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