Sina Weibo has become a popular micro-blogging service. It started off as being rather similar to Twitter, but provides a more integrated experience for users. Add to this that you can say more in 140 Chinese characters than using a roman alphabet language and it has a whole new dynamic to it. (Although there are other services such as Tencent Weibo, I will just use Weibo to refer to the Sina service for this article). It has also become popular with the Chinese government as a form of electronic communications with the general public. CIC Data highlighted this logo from a regional Shanghai police Sina Weibo feed.
The traffic police of Shanghai’s Qing Pu district have taken a lighthearted, personable approach to their social media engagement. In Chinese, traffic police is pronounced Jiao Jing. So, they combined Qing from Qing Pu and Jiao from Jiao Jing to get Qing Jiao, which means green pepper. There you have it, the new face of Qing Pu law enforcement – drawn on a pepper.
It’s just a simple creative idea, but I really liked it!
Mechanical watch – despite having no discernible mechanical talent, I have always been fascinated by inner workings of mechanical things large and small from car engines to watch movements. Move forward to my mid-20s when I was scuba diving, I relied on a watch to keep an eye on the elapsed time under water. One thing I found is that even a hint of moisture was enough to kill a quartz movement and so my love affair with mechanical watches started
Moleskine notepad with engineering squares – whilst I do digital things, I sometimes find it easier to do my visual thinking on notepads and sheets of paper. I use engineering paper for this in a moleskin book and scan the results into flickr for posterity. It means that my blog posts can take a distinctly analogue feel at times when I ‘show the sausage factory’ and put my scans in the post. The book also contains half-developed ideas that get fleshed out on the paper before being blogged about. I keep my book inside a Rickshaw Bags portfolio to keep my ideas safe and dry
Muji gel ink black pens – Stephen Waddington considers his Montblanc pen as an essential luxury, my preferences in writing are a bit cheaper. I buy these pens in packs of six. I like their simple translucent barrel and the ink flows easily without smudging
Wired magazine (US print edition) – Wired US is a constant joy with features that have cutting edge illustrations. Of course it isn’t as good as it was with typographic swirls and metallic inks, but then now it makes money
Monocle magazine (print edition) – Monocle’s clean fresh design and irreverent illustrations have become an analogue reading ritual for me. The online edition whilst informative and well-read just doesn’t come to life in the same way. However the publication could do with less Blackberry adverts
O’Reilly Publishing reference books – when things go wrong, it is reassuring to fall back on O’Reilly’s reference books. They don’t need a battery, they don’t make a sound and don’t display error messages (except as illustations)
Oblique Strategies card deck – Brian Eno came up with these set of cards that provide ideas of looking for creative solutions. Brilliant for when I am butting my head against a wall thinking about how I can make a me-too drug for an embarrassing or harrowing condition come to life through digital
Short wave radio – I own a Sony ICF-CD2000 radio which has the shortwave band on it. Staying in a strange hotel like business travel I would tune the radio out of a radio station and leave the white noise bubbling away through the night to mask the sounds of the hotel and get a good night’s sleep
Vinyl records – with CDs and to even a greater extent MP3s we lost frequency response. Whilst I use an iPod for travelling at home I still love vinyl which I play at home
Matmos lava lamp – now and again whilst working on this blog or doing some serious thinking work at home I like to look away from the screen and let the thinking happening in the background. I have a couple of Matmos Telstar lava lamps in green and red that I end up staring at until inspiration strikes
Google has pulled a number of interesting projects out of the hat with its Google+ projects. Much has been been made of whether these will ‘kill Facebook’ and the general consensus is that it won’t. I think that this discussion misses a key underlying theme: these aren’t social platforms, but platforms that augment socialising – this is a subtle and key distinction to bear in mind as we try and work out how to incorporate these services into online / digital PR camapaign elements over the coming months. A more immediate problem maybe for the PR collaboration tool Huddle which faces mindshare competition from Google+ Huddle a group messaging offering.
My Mac – despite my owning an iPhone, and a recently acquired iPad (that I am still not that sold on); my Mac is my most personalised computing space. It is my digital home. It is organised around me and seems to have its own personality. It even has a name: Toshiro after veteran Japanese actor 三船 敏郎 | Mifune Toshirō (the family name is first)
Fastladder – I have experimented with lots of different RSS readers and particularly liked Bloglines which I have used for a number of years. But Bloglines ran through a lot of neglect when owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC) and didn’t seem to work when I was in China – which was the final straw for me. I evaluated other options like Google Reader; which had a comparatively poor user experience and eventually came across Fastladder, an English language version of the Japanese language Livedoor RSS reader. It offers a slightly cleaner user experience than Bloglines. One thing does need to improve however is its compatibility with the iPad, which renders the site worse than useless. I am not a great fan of the JesusTablet for this very reason
Flickr – Flickr is what I consider to be the most under-rated web service that I know. It has a great community particularly build around its creative commons community, is brilliant at handling images and its APIs make it exceptionally flexible to do things with. I use it as a visual diary, image hosting for this blog and inspiration for presentations
Pinboard – I loved Delicious, but it got Bartz’d and I moved my information on to Pinboard as members of the Delicious engineering team that I knew had done the same. I love Pinboard’s reliability and simplicity and don’t mind that its essentially anti-social in nature. It’s interface reflects the lean aesthetic that Delicious went away from and its mercifully free of spam noise
The WELL – The WELL was the original electronic community. It has archives of forum threads (called conferences) that covered every conceivable subject populated by the digerati. If I am noodling on an idea and it isn’t going there I will dip into a conference on The WELL that discussed it
Techmeme – Kind of like the Google News sci-tech stream but more signal, less noise. If you want to know what is happening in technology it is likely to turn up here pretty darned quick. It bills itself as the tech news site of record; whilst it is technically inaccurate, since its an aggregator of sorts rather than a true media, it certainly plays that role for me
Pew Research Internet and American Life project – free research that pokes and prods US consumer behaviour online that provides a useful steer on how things are going online. This has given me inspiration and slide fodder more times than I care to mention
Email – a bit of a surprise I know but it is such a great asynchronous communications platform. It gives me prompts when I need to go into Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, I can read it on the tube and on my personal account the mail.app that comes as part of OSX has got pretty good spam filtering built in and it covers the widest swathe of my social graph
Yojimbo – I haven’t bothered moving to Evernote as I have been a happy Yojimbo user for a number of years. I tried DEVONtechnologies DEVONthink; but found that whilst it was a brilliant piece of software, it was overkill for my requirements. However if I ever ending up writing a seven-part series of novels a la J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series; I wouldn’t hesitate to use DEVONthink to keep the plot consistent and all my research together
Hunch – not exactly the most popular social platform but fiendishly useful, its recommendations are extremely perceptive – so I love dipping in periodically. But these recommendations are also the light side of a warning. With big data, small details about your life can allow others to make pretty accurate assumptions, for instance a cluttered desktop screen shot is likely to belong to someone with liberal views. On the face of it no correlation, but with the right data set non-obvious linkages become apparent. That’s the clever stuff behind Hunch. Thankfully they are not evil
The golden age of Ireland could arguably have been from the 5th century through to the early Middle Ages where the Irish went out across Europe setting up centres of learning and recirculating ancient Greek and Roman knowledge that would have been otherwise lost during the Dark Ages and helped to kickstart innovation.
The solution would be to recover this innovation dividend from the traditional media industries which are favoured by this legislation. However given the inability of these companies to adapt and run their businesses successfully these laws are little more than the kind of pointless intervention like British Leyland that governments are particularly good at.
When I first skimmed Dentsu London’s post on ambient tourism, I was struck by this very particular type of vicarious experience. Ambient tourism is defined as an effort to transmit the feel of a journey elsewhere, highlighting work done by Norwegian state broadcaster NRK. I was reminded by some of the navel-gazing about life-streaming, The KLF’s aborted The White Room film and Chris Petit’s film London Orbital.
I’ve talked about vicarious experiences before, but as the bête noire of of the marketer, where the experience or the web service doesn’t need to be tried or experienced as others have done it and told others about it – think of it as the anti-matter in word-of-mouth marketing. What is most interesting about the NRK experiment is that it is obviously designed to profit the Norwegian government and the people of Norway.
I hereby coin the NRKbeta Doctrine: The only way to control your content is to be the best provider of it.
Yaron Eisenstein got in contact and asked me to have a look at 8minut.es. The service is a Digg-like crowdsourced news / attention service. One of the key difference is the ticking clock where content gets pushed away if no one shares it in 8 minut.es which means that it keeps things cleaner as spamming would require a sustained effort. It also means that in some ways is more of a compete against Twitter as a zeitgest temperature taker.
One thing that is missing is a method of citation like a link to a trusted source, it relies on people’s inner BS meter which is fallible.
UPDATE: Actually, every post does have a link section in the share action. – Yaron Eisenstein
Most VCs Are Investing All Wrong – the money quote Major technological advances have slowed in the last few years, as investors have been much more willing to fund me-too Internet startups than groundbreaking new technologies.
Feds to Launch Probe of Google – WSJ.com – but is this good for consumers, or just companies like Microsoft who have consistently been lobbying Washington and Brussels? The ironic aspect of this is that social search could finally shake things up
A lot of the things that we are getting excited about like iPads, where 2.0, augmented reality, RFID, NFC, presence and social services were concepts that PARC Research Centre were working with in the early 1990s under the label of ‘ubiquitous computing’. This presentation gives a really good perspective on the field and how they envisaged using it in businesses.