Catch u in da MXit by Holden Caulfield

Writer’s Brief

While the rest of the world remains tethered to workstations, lugging their laptop from power-point to PowerPoint, in search of the latest “solution” to bridge the “digital divide”, Africa has already crossed over. It’s gone mobile. Bypassing the computer for what analysts in the West are only now engaging as the next digital evolution. Facebook on your iPhone? Who needs it, Africa has mobile chat-come-social network MXit.

At once free, mobile and instant, MXit has always been a step ahead. This isn’t a question of the latest tech craze, what’s hip now – this is about the future.

Pioneered in the small town of Stellenbosch South Africa, MXit now boast 28 million registered users. Its primary base is still in South Africa but that’s expanding fast. Embracing a future forward philosophy MXit targets the youth – school children and students, the future generation.

The mainstream medias coverage of MXit has mostly focused on “MXit scares” – from stalkers to bullies to addicts (see Matthew Buckland’s critique on this and MXit’s reply here) or on its educational potential (see Steve Vosloo’s Let’s Ban Malls here and the Sunday Independent here). This overlooks its true potential – how it sidesteps the entire digital divide; its economic value as a fast expanding business; its future – kids after all grow up, what happens when they grow up and take MXit with them?

MXit website
The new MXit: a railway to the future by Arthur Goldstuck – on the unveiling of the MXit API
WHO uses Mxit, JamiiX to tackle disasters – South-East Asia regional office has teamed up with popular mobile social networks MXit and JamiiX – both developed in South Africa – to bring emergency preparedness information to chat users in disaster-prone Indonesia.
MXit beats Facebook in SA

Reading List

  • Salinger , J. D 1951, The Catcher in the Rye, Little, Brown and Company
  • Bloom, H 2000, J.D. Salinger’s The catcher in the rye, Infobase Publishing. <>
  • Walton, M & Donner, J 2011 “Read-Write-Erase: Mobile-mediated publics in South Africa’s 2009 elections.” In Katz, James E (ed), Mobile Communication: Dimensions of Social Policy (pp 117-132). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers
  • Prinsloo, M., & Walton, M. 2008, “Situated responses to the digital literacies of electronic communication in marginal school settings.” Yearbook 2008: African Media, African Children. Norma Pecora, Enyonam Osei-Hwere, and Ulla Carlson (eds). Göteborg: Nordicom, Göteborgs universitet
  • Vosloo, S, Walton, M and Deumert. A 2009 “m4Lit: a teen m-novel project in South Africa.” Proceedings of the 8th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2009) held on October 26-30, 2009 in Orlando, USA. Available Prepublication draft <>
  • Walton, M and Kreutzer T 2009, “‘A phone that has life has Internet’: Mobile-only Internet access and media use by teens in Khayelitsha, South Africa.” Annual Conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), “Human Rights and Communication”, July 21-24.
  • Walton, M 2010, “Mobile literacies & South African teens: Leisure reading, writing, and MXit chatting for teens in Langa and Gugulethu.” Research report prepared for the Shuttleworth Foundation m4Lit project < Further project information available>
  • Walton, M 2010, “Mobile republic: Visual approaches to discourse in South African mobile social networks.” Paper presented at ISEA 2010, Ruhr, Germany in August, 2010.
  • Walton, M 2010, “Deep Thoughts or Deep Prejudices?”, Literacies: Old and New, Educational Technology Debate (ETD) <>
  • Kolko, B. E., Rose, E. J., and Johnson, E. J. 2007 Communication as information-seeking: the case for mobile social software for developing regions. In Proceedings of the 16th international Conference on World Wide Web (Banff, Alberta, Canada, May 08 – 12, 2007). WWW ’07. ACM, New York, NY
  • “The Impact of Mobile Phones” 2005, Vodafone Africa <>
  • Ureta. Sebastian 2008, “Mobilising Poverty?: Mobile Phone Use and Everyday Spatial Mobility Among Low-Income Families in Santiago, Chile.” The Information Society 24.
  • Thurlow, S.C. and Poff, M.  2009, “The language of text-messaging.” In Thurlow, S. C. Herring, D. Stein & T. Virtanen (eds), Handbook of the Pragmatics of CMC. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. <>
  • Thurlow, S.C. 2006, “From statistical panic to moral panic: The metadiscursive construction and popular exaggeration of new media language in the print media.” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. 11.3. <>
  • Thurlow, S.C. 2003, “Generation txt? The sociolinguistics of young people’s text-messaging.” Discourse analysis online. 1(1) <>
  • Sefton-Green, J 2006, “Youth, Technology, and Media Cultures .” Review of Research in Education 30.
  • Snyder, I. & Prinsloo, M. (eds) 2007The digital literacy practices of young people in marginalcontexts. Language & Education
  • Stein, P and Slonimsky, L. 2006, “An eye on the text and an eye on the future: Multimodal literacy in  three Johannesburg families?” in K. Pahl and J Roswell (Eds) Travel notes form the new literacy studies: Instances of practice. Clevedon, UK, Multilingual Matters.
  • Goggin, G 2010, Global Mobile Media. Taylor & Francis.

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