Matthew Buckland developed a passion for all things digital at an early age when, as a seven-year-old, he began programming on his first computer (a ZX Spectrum 48k). He has spoken and guest-lectured on online media issues around the world, including New York; London; Berlin; Amsterdam; Ireland and Kenya. He has two regular slots on both Radio 2000
and 567 Cape Talk
, where he talks about the world of online media and social media. He founded and now heads 20FourLabs
, an innovation division at 24.com, the country’s largest online operation. He previously headed up South African online news publisher, Mail & Guardian Online
, the oldest on the African continent, which is also co-owned by the UK’s Guardian Newspapers Ltd. For what it’s worth, he was named one of ‘SA’s top 100 most influential media and advertising people’ by The Annual
in 2009, for his work in new media. The Mail & Guardian
also named him one of ‘300 Young South Africans you should take out to lunch’, (although this has yet to result in any free lunches!) He was recently named an upcoming new media ‘Mogul’ by FHM
magazine, and nominated for the 2009 Men’s Health Best Man Awards
. 1. What was your first job/ where did you start?
My first proper job was working as a coder at BBC Online
in London. I also worked briefly as a (rather terrible) sub-editor for Avusa (then TML).2. What made you want to build a career in your profession?
I’ve worked with computers literally from my second year of primary school. I was also a very early internet user.3. Describe a day in your life at present.
Wake up. Kiss my wife, Bridget. Eat muesli. After saying goodbye to Stella (daughter #2), I drop Isabel (daughter #1) at school. Drive from Hout Bay to Green Point (beautiful drive past Llandudno and through Camps Bay). Get to work. Check email. Have meetings. Have more meetings. Do some plotting. Meetings. Plotting. Plotting. Meetings. Meetings again. Plotting. Then back home again.4. How do you unwind behind the scenes? List your favourite song; movie; and book.
I play squash at least twice a week to get an endorphin fix. I watch movies. I read magazines (Vanity Fair
, mainly). Play with my two girls. Walk the dog. Enjoy a glass of Shiraz or Cabernet Savignon. Walk on the Hout Bay dunes. Favourite song: Anything by the Prodigy. Favourite book: Lord of the Rings
; Favourite Movie: Momento
.5. Who would you most like to meet – dead or alive, and why?
Besides Nelson Mandela. I’d say US president , Barack Obama.6. What has been one of the most important lessons you have learnt?
Don’t burn bridges. Be humble. Don’t believe your own press. Sleep is for the weak.7. What is your secret indulgence and your three ‘can’t live without’ items?
Secret indulgence: fudge, shortbread and Woolworth’s Maltese chocolate balls.
Can’t live without items: iPhone; 3G Card; EOS 500D Canon. 8. What has been the key to your success?
Keeping a sense of humour. Not taking anything for granted. Restlessly probing and coming at problems and products from new angles. Treating people equally. Believing in yourself.9. Who is someone you truly look up to, and which qualities do you most admire about them?
Barack Obama. He’s the first politician I understand. Even though he’s in the US, I feel he makes sense and represents what I’m about.10. What’s your stance on social media?
It’s a natural evolution of the web, and mirrors who we are as human beings: wanting to connect; network; and be social. From a business point of view, I think companies are still working out business models in this arena, and should be wary of ‘social media consultants’ who deal in hype rather than reality. What I like about the social media revolution is that it has made media creation and distribution more accessible to individuals – which, from a sociological point of view, speaks to the very core democratic values of modern day society. Publishing is no longer the elite activity it once was. That’s a good thing.