This week, we got behind the selfie with Arthur Goldstuck. He is MD of World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and is sharing his annual research announcements at last week's Social Media Landscape Briefings 2019 in Sandton and Cape Town.
Arthur in his happy place: Midtown Comics in New York City.
1. Where do you live, work and play?
I live in Victory Park, work in the cloud – wherever I open my laptop, that's my office – and play mostly in the Johannesburg area.
People living in this city have done a great job of keeping its infinite attractions a secret. I also love being in the great cities of the world. New York is my favourite.
2. What’s your claim to fame?
I read all the books on the science fiction shelf of the Trompsburg Public Library, somewhere in the deep south of the Free State, by the time I was 12. That made the librarian nervous, but it gave me an insatiable hunger for the future of technology.
3. Describe your career so far.
A series of deeply fortunate circumstances, where one small thing led to the next big thing. I've never stopped being curious about the way the world works, and that curiosity means I never sit still for long in my career.
Some details: I was a journalist, specialising in technology, popular culture and music, and wrote several best-selling books on urban legends. When I wrote a book in 1995 on how to use the internet in SA, it did so well that it paid off my bond and then kick-started my career as an internet analyst, researcher, commentator and speaker.
I write more extensively on technology trends now than I ever did back then.
4. Tell us a few of your favourite things.
Football (Wits University FC and Chelsea FC), single-malt whisky (from sweet sherry cask-matured all the way to heavy peat), live music (almost any SA music, and any good rock music), travel (being there, not getting there), comic books (Marvel rather than DC, Batman rather than Superman, independent titles rather than big names), fudge, popcorn.
5. What do you love about your industry?
I Iove that there is always something new, every single day, driving us inexorably to the future that science fiction promised me. My mantra is: Change is my currency.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
7. What are the tools of your trade?
Fast data access. Everything else is an optional accessory.
8. Who is getting it right in your industry?
Samsung and Huawei are doing wonderful things with their smartphones, disguised as "merely incremental improvements", according to most tech media. One can include Sony and LG there – neither get the credit they deserve.
Amazon Web Services is creating the platform that will allow everyone else to build the future.
Dell Technologies, Lenovo, Cisco and VMware are run like well-oiled machines, responding to customer needs almost on the fly, in the process reinventing themselves in step with the dazzling evolution of technology.
Nissan, BMW, Audi, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes Benz are all quietly making the autonomous driving future possible by building superb "assistive" technologies into their vehicles today.
Visa and Mastercard are pushing the future of payment technology, and we will all be making payments very differently in a few years from now – without realising the shift is happening.
In South Africa, we have numerous unsung champions of innovation or service reinvention. Adapt IT, Etion (formerly Ansys), Skybird Tech, Luno, Afrihost, OfferZen, Vumatel, Dark Fibre Africa, Cool Ideas, Lightspeed, and Yoco are just a sample of great businesses doing great things in tech and connectivity.
9. List a few pain points the industry can improve on.
Digitalisation of large consumer-facing organisations, which doesn't mean sending digital statements by email. It means an entire business being built on an integrated digital platform that allows not only a single, integrated view of the customer, but also allows customers to customise their accounts, service mix and payment options.
The telecommunications network operators, who are supposedly enabling the digital future, are the worst offenders, along with the banks.
10. What are you working on right now?
- A startup with Miles Kubheka and Debbie Whittaker, focused on researching startups.
- A science fiction novel set in South Africa's past.
- Going back to university to do a postgrad degree, part time.
- Cloning myself.
11. Tell us some of the buzzwords floating around in your industry at the moment, and some of the catchphrases you utter yourself.
Google "tech buzzwords 2018" for a far longer list than would fit here! My most common catchphrase: "Google it".
12. Where and when do you have your best ideas? Where:
At conferences, when my mind switches off from what the speakers are saying, which happens often, or I pick up on one word or phrase or example that kicks off a new train of thought. When:
When I mishear people and then realise they didn't actually use that brilliant new word I thought I heard, so I can claim it for myself. I have a collection of those. Sadly, I rarely use them, but I wouldn't be surprised if one of them becomes the basis for a new book, article or entire business.
13. What’s your secret talent/party trick?
Pretending I know what I'm talking about!
14. Are you a technophobe or a technophile?
The latter, but I hate when technology is used for evil, to oppress, and suppress. I also detest complex technology that is sold as simple. Complexity in technology is a design flaw.
15. What would we find if we scrolled through your phone?
Too many apps, too many photos of every place and establishment I visit – I contribute as a guide to Google Maps, so it's become habit – and a lot of learning and improvement tools, from fitness apps to language and coding training.
16. What advice would you give to newbies hoping to crack into the industry?
Be prepared to pay your dues, to learn from others, and to pursue constant growth and improvement, all your life.
Simple as that. Visit Goldstuck’s MyBiz profile or email him on moc.xrowediwdlrow@ruhtra and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow World Wide Worx on Facebook and Twitter.*Interviewed by Leigh Andrews.
- The first rule is to turn up. No one can do that for you.
- The second rule is to pursue your vision or ambition relentlessly, throughout your career. The moment you're complacent or stand still, you grow old.
- And finally, regardless of industry: only actions can lead to outcomes. Don't wait for things to happen, make them happen.