I like: Dave Finocchio, CEO of Bleacher Report on media and sports business

Great points on Facebook through to sports team owners

No surprises on what is said about Facebook. The fickleness of millennials with regards sports is interesting, it did make me wonder if this also plays through for supporters of English Premier League teams.

Fantasy sports leagues aren’t engaging as it had been for older generations. Younger people struggle to get 12 of their friends on board to participate with them.

E-sports has a really small overlap with existing sports fans. E-sports players burn out too fast. It needs to address this to blow up as big as mainstream sports.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Harbin beer and Starcom join hands to push China’s e-Sports | Marketing Interactive

Brands are learning millennials’ language for luxury: “organic,” “sustainable,” “ethical” — Quartz – oh god

Owl Labs Meeting Owl – cute product design for… – I am reminded of the wood cut faces on the beneath the facias of old Nokia 5110 handsets

Macron wants limits on Chinese investments, takeovers in Europe’s strategic industries – smart move, there is a strong case for a ‘China reciprocity law’ forcing technology transfer to the EU and restricting investment in strategic industries

Unstoppable at home, Ramdev’s Patanjali gets a reality check in Nepal | Quartz – Ramdev’s products have given the likes of Unilever a scare in India, interesting to see his brand has limits

Inside Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence Comeback | WIRED – interesting article on two levels. Firstly, Microsoft’s approach and direction on AI, secondly the classic approach to storytelling from a PR perspective. Not surprisingly they are focused on Facebook and Google

Group M downgrades UK ad growth forecast in part due to brand safety fears | Campaign LiveAdvertisers are increasingly taking a more measured view toward digital as they grapple with developing data strategies; setting more coherent objectives; attribution considerations; increased brand safety and accountability expectations and the appreciating trade-off between risk, price and performance

Americans won’t wait more than four minutes for a slightly less disgusting hamburger | Quartz – which funnily enough was the time that the McDonald’s restaurant I worked in for six weeks at the start of my working career aimed to surpass

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

Publicis’ technology infrastructure vision for a more flexible agile business. So much in here to unpack including an unintentional dystopian vision of future work life.

I went along to watch Linda Yueh chair a discussion on Brexit at the London Business School

Notes from #lbsbrexit session chaired by Linda Yueh

10 years ago Steve Jobs launched the iPhone

Beyond Good and Evil trailer

Download More than 2,500 Images of Vibrant Japanese Woodblock Prints and Drawings From the Library of Congress | Colossal

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Links of the day | 在网上找到

The Political Kindling of the Grenfell Fire – The Atlantic – Britain has slipped to sixth in the economic rankings. Yet either position, fifth or sixth, is misleading: Broadly speaking, Britain is an economically average country, with one exceptionally rich region—London, which is reportedly home to more multimillionaires and billionaires than any other city in the world, and serves as the country’s economic engine. Of the EU’s 15 strongest economies, none rely as heavily on one area as the U.K. does: London’s per capita GDP is almost two and a half times Britain’s national average. But London’s enviable self-confidence, its robust financial services sector, and glittering facade, obscure the devastating inequality that plagues the U.K. While the city is Britain’s lone representative among the 10 richest regions in northern Europe, the country also includes a stunning nine of northern Europe’s 10 poorest regions. – One paragraph deflation of British hubris that underpins the likes of the Leave campaign and a great argument for London becoming a city state.

Cathay Pacific still ranks among top five airlines in the world, with other Hong Kong carriers also taking home accolades | South China Morning Post – despite all the problems

WATANABE KATSUMI: “GANGS OF KABUKICHO” | #ASX – amazing portrait images

China’s total number of cinema screens now exceeds the US | Marketing Interactive – why Hollywood makes odd casting and big spectacle films

Apple Culture After Ten Years of iPhone – Monday Note – The First Trillion Dollars is Always the Hardest

P&G Malaysia goes on LINE to grow online following | Marketing Interactive – probably very big in Thailand for this as well

The Car Was Repossessed, but the Debt Remains – The New York Times – For low-income Americans, the fallout could, in some ways, be worse than the mortgage crisis. With mortgages, people could turn in the keys to their house and walk away. But with auto debt, there is increasingly no exit. Repossession, rather than being the end, is just the beginning. “Low-income earners are shackled to this debt,” said Shanna Tallarico, a consumer lawyer with the New York Legal Assistance Group

Why is Japanese customer service so amazing? Because in Japan it’s one strike and you’re out | SoraNews24

China’s Biggest Gaming ‘Whales’ Are Werewolves — The Information – I was introduced to Werewolf in the early noughties by some of my geekier friends

Sunrise preps 2G switch-off | total telecom – interesting move by the Swiss carrier. Greater focus on in-building and long distance performance of LTE

WPP folds Neo@Ogilvy into Mindshare | Campaign Asia – interesting move to bring all paid media inside GroupM

Tim Cook was right to fight the FBI | TheNextWeb

Minecraft’s New 4K Textures Don’t Even Look Like Minecraft | Extreme Tech

It’s business, and it’s personal: How Amazon Web Services decides to enforce non-compete contracts – GeekWire – sounds like most non-compete clauses

Robots are doing the work of $326,000-a-year Goldman Sachs employees – Axios

Roam like at home? Not so fast – POLITICO – interesting exceptions

Targeting and the F3EAD Process | Havok Journal – interesting perspective with key focus of reducing time to insight and action

Design in the Era of the Algorithm | Big Medium

Investors step in to play risky role of lender | WSJ City – at what point does this become similar to China’s shadow banking practices?

Monday marketing thought

“Global activation local amplification” – four words that make a process sound easy.  Yet it is amazing how many established successful multi-nationals struggle with this process.

I was talking to  friend the other week who talked about a project that they were asked to pitch for. A global multinational asked them to come and workshop the company’s global digital strategy for local teams – so that they could then work out how to localise it.

The implication was that a global strategy had been decided upon that didn’t take into account who it could be scaled for markets with low budgets (small countries) or atypical digital usage.

Global activation, local amplification

I’ve used the words atypical here for good reason. These markets may not have gone through widespread desktop online usages. They may be transitioning between feature phones and SMS to low specification smartphones on lean data plans. However, in the likes of Kenya, their use of mobile payments with services like mPesa are far ahead of the west.

You also can’t assume that usage is one phone, one person. In the likes of rural India the phone may be used by other family members with SIMs being the individual’s own.

How much of their media consumption is side loaded on to mobile devices?

A global activation approach requires extensive discussions with local company stakeholders BEFORE it’s sufficiently baked. I worked on web properties at Unilever and we thought about how could graphical assets be leveraged, a common social publishing platform (Percolate) and common measurement (Adobe Analytics) as a primary focus. We recognised that markets may want to build leaner, smaller websites or roll out changes when they had marketing budget.

Bringing key stakeholders gives them ownership of the strategy, so they are much more likely to give a decent effort in local amplification.

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Technology is way ahead of interface designs

This post has taken a while to write. When I started we were on the cusp of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. If you’re interested in technology, but aren’t an Apple fan it still matters as it sets the agenda. Apple’s moves affect wearables, smartphones, tablets and OTT (over the top) TV services.
 
The New York Times published an interesting article Apple Piles On the Apps, and Users Say, ‘Enough!’.
 
Ignore the title of the article itself, which is a function of clickbait rather than content. Instead, it provides an good critique of interface design across platforms. It highlights:
  • The difficulty in finding and installing other apps inside Messages. Many users aren’t aware of the functionality. This is different to the ‘interface as oldster barrier’ that SnapChat had. DoorDash – a Deliveroo analogue dropped a support after a few months due to a lack of users. Apple took a second run at this with iOS 11 trying to improve discoverability
  • Apple 3D touch isn’t used to drive contextual features by app developers
  • The Apple Watch’s mix of crown, button and small touch screen made ‘lean in’ interactive apps hard. The Apple Watch interface isn’t learned by ‘playing’ in the same way that you can with a Mac or an iPhone. Apple’s forthcoming watchOS update looks to have Siri ‘guess’ what you want. It wants to provide contextual information to users (and reduce interactions)
If you ignore 3D touch for a moment, these problems are cross platform in nature. (Some vendors like Huawei have attempted a similar 3D touch feature in their own apps. They did not try to get developer adoption.)
 
Thinking about Messenger app developers struggle to integrate disparate features into the interface. The exceptions are:
  • LINE
  • WeChat – the take up of mini-apps in WeChat have been disappointing performers. Is this indicating a possible ceiling for functionality?
Wearables as a category looks thin, with Apple being one of the largest players. Pebble got acquired by Fitbit. Jawbone seems to be a dead company walking. Their blog was last updated in October 2016, Twitter in February. It’s ironic: their original BlueTooth headset business would now be a great opportunity.
 
I’ve tried Casio’s BlueTooth enabled G-Shock, four Nike Fuelbands and a Polar wearable. I am on my second Apple Watch and I still don’t know what the real compelling use case is for these devices.
 
So how does this stuff come about? I think its down to the process of creation, which affects analysis and critical analysis of the product. Creation in this case is essentially throwing stuff up against the wall until it sticks and then the process becomes reductive. As a case in point, look how smartphones have evolved to the slab form factor. 
 
Throwing stuff against the wall
 
I’ve worked enough times on digital products to understand the functionality is king. It’s the single most important thing. I’ve worked on products that wonderful functions but:
  • Consumers didn’t know they had a need, its hard to get consumers to build new habits. Forming habits can be hard
  • They were a bitch to sign up with. Yahoo!’s sign-up process killed products. It’s a fact. We’d get consumers hyped up, we’d deliver them to the relevant page and they wouldn’t convert. I didn’t blame them, if I wasn’t an employee or digital marketer I’d have done the same
That’s how products are now built. The focus is on speed of execution of the idea. It isn’t about thinking through the complete experience. Agile methodologies with their short sprints puts emphasis on function. Away from data to feed into big picture optimisation. A function focus means that you end up with ‘lean in’ interaction designs as default.
 
There aren’t many organisations that get it right. I’d argue that the early Flickr team and Slack ‘got it’. Though there are common factors:
  • Both Flickr and Slack had common key team members
  • Both products fell out of failure. Flickr came out of tools for Game Neverending. Slack began as a tool in the development of Glitch
Where are the ergonomists and futurists?
 
There are people who can provide the rigorous critique.
Back in the day organisations with large R&D functions like NASA and BT employed writers to envisage the future. Staring into the future became a career. People like Syd Mead provided a visual map of the future. Mead and others did a lot of work thinking about the context of technology to users. At the present time lots of criticism levelled at VR glasses is it being anti-social. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has read William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Social interaction is more likely to come glasses wearer to glasses wearer. It will happen in a virtual third space. Neal Stephenson explored this third space in Snow Crash. The Black Sun was a virtual night club.
 

Bill Moggridge, designer of the GRiD Compass computer – the world’s first laptop thought a lot about ergonomics. The laptop had a 11 degree slope from pop-out leg to the keypad. This is something that your MacBook Pro or Surface doesn’t have. There is a lack of depth in technology design compared to what Moggridge had. He brought in psychologists and studied human computer interaction. He eventually co-founded IDEO.

Whilst the elements that Moggridge looked at were well known the thinking doesn’t seep into product categories. We are very good at asking can a product be made. We are poor at asking what does the product really mean. Apple’s viewpoint on the tablet segment is a case in point.

The vast majority of tablets are used for lean back media consumption from watching films and reading books to reviewing emails. It can work as a productivity device in specific circumstances with custom built apps – say field sales or replacing a pilot’s flight paperwork. The keyboard and power of modern Macs (and PCs) provide a better tool for content creators; whether its analysing a spreadsheet or writing this blog post. 

Yet, since its launch by Steve Jobs, Apple has viewed the iPad as a new PC. The iPad Pro has been designed to try and catch up in features with the Mac. It is ironic that Microsoft has moved a slim ‘MacBook clamshell design’ analogue into its latest Surface range.  It is very different to the pragmatic design ethos of China’s ‘shanzhai’ gadget markers who came up with both laughable and smart solutions. Everything from the dual SIM phone to the phone / electric razor hybrid. Successes bloomed and oddities slipped into the night.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Politico has got a great way of processing shares of charts and diagrams, take for example this chart on UK post-Brexit inflation driving the UK towards a brecession

It includes responsive formatting

Nestle mulling sale of its nearly US$1 bn confectionary business in the US | SCMP – really interesting move that shows Nestle following a trend that PepsiCo tried to go down a number of years ago

Dentsu Aegis Second Big Shop To Downgrade 2017 Ad Expansion | Mediapost

7 of the top 10 smartphone suppliers headquartered in China | Electroniq

Common Sense: Did the Jack Welch Model Sow Seeds of G.E.’s Decline? | New York Times – interesting read, I wonder whether this will discredit other parts of ‘Neutron’ Jack’s legacy

Busting Thieves One Dyetonator At A Time | ogilvy.com

Nokia Touts NPU for Internet’s Next Chapter | EE Times

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

Louis Vuitton’s personalisation feature is really interesting. It brings NikeID magic to their retail experience. I think that it will also impact secondhand sales – flair is much more of a personal decision.

Scott Galloway manages to get his academic colleague Adam Alter to highlight some of the techniques used to make apps as digital catnip

The soundtrack of my week has been this mix by Jennifer Cardini

This is probably old news, but it was the first time that I noticed it in my feed. Instagram has an email collection facility that reminded me of Twitter cards. Its a great idea that can help tie Instagram engagement closer to e-commerce sales

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Flickr has been tweaking its design and has improved its search. These changes have largely happened under the radar. In my experience, the biggest move was that the ‘camera roll’ has been depreciated in menu positions so that you no longer click on it by accident. It’s good to see the continual improvements in a time of substantial change at Yahoo! / Oath or whatever Verizon calls it. Flickr talked about the changes it made to the user’s profile page on its blog.

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Links of the day | 在网上找到

How a crippling shortage of analysts let the London Bridge attackers through | UK news | The Guardian

The blockchain paradox: Why distributed ledger technologies may do little to transform the economy — Oxford Internet Institute

How to prevent the UK’s self-destruction | HKEJ Insights – Jim O’Neill on the state of Britain

Q&A with Connie Chan | Techinasia – Connie works at A16z and really gets the Chinese eco-system better than anyone else on Sandhill Road

In Pakistan, China presses built-in advantage for ‘Silk Road’ contracts – Reuters – China’s advantage isn’t IP, price or product but willingness to deploy cheap capital fast

WWDC 2017 — Some Thoughts – Learning By Shipping – interesting analysis – Steven Sinofsky was a senior executive at Microsoft

Tech Fix: New iPad Pro Inches Toward Replacing PC, but Falls Short | New York Times – I still think of the iPad as predominantly a content consumption device. Whilst it can be great with apps for specific work, it isn’t a general purpose device like a Mac

Aldi fires $3.4 billion shot in US supermarket wars | RTE – really interesting move with huge potential impact for FMCG brands

‘Nobody at Yahoo understood Tumblr’: Why Marissa Mayer’s big bet on Tumblr never panned out – eerily reminiscent of Flickr, del.icio.us experience in many respects

US intelligence agencies are beginning to build AI spies | Quartz – not surprising they would want to hand off first line analysis on data to machines

Indoor GPS could stop us getting lost – and make us spend more money | CityMetric – indoor navigation still feels clunky

Women have no idea what to wear to work today — Quartz – ironically they are too illiberal for men’s clothing

Oprah time: True Names by Vernor Vinge

New York Times journalist John Markoff was interviewed by Kara Swisher on the Recode podcast in February and talked about reading science fiction to better understand how technology is likely to affect us.
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It’s actually a great piece of advice. Back in the day, large corporates used to employ authors to write stories based on scenarios as part of their research programmes. Many people have attributed the clamshell mobile phone to the Star Trek TV series and the flip communicator devices.

Markoff outlined his favourite stories.

“Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson (1992): “The premise is, America only does two things well. One is write software, and the other is deliver pizzas. [laughs] What’s changed?”
“The Shockwave Rider” by John Brunner (1975): Markoff said he built his career on an early understanding that the internet would change everything. He said, “[The Shockwave Rider] argued for that kind of impact on society, that networks transformed everything.”
“True Names” by Vernor Vinge (1981): “The basic premise of that was, you had to basically hide your true name at all costs. It was an insight into the world we’re living in today … We have to figure it out. I think we have to go to pseudonymity or something. You’re gonna participate in this networked existence, you have to be connected to meatspace in some way.”
“Neuromancer” by William Gibson (1984): Markoff is concerned about the growing gap between elders who need care and the number of caregivers in the world. And he thinks efforts to extend life are “realistically possible,” pointing to Gibson’s “300-year-old billionaires in orbit around the Earth.

I had read Snow Crash relatively recently and Neuromancer was revisited last year. I had a vague recollection of The Shockwave Rider and True Names, but hadn’t read them in over 20 years.

Vinge’s True Names is published by Penguin with a collection of essays from a range of technology thinkers including

  • Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer who founded Habitat one of the first massive online multiplayer games, back when dial up bulletin boards were the bleeding edge. Farmer worked at Yahoo! when I was there and was involved in Yahoo! 360 and still consults on community / social platform issues
  • Bruce Schneier wrote about how security products fail us. Bruce is one of the world’s leading commentators on all things hack and cryptography related
  • Mark Pesce is better known now as an Australian-based computer academic, but two decades ago he invented VRML – a way of representing the internet as a 3D thing and prescient in the light of Oculus Rift and others.
  • Marvin Minsky; was a pioneer in AI and machine learning provided an afterward to the story

That True Names managed to attract essays from these people should be an endorsement in itself.  Re-reading it two decades on, Vinge’s story echoes and riffs on the modern web. Hacking, cyberterrorism, constant government surveillance and the tension between libertarian netizens versus the regulated  real world. The central theme of Mr Slippy; a hacker who is identified by US government officials and co-opted as an unwilling informant and agent provocateur feels reminiscent of LULZSec leader and super grass Sabu. It’s amazing that Vinge wrote this in 1981 – although he envisages the web as being rather like a Second Life / Minecraft metaverse – with NeuroSky style interfaces.

Penguin’s careful curation of essays riffing on the themes of True Names is where the real value is in my opinion. For someone who cares about technology and consumer behaviour. It is worthwhile keeping this book on the shelf and diving in now and again.

More information
Want to understand the future? Read science fiction, John Markoff says. | Recode
Habitat Chronicles – thoughts on gaming, online products and community building by Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer
Schneier on Security
Mark Pesce’s professional website and his columns for The Register
Vernor Vinge lecture on long-term scenarios for the future via The Wayback Machine

Links of the day | 在网上找到

The One Big Reason Why BuzzFeed Needs to Break Into TV – Bloomberg – so much for the online media business…. old media is the new sexy

Tom Oberheim On The Art Of Synthesizer Design | Synthtopia – amazing interview with Tom Oberheim on how he got into synthesiser design and talks about his products

Haul For One: U-Haul Adapts & Reuses Abandoned Buildings | Urbanist – some of these are stunning for a modernist sucker like me

What influencer marketing really costs – Digiday – interesting ranges in here

Apple’s new anti-tracking system will make Google and Facebook even more powerful – The Verge – a more marginal improvement than you’d think

Apple Just Joined Tech’s Great Race to Democratize AI | WIRED

Why Apple is struggling to become an artificial-intelligence powerhouse – The Washington Post – Washington Post was bought by Jeff Bezos

Entertainment Accounts Closed as Party Emphasizes News Control | China Digital Times – China clamping down on celebrity scandal accounts as well as accounts that would be disruptive to government

Pathology of a Fake News Story – Thoughts On Journalism – Medium

Apple launches Business Chat for iMessage in developer preview | VentureBeat – looks like they have been taking a lesson or two from WeChat

Facebook study shows what TV viewers are doing during commercial breaks | silicon beat

Monday marketing thought

There is a huge tension that I see in the challenge facing FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) marketers. On the one hand they have to continue innovating as their brand media spend slowly fragments across new channels in pursuit of consumers.

Explore something new in every brief

On the other hand, Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB) is now being used to bring increased accountability to marketing activity. The advice to “Explore something new in every brief” – whilst laudable, becomes harder to achieve. The move towards ZBB implies that FMCG sectors are value industries, and recent stagnant growth largely validates that impression – businesses like Dollar Shave Club and the like are edge factors rather than core drivers.

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Links of the day | 在网上找到

DARPA Funds Development of New Type of Processor | EE Times

Car Fact Of The Day | Marginal Revolution – Huge increase in complexity in cars

I, Cringely The Robots are Coming! – I, Cringely – interesting read, but one that poses as much challenges as solutions

Russian malware link hid in a comment on Britney Spears’ Instagram | Engadget – really canny technique

Can These Pornographers End ‘MILFs,’ ‘Teens,’ and ‘Thugs’? | The Nation – when I was working on social search and folksonomies at Yahoo! a decade ago, little did I expect how low the world of tagging would fall

WWII vehicle boneyards were essentially war machine landfills | Mashable  – Americans were so eager to get their hands on cheap surplus Jeeps that auto companies urged the government to leave them overseas, fearing they would cut into new car sales.

Apple is finally serious about artificial intelligence | Quartz – i’d disagree with the headline, but it has a good overview of the AI development pieces from Apple’s keynote

China’s Operation Australia: payments, power and politicians | Sydney Morning Herald – surely its what you’d expect an intelligence agency to do. Not really surprising, except for the change in tonality from Australia about China

The Telegraph to publish daily edition on Snapchat – from 5pm today – I wonder what the monetisation model looks like?

Chinese consumerism will reshape the world, and maybe even destroy it — Quartz – anything to do with China is the speed at which all this has occurred. What would the outcomes of that speed be? People wouldn’t have as many brand associations. Those brand associations would have built up in relatively short amount of time, as opposed to [being] handed down intergenerationally. Because of that speed, the amount of anxiety about having the right brand would be greater in that environment than in a place where this is unfolding slowly. Interesting also that Gerth talks about the right (communist) brands under Mao when people wanted a bike, a sewing machine and a wrist watch. I would also argue that there was latent knowledge of brands from pre-revolutionary times in older people based in Shanghai or historic brands like Tongrentang (TRT) founded in 1669

Network Time Protocol Hardened To Protect Users From Spying, Increase Privacy – Slashdot

Listen and create ambient sounds easily – Ambient Mixer – great for sounds to work by

An aversion to logos could be Essential’s undoing | total telecom – its even more ridiculous that Essential actually have a logo that evokes Paul Rand and Saul Bass

Google vs. Uber: How One Engineer Sparked a War – WSJ – interesting write up of Andrew Levandowski’s role in it. I didn’t realise he was Belgian and its interesting how Google Street View helped birth its autonomous car project

Pinboard Blog – Pinboard acquires del.icio.us – a certain amount of irony in this which I’ll write about another time

Japan puts up satellite in step to build homegrown GPS- Nikkei Asian Review – Quasi-zenith devices to allow location data accurate to 6cm

Andy Rubin’s new company already got screwed by Apple – BGRAlthough Apple didn’t object to the investment, SoftBank didn’t want the conflict to happen

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week

Scott Galloway and Adam Alter on smartphone addiction

The Hood Internet have done an amazing four minute edit of forty years of hip hop. It’s razor sharp precision

BBH Shanghai have created a beautiful ad for Audi China which features science fiction author Hao Jing Fang.

Louis Vuitton have been doing a lot of forward thinking content and events. Whilst this video is beautifully shot, it feels retro by comparison to other things that they’ve done

Carhartt Work In Progress created this great skate video in Italy

AZZURRO from Carhartt Work In Progress on Vimeo.