A Bari community member holds the flag of southern Sudan during celebrations on the eve of their declaration of independence in Juba, southern Sudan, Friday, July 8, 2011. (David Azia/AP)

Let’s dive into the morning read:

1) Blog heralds the birth of South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan, the youngest nation to be internationally recognized, has a Web site, and it’s not just any Web site. The site features a live blog chronicling the first hours of independence. Goss.org, features the headline “FREE at last!!!” and shows the nation’s national anthem, information about the presidency, ministries and judiciary as well as photos of the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir addressing cheering crowds. The latest post on the site reads:

South Sudanese burst into the streets last night at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the birth of their new independent state. Shouts of "free at last" rent the air as multitudes of jubilant citizens waved the flag of the new country.

The creation of South Sudan comes in the wake of a decades-long conflict. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a July 9 opinion piece for The Washington Post, “...just as independence was not inevitable, neither is a lasting peace.”


2) Google+ = Google + $20 billion?

It looks like Google+ means good news for Google Inc. Immediately after the Google+ launch, the search giant netted a nearly $20-billion increase in market cap. On Friday, however, Morgan Stanley downgraded that increase to $15.8 billion. The downgrade reflected doubts as to whether the search giant could actually capi­tal­ize on its new social media arm.

The increase in market cap is not entirely due to the arrival of Google+. Google has released a number of new projects recently, including Prizes.org, and Flash-to-HTML5 converter Swiffy. But the most significant development in that period was Google+, and if Google is able to leverage the new social media tool to generate ad revenue, it is likely to face an even brighter financial future.

And, in case you were wondering why you received a spam attack of Google+ notifications, here’s the reason: Google “ran out of disc space on the service that keeps track of notifications.” This is according to Vic Gundotra, Google’s social chief.

(TechCrunch, Google+ spam via SocialBeat)

3) Gazing beyond the iPhone 5

The Next Web’s Matthew Panzarino has an exhaustive piece on Apple and how past may serve as prologue for the next generation iPhone. While the iPhone 5 is widely rumored to be landing on store shelves in the very near future (perhaps as early as September), Panzarino argues that beyond the next generation iPhone, which he claims will be lighter and thinner than the iPhone 4, there is also likely to be a 3G sim-card-capable iPod touch as well.

The big takeaway, however, is the potential for the introduction of an “iPhone lite” - an iPhone that will allow for pre-paid phone plans, ultimately opening the entire Apple hardware suite to any data plan in the world.

(The Next Web)

4) Enter, the 2012 African innovation prize

The United National Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) have joined forces, announcing the creation of the 2012 African Innovation Prize. The prize is described as “prestigious and well-endowed,” according to a July 8 news release. Winners will be chosen in each of three categories: Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Green Technologies and Health and Food Security. First place winners will receive $100,000; second prize is $50,000.

“Innovation is a combination of identifying problems, and finding groundbreaking implementable solutions; we hope the prizes will contribute to tapping into the ingenuity of Africans to solve Africa’s problems,” U.N. Economic Commission for Africa Executive Secretary and Under-Secretary General Abdoulie Janneh said in the release.


5) Meet GAIA and her billion pixel lens

The European Space Agency has created a 1 billion-pixel camera. Her name is GAIA. The camera was commissioned to create a 3D map of the Milky Way. The camera will also provide data on how the galaxy was formed and perform “a number of stringent new tests of general relativity and cosmology.”

GAIA is scheduled to be deployed in 2013. Assembly of the camera was completed on June 6.. The mission is scheduled to last five years.