ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 1 minute

Moxy Hotels is offering ASMR bedtime stories for its guests | Fast Company – sleep is becoming increasingly important factor in hotel product set

China’s JD.com boss criticises ‘slackers’ as company makes cuts | Today Online – you’ve got to wonder what’s going on at JD. It sounds like a leadership and management failure

Study: Influencers Know Their Audiences Better Than You Do | The Holmes Report – its self reported. One would expect a publisher to know what formats work for them better. Secondly they believe they should be paid more? Why?

Mediatel: Newsline: ‘Utterly baffling’: adland on Lush’s move to ditch social | Mediatel Newsline – ad agency doesn’t get company who doesn’t want to advertise

Oprah time: What Happened by Hilary Clinton

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I just had a chance to read What Happened am glad that I didn’t pay good money for this book. I found it both insightful and disappointing in equal measures. Clinton conveys her emotion really well. She also deeply loves power and policy. I don’t mean that in a megalomaniac way; but in a deep love of the job. The emotional release in the writing lacked the kind of intellectual rigour and analysis that she could, but didn’t apply in this book. Clinton is still mystified why she didn’t resonate with Americans.

The sub-text is that it wasn’t her fault she lost to Trump but ‘them’ for disliking her and winning. It felt as if Clinton was writing for insiders.

What Happened

I am sure What Happened would resonate well with:

  • The writing team of The West Wing. If the show got a reboot, this book might be a good choice for tone of voice. I’ve worked with a lot of centre right and progessive public affairs people. They all loved The West Wing. It seems that Clinton does too
  • Political wonks with a centerist stance
  • True Clinton believers

My guess this is partly why my initial reaction is that What Happened was the equivalent of a commemorative programme. She vigorously name checks everyone involved. (I am sure that they’ll buy a couple of copies, in a similar way to selling a high school year book.) Much of her ‘mistakes’ are turned into sins that her opponents or the media clickbait business model. Clinton tries to justify things in the book a bit like the late Paul Allen’s biography Idea Man. Her justification is sometimes dressed up as introspection.

The first part of the book is about coping with grief. One gets the sense of how losing the presidential election was like a death in the family for Clinton and her supporters.

Clinton tries to lead by example to give hope to the middle and right of the Democratic Party that she represented.

Clinton is right about the fallacy of storytelling which provides easy closure for the media and voters. It doesn’t however provide the colour required for serious stories. This was the reason why Italian spaghetti westerns felt more authentic than Hollywood.

She is right that fear identity politics and manufactured legislation gridlock favours small government parties over ‘big government’ parties.

Clinton seems to think that more of the same of her brand of progressive politics is the answer. This seems a world away from the current Democratic Party direction.

Clinton differentiates her stance of listening, rather than Trump’s grandstanding. What also becomes apparent is that Clinton needed to ‘reconnect’ with the public, whereas Trump had the pulse of the zeitgeist. Clinton seemed to have a lack of awareness on this.

Her description of her marketing machine being constructed was interesting. Yet there was other curiously analogue examples of insight. Clinton wants to see how a progessive Democratic candidate will do in the Ozarks. They contact a trusted advisor in the area. He recommends reaching out of a country store owner in the middle of the constituency. The man fed back on how identity politics and government inaction will see the seat go Republican.

Clinton doesn’t seem to take on board how emotion was so important. Secondly, Clinton thought that the togetherness platitudes would not come across as more of the same.

She wants to make sure that you realise data was an early focus on her campaign, but . Clinton praises her team and throws her 2008 team under the bus.

To quote an old advertising maxim:

To sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising

Raymond Loewy

Clinton got this in terms of her visual branding (her appearance) she made her gender as a candidate familiar through her consistent trouser suit uniform, but failed to grasp it in terms of the wider policy approach. She was selling the familiar but failed to make it surprising.

Her description of her daily life tries to imply, ‘I am just like middle-class people you’. But the problem is; middle class people have the time to read four daily papers, or have a residence manager to curate reading materials. Clinton admits that neither her or Bill had nipped to the store for an emergency bottle of milk, since there has always been people helping out since Bill was first appointed Arkansas state governor.

The team’s diet of hot sauce with everything, protein bars and canned salmon is given a good deal of coverage. Artisanal food fetishised in the copy is again middle class virtue signalling. There was no Red Bull, no pizza.

Clinton goes deep into each activity explaining what it feels like to go through things like media training and debate preparation.

It was interesting that the selfie had risen to prominence in Clinton’s election campaigning, compared to her last serious run in 2008. She nails it when she talks about how it limits connection between the politician and the people, eating into brief talk time.

Clinton also does some interesting thinking about what future policy making should look like and how it should be merchandised – as what creative marketers would call ‘the big idea’. Citizens don’t read policy papers, but they remember big, audacious simple things they can grok.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 1 minute

Judy Asks: Is Brexit Bad for Europe? – Carnegie Europe – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – interesting takes

5G Deployment State of Play in Europe, USA and Asia | European Parliament ITRE Committee – (PDF)

Microsoft worked with Chinese military university on artificial intelligence | Financial Times – US worried about dual use of the technology (paywall)

Toyota will put Tundra, Tacoma trucks on a single platform, report says – Roadshow – interesting that Toyota is embracing the Volkswagen Group approach to vehicle engineering

Panda TV’s demise makes way for gaming giant Tencent to dominate live streaming too | SCMP – China’s Twitch goes under leaving Tencent to dominate live streaming too

DJ Craze: “Sync is your friend… embrace technology” – News – Mixmag – wow, controversial. This is the reformation of the DJ world. The problem with these things is that once people know the button is there new DJs will skip the valuable learning process of beat mixing

Facebook ‘morally bankrupt pathological liars’, says NZ privacy commissioner – AdNews – 5 I’s pattern starting to emerge on Facebook. You take this stance with the UK’s proposal to treat social networks as publishers and Australia’s daft views on crypto.

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

Reading Time: 1 minute

The complexity of Chinese typing. Worthwhile considering when one thinks about Chinese internet behaviour and the popularity of gaming (because chat can be a pain)

Meet Liam. He has 5000 Instagram followers, but no pulse. | Campaign Asia – Nikuro is Japan’s first male virtual influencer. A 3D computer-sculpted head mapped onto to a live-action body, he seeks work “in the fields of music, fashion, and entertainment, where he will be involved in the production of a wide range of content as a multimedia producer”, according to the company, which also mentions using AI to create innovative content

An amazing looking Mac-based desktop phone. This was an Apple prototype from 1993. Eventually things went the other way and phones were integrated into computers. Think about VoIP services and Novell Networks integrated telephony solutions. And that’s before we even get to smartphones.

The quaint industrial case design is classic early 1990s Silicon Valley chic.

Kantar Media has done some qualitative research on consumer attitudes to marketing, media and advertising. You’ve got three reports that are free to download: Dimension 2019 | Kantar 

Finally: TODAYonline | LVMH shares hit record high as China demand boosts luxury group – luxury is still on a bit of a screamer in China. And this is despite economic growth halving year on year since Premier Xi took power, a clampdown on corruption and gift-giving.

Automata Eve launch

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Automata Eve launched the other week and I got to go along to their headquarters just off the Pentonville Road to find out more.

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Automata Eve first impressions

At £5,000, the Automata Eve sits at a weird place in robot manufacture. It’s an expensive hobby device or a lightweight industrial product. Automata freely admitted that they sit somewhere between the £1,500 hobbyist kits and starter industrial models that are £20,000+ excluding arm tools, programmable control units and everything else required.

Automata Eve human friendly product design reminded me a bit of early Apple Macs. Their very product design sophistication made them look like ‘toys’ in the eyes of IT departments. Automata’s Eve is an equally polished appliance as robot and it might take a bit more effort to have it taken seriously in light industrial roles.

Eve even has a lopsided Picasso-esque face with two buttons on the top of the arm in a vertical manner.

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Maybe it needs a different colour palette of heavy plant yellow or yellow and black diagonal stripes better telegraph its industrial credentials.

The shadow of Brexit

Brexit afflicted sectors such as food preparation seem to be some of the people who have started to explore using Automata and rivals already. The companies realise that it will hard to get further workers from the likes of Stoke on Trent or Sunderland working on sandwich production lines. Robots are part of their plans to replace labour who decide to leave the UK. Automata assemble their robots in the UK, but their supply chain partners are half way around the world in Asia.

Pain is the mother of invention

The founders story reminded me a lot of the way that machine learning projects have historically been sold into clients by creative, digital and advertising agencies.

They used to work for Zaha Hadid Architects and had used algorithmic design. This gave Hadid’s work abstract yet organic lines. So when they were looking to use a series of interlocking panels, they expected that these could be mass-made and bent by robotics.

A bit like strategy and client services teams in agencies they over-estimated the capability of technology; in their case industrial robotics.

That plan didn’t go too well. Which got them interested in why there weren’t light industrial robotics. A good number of years later and the Automata Eve was born.

Industry robotics industry structure

What really surprised me was how industrial robots essentially use the same components and innovation tends to happen in the software instead. For instance industrial robots use a compact way of strain wave gearing.

Only a few companies make the components. This means that the industry is very horizontally structured like the PC or smartphone industries relationship between processor and software manufacturers.

Robots are already accurate enough to get rid of workers who don’t care

One of the case studies used in the presentation was about an industrial electronics company who replaced a human work station some pretty basic soldering.

For reasons that one could assume to be a lack of work ethic. By contrast Foxconn, seems to have failed in its efforts of using robots for smartphone assembly. The reason is that they require a high degree of dexterity, rather like a watch maker. Robots still struggle with very accurate placement, but a lot of low volume manufacturing tasks don’t necessarily need the same level of accuracy.