A really simple bit of creativity

Sina Weibo has become a popular micro-blogging service. It started off as being rather similar to Twitter, but provides a more integrated experience for users. Add to this that you can say more in 140 Chinese characters than using a roman alphabet language and it has a whole new dynamic to it. (Although there are other services such as Tencent Weibo, I will just use Weibo to refer to the Sina service for this article). It has also become popular with the Chinese government as a form of electronic communications with the general public.
CIC Data highlighted this logo from a regional Shanghai police Sina Weibo feed.

The traffic police of Shanghai’s Qing Pu district have taken a lighthearted, personable approach to their social media engagement. In Chinese, traffic police is pronounced Jiao Jing. So, they combined Qing from Qing Pu and Jiao from Jiao Jing to get Qing Jiao, which means green pepper. There you have it, the new face of Qing Pu law enforcement – drawn on a pepper.

It’s just a simple creative idea, but I really liked it!

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Official Google Blog: Introducing the Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web

AppleInsider | Google gave original Mac designer free rein on new Google+ UI

China Speed | Ketchum Blog – Ketchum exec talks about the experience of visiting China for the first time

Baidu Pushes ‘Box Computing’ for Smarter, Interactive Web Searches [REVIEW] | Penn Olson – expect to see more this from Google or Bing

Chart Focus: A coming credit crunch? – the developing world will take the capital away from western governments

PepsiCo Gives Pepsi-Cola a Renewed Marketing Push – WSJ.comYou just can’t go dark on brands and expect them to hold their value (paywall)

Facebook Promotions: What You Need to Know | Social Media Examiner – useful guide

Database boasts it will track web behaviour of everyone in UK – The Independent – social norming around advertising and privacy particularly on social platforms is likely to ensue

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: Another study points to advantages of printed textbooks – really interesting article, making some behavioural points that I hadn’t fully grasped

Enhanced Social Media Response Chart | Deirdre Breakenridge


Startup Wins Funding For iPhone App To Scan Skin For Melanoma

The significance of singing ‘Red Songs’ | Jottings from the Granite Studio – interesting take on the nostalgia for old party songs. Reminds me of the East German nostalgia for old communist consumer brands

CSI Virtual MasterCard app bringing mobile payments to iOS, Android and BlackBerry – Engadget – interesting that MasterCard is getting out ahead of this

Popgadget : Microsoft to turn your home into a control panel

The Gay Bar: Is it dying? – Slate Magazine – being killed by progressive social change and online

Luxury sector slow to change in China: Warc.com

Unilever calls for new agency models: Warc.com – looks for ad agencies to change their structure

DOCOMO to Become Japan’s First Mobile Operator to Offer Phone-to-Phone Service for Overseas Mobile Remittances | NTT DOCOMO – interesting that like VoIP, mobile-to-mobile payments are taking off early with the Filipino diaspora

UK ad agencies endure another barren year at Cannes Lions festival | guardian.co.uk

AnimationTrip.com – the people who now own the Mind’s Eye series of CGI compilations

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: United States vs. Google (revisited)

My ten favourite personal analogue things

  • Mechanical watch – despite having no discernible mechanical talent, I have always been fascinated by inner workings of mechanical things large and small from car engines to watch movements. Move forward to my mid-20s when I was scuba diving, I relied on a watch to keep an eye on the elapsed time under water. One thing I found is that even a hint of moisture was enough to kill a quartz movement and so my love affair with mechanical watches started
  • Moleskine notepad with engineering squares – whilst I do digital things, I sometimes find it easier to do my visual thinking on notepads and sheets of paper. I use engineering paper for this in a moleskin book and scan the results into flickr for posterity. It means that my blog posts can take a distinctly analogue feel at times when I ‘show the sausage factory’ and put my scans in the post. The book also contains half-developed ideas that get fleshed out on the paper before being blogged about. I keep my book inside a Rickshaw Bags portfolio to keep my ideas safe and dry
  • Muji gel ink black pens – Stephen Waddington considers his Montblanc pen as an essential luxury, my preferences in writing are a bit cheaper. I buy these pens in packs of six. I like their simple translucent barrel and the ink flows easily without smudging
  • Wired magazine (US print edition) – Wired US is a constant joy with features that have cutting edge illustrations. Of course it isn’t as good as it was with typographic swirls and metallic inks, but then now it makes money
  • Monocle magazine (print edition) – Monocle’s clean fresh design and irreverent illustrations have become an analogue reading ritual for me. The online edition whilst informative and well-read just doesn’t come to life in the same way. However the publication could do with less Blackberry adverts
  • O’Reilly Publishing reference books – when things go wrong, it is reassuring to fall back on O’Reilly’s reference books. They don’t need a battery, they don’t make a sound and don’t display error messages (except as illustations)
  • Oblique Strategies card deck – Brian Eno came up with these set of cards that provide ideas of looking for creative solutions. Brilliant for when I am butting my head against a wall thinking about how I can make a me-too drug for an embarrassing or harrowing condition come to life through digital
  • Short wave radio – I own a Sony ICF-CD2000 radio which has the shortwave band on it. Staying in a strange hotel like business travel I would tune the radio out of a radio station and leave the white noise bubbling away through the night to mask the sounds of the hotel and get a good night’s sleep
  • Vinyl records – with CDs and to even a greater extent MP3s we lost frequency response. Whilst I use an iPod for travelling at home I still love vinyl which I play at home
  • Matmos lava lamp – now and again whilst working on this blog or doing some serious thinking work at home I like to look away from the screen and let the thinking happening in the background. I have a couple of Matmos Telstar lava lamps in green and red that I end up staring at until inspiration strikes

Google+ project and social platforms

Google has pulled a number of interesting projects out of the hat with its Google+ projects. Much has been been made of whether these will ‘kill Facebook’ and the general consensus is that it won’t. I think that this discussion misses a key underlying theme: these aren’t social platforms, but platforms that augment socialising – this is a subtle and key distinction to bear in mind as we try and work out how to incorporate these services into online / digital PR camapaign elements over the coming months. A more immediate problem maybe for the PR collaboration tool Huddle which faces mindshare competition from Google+ Huddle a group messaging offering.

Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week

My ten favourite personal digital things

    • My Mac – despite my owning an iPhone, and a recently acquired iPad (that I am still not that sold on); my Mac is my most personalised computing space. It is my digital home. It is organised around me and seems to have its own personality. It even has a name: Toshiro after veteran Japanese actor 三船 敏郎 | Mifune Toshirō (the family name is first)
    • Fastladder – I have experimented with lots of different RSS readers and particularly liked Bloglines which I have used for a number of years. But Bloglines ran through a lot of neglect when owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC) and didn’t seem to work when I was in China – which was the final straw for me. I evaluated other options like Google Reader; which had a comparatively poor user experience and eventually came across Fastladder, an English language version of the Japanese language Livedoor RSS reader. It offers a slightly cleaner user experience than Bloglines. One thing does need to improve however is its compatibility with the iPad, which renders the site worse than useless. I am not a great fan of the JesusTablet for this very reason
    • Flickr – Flickr is what I consider to be the most under-rated web service that I know. It has a great community particularly build around its creative commons community, is brilliant at handling images and its APIs make it exceptionally flexible to do things with. I use it as a visual diary, image hosting for this blog and inspiration for presentations
    • Pinboard – I loved Delicious, but it got Bartz’d and I moved my information on to Pinboard as members of the Delicious engineering team that I knew had done the same. I love Pinboard’s reliability and simplicity and don’t mind that its essentially anti-social in nature. It’s interface reflects the lean aesthetic that Delicious went away from and its mercifully free of spam noise
    • The WELL – The WELL was the original electronic community. It has archives of forum threads (called conferences)  that covered every conceivable subject populated by the digerati. If I am noodling on an idea and it isn’t going there I will dip into a conference on The WELL that discussed it
    • Techmeme – Kind of like the Google News sci-tech stream but more signal, less noise. If you want to know what is happening in technology it is likely to turn up here pretty darned quick. It bills itself as the tech news site of record; whilst it is technically inaccurate, since its an aggregator of sorts rather than a true media, it certainly plays that role for me
    • Pew Research Internet and American Life project – free research that pokes and prods US consumer behaviour online that provides a useful steer on how things are going online. This has given me inspiration and slide fodder more times than I care to mention
    • Email – a bit of a surprise I know but it is such a great asynchronous communications platform. It gives me prompts when I need to go into Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, I can read it on the tube and on my personal account the mail.app that comes as part of OSX has got pretty good spam filtering built in and it covers the widest swathe of my social graph
    • Yojimbo – I haven’t bothered moving to Evernote as I have been a happy Yojimbo user for a number of years. I tried DEVONtechnologies DEVONthink; but found that whilst it was a brilliant piece of software, it was overkill for my requirements. However if I ever ending up writing a seven-part series of novels a la J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series; I wouldn’t hesitate to use DEVONthink to keep the plot consistent and all my research together
    • Hunch – not exactly the most popular social platform but fiendishly useful, its recommendations are extremely perceptive – so I love dipping in periodically. But these recommendations are also the light side of a warning. With big data, small details about your life can allow others to make pretty accurate assumptions, for instance a cluttered desktop screen shot is likely to belong to someone with liberal views. On the face of it no correlation, but with the right data set non-obvious linkages become apparent. That’s the clever stuff behind Hunch. Thankfully they are not evil