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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Carhartt Labor Day colouring book – the American workwear brand put together a great children’s colouring book for labor day weekend. It allows parents to explain what they do for their kids and provides an activity for a socially isolated public holiday. You can download your Carhartt Labor Day colouring book here.

Carhartt Labor Day colouring book

Vox Media have done a great video on rotoscoping and animation. Rotoscoping as a technique allowed animation to have life-like motion, but the creativity of animation.

I was introduced to rotoscoping with the Ralph Bakshi Lord of The Rings animated movie. Peter Jackson’s live action version borrowed from this version shot for shot, but I find the animated version more enthralling because of Bakshi’s use of rotoscoping.

Video shot from an original 35mm trailer print

Simon Peel of Adidas’ now famous speech that recommended a healthy skepticism on short term performance marketing and the impact of longer term brand marketing. He realises digital is important, but lays out why marketers should ask why? Peel talked honestly about marketing effectiveness, marketing efficiency and misleading metrics. I had read the articles, but this is the first time that I’d seen his talk. More on marketing effectiveness here.

IPA Eff Week talk 2019 by Simon Peel of Adidas

Microsoft had been experimenting with sealed underwater data centres to see if they were possible and what the benefits were. Prior to the project starting there would be some predetermined benefits:

  • Reduced energy costs as refrigeration wouldn’t be needed. (You could achieve a similar effect, if you buried the data centre deep enough)
  • Reduced data centre costs. Internet hotels and server farms can cost a lot if built in cities with expensive real estate

But there were questions over corrosion, damage and reliability. Microsoft got around corrosion by filling a submerged data centre with a nitrogen atmosphere. They found that a data centre without human intervention had much less faults than a matching data centre on-shore.

Microsoft are now working on how the end of life process would work for an underwater data centre.

Microsoft’s Natick project on underwater data centres
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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 4 minutes

China’s inward-facing ‘dual circulation’ strategy leaves many wondering where domestic demand will come from | South China Morning Post – dual circulation faces an uphill struggle. some structural issues. Finances in China are designed to benefit the state and the uber rich. China’s Gini co-efficient shows an astonishing gap between rich and poor. COVID-19 has meant that Chinese consumers have even less money to spend. This means that the domestic demand aspect of the dual circulation strategy won’t work as desired. More on China here.

Forget TikTok. China’s Powerhouse App Is WeChat. – The New York TimesIt has even extended Beijing’s reach beyond its borders. When secret police issue threats abroad, they often do so on WeChat. When military researchers working undercover in the United States needed to talk to China’s embassies, they used WeChat, according to court documents. The party coordinates via WeChat with members studying overseas – I loved the descriptor of WeChat as a super filter bubble. I am continually surprised by how nationalistic Chinese friends have become over my nine years using WeChat

Jaron Lanier Thinks Things May Have Gotten Better, or Facebook ‘Might Have Won Already’ – Slashdot – interesting takeouts from an interview with GQ. This wouldn’t have made GQ five years ago, which goes to show how online privacy has become more important to the general public

The True Story of Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore | Palladium Magazine

The User Always Loses | Hacker News – fascinating Silicon Valley discussion on user-hostile companies

How Did the Internet Get So Bad? | The Nation“Search strings used to be phrased like ingredients: ‘revolution AND french OR russian NOT american,’” McNeil writes. But in the past two decades, the language and tone of our search queries have become more baroque and confessional. “When I search for information now, I feel like I should add ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to every request. There is no way around it, talking to the Google search bar like a human generates more relevant results.” This feels anecdotally true; I’ve certainly gotten into the habit of phrasing my searches, as McNeil notes, along the lines of “‘how do i download a printer driver for mac’ rather than ‘download printer driver mac.’” – one of my biggest frustrations is the lack of depth that ‘human language’ search allows versus the previous use of boolean terms

‘Is PR structurally ageist? Sadly, I think it is’ – PR leaders respond to Mark Read’s comments on age | PR Weekwhen the realisation you’re old hits you in PR, you have six options. You can set up your own shop (if you haven’t already). You can go in-house for breadth. You can run an agency (or help someone run theirs). You can become a functional ‘guru’ (a strategist, for example). You can fully embrace freelance consulting. Or you can go full side hustle and open a gin still

Apple Watch Podcasts App Found to Falsely Inflate Listener Numbers – MacRumors – interesting, I wonder if this will change as we go ‘post-smartphone’?

TikTok ads have pushed scams about apps, diet pills, other products, report says – CNET – to be fair most of Facebook and Instagram ads sourced from Chinese merchants and drop-shippers are just as bad. Given the continued export focus of China’s dual circulation strategy I can’t see TikTok changing this at all

SoftBank unmasked as ‘Nasdaq whale’ that stoked tech rally | Financial Times – this almost sounds like a desperate gambler

The Big Tesla Hack: A hacker gained control over the entire fleet, but fortunately he’s a good guy – Electrek – but what happens if its the GRU, the MSS or North Korea who find the next hack?

‘The Man in the White Suit’: What Will We Do When We’ve Nothing to Make? — Jim Carroll’s BlogShould science pursue innovation that improves people’s lives regardless of the impact it may have on industry and employment? How do we deal with the concentration of capital that results from such disruptive change? How do we accommodate the workers who have lost their jobs? What will we do when we’ve nothing to make?

WePresent | Mong Tong are an ambient psychedelic group from Taipei – Taiwanese krautrock?

Harrods’s bold new bet: Suburbia | Vogue Business – in Essex and Milton Keynes. Surprised at this, I would have thought branches in Singapore and Berlin would make more sense?

Dive action hero: meet the new Rolex Submariner | Financial Times – still the cleanest design of dive watch. The 70-hour power reserve is impressive

Hong Kong cardinal warns priests to ‘watch your language’ in homilies – Catholic HeraldThe priest, who asked not to be named because of concerns he could be prosecuted under the National Security Law, told CNA on Tuesday that many local Catholics were dismayed by Cardinal Tong’s actions. “The youth of the Church is for democracy, they simply are,” he told CNA. “They are looking for leadership, and I doubt you would find any Catholic under 35 here who is not angry and does not see the chancery as siding with the people tear-gassing them in the streets.”

A TALE OF TWO NIKE ADS: MARKETING’S UNHEALTHY OBSESSION WITH “INSPIRATION” – BBH LabsGenerally speaking, ordinary folks are just much more chilled out than marketers. They are far less preoccupied with their careers, their personal fitness, keeping up with technology and looking at social media. They look for good deals and use coupons and loyalty programs but they are less likely to consult “expert opinion” before a purchase. They are much more interested in books and literature than they are in business. They are unashamed about their love of television. In fact they just love to be entertained.

‘We May Be Losing The Race’ For AI With China: Bob Work – US defence establishment think that they may be losing the race for AI with China.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Why Are Teens Sharing Pro IRA Memes on TikTok? | Slate – pro IRA memes aren’t that they seem. The pro IRA memes aren’t literal support for the armed struggle. But are comments on the politics of the day. The helpless of COVID, BLM and access to healthcare. Provos have become meme fodder to discuss other issues. This give you an idea of how fast the Good Friday agreement has faded into history

Taiwan unveils new-look passports to avoid ‘China confusion’ | South China Morning PostSouth China Morning Post it is all because of the confusion and discrimination created when our people travel abroad only to be identified as nationals of China,” he said. Wu said that since the coronavirus pandemic began in January, many Taiwanese people had faced discrimination at immigration checkpoints because they had been mistaken for mainland Chinese nationals. More Taiwan related topics here.

FBI investigates deaths of mining executives in UK corruption probe | Financial Times – this reads like the start of a good novel

Who are the four in ten Britons who say “advertising helps me choose what to buy”? | YouGov – tend to be younger, female and more idealistic

The Epic Battle for the Soul of Antitrust | Verfassungsblog – interesting read about US antitrust law

Unilever plans to remove oil-based ingredients from all cleaning products | Business | The Guardian – this is interesting, how will they get the non-oil chemicals to scale, and how much energy needs to be put in to make it happen? Is it just shuffling the carbon footprint to other parts of the supply chain?

Japan, pioneer of one-person economy – Japan pioneered the singleton economy. Now China is catching up: Mainland singles break 200 million: a look into savoring singledom in Shanghai – their economic power explains how the Chinese government dialogue went from ‘leftover women’ to ‘little sisters’. Interesting analysis from Hong Kong’s Apple Daily

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton shop display in Hong Kong

LV knock-offs in China implanted with chip to pass off as branded bags: reports – inevitable and impressive. It reminds me of when I first visited Hong Kong and bought a couple of pirate CDs. These weren’t ripped on CD burning equipment like in a PC, but in a proper CD pressing plant. The packaging was far superior to the original items and even had holograms that marked them as being genuine pirate copies of a high quality. I think that Louis Vuitton not being able to trust their staff is more worrying: A Louis Vuitton Employee Allegedly Sold Unreleased Bags to Counterfeiters So They Could Make Better Fakes 

Should Google’s Ad Market Be Regulated Like the Stock Market? | WIRED – author argues that it should as it runs the market and is the largest buyer and seller in the market