I noticed this descriptor appear in an article about iPad obsessed children and how Mattel was looking to adjust to the market.
The name relates to the ‘pictures under glass’ interface that these children have grown up with.
How Toymaker Mattel Plans To Win Over iPad-Obsessed Kids | Time
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.
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.
黑科技 （动漫中出现的词语）- Baidu Baike
Full Metal Panic – Amazon
As with many things in China, numbers become important. Chinese start-up culture has a reputation for flogging the guts out of people to a degree that would even make Sports Direct blush.
996 is a summary of many Chinese tech companies core working house 9am – 9pm, six days a week. Apparently it’s already implemented at companies like Xiaomi and there are claims about its spectacular benefits in terms of productivity.
9/9/6 – Does The New Chinese Startup Work Practice Help Or Hurt Productivity? – TechNode
If you are of a certain age, ‘hand made by robots’ brings to mind the Fiat Strada / Ritmo a thirtysomething year old hatchback design that was built in a factory with a high degree of automation for the time.
Fiat subsidiary Comau created Robogate, a highly automated system that speeds up body assembly. Robogate was eventually replaced in 2000. The reality is that ‘hand made by robots’ had a liberal amount of creative licence. Also it didn’t enable Fiat to shake off its rust bucket image. Beneath the skin, the car was essentially a Fiat 127. Car factories still aren’t fully automated.
Foxconn is looking to automate its own production lines and create products that truly are ‘hand-built by robots’. Like Fiat it has its own robots firm which is manufacturing 10,000 robots per year.
Foxconn has so far focused on production lines for larger product final assembly (like televisions) and workflow on automated machine lines: many consumer products use CNC (computer numeric control) machines. That’s how Apple iPhone and Macs chassis’ are made. These totally automated lines are called ‘lights out production lines’ by Foxconn.
Foxconn is looking to automate production because China is undergoing a labour shortfall as the population getting older. Foxconn uses a lot of manual workers for final assembly of devices Apple’s iPhone because the components are tightly packed together. It will be a while before Foxconn manages to automate this as robotic motor control isn’t fine enough to achieve this yet.
Foxconn boosting automated production in China | DigiTimes – (paywall)
Years ago I wrote a series of posts with the link-baiting titles of ‘Facebook is a dead man walking’; the first post written in 2008. I say this so you can form an opinion up front about my interpretation around the idea of context collapse.
According to The Information, Facebook is worried about a drop in users sharing their own content.
As of mid-2015, total sharing had declined by about 5.5% year over year while “original broadcast sharing” was down 21% year over year, the confidential data show.
This loss is especially acute with under 30 year old users. This loss in sharing according to Bloomberg company staff have branded context collapse.
What are the likely causes? Here my are my hypotheses.
Negative network effects. Just five years ago ZDNet published research were respondents admitted that they were drunk in 75 per cent of their photos on Facebook. In 2016, when ‘friends’ means colleagues, superiors, clients, teachers or parents there will be a lot more self-censorship going on. A more subtle form of self censorship will be also brought about in terms of societal norming.
When Facebook initially arrived the volume of content that people shared was larger, now it isn’t only the nature of the content that people will consider but the volume of the content. Are they too noisy, do they overshare?
Facebook lost a lot of trust with consumers with things likes Beacon. Consumers didn’t necessarily understand the nuances, they were told that it wasn’t good and their privacy settings are a major hassle to tweak – when you’re on edge about privacy, you are more likely to put a filter on your content.
Just over five years ago, Netbase had released brand research that showed consumers had a stronger, negative feeling towards Facebook than brands like Microsoft, Google or Twitter. That left room for other services to creep in for self-expression, messaging and sharing to small groups. Facebook bought some of the major players Instagram and WhatsApp, but doesn’t own all the pieces.
Facebook Struggles to Stop Decline in ‘Original’ Sharing | The Information (paywall)
British Facebook users are drunk in 76% of their photos | ZDNet
Facebook Wants You to Post More About Yourself – Bloomberg
Why Facebook is a dead man walking | renaissance chambara
Why Facebook is a dead man walking part II? | renaissance chambara
Why Facebook is a dead man walking part 2.5? | 技术品牌的情绪 | renaissance chambara
Facebook and advertising or why Facebook is a dead man walking part III? | renaissance chambara