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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Wieden + Kennedy put together this impressive tribute to Kobe Bryant and riffs on their pivot to individual sports performance rather than elite performers.

The craft in the video is self-evident. There are bigger questions to be asked about addressing legacy and what we tolerate in greatness. The tribute to Kobe Bryant is a difficult one to reconcile with his legacy. On the one side, he was a great basketball player. On the other side the legacy of Kobe Bryant is also a messy sexual assault claim that he managed to pay his way out of.

Is a tribute to Kobe Bryant appropriate in a ‘me-too’ world? Is it the right message for Nike to send? Having worked both agency-side and in-house, I would have balked at it.

Silicon Valley icon Carver Mead talks about the history of semiconductors and the related science behind it. Mead has a unique perspective given the role that he played in the development of Silicon Valley. He did foundational science that contributed to semiconductor development and a lot of the conceptual work on VLSI (very large scale integration). VLSI is the process of creating an integrated circuit by combining large numbers of transistors on a single chip. Over time this has gone from thousands, to millions and then billions of transistors. Mead co-wrote ‘the book’ Introduction to VLSI Systems. Although technology has moved past Meads work on VLSI; there couldn’t have been a smartphone without Mead.

The Oxford Union hosted a couple of interesting web chats on Hong Kong that shared the perspectives of some of the pro-democracy camp and a former US diplomat and American businessman.

Interviewees: Nathan Law: Hong Kong politician and activist. A student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement, he served on the Hong Kong Legislative Council until his disqualification in 2017. Eddie Chu Hoi-Dick: Social activist and politician. He founded the Land Justice League, a conservationist, pro-democracy group and was elected to the Legislative council of Hong Kong in 2016.

Both provide a bit more context. What is missing is the Chinese government perspective delivered in a calm logical way rather than a shrill dogmatic manner. More Hong Kong related content here.

Interviewee: Kurt Tong: American diplomat, serving as Consul General of the United States of America to Hong Kong and Macau between 2016 and 2019. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

The Avalanches have produced a track with the International Space Orchestra. The International Space Orchestra are musicians who happen to work for NASA or SETI as engineers. The whole things was filmed in lock down which is obvious from the Zoom-like theme in the video.

The Avalanches – Wherever you go featuring the International Space Orchestra (live in Lockdown)
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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Burger King King of Stream campaign conducted in conjunction with Ogilvy agency DAVID based in Madrid, Spain. The King of Stream makes sense when you look only at the data. Target young people who do gaming. Presumably there is some group cohesion data or insight that shows a propensity to eat fast food with gaming.

However what would have been an interesting half-formed idea in a brainstorm seems to have had a negative impact in real life. Often what makes sense on Excel isn’t that smart when it meets the real world.

It reminded me of the introduction to Robert X. Cringely’s insiders story of the PC industry, Accidental Empires written in the 1991:

… PCs killed the office typewriter, made most secretaries obsolete, and made it possible for a 27-year-old M.B.A. with a PC, a spreadsheet program, and three pieces of questionable data to talk his bosses into looting the company pension plan and doing a leveraged buy-out.

Robert X. Cringely – Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can’t Get a Date

Spreadsheets and the data models inside them can be extremely powerful business tools and also weapons of mass destruction. And King of Stream seems to be the advertising equivalent.

The use of bot powered donations to Twitch with the donation sizes related to Burger King special deals had an adverse effect on the gaming community on Twitch for a few reasons.

  • Burger King is a big brand, yet isn’t engaging with the community in a respectful way. It was culturally tone deaf.
  • This was the bit that surprised me the most given Ogilvy’s reputation around its use of behavioural economics or behavioural science in campaigns. The ‘donations’ are miserly. There is a lot of psychology around the value of donations or gifts. If it really want to engage with the gamers, why not sponsor them?
  • The execution was intrusive and felt like spam

More on this can be found on the King of Stream by reading this thread here. More on other Burger King campaigns here.

Celebrating Hong Kong style milk tea. According to the descriptor on this video is made by the Cui Brothers in Hong Kong; though I suspect it might be carefully edited from other films. It features classic Hong Kong dishes including French toast and pineapple bun with butter.

Indigo Gaming have put together this guide to cyberpunk culture. It is called part one, was done months ago and there doesn’t seem to be a part two yet. Part one of this guide to cyberpunk culture is worthwhile watching on its own.

The best of dance music over the past 30 years or so in a Soundcloud account – The Classic Mix CD Series | Free Listening on SoundCloud – mix CDs were time capsules of what was hot in different clubs at the time. They owe their origins to the mix (cassette) tape packs that club promoters used to sell of their nights. Mixmag took that concept and came up with the first properly licensed recordings.

The original ones were done as one track per DJ mix. At the time CD players would in a space between each track recorded on a CD. Even early versions of iTunes used to do the same thing with both mix CDs and recordings ripped of mix CDs.

At their height, they were an amazing money maker for record labels. They received steady royalty payments from licensing their tracks to appear on these mix CDs. For example Gat Decor, who had a break out single called Passion – appeared on 191 compilations and mix CDs.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Adult entertainment transforms during pandemic – Axios – accelerated move towards interactive and custom adult entertainment production. But US legal issues are getting in the way – Is OnlyFans Deleting Sex Workers’ Accounts? – Rolling Stone 

Publishers and journalists on TikTok – Google Sheets – in case your dystopian life needs more dystopia

Decoding Xi Jinping’s Speech at the World Health Assembly – The DiplomatThe main target of Xi Jinping’s speech is the “global South” and, more specifically, the African continent. The terrain lost in Western democracies amid the pandemic will be hard to win back. However, in terms of global influence, the role of the global South and Africa is vital for China. There also, the image of China has been severely damaged. For the first time, African ambassadors to the PRC had to write a joint letter to protest how African residents were being treated in the PRC

Investigating China: COVID-19 and the CCP – The Diplomatcapitalizing on the growing crisis in the United States and Europe, the official media in China has been trumpeting China’s purported success in controlling the disease. China has also sent medical missions to countries such as Italy. Sending medical missions abroad had been a strategy the PRC used during the Cold War to promote a new international order: a “people’s revolutionary movement” against colonialism, imperialism, and hegemonism

The Chinese luxury market after COVID-19 | Daxue Consulting – interesting how the retailing experience is being adversely affected by COVID precautions

Mixed reactions to current brand comms | YouGovWith the large number of brands clearly defaulting to the ‘all in this together’ message, it’s worth asking: ‘How well does this actually align with their brand values and how they are responding to the current crisis?’ Our research shows that 43% of Brits agree that brands/companies’ current messages and advertising are inauthentic. This figure increases to 52% of males (vs 35% of females). Furthermore, half of respondents (50%) disagree that brands/companies are putting their employees and their customers first and before the company and its profits.

The Crypto Price-Innovation Cycle – Andreessen Horowitz – crypto winters tend to indicate that like AI approaches before it, its not ready for adoption as a technology / use case. Success hasn’t really been in banking or logistics, where’s the adult entertainment play (which drove a lot of other technologies from 16mm cinema film to VHS and web video)

Norske offiserer og soldater avslørt av mobilen – Norge – Norwegian military personnel location data found to be for sale

Why Luxury Brands Are Raising Prices in a Pandemic | BoF Professional, This Week in Fashion | BoFTop-tier brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton are hiking prices in what looks like a bid to pad margins, cushion the impact of lower sales volumes and capitalise on the China rebound.

Electric Vehicles Continue The Same Wasteful Mistakes That Limit Longevity | Hackaday – interesting meditation on software, hardware, design, complexity and quality. Or why a Tesla isn’t as great as Elon makes out

Thailand’s travel industry readies for relaunch | Financial Times – really interesting design hacks being deployed by the Thai tourism industry. It would be great if this positively moves the needle on Thailand’s reputation as a destination for miserly backpackers and adult entertainment

Millennials stand out for their technology use | Pew Research Center – Millennials stand out for their technology use, but older generations also embrace digital life

China’s ‘OK Boomer’: Generations Clash Over the Nation’s Future – The New York TimesChina’s boomers, who were born in the 1960s and 1970s, are as lucky as the American baby boomers born after World War II. China was opening up after nearly 30 years of political turmoil and economic mismanagement under Mao Zedong. Jobs were plentiful. Housing was cheap. And while the party kept an iron grip on political power, society began to open up to new ideas. Before they were blocked beginning about a decade ago, we could use Google and Wikipedia and read The New York Times’s website. The future seemed bright. China is a very different country now, especially for Chinese people born after 1990, or China’s Generation Z. Its economy in recent months shrank for the first time since the Mao era as the country grappled with the coronavirus. One estimate put the unemployment rate at 20 percent. At the same time, housing in major cities is as out of reach for members of Generation Z as it is for their contemporaries in New York and San Francisco.

Merkel cites ‘hard evidence’ Russian hackers targeted her | AFP.com“I can honestly say that it pains me. Every day I try to build a better relationship with Russia and on the other hand there is such hard evidence that Russian forces are doing this,” she told parliament. Calling such cyber attacks “more than uncomfortable,” Merkel raised the spectre of sanctions if such rogue activity did not stop. Germany’s intelligence service has repeatedly called out attempts by Russian hackers to spy on lawmakers or leading politicians.

Troy Hunt: The Unattributable “db8151dd” Data Breach – interesting, looking at the headers, it looks like a wider scrape from multiple sources. It connects multiple social platform profile IDs alongside real world address data. Possibly a large CRM breach???

Exclusive: As China Hoarded Medical Supplies, the CIA Believes It Tried to Stop the WHO from Sounding the Alarm on the Pandemic CIA believes China tried to prevent WHO from sounding the alarm on the coronavirus outbreak in January—a time when Beijing was stockpiling medical supplies from around the world. A CIA report, the contents of which were confirmed to Newsweek by two U.S. intelligence officials, said China threatened the WHO that the country would stop cooperating with the agency’s coronavirus investigation if the organization declared a global health emergency. It was the second such report from a Western intelligence service and is likely to further inflame tensions between the United States and China over a pandemic that has killed 280,000 people worldwide—more than a quarter of them American. – even if this isn’t true, its pushing China US relations into a dark place

How to arrange the perfect bookshelf – probably the most cynical depressing thing I’ve read in a while

Wendy Carlos on her production process that pioneered electronic music as we now know it.

Amazon releases Kendra to solve enterprise search with AI and machine learning | TechCrunch – interesting that Amazon is not offering Kendra in a box like Google did its enterprise search appliance. I suspect this about moving file servers on to the cloud rather than Amazon into the enterprise

The VR winter — Benedict Evans – we haven’t worked out what you would do with a great VR device beyond games (or some very niche industrial application), and it’s not clear that we will. We’ve had five years of experimental projects and all sorts of content has been tried, and nothing other than games has really worked. Hell, even adult entertainment has worked as a driver