foundation schools outreach programme. For more information, visit www.triggerfish.com/academy.
Dell aims to unlock tech for start-ups
The upcoming Dell Technologies Forum in Johannesburg will show that cost and scale are no longer barriers for a mid-size businesses to adopt enterprise-grade tech
Today’s medium-sized companies enjoy reinvigorated access to business technology. The powerful systems that raised the game of enterprises are now also open to smaller, agile, start-up and niche businesses.
“When you look at medium and start-up businesses, those companies have very similar needs to a large company, but not necessarily the internal resources to always pull it off,” said Sabine Dedering, Regional Sales Director at Dell Technologies South Africa. “Dell Technologies worldwide has a lot of focus on the medium business. This includes South Africa, where we established a dedicated medium business team about a year ago.”
Medium-sized businesses – internationally defined as those typically between 100 and 1,000 IT users – do not necessarily have smaller IT footprints than their enterprise peers. Some manage large and complicated accounts or service enormous user-bases among their customers. In the big picture, they deal with the same complex market demands that the large players do, but until recently often had to make do with much less in access to technology due to constrained resources such as limited IT teams and budgets.
This balance shifted dramatically with the advent of cloud, scalable services and hyper-converged infrastructure. Yet despite the doors opening, the traditional gatekeepers – other vendors and their partners – still habitually focus on enterprise players. It undermines the new possibilities technology can offer to medium businesses, a world that often marchesto the beat of its own drums.
“These are not small customers,” said Dedering. “Sometimes they are market leaders in a specific niche. But they don’t have thousands of people. You get your traditional companies that may have a few hundred employees. They provide a certain service on a regional basis or in a niche market and might never grow much beyond that because that’s what they do really well.”
Everyday everyone faces the same thing: Challenges. With support from Dell Technologies, those Medium business and start-up customers can prevent work disruptions, streamline operations, and increase productivity, using scalable, fast technology optimised for the way their business works.
Ambitions to use modern enterprise-grade technologies can be purely functional, such as hunting for efficiencies and streamlining processes. But they can also include the adoption of emerging technologies such as machine learning, mobile workforces, predictive analytics, real-time data, Internet of Things (IoT), automation and active business continuity. These capabilities are available because their services are able to fit the mould of the business, instead of traditional monolithic technology systems that dictate cost and availability.
Accessing tech’s best
But just because the technology is more accessible doesn’t make its adoption seamless. That still requires a business-first view and as such a reliable partner. As mentioned earlier, too many vendor ecosystems obsess over large enterprises. But Dell Technologies has seen the demand from medium businesses and is actively meeting them on their terms.
This can be put to the test: there will be a stand dedicated to medium businesses at the upcoming Dell Technologies Forum in Johannesburg. Visitors will be able to meet Sabine Dedering and her team:
“First and foremost, we will have a chat and understand their business requirements. Then we will connect them with the experts at the Forum and showcase the different technologies available that could be relevant to them. For us, the main focus will be to understand our medium business customers, understand their business and how our expertise can help transform their business. We explore what types of services we can wrap around their requirements to make it easier for them to leverage technology the way other bigger companies may be.”
Finance is part of this conversation: Dell Technologies is pioneering a number of finance models that are very flexible and customised around customers’ cash flow.
Medium-sized businesses don’t need different technologies than what enterprises use. Nor are they excluded anymore: the barriers of costs, complexity and scale have collapsedto open the market, aligning to the limited resources that medium-sized companies have to manage. Every business has its own unique requirements.
* Dedering and her team will be at the Medium Business stand, hosted at the Dell Technologies Forum on 27 June, at the Sandton Convention Centre. Attendance is free but attendees must register beforehand at https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-za/events/forum2019/Johannesburg/index.htm.