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Publicis and WPP are takeover targets and Accenture ‘looks a credible buyer’, bank says – interesting hypothesis

Twitter to test longer tweets – but only for European languages – Mumbrella Asia – to be honest it makes sense for languages like German and Finnish

Signal Has a Fix for Apps’ Contact-Leaking Problem | WIRED – I so hope they sort it

​Facebook: news a pagamento entro il 2017, anche in Italia – Rai News – Facebook to trial paywalled content

Douglas Todd: Men do well in science and tech, but lag elsewhere | Montreal Gazette – the real reason more males complete STEM degrees, says Tabarrok, of George Mason University, is that, to put it too bluntly, “the only men who are good enough to get into university are men who are good at STEM. Women are good enough to go into non-STEM and STEM fields.”

The findings of Card, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Payne, of McMaster University, are consistent with wider concerns about the under-representation of men in higher education and in many sectors of the labour market, says Tabarrok.

“If we accept the results (of Card and Payne), the gender-industry gap is focused on the wrong thing. The real gender gap is that men are having trouble competing everywhere except in STEM,” says Tabarrok

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that have made my day this week

This week I have been listening to classic Japanese pop from the 1970s and 1980s – late Shōwa era for the win!

Canada’s tourism board has been running a campaign in Japan. They got the studio behind anime blockbuster ‘Your Name’ to do this 30-second spot

The Isle of Dogs marries anime with Wes Anderson and looks amazing

Porsche have done a great piece of content marketing about conductor Herbert von Karajan’s 1970s vintage Porsche 911 RS

Expect this in every planners tool box soon – German Performance Artists Act Out Amusingly Surreal Skits for Passengers Aboard Passing Trains

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Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei will take on the west’s technology players and win, predicts Sorrell – Mumbrella Asia – Huawei at least is a WPP client….

The Equality of Opportunity Project  – This introductory course, taught by Raj Chetty, shows how “big data” can be used to understand and solve some of the most important social and economic problems of our time

Source: Deloitte Breach Affected All Company Email, Admin Accounts — Krebs on Security – just wow

macOS 10.13 High Sierra: The Ars Technica review | Ars Technica – great in-depth review

Rich Kid Buys Girl 8-Foot Tall Costco Teddy Bear, Gets Rejected | What’s on Weibo – interesting skepticism on viral moments or memes

China Blocks WhatsApp, Broadening Online Censorship – NYTimes.com – the wrong question being asked. Instead why did it last so long? Expect WeChat usage to pick up in Hong Kong etc for cross border communications

Free and Easy’s American Dream – Ralph Lauren magazine – great bit of media analysis on cult Japanese style magazine Free and Easy

Will Imagination Deals Deliver MIPS to China? | EE Times – interesting discussions on the Tallwood VC / Canyon Bridge deal and possible implications for the MIPS eco-system. Interesting that China sees more potential and security in MIPS than ARM….

Digital Evangelist: Imagination Technologies sale to Canyon BridgeI rather expect that the Hertfordshire based business is likely to suffer the fate of Vertu and end up bankrupt and sold for scrap in less than two years because of mismanagement and the new owner having very little understanding as to just what they own and control  Imagination Technologies agrees £550m sale to Canyon Bridge | FT – the MIPS business goes to Tailwood VC (paywall)

The connected home ten years later

A decade ago I worked on AMD Live. A hodgepodge of hardware and software that provided media access where ever and whenever you wanted it.  Here is a short video that we made at the time to bring it to life. The idea was that AMD would be able to sell higher specifications of PC components into the home to act as digital hub. They wanted to push their Opteron server processors into the home.

An engineer came in and spent the best part of a day setting everything up throughout the house prior to shooting the film. At the time much of the streaming boxes didn’t work as promised so some of the screen images were put in post-production. There was a mix of cloud services and home hosted content. At the centre was a PC running Windows Multimedia Centre. There was a raft of third-party apps needed as well

  • Network management apps
  • Video and image compression apps
  • Instant messaging (that wasn’t MSN or Skype – no idea why it was in the bundle)
  • TV tuner software
  • A music jukebox application
  • Network management
  • An AMD GUI which provided a 3D carousel effect and integrated web browser

It was all a bit of kludge.

Digital content was well on its way. Streaming technology was well known but unstructured. RealNetworks had been going commercially since 1997, but the playback quality was dependent on Internet network connectivity, We only started to see widespread DSL adoption from 2003 onwards in the UK. By the first quarter of 2003, DSL was enabled at 1200 of the 5600 telephone exchanges across the UK.

Apple’s QuickTime streaming server was open sourced back in 1999; so if anyone wanted to set up a streaming network they had the technology to do so.

Digital audio content prior to 2003 had largely been ripped from optical media or downloaded online via FTP, Usenet or P2P networks. iTunes launched its music store in 2003.

From a standing start in 2002; by 2004, 5 million devices with a HDMI connection had been sold. The built in copy protection had been developed by an Intel subsidiary and was adopted by all the big Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers.

By 2005, Apple had started selling iTunes movies and TV programmes  alongside its music offering that allowed sharing of an account on up to 5 concurrent devices.

Apple launched its MFi programme in January 2005, which begat a raft of speakers and stereos with iPod connectivity in the home and the car.

Sonos released its speaker system including a wi-fi mesh network and AES network encryption. Flickr had a well documented API that allowed for a fully functioning photo album and picture streaming which was used in early web 2.0 mashups.

AMD Live was on the back-foot from day one. From a high end perspective of audio streaming Sonos had it locked down. For everyone else moving an iPod from room to room had the same effect.  Mini-video servers could be configured from mini-PC boxes, but they were only for the technically skilled. Even the Mac Mini launched in 2005 didn’t make the process much easier. The key advantage is that it could use iTunes as a video source and a playing software.

Back then because it was US centric in its view AMD Live completely ignored the rise of the smartphone as a music playback device.  By 2007, Nokia launched ‘Comes With Music’ which put mobile streaming in play. Apple Music and Spotify have now made streaming effortless. Video playback now comes from devices the size of a thumb drive. New intermediate screens from tablets to smartphones changed viewing habits and the PC has become redundant as the home hub for all but the most enthusiastic AV aficionados.

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Lost Context: How Did We End Up Here? – NewCo Shift – how did Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple get to a position similar to that of the gilded age giants

AI Turns UI Designs Into Code – NVIDIA Developer News Center – interesting project where machine learning takes design mock-ups and turns them into working web apps with code

Troy Hunt: Face ID, Touch ID, No ID, PINs and Pragmatic Security – most people are crap at information security. Reducing the friction of signing up and using authentication raises the overall security level of consumers

Business Standard-Bitcoin’s wild ride shows the truth: It is probably worth zero – likely worth nothing

UK chip designer Imagination bought by Chinese firm – BBC News – but what about the need for a customer base? The MIPS architecture stuff is interesting and probably a bit of a concern for automotive etc

Facebook (FB) on Russian ads: Our platform doesn’t influence people; people influence people — Quartz – what’s the point of advertising then?

Smartphones are dead. Long live smartphones! · Forrester – emphasis away from only ads to also think about experiences – big challenge is the zero growth in aggregate app usage

WeChat confirms that it makes all private user data available to the Chinese government – Moneycontrol.com – not terribly surprising – this is China’s answer to PRISM. Your communications are unencrypted on WeChat so commercially confidential information is at risk from hackers and your local government regardless of whether Tencent hands your data over to the Chinese government

Really interesting design experiment from Chinese university students. It is interesting that they use the ‘goldfish’ as the avatar of the AI. It also asks questions about how we relate to pets and whether augmentation like this would work.

And I think dealing with the foibles of macOS 11 (developer beta) was a hassle

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The sublime world of machine learning

Scott Galloway talks about the way brands are using AI (machine learning) and the examples are very much in the background so that the impact on the customer experience won’t be apparent. In many respects this is similar to how fuzzy logic became invisible as it was introduced in the late 1980s.

The Japanese were particularly adept at putting an obscure form of mathematics to use. They made lifts that adapted to the traffic flows of people going in and out of a building and microwaves which knew how long to defrost whatever you put into it. Fuzzy logic compensated for blur in video camera movement in a similar manner to way smartphone manufacturers now use neural networks on images.

The Japanese promoted fuzzy logic inside products to the home market, but generally backed off from promoting it abroad. The features just were and consumers accepted them over time. In a quote that is now eerily reminiscent of our time a spokesperson for the American Electronics Association’s Tokyo office said to the Washington Post

“Some of the fuzzy concepts may be valid in the U.S.,”

“The idea of better energy efficiency, or more precise heating and cooling, can be successful in the American market,”

“But I don’t think most Americans want a vacuum cleaner that talks to you and says, ‘Hey, I sense that my dust bag will be full before we finish this room.’ “

More information
The Future of Electronics Looks Fuzzy | Washington Post (December 23, 1990)

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Really interesting hologram imagery created using the persistence of image effect

Here’s another example of it from a Chinese company in Shenzhen thanks to Naomi Wu for the video. According to Naomi this is a Rainbo device.

The New York Times on Facebook

Idle Words | Anatomy of a moral panic – worthwhile reading as it illustrates the current poor state of news reporting

Under The Surface: The Why of Chinese Consumer Behaviour | Holmes Report  – with a billion people and a fast-growing economy, those feelings of uncertainty are even more profound and widespread.   The true meaning of technology for Chinese users? The ability to feel in control in an era of anxiety.

Distrustful U.S. allies force spy agency to back down in encryption fight  – academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them.

The NSA has had to drop all but the most powerful versions of the techniques – those least likely to be vulnerable to possible hacks by the NSA

Sustainable development: China’s path out of poverty can never be repeated at scale by a country again — Quartz – interesting read. It puts the internet into perspective, shipping containers had more impact in China’s economic rise

The First Web Apps: 5 Apps That Shaped the Internet as We Know It | Zapier blog – great lunch time read

DuckDuckGo: The Solopreneur That Is Beating Google at Its Game – The Four-Week MBA

China’s Booming Live Streaming Market Has Reached Its Zenith – Huajiao. Long answer: emoji-like “gifts” from the viewers that can later be cashed in for money. Chinese viewers are less enamored by mindlessly goofy check out my six pack vids (*cough* Logan Paul), and more interested in watching the mundanities of their favorite influencer’s everyday life — i.e. singing in the shower, driving, and… slurping soup? – There is a clear line between this and things like Korean ‘eating’ videos.

Should Social Go Local? | The Daily | L2 – some nice assets

T-Mobile and Sprint are in active talks about a merger | CNBC – Son-san and Legere could be an interesting and complementary mix

Ineos Projekt Grenadier: an old-school 4×4 off-roader for 2020 by CAR Magazine – interesting that they think there is a gap here. Chemical conglomerate Ineos, have the money to pull this off

Unilever finds startups can replace some agency tasks – Digiday – marketing automation gone mad

Blade Runner 2049_: Inside the Dark Future of a Sequel 35 Years in the Making | WIRED – “Blade Runner changed the way the world looks and how we look at the world,” William Gibson says. It was one of the things which inspired me to move to Hong Kong

Uber Sues Mobile Agency Alleging Ad Fraud – WSJ – interesting implications around tracking showing weakness in Uber’s much vaunted data expertise?

Influencer Marketing Effectiveness is Limited by Management! | PARKLU – not only China!

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Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week.

Bryan Reiger is one of my favourite thinkers on digital experience design. He put together this great presentation on conversation interfaces

Korean VR dating sim demo shows the technical potential and creepiness of virtual reality

YouTube Red has a reality show on trainer designers, it feels a bit niche to me

These New York hoodlums hitting Ralph Lauren remind me a lot of the football casuals in the 1970s. Gangs of them went around Europe following Liverpool and shoplifting – a modern-day version of the Visigoths sacking Rome – just sportswear rather than gold and fine silks.

Finally, an amazing time-lapse film of 30 days in the life of a container ship going between the Red Sea and Hong Kong. It’s mesmerising.

Connection planning has some problems

A couple of years ago I did a presentation on connection planning and much of that thinking still has value. But some of the tenets of connection planning are now challenged by changes in marketing practice and strategy in the business to consumer space.

Connection planning process

The focus on user engagement has been affected by three things:

  • Social platforms have been moving their business model and interactions towards traditional brand advertising models. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are structuring their algorithms and advertising closer towards the reach and repetition model of traditional broadcast advertising. TV advertising dollars are what social platforms are chasing, rather than going after Google
  • Consumer brands, particularly from publicly listed mature players are facing business pressures from the threat of private equity ownership that would look to sweat the assets at the expense of longer term brand performance.  No one is immune to this, not even Nestle that was thought to be protected due to Swiss regulations. This has led to a resurgence zero-based budgeting that is locked in focus on return on investment over a shorter time period. From a communications planning perspective there are no sacred cows, no guaranteed longer campaign story arcs or brand engagements as spend has to be justified from a clean slate each year
  • Most marketing spend tends to be around existing products, often in mature markets. New products run a high risk of failure. New products in new categories are generally the province of start-up graveyards – we remember the few successes rather than the legion of failures. Marketing thinking for mature brands in mature sectors (so most FMCG categories and established brands). This change has been driven by research financed by FMCG companies including Coca-Cola, Mars, Kraft and Kelloggs  at the Ehrensberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. Ehrensberg-Bass’ Byron Sharp book ‘How brands grow‘ is the talisman for these marketers and their agency side media planners

The shorter focus of consumer marketers makes it much harder to build a brand culture that sticks like Red Bull has managed to do. Flow of storytelling becomes less important than reach and stream of repetition.

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Narita Airport dumping squat toilets in restroom reform:The Asahi Shimbun – OMG makes Heathrow seem even more barbaric by comparison

As Amazon Pushes Forward With Robots, Workers Find New Roles – NYTimes.com – great example of what Kevin Kelly talked about in his book The Inevitable that we only preserve jobs by working with rather than against robots

Some thoughts on #SMWLDN – Matt Muir nails the ephemera that passes for thought leadership in social circles

There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley | Buzzfeed – Tech is manifestly unready for this new era. They’ve been playing small-ball politics of regulation, and coasting on incredibly high approval ratings. But there are signs they feel the winds changing. You can usually detect a political figure’s problems from their overcompensation, and Zuckerberg’s Midwestern tour had all the hallmarks of a classic reaction to a specific political polling question: “Does he care about people like me?” The move was widely misinterpreted as some kind of beginning to Zuckerberg’s political career. But Zuckerberg is Facebook, and his image is his company’s. His mission was to fix the company’s image, and I’m just not sure this one is fixable.

You can see the shape of how this plays out in a recent exchange between Mark Halperin and Rep. Adam Schiff, in which Halperin asked of Facebook: “Did they put profits ahead of patriotism in their conduct during the campaign?”

Wall Street Journal Reports on SoftBank Offer for Uber….Yet No Other Press Outlet is Picking the Story Up | naked capitalism – at a lower than expected market value

The Smart Watch Market is Headed for a Boom | Park Associates – not so sure about the rationale on this, I often forget to wear my smart watch for the same reasons that they give for fitness bands

Oprah time: The Inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future by Kevin Kelly

I re-read Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants and then decided to revisit The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. The books make sense as ideal companions for each other, despite some overlap in terms of proof points.  On the face of it The Inevitable is a less ambitious book than What Technology Wants.

The inevitable

In the book Kevin Kelly touches on the kind of areas one would expect in  typical presentation given by an innovation team at an advertising agency. He is an unashamed techno-optimist and The key difference is two-fold:

Kelly pulls it together as a coherent idea rather than 12 slivers. He provides in-depth cogent arguments that bind the trends together. Kelly argues that transparency in governments will compensate for the erosion of privacy. I don’t agree with this particular viewpoint. If you are interested in how technology is shaping our world buy What Technology Wants; if you are still hungry for more follow it up with The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

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Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism latest Digital News Report findings discussed by Dr. Rasmus Kleiss Nielsen. This report is based on a survey of more than 70,000 people across 36 countries.

comScore Opens Global Access to Free Viewability Measurement – comScore, Inc – only for global advertisers, publishers, agencies and ad networks?

P&G’s Pritchard Calls for Next Generation of Digital Ads | Special: Dmexco – AdAge – I kind of agree with him from a an overall sentiment point of view, but viewability is also a function of how much of the viewable area it fills? I realise that it would be hard to measure but it would be a function of ad size, scrolling speed and display size. In the real world think about the ads on the tube escalators.

WeWork accuses Chinese competitor UrWork of stealing its name and style: Shanghaiist – wait I thought WeWork’s style was stolen from the hipster catalogue?

The US gender wage gap is closing because women are making more and men are making less — Quartz – I wonder how this then fits into a feminist, social and larger economic agendas? Will there be a tension between all these? Is there a floor where aggregate male earnings will hit?

China May Own More Artificial Intelligence Patents Than US By Year-End – China Money Network – interesting speculation. I could understand it given that IBM is one of the largest filers of patents in the US and its machine learning efforts are overhyped

On the Equifax Data Breach – Schneier on Security – Surveillance capitalism fuels the Internet, and sometimes it seems that everyone is spying on you. You’re secretly tracked on pretty much every commercial website you visit. Facebook is the largest surveillance organization mankind has created; collecting data on you is its business model. I don’t have a Facebook account, but Facebook still keeps a surprisingly complete dossier on me and my associations — just in case I ever decide to join.

I also don’t have a Gmail account, because I don’t want Google storing my e-mail. But my guess is that it has about half of my e-mail anyway, because so many people I correspond with have accounts. I can’t even avoid it by choosing not to write to gmail.com addresses, because I have no way of knowing if newperson@company.com is hosted at Gmail.

Edward Snowden Interview: ‘There Is Still Hope’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE

P&G Asia brand director: ‘We were clickbaiters – and a giant duck still got more likes than we did’“I’ve been through generations of training in how to make a good Facebook ad, which has gone around 360 degrees and come back to the simple principles of marketing. We went through lots of complications in how to get clicks – we were clickbaiters. We honestly were. And yet that duck in Hong Kong Harbour got more likes than any of pure branded messaging, and we thought that’s maybe a good thing. But it’s not and it doesn’t help brands or businesses. It’s taken us time to get to where we are and the simplicity of those core marketing principles.”

How Nike Sneakers Made a Billionaire of Park Yen-cha | BoF – interesting profile

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

In terms of the news agenda, the iPhone launch dominated the news. I wrote about it here and here.  This image from the Chinese internet summed everything about the launch up for me.

Chinese reaction to iPhone X

We’re in a place of innovation stuckness at the moment – we’re celebrating incremental improvements in user experiences on smartphones as transformational, they aren’t. This is a category challenge, not a vendor-specific one. Even infrastructure and component vendor Qualcomm is struggling to envision ways to move things on.

I have been mostly listening to this playlist from this years Love International Festival

And FIP Radio

Japanese group meforyouforme combining traditional Japanese culture and dance with modern tap dancing FTW


Hong Kong stars Donnie Yen and Andy Lau go back to the 1970s with Chasing the Dragon – a thriller based on real characters involved in drug smuggling and organised crime in the turbulent go-go economic boom of Hong Kong – Lee Rock (Lui Lok) was a corrupt policeman nicknamed 500 million dollar Inspector, who avoided corruption charges by moving to Canada and then Hong Kong. Crippled (or Limpy) Ho was a triad called Ng Sek-ho who rivalled the 14K triad group.  It is against the backdrop of the post-1967 riots economic boom which saw Hong Kong blow up in manufacturing and financial services. This brought rich pickings in corruption which led to the formation of the ICAC – the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

ICMYI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Fab equipment spending breaking industry records | Electroiq – foundries are anticipating continuing electronics demand rather than a flattening or a slow down

Qualcomm demonstrates their Sleaziness by Posting a Press Release Downplaying any possible iPhone X Advancements – Patently Apple – guessing Qualcomm thinks that it won’t be settling its law suits with Apple then

With direct flights to Dublin, Cathay takes big bet on Ireland | HKEJ Insight – huge for Ireland, expect more long haul flights in there

Dapper Dan, the original tailor to hip-hop royalty, now has a deal with Gucci | Quartz – it was only a matter of time, really happy for Dan – if 30 years too late