Oprah time: Death Notice by Zhou Haohui

China has had a run in English literature at the moment. Cixin Liu has overturned the world of science fiction with his Three Body Problem trilogy of books. Zhou Haohui’s Death Notice promises a similar shake up in crime fiction.

Death Notice

Death Notice takes place in 2002, the internet was changing Chinese society and the government hadn’t yet rolled out The Great Firewall of online control in-depth. Forums were transformative, attracting participants who shared a passion to connect in ways previously impossible within China.

It was also a more open time in terms of the government’s attitude to public freedom and discourse. Which is why it is the ideal time to set a complex serial killer that relies on the internet.

The death notice of the title refers to a crowdsourced list of wrongdoers who escaped justice and are dispatched in creative ways. I don’t want to say any more that would give away more of the plot.

Death Notice leads you on a twisted exploration of who the killer could be, dragging in to suspicion members of the investigative team. And this is apparently the first in a series of books.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

How A Cartel-Linked Murder Rocked A Wealthy Dallas Suburb | Texas Monthly – a great read. The painstaking research of the stalkers is like something out of The Wire. It also brings home how much telematics have fallen in cost and user complexity over the past two decades

Why Yahoo Japan Needs to Be Part of Your Search Strategy for Japan – my advice would be don’t be a cheap SoB and pay for a decent SEO agency based in Japan, so that they can look at content strategies and link placement across the different sources that Yahoo! Japan Search uses. This guide just opens you up to the kind of possibilities there, but is no substitute for a local team

Qualcomm CEO thinks Apple will eventually be a customer again, despite escalating legal battle | 9to5Mac – There’s less to these than meets the eye, beyond Qualcomm wants to make Apple it’s prison bitch

WhatsApp Founder Speaks, EU Deception?, Facebook Ideology | Stratechery  – probably one of the best reads about founders and Facebook.  What gets me is that this is news. Eight years ago in tech circles the term zucked – a portmanteau of (Mark) Zuckerberg and fucked was already in common enough use for me to blog about it.  Facebook has demonstrated this time-and-time again to consumers, partners, acquired businesses and even government and regulatory bodies. When do they get their Judge Jackson moment a la Microsoft? The main point of interest is how closely aligned Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg in terms of their collective moral turpitude

How China Systematically Pries Technology From U.S. Companies – WSJ – China isn’t going to change this conduct, any more than the United States were willing back when Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling were  complaining about book piracy in the New World. China is already putting in strong protection for domestic intellectual property, but unlike the US, there is no sign that they will ever support foreign IP rights as they pursue a mercantilist imperial agenda globally

Spotify’s Big Tencent Risk [Mark Mulligan] – hypebot

How China’s army of online trolls turned on Sweden | Abacus – I am surprised that Facebook allows groups that are organising way stations to remain on the platform. It fits into a wider narrative that Facebook is facilitating and profiting from the weaponising of the web by Russia/China etc. etc. I don’t think Sweden will be that sympathetic to Facebook lobbyists when they come complaining about EU overreach.

“Swiped” HBO documentary – director Nancy Jo Sales explains why swiping on Tinder is addictive – Recode – great read, you could probably say similar things for scrolling through Instagram or a Facebook feed

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

Things that made my day this week:

The thing that blew me about this advert is how old school it feels and I mean it in a good way. High production values, great copywriting and beautifully shot. Pretty much everything that modern day adverts tend not to be with production being commoditised with the constant focus on how it can be used on Istagram / Facebook / Snap / Twitter Video – good enough rather than doing things well. These changes are symptomatic of all the forces affecting the ad industry at the moment.

While we’re talking about ad making, I also love this ad done for McDonalds Hong Kong in the early 1990s. Such a simple idea really well executed – you don’t need to speak Cantonese to get it. It is apparently based on this advert screened during the Super Bowl in the US. The creative was done during Leo Burnett’s 35-year run as creative agency for the fast food chain.

Scott Galloway tends to polarise opinions, so I’d ask you to put aside any feelings you have and listen to this interview with Mr Bags – one of the biggest influencers in the luxury sector for Chinese at the moment.

Amazing photos and insight into the Yakuza life: Behind the Yakuza: documenting the women of Japan’s mafia | Dazed Digital

Currently reading City of Devils : A Shanghai Noir by Paul French. It is a true crime story about Shanghai during the Warlord period prior to World War Two. I’m only a little bit into the book but it’s very obvious why the young Chinese Communist Party would have held a passionate dislike for western powers interfering in their country.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

FOMO in China is a $7 billion industry | Marketplace – the Chinese payment for knowledge Podcast business dwarves ad funding and Patreon-like services. Many of them are like bank analyst type reports as audio books

Luxury Daily Rimowa seeks to offer more than suitcases to its ‘purposeful travelers’ – marketing and design is going to rely on community and collaboration – sounds like Stüssy’s playbook for the past four decades

European Union has a plan for Asian infrastructure but will it collide with China’s belt and road? | South China Morning Post – this could get interesting

Google Announces That its Data Studio Tool is Now Available to All Users | Social Media Today – Interesting low end attack on Qlik and Tableau

Poundland To Open Stores At Up To 20 Former Poundworld Locations | Poundland Press Room – Jacks about to get hammered by Poundland with new stores. The stock inflating dream that Jacks is supposed to sell to Tesco shareholders may come unstuck very fast

Aldi and Lidl won’t be scared by Tesco’s new discount Jack’s | The Guardian – visually it might be an Aldi analogue, pricing strategy wise it seems closer to Poundstretcher with a bakery. It’s probably what all post-Brexit UK supermarkets will look like

Yom Kippur, a children’s bike festival on Israel’s deserted roads | Reuters – interesting evolution in consumer behaviour

Amazon Announces Echo Link, Echo Link Amp and Echo Sub • Gear Patrol – the (US only at the moment) Echo Link Amp looks lovely but you’d be better off with Schiit instead

Scott Galloway on the state of retailing at Recode Conference

This data viz maps Facebook connections across the country | Fast Company – well that’s another Facebook myth disproved

How to nail the Q&A portion of your presentation – good bits of advice

Apple-owned software company FileMaker does an ad that take aim at innovation hype

EU Starts Preliminary Probe into Amazon’s Treatment of Merchants | WSJ City  – the EU has economic reasons to do this as well

CTS – conserve the sound – a German project that preserves what would have been familiar sounds of now obsolete technology. Most are interesting, though the Krups coffee grinder sounds exactly the same as my more modern model

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

I Invented Autocorrect. Sorry About That; You’re Welcome | WIRED – More than 10 years after the initial release of the iPhone, the state of the art now is much as it was then. Even with recent advances in AI and machine learning, the core problem remains the same: Software doesn’t understand the nuance of human communication.

Johann Rupert: the man on a mission to save Europe’s artisanal skills | How To Spend It – Concurrent with his observations about the speed at which new fortunes are made are his fears about the extinction of the middle class. “I don’t know where AI and machines are going to end up. But if we as humanity are going to preserve jobs and culture, we need to be smart.” He recognises that his success is “based upon people with culture and skills. And when their livelihoods are affected by machines, we’ve got to fight back.”

Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption | Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – no privacy, no secure crypto basically – UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and US are making a new push to come after cryptography in consumers hands. Interesting how little coverage that this has received until The Register pushed it

The US-China Cold War is now playing out in Pakistan — Quartz India – Pakistan hopes that China and Saudi Arabia might offer the financial relief that would provide an alternative to the IMF and American pressure. Although this is not the kind of role that China wants, an IMF bailout would lead to a disclosure of the highly secretive terms of CPEC deals, leading to renegotiation or even cancellation and undermining Beijing’s geo-economic goals.

Experts Call for Transparency Around Google’s Chinese-Made Security Keys – Motherboard – I was waiting for this shoe to drop. I would make more sense to do the assembly outside China with a Taiwanese supplier. This the approach that BlackBerry used to do with its devices prior to licensing its name to TCL. Apple has to do a lot of proprietary work and inspections to keep its devices secure and there is no sign that Google has done this

Baidu launches EZDL, an AI model training platform that requires no coding experience | VentureBeat – interesting visual programming approach

Chinese bike-share group Ofo sued for alleged $10m in unpaid bills | Financial Times – Shanghai Phoenix Bicycles, an old and venerable bicycle brand in China, has petitioned a Beijing court over an unpaid supplier contract worth Rmb68m ($9.9m) with a unit of Beijing-based Ofo, according to an exchange filing by Phoenix’s parent company late on Friday. 

Ofo previously faced the threat of having 3m of its bicycles immobilised due to a dispute over alleged unpaid debts to a smart-lock producer, which had threatened to “freeze” the locks if it did not receive payment. Ofo said later the dispute had been resolved. 

Peak Valley? – AVC – Fred Wilson makes the defence case for Silicon Valley….

Watch the ‘Real’ Magic Leap Whale Take Flight in ‘Helio’ Web Experiment – Road to VR – hype versus reality

With New London Store, Stüssy Flexes Its ‘Tribe’ | News & Analysis, News Bites | BoFthe tribal ethos at the core of Stüssy’s inner circle also informs the label’s relationship with its end consumers. On an average day, young shoppers gather around Stüssy stores, which have become club houses of sorts. “Stüssy has a strong, continuous and honest communication with their clients,” says Matthew Williams, founder of Alyx. “People can get a piece and understand what it is to wear a Stüssy shirt, they can participate in that,” adds Sinatra.