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Things that made my day this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

American infrastructure is critiqued in a Vice documentary. In order to make it fit for purpose there would cost $4 trillion. That’s the cost of a couple of Afghanistan conflicts. It is stunning how bad American infrastructure is. The video is well worth watching in a grimly fascinating kind of way.

Before Vin Diesel was an actor, or a night club doorman, he was a dancer. He made an appearance in a video on how to breakdance. It is a symphony of old school Adidas.

Mark Vincent aka Vin Diesel in How to Break Dance video

The other week, Larry Tesler died. Tesler was a technologist that spanned Silicon Valley from Xerox PARC to Web 2.0. He is best known for non-modal computing. The move from modal to non-modal computing was Apple’s Lisa. The Lisa was an expensive workstation version on many of the concepts that went into the Apple Mac. It failed for a number of reasons. Part of which was cost and third party software support. Without the Lisa, Apple couldn’t have developed the Mac. John Couch and David Larson discuss the development period of the Apple Lisa.

I am a huge fan of The Avalanches. So I was going to give We Will Always Love You a listen. It is interesting that they’ve gone with an iTunes / WinAmp visualisation for their video. Ten years back iTunes and WinAmp used to have custom visualisers made. Brands like Relentless energy drink did really interesting things with them. I’d love to see visualisers become an area of further innovation.

The Avalanches – We will always love you

nendo designs coffee beans gacha gacha capsule vending machines at self-serve cafe | Japan Trends – we can have the argument about the relative merits of capsule coffee. I am not a fan, but this self service cafe is beautiful.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Tablet demand in China gaining momentum from epidemic | DigiTimes – compared to global demand drop of 20% predicted for tablet computers. This is a fascinating change. Any explanation of this tablet demand is just a hypothesis. My own guess is . More tablet computer related posts here.

Great mix by Andy Weatherall. It is interesting that for a considerable amount of time there was destination radio and a loyal taping culture. Some cassette decks featured timers similar to a video recorder. People would set them up before they left. Prior to digital formats becoming commonplace, I remember die-hard fans using VHS Hi-Fi audio recording to capture these shows in as high a quality as possible. More listening material here.

Targeting v context | Campaign Live – really interesting article by Dave Trott. I’d argue (like Dave has) targeting and context together is what matters, rather than targeting or context.

Experts react to Google’s Brexit-driven decision to move UK data to the US – Business Insider – also probably Google trying to avoid double-jeopardy between EU and UK law presented by UK consumers being out of the EU

Victoria's Secret
Victoria’s Secret by Eternity Portfolio

WSJ City | Victoria’s Secret goes private at $1.1 billion valuation – this is down from over $7 billion. This marks the end of an astonishing destruction of value. The company was also quick to get the power of online. Designers now think live-streaming their show is a matter of course. Back in 1999 I worked at an agency where we did their first live stream. They were also quick to get into e-commerce.

WSJ City | Grocers Wrest Control of Shelf Space From Struggling Food Giants – is this really news? Interesting that Clorox and General Mills are called out though

Hackers can trick a Tesla into accelerating by 50 miles per hour – MIT Technology Review – MobilEye complains that it would also fool the human eye, but most humans would at least question it. Artificial smarts isn’t intelligence

Banned recording reveals China ambassador threatened Faroese leader at secret meeting | Berlingske – the problem might not be Huawei but the Chinese government with Huawei just a conduit – but yeah

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Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

Reading Time: 2 minutes

DingDing – a Chinese equivalent of Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Skype was getting 1-star ratings in Apple and local app stores. Many school children are in lockdown due to the corona virus Covid 2019 and having to use the app as a virtual class room. DingDing was the most downloaded app in the Apple app store on February 5

They weren’t happy and bashed the app across app stores. Some of it was acting out and some was trying to get the app removed from the stores all together.

With its ratings dropping rapidly across app stores. Marketers put out this meme literate video. In it the DingDing mascot cries and begs children not to penalise it. It seems to have worked in terms of stabilising its rating.

Click to expand the video and wait through the short advert (sorry about that). There is an international version of DingDing called DingTalk that is often used by cross-border teams. The iOS and macOS versions are nicely designed. And unlike WeChat it doesn’t send your messages in the clear. But as with any software designed for the great firewall, use with care.

Back when I worked in-house at Yahoo!, Google seemed to get media coverage with ease. The Google Maps campaign around the Oscars reminded me of this. Google Maps collected famous movie locations and showcased them on Google Maps. Trendwatching has a great case study on the campaign.

Chinese brand Yili-owned baby milk formula brand JinLingGuan (JLG) decided to make its own smart speaker for parents. Which I found a bit odd given the amount of voice products available in China. But it seems more like skill-building and product giveaway in conjunction with Xiaomi. It built a parenting skill that featured 1,200 questions.

Key parental insights according to Mindshare:

  • 62.5% of young parents in China worry they are not good enough for their children
  • 70+% of mothers experience postpartum anxiety

Results according to Mindshare

Programme drove over 55 million Q&A sessions, 210% more than expected

Over USD$2.2m (RMB¥15m) in sales and all 10,000 smart speaker gift sets sold out

This is just tremendous – Legendary Disco Producer Cerrone Walks Through the Making of his 1977 Hit ‘SuperNature’ | WhoSampled 

Cerrone 3 Supernature record cover
Record sleeve cover for Cerrone 3 Supernature

Stories of Apple – John Couch on Lisa’s software revolution and the perils of market research – more posts on Apple here.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Regulating AI in health and care – NHS Digital – no privacy expert on this panel – which is a bit concerning given they are talking about the business opportunity and regulating AI. More machine learning related posts here.

120627-O-ZZ999-004
Dutch army Maj. Christiaan Hoff, left, and Royal Australian Navy Lt. Cmdr. John McHugh, right, perform oral surgery to remove a tumor from a Filipino woman aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) June 27, 2012, in Samar, Philippines

Coronavirus: Hong Kong restaurants install physical barriers between diners to allay contagion fears – interesting design hack by restauranteurs – I wonder what it will do to restaurant noise levels?

The ‘Alpha Female’ Look is Big in China. Brands Take Note. | BoF – good for Dr Martens (paywall)

Bulgari Is Pulling Out of Baselworld 2020 Because of the Coronavirus | Robb Report – I am surprised that Baselworld hasn’t been re-scheduled already

Kering Halts Spending in China on Coronavirus Fears | BoF – I’d have still done brand advertising to do contra-cyclical brand building but otherwise their approach makes sense

The Karakax list: how China targets Uighurs in Xinjiang | Financial Times – surprisingly manual process rather than machine learning driven. China has set up a research lap for technology in law – think pre-crime and done some of the first thinking about regulating AI

You Can Pay People to Style Your Houseplants – The New York Times – corporate florist now do homes as well (paywall)

“With the Beatles,” by Haruki Murakami | The New Yorker – great read

It’s time for global businesses to admit it: China isn’t a good investment – The Washington Post – right sentiment, but the wrong reasons. China is important but too prominent in the global supply chain and a source of weakness. Multiple sourcing makes more sense

With Harsh Words, China’s Military Denies It Hacked Equifax | New York Times – yeah right. I think its a totally gangster move, really smart work which is why they would do it (paywall)

Chinese retail is getting a nationalistic boost – Inkstone“The millennials are more faithful to Chinese brands which are capable of delivering equally good quality products like those from foreign powerhouses, if not better,” said Xue Ying, senior marketing manager of Dr Yu. Fashion brands no longer see Hong Kong as bridge to 1.4 billion consumers – Inkstone – an increasingly nationalistic youth

Coronavirus response benefits Watsons: YouGov | Campaign AsiaHong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing, who’s majority-ownership of the Watsons franchise is well-known, pledged HKD$100 million (US$13 million) to combat the coronavirus. All of these responses appear to have been met with popular approval for the brand. Since the start of the year, Watsons’ Current Customer score has risen from 20.2 to 29.0, a rise of +8.8 points. Its Recommend score has risen from 9.9 to 16.9 , an increase of +7 points. Finally, its score on YouGov’s Buzz index has jumped from 8.6 to 25.4, a significant increase of +16.8 points. – Li Ka Shing always comes out of a crisis better than he went in

Coronavirus Test Kits Sent to States Are Flawed, C.D.C. Says – The New York Times the failure of the kits means that states still have to depend on the C.D.C., which will mean several days’ delay in getting results. The C.D.C. announced last week that it had begun shipping about 200 kits to laboratories in the United States and roughly 200 more to labs in other countries. Each kit can test about 700 to 800 specimens from patients, the agency said. – this is frightening (paywall)

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Things that made my day this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

SAS – What is truly Scandinavian? Nothing. This was an ad done by &Co of Denmark. It’s an ad that was meant to challenge the audience and promote the benefit of travel. But I felt it got its tone wrong.

What is truly Scandinavian got backlash online. As it went towards 13,000 dislikes on YouTube, SAS took it down. This is where things get crazy:

  • SAS blamed the reaction on right-wing (possibly Russian) botnets, which it doesn’t seem to have been the case. Which begs the question can SAS be trusted?
  • The ad agency &Co had bomb threats made against their office

Update SAS have reposted the ad, it currently has 94K down votes and 10K upvotes off 782,885 views. Comments are turned off.

I have never got the chance to see Hall & Oates play live, this recording of their 1984 July 4th concert in New York shows them at their best. It’s called the Liberty concert because of the US independence day, it was held in Liberty national Park in Jersey City and one of the main sponsors was called Liberty. The event was put on to raise money for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.

Sony goes against the romantic grain for Valentine’s Day with its latest PlayStation campaign. More information here (paywall).

South Korean TV broadcaster MBC did a documentary on a family that lost their daughter at just 7 years old. The mother agreed to say a fine goodbye to her daughter in VR. The child’s death in hospital left a big hole in their grief. Now I know it sounds mawkish but the mother said that it helped her come to terms with her child’s health. It also brought home for me the power of VR to drive emotion. I think that this is really important give how uncomfortable VR’s fit with storytelling as we understand it. More VR-related posts here.

Liam Young gave a great talk on using his art of film making to shape the future. This is particularly interesting given William Gibson’s feedback on meeting fans who worked in the tech sector:

“They’d read a book in which there didn’t actually seem to be any middle class left and in which no characters had employment. They were all criminal freelancers of one sort or another. So, it was always quite mysterious to me.”

William Gibson quoted in William Gibson — the prophet of cyberspace talks AI and climate collapse | FT

Gibson’s experience implies that steering the future through art, requires a lack of ambiguity and subtlety than good film frequently has.