Clubhouse & things that caught my eye this week

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Korean American security researcher Brian Pak looked at Clubhouse and some of the findings were very interesting. Pak posted a full analysis in Korean here. The key takeouts for me where:

Some (probably early adopter) Koreans have been buying used iPhones so that they can try Clubhouse, since the app is currently iOS only.

The concept of an audio chat app that isn’t new. Pak identified Clubhouse’s key strength as having an intuitive UI/UX and a large number of participants from various backgrounds.

I found it interesting that Pak felt there might be technical difficulties in having Clubhouse for desktop (macOS / Windows) or Android. I suspect that the reason was more about managing the scaling of the app.

Clubhouse is a closer to a mashup than a ‘real app’. It’s voice functions are based on Agora, a Chinese provider. Most of the rest of the features are using the Pubnub communications service platform. The way protocols have been handled was highlighted as a security risk. Stanford Internet Observatory got into this in more detail here.

I can also recommend this coverage about how Clubhouse usage has evolved in Hong Kong, China, Japan and Nigeria.

There was a major fall of snow in the US last week. It unfolded as a catastrophe across Texas. NBC’s New York affiliate set up a live stream at New York’s Time Square. It is amazing to zone out and watch. It could be considered to another entry in the slow TV genre pioneered by Norway’s public broadcaster NRK.

I watched Adam Curtis’ Can’t Get You Out Of My Head last week and wanted to track down some of the films in it. Here are some of them.

Bloodshed on Wolf Mountain was a film about opposition to the Japanese invasion of China. filmed during the pre-communist phase of China.

Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy is a Communist propaganda film describing how a communist infiltrated a bandit gang and helped the communists to destroy them. It was apparently based on an incident that happened during the Chinese civil war. Like the other Communist films featured here, it is extremely stylised using Peking opera techniques mixed with ballet.

A ‘slave’ girl on Hainan island runs away and joins a female group of communist soldiers who are fighting a local warlord in The Red Detachment Of Women. The film was made just prior to the cultural revolution at Shanghai Tian Ma studio.

Finally The East Is Red is musical dramatising from the Chinese communist party perspective; the decline of the Qing dynasty through to the communist takeover.

The original film was produced in 1965, right before the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The prologue seems to have been added after the ‘Gang of Four’ were put on trial. There is certainly a touch of the classic MGM musical to the production style, alongside Beijing opera and ballet.

Filipino brand Jollibee did a pandemic themed Valentine short films which was really clever. All of the films were made by local directors and are emblematic of the COVID-19 experience. Tonally it hits the right spot for the Philippines. What might seem to be too cute and emotional for UK audiences resonates well in that market. Thankfully, it isn’t the tear-jerking emotional rollercoaster that Thai ads can take you on.

I particularly like the second one because of the twist in the plot.

Jollibee’s overall approach on brand as media makes sense when you think about the nature of the Philippines media market and the good number of diaspora that they need to reach.