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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.

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

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Adapt! did a great guerrilla wrap for Metro newspapers during the December general election. In their own words:

We designed an alternative newspaper cover wrap for the Metro. On it, we imagined a different approach to the December 2019 election – where climate change was the main focus. From front page to the sports section, we turned every tiny detail of the newspaper into a lighthearted commentary on climate change and the urgent need for a Green New Deal. Once printed the paper cover was applied to Metro newspapers and distributed across London by a large team of volunteers.

I liked this Adapt! project as it reminded me of people like Adbusters and the ethos behind much of the stuff on the Wooster Collective

Metro Guerilla wrap
Courtesy of Adapt!
Metro Guerilla wrap
Courtesy of Adapt
Metro Guerilla wrap
Courtesy of Adapt

Scotty Allen of Strange Parts went to a wholesale market in Shenzhen, China that sells everything you need for a high tech factory. This eco-system is why industrialisation isn’t going to return to the UK any time soon.

Watch out for the vibrating pans in after 8:25 that tilt components up the right way. Such a simple design solution, each one is custom made for the part that they need to work with. Seeing it in action is almost like black magic.

It’s interesting to look back through concept videos at what people thought the future might hold. This one was done in 2001 and captures the ennui of modern life. It was originally made for a Teletext conference… More on the web-of-no-web here.

Brilliant bit of work on Cheetos based on the product flaw / design feature of flavouring that gets all over your fingers. Ride on 90s nostalgia with MC Hammer and you have a Super Bowl memorable experience.

It is right up there with the Steven Siegel ad from 2004 by BBDO New York that had Mountain Dew as the hero product also featured other PepsiCo brands including Cheetos.

LinkedIn Live - the mind boggles
Screen shot from the Louis Vuitton LinkedIn live stream

LinkedIn – Louis Vuitton menswear fall/winter 2020 lifestream – its odd to see a YouTube style lifestream on LinkedIn. Engagement seems to be relatively low given Louis Vuitton’s million-plus followers. And the user experience is really out of context on a business platform.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Interesting interpretation of the current approach to online harmonisation by the Chinese government. There is an opinion that China’s censorship mechanisms are somehow overwhelmed. I don’t think that this is the case at all. Instead I believe its part of their wider approach to online harmonisation – As Virus Spreads, Anger Floods Chinese Social Media – The New York Times – this isn’t a government apparatus operating from weakness but smart: just enough venting to stop it boiling over into angry action but not enough for a Velvet Revolution. The clue is in the Chinese government’s own name for this process online harmonisation – to give a harmonious Chinese society

Shenzhen Art Museum government-sponsored exhibition
SARS medical personnel captured in Chinese government-sponsored art capturing their effort and sacrifice made for glory of the motherland and the communist party

Philips plans to hive off unit as it sets focus on healthcare sector | Financial Times – this has been a long time coming, not terribly surprised. Ten years from now I wouldn’t be surprised if Philips is leaving the medical technology industry and licencing their brand to a Shenzhen based MRI machine manufacturer….

Daring Fireball: The iPad Awkwardly Turns 10 – I think its the UX as well as multitasking. Its a consumption machine with limited creative capabilities

Nightmares on wax: the environmental impact of the vinyl revival | Music | The Guardiandigital media is physical media, too. Although digital audio files seem virtual, they rely on infrastructures of data storage, processing and transmission that have potentially higher greenhouse gas emissions than the petrochemical plastics used in the production of more obviously physical formats such as LPs – to stream music is to burn coal, uranium and gas – vegan vintage wearing gen-z will look back on streaming not only as a cultural disaster, but a planetary one. Streaming is the music industry analogue to restaurant’s plastic straws and styrofoam cups

Swiss Watch Export Growth Slows to Weakest Pace in Three Years – Bloomberg – lower end of the market has dried up, which isn’t that surprising. The Apple Watch and G-Shock are aimed at squarely at quartz manufacturers like Tissot and fashion label licencees

Witcher’s Andrzej Sapkowski’s Honest Thoughts on Netflix Show – legendary responses, you can imagine the publicity department at the publishers suffering from severe anxiety

This will probably do a lot of long term damage to China’s aspirations in Europe building up a deep level of distrust – China spy suspect casts chill over EU’s vulnerabilities | Financial Times 

Probably some of the smartest European focused thinking on China at the moment

Country life: the young female farmer who is now a top influencer in China | Life and style | The Guardian“That despair of not being able to find oneself in the ‘Chinese dream’. I don’t think she’s propaganda because one of her major successes is that she’s making that failure highly aesthetic …

Measure to limit self-checkout gets nod from Oregon Supreme Court | gazettetimes.com – not available in EU due to GDPR regulations but you get the idea from the headline

I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter by Isabel Fall : Clarkesworld Magazine – Science Fiction & Fantasy – interesting story that steps on the live wire issue of gender and identity channeled through William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. I am reminded a bit of the ‘Rat Things’ – cybernetic enhanced dogs that enjoy endless dreams during their downtime are are networked via the metaverse – in Stephenson’s Snow Crash

23andMe lays off 100 people, CEO Anne Wojcicki explains why | CNBC – surprised to see market turn… – I was surprised to see this late 20th century version of a faddish product from the Sharper Image catalogue do so well for so long given the privacy implications of it

Is Singapore’s ‘perfect’ economy coming apart? | Financial TimesMid-level jobs in manufacturing and multinational companies are disappearing and being replaced by technology and financial services roles, which are easier to fill with younger, more affordable migrants. Singaporeans like Aziz struggle to get back into the workforce. Only half of retrenched over-50s are re-employed full time within six months. Nearly three-quarters of people laid off in Singapore in the third quarter of last year, the most recently available data, were what the country classifies as professionals, managers, executives and technicians, or PMETs – I’ve been re-reading John Naisbitt’s Megatrends at the moment and its interesting how these classic knowledge worker roles have been disappearing – whereas just 30 years ago they were the future. It does make me a bit skeptical of the ‘every kid should learn how to code predictions’. The increasing consumer debt is another interesting aspect of this

The Offense-Defense Balance of Scientific Knowledge: Does Publishing AI Research Reduce Misuse? by Shevlane and Dafoe – interesting paper on identification and ethics surrounding machine learning applications

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 2 minutes

IoT Trouble: The Sonos Example — And More – Monday Note – the recent Sonos issue is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, the basic IoT issue that older equipment on a network can block security updates to newer Sonos gear. The second aspect of this relates to consumer attitudes. Early Sonos sales positioned the equipment against traditional consumer electronics brown goods like Sony, Denon, Yamaha etc. As we can see from recent products, Sonos has moved away from hi-fi to convenience. This is probably why Sonos legal action against Alphabet’s Google Chromecast and Google Home became more important.

Sonos
Early model Sonos hub and amplifier

Angelo Baque, Zainab Jama and Acyde on counterculture – The Face – interesting thoughts on immediate access and value versus gradual access and appreciation

Here are some terms to mute on Twitter to clean your timeline up a bit. · GitHub – really handy to clean up your Twitter feed

Jobs, Cook, Ive—Blevins? The Rise of Apple’s Cost Cutter – WSJ – sounds like a sociopathic knob who’d be better off working at Huawei

Facebook Says Bezos Hack May Highlight Phone Vulnerabilities – Bloomberg – Nicola Mendelsohn over at Facebook is like one of them monkeys that throws its own faeces at bystanders walking past their cage

Nutella/Ferrero: nut fluster | Financial TimesIn 2012 Ferrero agreed to set aside $3m to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by a California mother. She had been surprised and upset to learn Nutella was not a “healthy, nutritious” food. She was widely mocked – you could not make this up (paywall). More on FMCG as a topic here

MBS Taunted Jeff Bezos Over Secret Affair Before National Enquirer Expose | Daily Beast – surprised that Bezos didn’t have multiple numbers and and handsets – private and business. Also that the handsets weren’t scrubbed regularly. Some of the infosec experts commenting on the report itself are very interesting and raise more questions than answers

Mediatel: Newsline: Tess Alps: We can’t confront climate change without advertising – despite the headline this is about advertising requiring an emotional pay off

Sonos will stop issuing software updates for ‘legacy’ speakers and devices in May | TechHive – another reason why hi-fi makes more sense

LOEWE Runway Men’s Fall Winter 2020 | Fashion Show – feels curiously low res

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Google acquires Pointy, a startup to help brick-and-mortar retailers list products online, for $163M | TechCrunchbuilt hardware and software technology to help physical retailers — specifically those that might not already have an extensive e-commerce storefront detailing in-store inventory — get their products discoverable online without any extra work – reminds me of the kind of thing you’d expect Tencent or Alibaba to do as China has led in O2O e-tailing

San Francisco’s Robot Restaurants Are Going out of Business – thin margins don’t support high capital costs of automation

11152015_Cathay Pacific Cargo_B-LJA_B748F_PANC_NAEDIT

Cathay Pacific: Aircraft Changes & Flight Cuts to North America – SamChui.com – interesting cuts on previously big earning routes

Mediatel: Newsline: How the UK is quietly importing a sinister political phenomenon“I have read so many predictions and trends about journalism in the past few weeks. The most significant trend, mostly unacknowledged, is that of politicians realizing they do not need to provide access or engagement with journalists, or even tell the truth, to be electable.” – where is this going?

Make your China marketing pop with these pop culture tips – POP MART: the designer toy market in China is booming. Not that surprising given historic popularity in Hong Kong and Japan – in many respects culturally China is a laggard

Silicon Valley and National Security – United States Department of State – basically you’re all a bunch of Quislings

Fundamentals simply do not matter in China’s stock markets | Financial Times – Muddy Waters Research has demonstrated that for years, its also the reason why you should be wary of Chinese companies with foreign listings

Framed — Pixel Envythree paragraphs in and it is already setting up the idea that personal privacy and public safety are two opposing ends of a gradient. That’s simply not true. A society that has less personal privacy does not inherently have better public safety; Russia and Saudi Arabia are countries with respectable HDI scores, brutal censorship and surveillance, and higher murder rates than Australia, Denmark, France, and the United Kingdom

Sugar Bear’s Don’t Scandalize Mine was a go to record for me, but I’ve never seen a music video of it until now

What Does Taiwan’s Public Think About Election Interference From China? – The Diplomathyper-polarization in views between DPP and KMT supporters highlights the difficulty in addressing cybersecurity and China more broadly. To reach a consensus requires first acknowledging and disrupting the echo chambers in which disinformation campaigns thrive, then the government must implement election transparency policies to more easily expose disinformation efforts. However, with increasing animosity between parties, this consensus may be hard to reach. Citizens may also be concerned that any steps the government takes are limiting their freedom of speech or other rights (paywall)

China: no longer the place to be for young Singaporeans? | South China Morning Post – China no longer a place to do business

Try as It Might, Germany Isn’t Warming to Huawei – The DiplomatHighest on their list of concerns has been the risk of exposing the future German 5G network to large-scale espionage and data theft on behalf of corporate and political actors in China. In recent years, Germany’s intelligence agencies have reported a steady increase in Chinese government-directed espionage and hacking activities against German targets, primarily with the aim of acquiring corporate secrets. China is now considered the source of the majority of cyberattacks against Germany. In 2019, some of the largest German companies confirmed that they had been targeted by a new wave of cyberattacks that likely originated with the Chinese government. During a parliamentary hearing on the issue of Huawei in October, Thomas Halden­wang, the president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (Bundesverfassungsschutz), claimed that Chinese espionage and cyberattacks have been expanding into more and more sectors of the economy and the state. According to Haldenwang, while Chinese cyberattacks in Germany were previously focused primarily on private corporations and technology

China Manufacturing:”Elvis Has Left the Building” | China Law Blog – “China’s rising costs, tricky regulations and increasingly unstable geopolitical situation are forcing more manufacturers to move production elsewhere” and we should expect this exodus to gain speed in 2020, “despite the prospect of a minor US-China trade truce.”

Marketing research: Chinese celebrity brand endorsers – Daxue Consulting – Market Research China – interesting turnover in celebrities and increased focus on where there influence lies. China no longer has the Jackie Chan type celebrity endorsement. Which was all things to all people. Chan was legendary for the amount of products that he promoted which became a joke

Bose and HERE Fuel AR Experience Innovation By Combining Location and Audio Technologies – Semiconductor DigestHERE Technologies, a global leader in mapping and location platform services, today announced a collaboration with Bose Corporation to jointly enable their respective developer communities to deploy augmented reality (AR) location applications and services. This collaboration gives HERE developers access to the Bose AR platform and spatial-audio capabilities, and extends the HERE platform, positioning and mobile SDK location technologies to developers building audio AR applications and experiences. – ok so turn by turn direction or tourist style apps probably. The most interesting thing for me was that Bose AR isn’t just the audio enabled frames but recent noise cancelling headsets as well

SPH print newspaper ad sales dive 20% on year | Media | Campaign AsiaSingapore Press Holdings, the parent company of The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, and other news publications, saw overall revenue drop 3.8% in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 – interesting acceleration. Part of which is down to media agencies making more money from digital and some due to changing consumer habits. I’ve started taking a print newspaper subscription again as I value the juxtaposition good print design can bring

NYT: Russian hackers successfully targeted Ukrainian gas company Burisma – AxiosPublic awareness of the Burisma hack cuts both ways politically. For former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, it means document dumps could happen at any time, with accompanying media frenzy and potentially damaging revelations. For the Trump campaign, it means that any such revelations will come pre-tainted with a Russian label

Hair Love,’ Sponsored by Dove, Earns an Oscar Nomination for Best Animated Short | Muse by Clio – poses interesting questions about the role of brands in media

John Lewis marketing boss Paula Nickolds departs before starting | The DrumAnusha Couttigane, principal fashion analyst at Kantar, said that whoever takes the lead will need to rethink its long-running, and arguably tired, festive advertising strategy which has relied on blockbuster, tear-jerker creative to encourage shoppers into stores. “John Lewis needs to continue evolving its digital marketing efforts. While the company’s Christmas mascot, the accident-prone dragon Excitable Edgar, was warmly received, the debut of the brand’s Christmas advert is simply not the event it once was,” – quite a burn right there.

Sonos hits Google with lawsuit over wireless speaker patents“Google has been blatantly and knowingly copying our patented technology” for years. Sonos and Google collaborated in 2013 to add the Play Music service to Sonos speakers, and more recently, the two worked to bring Google’s digital assistant to Sonos speakers, alongside Amazon’s counterpart, Alexa. “Despite our repeated and extensive efforts over the last few years,” Spence told the Times, “Google has not shown any willingness to work with us on a mutually beneficial solution. We’re left with no choice but to litigate,”

With nothing to lose, loners build future in China’s hollowed-out north – Reuters“Social classes are fixed,” Li said. “The poor can never achieve anything. When you encounter problems, if you can solve it, great. There’s not much you can do otherwise.” – interesting consumer comments that explain the slow down in China’s economic growth

Dark Patterns after the GDPR: Scraping Consent Pop-ups and Demonstrating their Influence by Nouns, Liccardi, Veal, Karger and KagalThe results of our empirical survey of CMPs today illustrates the extent to which illegal practices prevail, with vendors of CMPs turning a blind eye to — or worse, incentivising —- clearly illegal configurations of their systems. Enforcement in this area is sorely lacking. Data protection authorities should make use of automated tools like the one we have designed to expedite discovery and enforcement. Designers might help here to design tools for regulators, rather than just for users or for websites. Reg- ulators should also work further upstream and consider placing requirements on the vendors of CMPs to only allow compliant designs to be placed on the market. (PDF)

Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America | Reveal – some 25 percent of US residential property is now owned by anonymous shell companies

Daring Fireball: Apple’s One Remaining Use of the Word ‘Macintosh’ – probably not the smartest move given the amount of IP and goodwill in the brand and rapacious competitors who make early Microsoft look like the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation