Jargon watch: black technology (黑科技)

An all-compassing phrase that I’ve heard being used by Chinese friends Hēi kējì in Pinyin or black technology. It’s been around for a couple of years but recently gained more currency among people that I know.

Microsoft Hololens 💥

It is used as a catchall for disruptive / cool innovative products. What constitutes ‘black technology’ is subjective in nature but generally Chinese would agree on some examples such as:

  • Magic Leap
  • Microsoft Holo Lens
  • Bleeding edge silicon chips with an extraordinary amount of memory or machine learning functionality built in
  • Tesla self-driving cars

The key aspect is that the product as ‘magical quality’ in the eyes of the user. Technology companies have tried to use it in marketing to describe the latest smartphone and app features like NFC, gesture sensitive cameras and video filters. Your average Chinese consumer would see this as cynical marketing hype. Xiaomi had been guilty of this over the past couple of years.

As technology develops, the bar for what represents black technology will be raised higher.

According to Baidu Baike (a Quora-like Q&A service / Wikipedia analogue) it is derived from the Japanese manga Full Metal Panic! (フルメタル·パニック! |Furumetaru Panikku!).

In the manga black technology is technology far more advanced than the real world. An example of this would be ‘Electronic Conceal System’ – active optical camouflage used on military helicopters and planes in the manga. It is created by the ‘Whispered’ – people who are extremely gifted polymaths who each specialise in a particular black technology.

In the manga they are frequently abducted and have their abilities tested by ‘bad organisations’ who support terrorism. Whispered also have a telepathic ability to communicate with each other. If they stay connected for too long there can be a risk of their personalities coalescing together.

More information
黑科技 (动漫中出现的词语)- Baidu Baike
Full Metal Panic – Amazon

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Why young South Koreans are turning away from religion | Arts & Culture | Al Jazeera

Is 2017 the beginning of the end for the app economy? TheNextWeb – not exactly more like a new normal – one thing that’s missing is the importance of building inside existing app eco-systems such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger etc

Why the Chinese Will Pay for Content That Americans Won’t – Bloomberg – De Dao and other paid media

Does Slack allow your boss to spy on you? — Quartz – output rather than outcome focused measures on productivity

Takeaways: In2 Innovation Summit

I got invited to The Holmes Report‘s innovation summit. This happened earlier in the day than The Sabre EMEA awards. 

Untitled

Here were my takeouts in no particular order:
 
  • Brad Staples presentation on reputation in a fake news environment gave me deja vu. It reminded me of corporate communications thinking when social media came to prominence. In many respects the symptoms are the same. The agenda running out-of-control like a force of nature. Yet, it is only the momentum has changed, core principles to address reputation are the same. There was an increased emphasis on monitoring. Monitoring and response became even more important than with social media’s rise
  • The age-old tension between specialist and generalist continues to roll onwards. Alan Vandermolen saw medium-sized agencies as sitting in a ‘Goldilocks’ position. Small enough for your business to matter and being able to move fast. Large enough to have the right expertise and scale in place. The challenge to his argument is global agencies consolidating a one-stop shop offering. Vandermolen didn’t address the move away from being a ‘PR agency’. The Holmes Report had highlighted their concern in a recent opinion piece. Vandermolen was also concerned with the disappearance of PR professionals on the client side. He cited United Airways customer problems from broken guitars to dragging passengers off planes. The discussion didn’t cover how the airline’s focus on shareholder value had corrupted customer-centricity
  • Matt Battersby and Dan Berry looked at public relations and behavioural economics. What I found interesting is how this provided a direct linkage to return on investment. Yet the audience didn’t pick up on this in questions. It also represented a content challenge to agencies. It flips the typical messages that they would look deliver (driven by what’s news)
  • There was a tension between what agencies could do and what clients wanted. Abby Guthkelch wanted a more agile approach to content that was also more cost effective. This meant that she often worked with inhouse staff and content development agencies. There was a strong sense that creative ideas and concepts were not worth paying for. This puts little value in communications agencies. Content marketing poses an existential threat to PR agencies margins. It was interesting that marketing automation didn’t come up in discussions. Inhouse panelists preferred to move capability inhouse rather than relying on offshoring work
  • Finally, there was the evergreen theme of marketers and PRs speaking different languages. PRs need to get comfortable with data and charts. They need to think about testing. This needs to happen whilst budgets are static or in decline. A way forward is to move down the marketing funnel to be closer to the sale in e-commerce and via social channels. I found the continued faith in influencers of interest. I was surprised at the lack of concern shown on the agency side for zero-based budgeting at clients
More information

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Discounting Snapchat | L2 – really nice analysis of SnapChat

Apple has finally found someone to support HomeKit • The Register – I can understand why there is a wider leeriness around Internet of Things due to the privacy implications, built in obsolescence and dependence on the cloud

With its Special Projects Desk, Univision is keeping Gawker’s spirit alive at Gizmodo Media Group » Nieman Journalism Lab

Kantar Worldpanel’s most chosen brands in the UK 2017 – Kantar UK Insights – Kantar – what’s really a British brand? Modern supply chains pull things back and forth across Europe

Privacy threats through ultrasonic side channels on mobile devices by Arp, Quiring, Wressnegger & Rieck – great article on the privacy implications of ultrasonic beacons and mobile devices (PDF)

Huawei missed memo that PC’s dead – so here are three new notebooks • The Register – interesting move for a company whose chairman said that they have to increase margins, model specs also interesting – looks like an attempt to try and surround Apple – it is more important 5 iterations from now

Hitachi exits mainframe hardware but will collab with IBM on z Systems • The Register – end of an era, I wonder what this will mean for Hitachi Data System’s storage business over time?

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week

Japan’s luxurious Shiki-shima sleeper train – in pictures | World news | The Guardian

A viral video of a politician and his suitcase shows what’s wrong with male entitlement in Korea

Bring Home a Classic Synth with the DIY Fairlight CMI – using the iPad emulation app

Fascinating video from a Russian gun manufacturing line shot at at the VPMZ MOLOT factory

Scott Galloway on Amazon

Quote of the day

I think the future of television is more fragmentation, the bundle has no more elasticity in it.” – Barry Diller.

This explains everything from ManUnited TV to the new channels that Amazon has launched as Prime add-ons in the UK and Germany yesterday. Media has been driving an increasing share of household spend over the past 15 years.

In a time of stagnating economic growth and declining incomes (in real terms) that middle won’t hold. Much of it becomes discretionary spending.

Barry Diller

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Chinese companies are working hard to overcome the copycat stigma | Quartz – actually this isn’t an overnight thing but has been going on for the best part of ten years

Magellan’s Hamish Douglass says Uber is a ‘Ponzi scheme’ | Sydney Morning Herald – I can see the point that Mr Douglass is making. More rose tinted observations might point to the similarity with Amazon; however even Amazon is relying on constant investment of profits from mature units in international and service expansion – Uber seems to be nowhere near breakeven

In2Summit: Q&A with Colin Byrne on the Digital Revolution | The Holmes Report – five years ago would you have seen major PR agencies in London talking about WeChat as the way forward?

Apple is testing 5G millimeter wave wireless technology: FCC filing – Business Insider – I get why they are experimenting with it, but at the moment commercial 5G looks problematic

Apple Begs Android Users to Switch to iPhone | Makeuseof – beg is the wrong word, but this looks like the start of an effort to promote platform switching which is another indicator of smartphone market maturity and saturation

WSJ City – The Rise of the Amateur Oil Sleuths – interesting move to improve information

How He Used Facebook to Win | by Sue Halpern | The New York Review of BooksFacebook did turn out to be essential to Trump’s victory, but not in the way Grassegger, Krogerus, and Schwartz suggest. Though there is little doubt that Cambridge Analytica exploited members of the social network, Facebook’s real influence came from the campaign’s strategic and perfectly legal use of Facebook’s suite of marketing tools

Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff – The Washington Post – which is one more thing to be concerned about.

Inside Facebook’s Telecom Infrastructure Project – Business Insider – really interesting move that could hit the likes of Huawei and Cisco

Partnering Your Way Out Of The Gravitational Pull | Media Post – Richard Schwartz op-ed

Communities Dominate Brands: We Can Now Estimate Global Android Forked Installed Base ie AOSP Devices vs ‘full Google’ Android

Marketing thought on a Monday

More advice from a postcard set by Mullen Lowe. Spare some money to experiment with.

Good advice for marketers

It’s great advice, but really hard to live by as a client. You put this into a budget, but it often gets clipped by management over time. Or your experiment will fall foul of zero-based budgeting.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

How Google reinvented security and eliminated the need for firewalls | Network World – interesting read (reg wall)

Rubicon Project’s Barrett: Tackle Transparency Or Ad Tech Could Face Regulation 05/18/2017 – stating the obvious, but interesting that this came out the same time that they are countersuing The Guardian

Theresa May to create new internet that would be controlled and regulated by government | The Independent – Facebook and Google should just block the UK and see how that goes down, otherwise the precedent it offers internationally is quite worrisome for them

Starbucks is testing out ice cubes made of coffee | Quartz – makes total sense

Telegram now lets users buy things from chatbots in its messaging app | TechCrunch – very WeChat-esque

Spotify’s Loss Widens Despite Big Jump in Revenue — The Information – investor sentiment seems to be more about hope rather than reality

Huawei Loses Ex-Apple Designer Hired to Revamp Smartphone Software — The Information – usual aspects of challenge: distance from headquarters, Chinese language skills, desire for a big step change are all barriers

Introducing Similarity Search at Flickr | Yahoo Research – really cool image search

What’s Happening with Me – Biz Stone – Medium – Biz Stone heads back to Twitter

“MP3 is dead” missed the real, much better story – Marco.org

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

The spectacular world of Irish Traveller graves captured in photographs on Instagram

Yahoo!’s TechPulse event released these interview vignettes with Jerry Yang and David Filo. It also marks the end of an era in Silicon Valley history.





The Manhattan printed telephone directory was updated on a daily basis in the 1940s

Rolex put together this video to highlight their silicon spring (that won’t be affected by magnetism).

According to Nikkei TechOn Sony looks as if it will be releasing the Xperia Touch. It marries a short throw projector image with Kinect like touch sensing, turning any flat surface into a user interaction.

It’s clever, but it won’t be cheap, mainly due to the short throw projector sales it could cannibalise.

The foibles of poor ad placement

The display advertising market has moved on from where it was 20 years ago in terms of poor ad placement. Conference speakers and trainers still trot out the same story about knives and suitcase sets advertised next to to the story of a murder. The murderer had apparently stabbed their victim with a knife and put the body in a suitcase for disposal.

poor ad placement

However you still get less extreme examples of unfortunate ad placement like this one from Under Armour.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

China Hit Hard by Hacking Attack as Asia Assesses Damage | New York Times – not terribly surprised by this

Are Brand Blogs Worth the Effort? | The Daily | L2 – I am surprised at the findings especially in terms of best practices not being adhered to

The Threat | Edge.org – interesting perspective on computer security research over time

Marketing thought on a Monday

I work in an agency whose mandate is digital transformation and innovation, but it’s important to bear in mind the context

Advice for marketers, part of a postcard set that Mullen Lowe Group did

Focusing on the human truth, focuses on the use case and receptivity of the product.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

EU could legislate to make it easier to move data between cloud providers – this makes things interesting

Microsoft Is Surprisingly Comfy With Its New Place In A Mobile, Apple, And Android World | Fast Company – interesting move

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #351 – We Are Social UK – interesting ARPU numbers for Facebook

Mac Pro: Failure and Future – Monday Note – interesting breakdown of Microsoft Surface numbers

50 Years Of Colin Curtis – The UK’s Mancuso? – great piece by Greg Wilson

The Dangerous Mission To Undermine North Korea With Flash Drives | Fast Company – interesting, if optimistic article

Liberty Global Sees European Operating Income Down 18% in Q1 | Variety – yet another reason why Vodafone was right not to do a deal with them

How Deadheads Sped Ahead – WSJ – really interesting read by Andy Kessler that hits on a number of factors. How their show on May 8, 1977 at Cornell University was their best concert. How the Grateful Dead developed a new music model and the sharing economy, when bootlegging is still frowned upon by the rest of the industry. How countercultural Dead heads became the establishment (Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Steve Bannon). (paywall)

How To Catch Lightning In A Bottle – Wieden+Kennedy – Medium – I think part of the battle here is performance versus brand advertising

NTT Docomo Develops Flying Spherical Display Using Drone – Nikkei Technology Online – proper Blade Runner type feel to this technology – love it

How A Small Group Of Pro-Corbyn Websites Built Enormous Audiences On Facebook – alt left UK media – what’s to stop them having the effect of the US alt right? Interesting read

★ Apple’s China Problem: WeChat | Daring Fireball – ‘no easy fix’

Digital Advertising Takes a Hit – MIT Technology Review – a good read

Analyst Predicts Dish, T-Mobile & Amazon Super Union | DSLReports, ISP Information – not sure why?

Oculus Story Studio: Facebook Is Closing Its VR Storytelling Unit | Variety – its hard but not in the technical way that Facebook is used to dealing with

How Cloudflare Helps Serve Up Hate on the Web – ProPublicacomplaints filed against the site go to Cloudflare, and Cloudflare then sends me an email telling me someone said I was doing something bad and that it is my responsibility to figure out if I am doing that. – Is it just me finding anonymous complaints would also be worrying?