Jargon watch: zhuāng bì (装B)

Newspaper collage featuring Mao Zetong

China has developed a deep and constantly evolving language online. It is fascinating to study how Chinese netizens use emoticons in a distinctly different way to westerners and the language constantly morphs in a way that leaves Chinese expatriates baffled even after a short time outside the country.  zhuāng bì (pronounce the zh as a short j) is a case in point.  It means poser.

Christine Xu gives an in-depth explanation of how 装B came about, given that western characters aren’t generally used by Chinese.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Benedict Evans on ten-year future predictions (well as good as anyone can)

YouGov | Who is on top in the Nike vs. Adidas battle? – UK only data

The bitcoin drugs trade is highly centralised | FT Alphaville – looks that the cryptocurrency bubble could burst pronto

How an unknown Chinese phone maker became No 3 in India by solving the oily fingers problem | South China Morning Post – “Big companies which sell smartphones in more than 100 countries are too global to care for one single market,” Chowdhury said in an interview in Shenzhen. “The core strategy for us is to become the favourite mobile phone brand in emerging markets.”

HSBC’s Amy and other soon-to-be released AI chatbots are about to change the way we bank | South China Morning Post

Why Uber Can Find You but 911 Can’t – WSJ – one can understand the reluctance of technology companies to get involved

The Pet Shop Boys are the face (and sound) of Christian Dior’s men’s collection this summer.

Luxury group Kering to spin off Puma to shareholders | RTE – not terribly surprising it fits awkwardly with the other brands

Google Plans to Vet YouTube Premium Video Content – Bloomberg – guessing the News International media campaign and Logan Paul debacle is starting to have an impact

How China’s market economy has fuelled a prostitution boom | South China Morning PostMy grandma was always grateful to Mao, mainly because she was upgraded from a concubine to a wife under the Communists “one wife” rule. – There is also the shredding of culture and community during the cultural revolution probably ruined community / support mechanisms

Charlie Stross at the Chaos Computer Club conference

Interesting lens on history, predictions and futurology by science fiction writer Charlie Stross. Culture has a role (and attendant responsibility) in shaping the direction of technology. Stross’ talk is an essay on unintended consequences, design, regulation and economics.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

I’ve been ill over the Christmas period with man flu and a stomach bug; but have been using my current recovery time to at least keep reading.

Researchers Made Google’s Image Recognition AI Mistake a Rifle For a Helicopter | WIRED – interesting implications for black SEO

Daring Fireball: Marzipan – makes more sense than the original Guzman article on a future merging of iOS and macOS

The strange story of “Extended Random” – A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering – you can deploy a cryptographic backdoor, but it’s awfully hard to control where it will end up

The politics of social status: economic and cultural roots of the populist right – Gidron – 2017 – The British Journal of Sociology – Wiley Online Library – the answers may lie on the ‘supply side’ of political competition, where recent movements in party platforms have made the populist right more attractive to many voters. A convergence over the past three decades in the economic platforms of the centre-left and centre-right toward the right have reduced the appeal of the centre-left to the working class. In this context, many voters now complain that no one speaks for them. At the same time, parties on the populist right have moved their economic platforms to the left, making them more plausible providers of jobs and social protection. Moreover, in order to mount distinctive appeals at a time when the differences between parties on economic issues has narrowed, many parties have put more emphasis on identity or values issues, which often draw middle-class voters to the left but working-class voters to the right

Huawei executive detained on suspicion of taking bribes | HKEJ Insights – it is worthwhile bearing in mind that Huawei is a big ass company, so the odds of at least some employees being bent is a sure thing, just on the scale of numbers. It isn’t necessarily proof that the company is rotten. Huawei has its cultural foibles but corruption isn’t necessarily one of them

Behind the Fall and Rise of China’s Xiaomi | WIRED – interesting analysis of how Xiaomi made mixed retail / e-tail strategy and smart home products pull their business

Apple Took the Lion Share of Smartphone Industry Profits in Q3 2017 at Close to 60% – Patently Apple – there are many ways to cut this data. Apple is still doing well, Samsung has made big strides to get back into the game over the last year and the largest Chinese manufacturers are still living on thin margins of $15 per handset. Huawei’s numbers are likely to be mixed. The Honor handsets will have a much lower margins and so pull down Huawei’s aggregate value.

You are not safe

IBM 360 Announcement center

I have been catching up on Halt and Catch Fire. It is a fiction based on various aspects of Silicon Valley lore. I have enjoyed watching it immensely to a point.

I was especially struck by  episode eight in the third series. One of the main characters in series three hacks his employer and releases their anti-virus software online for free. But its the mid-1980s through a thoroughly modern lens. It resonates because it speaks to our age, not to the 1980s or even the mid-1990s.

YOU ARE NOT SAFE

I, Ryan Ray, released the MacMillan Utility source code. I acted alone. No one helped me, and no one told me to do it.  I did this because ‘security’ is a myth.  Contrary to what you might have heard, my friends, you are not safe.  Contrary to what you might have heard, my friends, you are not safe.  Safety is a story. It’s something we search our children so they can sleep at night, but we know it’s not real.

Yes, there was software piracy, it was a mainstream part of computing culture which had sprung up from the ‘homebrew’ mentality.  Prior to founding Apple, Steve Wozniak used to give out the schematics of what then became the Apple I. Punched paper tapes of software used to be exchanged between members when they met up in aMenlo Park garage and later on in an auditorium at Stanford University.

Back then the narrative was overwhelmingly positive in terms of technology. The main problem was whether the Japanese, Microsoft, Intel or IBM was going to crush the rest of the technology eco-system in Silicon Valley. Consumers  had a bright new world of technology ahead of them.  Video games were still a niche interest compared to VCRs (video cassette recorders). VHS versus Betamax was as important a format war as Windows versus Macintosh.

Here’s the thing. This show (rightly or wrongly) may frame the way a lot of people think about this part of the digital age. For those who aren’t well read about the history of Silicon Valley OR didn’t live through the 1980s – it will colour their view of history. That detail rankled me a bit; I’m not quite sure why.  Part of it is knowing where we’re going is understanding where we have been in past.

That’s all very nice, but why does this matter? It provides you with perspective and the ability to critique ideas.