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The Future Is Made In China | MISC
"How Chinese Design and Values Are Driving Global Innovation

Like many other children who grew up in Canada with parents who did not, we felt the light embrace of a distant – yet distinctly present – country and culture. We learned what it was like to grow up in China through the stories of our parents and grandparents. The China our families remembered was one defined by a simple life but also underscored by a lack of basic infrastructure. There were no roads or bridges, they told us. Educated youths were sent to the countryside to pursue farm labor, where they would have the best chance of a secure livelihood.

Despite an awareness that things have changed since our parents were children, we have both found ourselves stuck in China’s past. Even when visiting several times in the last decade, we were always surprised and amazed by the country’s modernity each time we arrived. The advancements in technology and the country’s overall progress since the Open Door policy was introduced 40 years ago is even more startling from our parents’ perspective. Ever since then-leader Deng Xiaoping opened the country’s doors through the introduction of free market principles in 1978, China’s GDP has grown at a pace so rapid that the World Bank described it as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.” Even more significant is that with GDP growth averaging 10% per year – three times the global average – an estimated 800 million people have been raised out of poverty.

Conversations within our social circles, as well as observations of China’s representation in Western popular media, have made it apparent to us that most people in North America share our original assumptions about modern life in the country our parents once called home. What they don’t realize is that China has been working tirelessly to catch up.

Watch, Learn, and Do It Better

The narrative that China is a “copycat” of the US, particularly in terms of its products and services, is a popular one in tech circles. In recent decades, however, this idea gained traction across the international community, and the Chinese government and its people decided they no longer wanted to be seen as imitators. They wanted to rid themselves of the misconception of China as “manufacturer to the world” – only executing others’ ideas, never originating new concepts themselves. This was the catalyst for a 2015 initiative known as Made in China 2025.

This initiative identifies 10 industries within which China aims to be globally competitive by 2025, ranging from robotics, to new materials (such as those used in solar cells), to new-energy vehicles. While these goals may sound familiar, particularly to Westerners, Made in China 2025 stands out because it clearly outlines how the country plans to grow in these industries. The project acts as an extremely public blueprint for shifting the nation from an industrial economy to a service-based economy driven by technology and innovation. As a country, China is unified by a holistic approach and a shared vision rooted in innovation and research, enabling the many public and private actors required for change to work toward a common goal. China’s long tradition of direct government intervention in the economy has enabled it to succeed rapidly and on a massive scale.

China’s tech industry continues to expand rapidly, though the recent trade tariffs introduced by President Trump’s administration highlight the unstable dynamic between China and the US. In addition, it appears that there is still a shroud of mystery surrounding China’s advancements as a leader in the global innovation space. In a recent Wired article, Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and current CEO of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, said:

I think from a logical standpoint the time has come to copy from China … but in practice, it’s not. Chinese entrepreneurs know everything about what’s happening in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley people, a few of them know a lot about China; some of them know a little bit about China; most of them know nothing about China.

Rather than dismissing China or perceiving China’s advancement as a threat, it is time to acknowledge that in some areas, the country’s best-in-class technology has become an example to learn from.

Move Fast and Don’t Break Things

China is a blank canvas, largely due to a lack of legacy technology infrastructure combined with a uniquely enclosed innovation model despite substantial foreign investment. For China, following the common adage that spurs many companies in Silicon Valley – “move fast and break things” – would be a rash move with serious consequences. Freedom is a luxury that must be handled delicately, especially considering the sheer size of China’s population and its relatively nonexistent privacy laws. The following companies have managed to find this balance in their respective industries.

Payments: Alipay and WeChat Pay

At the forefront of the payments space are Alipay, operated by Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, developed by Tencent. With Alibaba and Tencent both making the 2018 Top 10 Risers list in Kantar and WPP’s 2018 “BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands” report, the meteoric rise of mobile payments led by these two companies is proof of China’s remarkable ability to scale. The technology for quick response (QR) codes was originally developed in Japan in 1994 for the automotive industry and was later adapted by Alipay for use with mobile payments. China’s vast market and lack of credit and debit card use has expedited the expansion of mobile payments across the country. This, coupled with the centralized nature of Alibaba’s and Tencent’s ecosystems, quickly proliferated Alipay and WeChat Pay through ecommerce and social media, respectively. This meant that brick-and-mortar stores, from massive chains to the neighborhood food stall, had to follow suit or be left behind. And follow suit they did: Data from iResearch Consulting Group shows that mobile payments in China grew from 1.2 trillion yuan ($187B) in 2013 to 58.8 trillion yuan in 2016. In 2018, QR code settlements are expected to reach 165.9 trillion yuan: more than 90 times the size of the US mobile payments market, as reported by Forrester Research.

According to an article from Knowledge@Wharton, published by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, over the past three years Alipay and WeChat Pay have enabled 98.3% of Chinese consumers – including those in rural areas – to shift directly from cash to smartphone. By contrast, only 5.6% of the surveyed population in the US have used mobile payments. Looking ahead, Alibaba and Tencent are hoping to take their expertise in QR technology and go-to-market strategy to begin scaling in developing countries where consumers have less access to credit cards and other traditional banking services. If innovation is the process of turning ideas into outcomes, China’s nearly cashless transaction model has definitively allowed it to emerge as an innovation economy.

Online-Offline Integration: Hema Fresh

As ecommerce continues to boom and brick-and-mortar retailers find themselves coming up against rising land and labor costs, the question of how to blend digital and physical commerce becomes increasingly important. Many believe that the ideal state for bringing these two worlds together will come in the form of an integrated process that provides consumers with a seamlessly engaging experience while enabling companies to optimize both digital and physical operations. This future seemed elusive until recently.

For most, an important shift occurred when Amazon announced its purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 and opened its first Amazon Go location in January of 2018. Unbeknownst to many, however, Alibaba was three years ahead of its North American competitor, debuting its first attempt at “new retail” in 2015 in the form of Hema Fresh. For a first attempt, Hema Fresh is impressive. By connecting product barcodes with a mobile app, Hema Fresh allows consumers to research products during their in-store shopping experience. Shoppers can trace a product’s origin, delivery, and nutritional information, and the app also recommends recipes and other relevant products. The data taken from these cashless transactions enables further personalization of the user’s recommendations. The physical aspect includes an eat-as-you-shop option, where shoppers can hand-pick fresh seafood and have it cooked on-site. The food is soon ready for shoppers to eat in Hema’s dining area. Facial recognition is also used at checkout. Meanwhile, Hema stores act as fulfillment centers for online shoppers, who can have their orders delivered within 30 minutes of placement.

There are now 25 Hema stores across China, and Alibaba has plans to more than double the store’s presence in 2018. In a press release for Alibaba, Hou Yi, CEO of Hema, said that he hopes that “as [the] model becomes more established, it can be shared with other traditional retailers to help them transform in the digital age.”

Mobility: Didi Chuxing

Migration from rural areas in China has led to the ongoing expansion of urban populations over the past few decades, causing urban development to grow at breakneck speeds. Sprawling expressways and superblocks congested with cars now connect cities across the country. Didi Chuxing (“DiDi”), the world’s largest ride-sharing service, was founded with this simple frustration in mind. DiDi aims to “redefine the future of mobility” by leveraging big data and machine learning to help solve this problem, which is characteristic of many Chinese cities. While Uber and Lyft dominate ride-sharing in the US, the sheer scale and size of DiDi sets it apart. According to recent articles from Reuters and Wired, the service has 550 million users in over 400 cities in China, delivering… [more]
samanthalew  ronniepang  china  legacy  infrastructure  change  leapfrogging  2018  technology  design  didichuxing  mobile  phones  smartphones  alibaba  legacysystems  ecommerce  mobilepayments  wechat 
december 2018 by robertogreco
WeChat’s world | The Economist
"China’s WeChat shows the way to social media’s future"



"As one American venture capitalist puts it, WeChat is there “at every point of your daily contact with the world, from morning until night”. It is this status as a hub for all internet activity, and as a platform through which users find their way to other services, that inspires Silicon Valley firms, including Facebook, to monitor WeChat closely. They are right to cast an envious eye. People who divide their time between China and the West complain that leaving WeChat behind is akin to stepping back in time.

Among all its services, it is perhaps its promise of a cashless economy, a recurring dream of the internet age, that impresses onlookers the most. Thanks to WeChat, Chinese consumers can navigate their day without once spending banknotes or pulling out plastic. It is the best example yet of how China is shaping the future of the mobile internet for consumers everywhere.

That is only fitting, for China makes and puts to good use more smartphones than any other country. More Chinese reach the internet via their mobiles than do so in America, Brazil and Indonesia combined. Many leapt from the pre-web era straight to the mobile internet, skipping the personal computer altogether. About half of all sales over the internet in China take place via mobile phones, against roughly a third of total sales in America. In other words, the conditions were all there for WeChat to take wing: new technologies, business models built around mobile phones, and above all, customers eager to experiment.

The service, which is known on the mainland as Weixin, began five years ago as an innovation from Tencent, a Chinese online-gaming and social-media firm. By now over 700m people use it, and it is one of the world’s most popular messaging apps (see chart). More than a third of all the time spent by mainlanders on the mobile internet is spent on WeChat. A typical user returns to it ten times a day or more."
wechat  2016  chat  china  money  mobile  messaging 
august 2016 by robertogreco
China Residencies: An Artist's Guide to WeChat
"WeChat is *the* most important app in China. It's absolutely crucial for navigating life in mainland China, and we tell all artists heading that way to download it immediately. To help convey all the wonders of WeChat, we here at China Residencies commissioned Katy Roseland, artist & co-founder of Basement6 Collective, a Shanghai artist run space and residency, to write this guide. Katy's been based in China since the construction of the Great Firewall in 2009, she makes performance work and research centering on the Chinese internet. This guide was generated from her years of researching WeChat along with interviews from Chinternet Noobs and her fellows at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, where she's currently an artist-in-residence.


An Artist's Guide to WeChat

1. INTRODUCTION (LIFE WITHOUT WECHAT)
2. DOWNLOAD!
3. SET IT UP
4. TALK TO PEOPLE
5. LOOK AT PICTURES
6. GROUPTHINK
7. MONEY, MONEY
8. WHERE R U NOW ?
9. JUST HAVE A GOOD TIME
10. MOBILIZE YOURSELF


1. INTRODUCTION (LIFE WITHOUT WECHAT)

In preparing your transition into the "other side of the world", it's safe to assume you have done a bit of research no? You're thinking about what to pack, but you might not have anticipated how to plan for your first encounter with the Chinese internet. The Great Firewall. The big data dissolve. The weirdest facet of this country.

You say censorship, I say xxxxxx xxxx xx.

Once your flight touches down, instinctively you’ll reboot your phone to what might feel like a data void. Maybe you’re adorably surprised by all the new things you can’t access... Not all internets are the same, I met a girl from Japan who couldn’t understand why her Gmail wouldn’t refresh, a friend thought her Facebook had been hacked, and, for a visiting writer, his “critical tweets” were out of reach. If you’re wondering why you’re lacking notifications, it’s because you’re in the land of 404. This is daily life on the Chinese internet, VPN off, we survive.

2. DOWNLOAD!

Let me show you how... Tencent’s China-centric answer to Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter, Vine, and Paypal in a single application. You download this one thing [download it now! do it!] and place it very centrally on your homescreen. You have not a single choice.

…"
wechat  china  chinternet  2016  katyroseland  socialmedia  messaging  mobile  whatsapp  twitter  vine  paypal  facebook  instagram 
july 2016 by robertogreco
61 Glimpses of the Future — Today’s Office — Medium
"1. If you want to understand how our planet will turn out this century, spend time in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Brazil.

2. If you’re wondering how long the Chinese economic miracle will last, the answer will probably be found in the bets made on commercial and residential developments in Chinese 3rd to 6th tier cities in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet.

4. Touch ID doesn’t work at high altitude, finger prints are too dry.

5. You no longer need to carry a translation app on your phone. If there’s someone to speak with, they’ll have one on theirs.

6. A truly great border crossing will hold a mirror up to your soul.

9. The art of successful borderland travel is to know when to pass through (and be seen by) army checkpoints and when to avoid them.

10. Borders are permeable.

12. The premium for buying gasoline in a remote village in the GBAO is 20% more than the nearest town. Gasoline is harder to come by, and more valuable than connectivity.

13. After fifteen years of professionally decoding human behaviour, I’m still surprised by the universality of body language.

14. Pretentious people are inherently less curious.

15. Everything is fine, until that exact moment when it’s obviously not. It is easy to massively over/under estimate risk based on current contextual conditions. Historical data provides some perspective, but it usually comes down to your ability to read undercurrents, which in turn comes down to having built a sufficiently trusted relationship with people within those currents.

16. Sometimes, everyone who says they know what is going on, is wrong.

17. Every time you describe someone in your own country as a terrorist, a freedom is taken away from a person in another country.

18. Every country has its own notion of “terrorism”, and the overuse, and reaction to the term in your country helps legitimise the crack-down of restive populations in other countries.

17. China is still arguably the lowest-trust consumer society in the world. If a product can be faked it will be. Out of necessity, they also have the most savvy consumers in the world.

18. After twenty years of promising to deliver, Chinese solar products are now practical (available for purchase, affordable, sufficiently efficient, robust) for any community on the edge-of-grid, anywhere in the world. Either shared, or sole ownership.

20. When a fixed price culture meets a negotiation culture, fun ensues.

21. The sharing economy is alive and well, and has nothing to with your idea of the sharing economy.

25. Chinese truckers plying their trade along the silk road deserve to be immortalised as the the frontiersmen of our generation. (They are always male.)

29. The most interesting places have map coordinates, but no names.

30. There are are number of companies with a competitive smartphone portfolio. The rise of Oppo can be explained by its presence on every block of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th tier Chinese cities.

32. People wearing fake Supreme are way more interesting than those that wear the real deal.

33. An iPhone box full of fungus caterpillar in Kham Tibet sold wholesale, is worth more than a fully specced iPhone. It’s worth 10x at retail in 1st/2nd Tier China. It is a better aphrodisiac too.

35. One of the more interesting aspects of very high net worth individuals (the financial 0.001%), is the entourage that they attract, and the interrelations between members of that entourage. This is my first time travelling with a spiritual leader (the religious 0.001%), whose entourage included disciples, and members of the financial 0.01% looking for a karmic handout. The behaviour of silicon valley’s nouveau riche is often parodied but when it comes to weirdness, faith trumps money every time. Any bets on the first Silicon Valley billionaire to successfully marry the two? Or vice versa?

37. For every person that longs for nature, there are two that long for man-made.

38. Tibetan monks prefer iOS over Android.

40. In order to size up the tribe/sub-tribe you’re part of, any group of young males will first look at the shoes on your feet.

42. After the Urumqi riots in 2009 the Chinese government cut of internet connectivity to Xinjiang province for a full year. Today connectivity is so prevalent and integrated into every aspect of Xinjiang society, that cutting it off it would hurt the state’s ability to control the population more than hinder their opposition. There are many parts to the current state strategy is to limit subversion, the most visible of which is access to the means of travel. For example every gas station between Kashi and Urumqi has barbed wire barriers at its gates, and someone checking IDs.

43. TV used to be the primary way for the edge-of-grid have-nots to discover what they want to have. Today it is seeing geotagged images from nearby places, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away.

44. Facebook entering China would be a Pyrrhic victory, that would lead to greater scrutiny and regulation worldwide. Go for it.

45. The sooner western companies own up to copying WeChat, the sooner we can get on with acknowledging a significant shift in the global creative center of gravity.

48. Green tea beats black tea for acclimatising to altitude sickness.

49. The most interesting destinations aren’t geotagged, are not easily geo-taggable. Bonus points if you can figure that one out.

50. The first time you confront a leader, never do it in front of their followers, they’ll have no way to back down.

51. There is more certainty in reselling the past, than inventing the future.

55. Pockets of Chengdu are starting to out-cool Tokyo.

56. To what extent does cultural continuity, and societal harmony comes from three generations under one roof?

58. If you want to understand where a country is heading pick a 2nd or 3rd tier city and revisit it over many years. Chengdu remains my bellwether 2nd tier Chinese city. It’s inland, has a strong local identity and sub-cultures, and has room to grow. Bonus: its’ only a few hours from some of the best mountain ranges in the world.

60. The difference between 2.5G and 3G? In the words of a smartphone wielding GBAO teenager on the day 3G data was switched on her town, “I can breathe”."
janchipchase  2016  travel  technology  borders  authenticity  pretension  curiosity  china  tibet  japan  eligion  culture  capitalism  wechat  facebook  android  ios  tokyo  chengdu  future  past  communication  tea  greentea  certainty  monks  translation  nature  indonesia  nigeria  brasil  brazil  india  shoes  connectivity  internet  mobile  phones  smartphones  sharingeconomy  economics  negotiation  touchid  cities  urban  urbanism  location  risk  relationships  consumers  terrorism  truckers  oppo  siliconvalley  wealth  nouveauriche  comparison  generations 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Future of Chat Isn’t AI — Medium
"So if not AI, then what? What will bots let you do that was never possible before?

We think the answer is actually quite simple: For the first time ever, bots will let you instantly interact with the world around you. This is best illustrated through something that I experienced recently.

During last year’s baseball playoffs, I went to a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre. I was running late, so I went straight to my seat to catch as much of the game as I could. But when I got there, I realized I was the only one of my friends without a beer. So, with no beer guy in sight, I turned back to go get a beer. After 10 minutes of waiting in line, I finally got back to my seat. I had missed two home runs.

But good news! In the future, this will never have to happen again. The stadium is developing an app that will let you order from your seat. So next time, I won’t have to miss a beat — I’ll just order through the app. It will be great. Or will it?

Imagine I had sat down and found that there was a sticker on the back of the chair in front of me that said, “Want a beer? Download our app!” Sounds great! I’d unlock my phone, go to the App Store, search for the app, put in my password, wait for it to download, create an account, enter my credit card details, figure out where in the app I actually order from, figure out how to input how many beers I want and of what type, enter my seat number, and then finally my beer would be on its way.

Actually, I would have been better off just waiting in line.

And yet there are so many of these types of apps: apps to order train tickets at stations; apps to order food at restaurants; and apps to order movie tickets at theatres. Everyone wants you to just “download our app!” And yet, after spending millions of dollars developing them, how many people actually use them? My guess: not a lot.

But imagine the stadium one more time, except now instead of spending millions to develop an app, the stadium had spent thousands to develop a simple, text-based bot. I’d sit down and see a similar sticker: “Want a beer? Chat with us!” with a chat code beside it. I’d unlock my phone, open my chat app, and scan the code. Instantly, I’d be chatting with the stadium bot, and it’d ask me how many beers I wanted: “1, 2, 3, or 4.” It’d ask me what type: “Bud, Coors, or Corona.” And then it’d ask me how I wanted to pay: Credit card already on file (**** 0345), or a new card.

Chat app > Scan > 2 > Bud > **** 0345. Done."



"To be clear, this is just the beginning of the bots era, and there are many developments to come. The leaders in this space — Kik, WeChat, Line, Facebook, Slack, and Telegram — all have their own ideas about how this is all going to play out. But one thing I think we can all agree on is that chat is going to be the world’s next great operating system: a Bot OS (or, as we like to call it, BOS).

These developments open up new and giant opportunities for consumers, developers, and businesses. Chat apps will come to be thought of as the new browsers; bots will be the new websites. This is the beginning of a new internet."
chat  ai  artificialintelligence  2016  tedlivingston  kik  slack  telegram  facebook  ui  ux  interface  api  wechat  bots  qrcodes 
march 2016 by robertogreco
An Xiao Mina at Biased Data - An Xiao Mina - Open Transcripts
"Just to close, as we think about the role of lan­guage on the Internet, it really biases our expe­ri­ence, and there are a lot of risks and chal­lenges there, espe­cially as peo­ple from the Global South are com­ing online. The abil­ity for them to access con­tent and for them to con­tribute to impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions online will be severely lim­ited. It’ll look more like this, and I think some of the most impor­tant work we can do in tech is to bring it out into lan­guages that they can under­stand."
anxiaomina  language  languages  internet  online  web  2016  mikemcdandless  translation  blacklivesmatter  umbrellamovement  crowdsourcing  machinetranslation  sarahkendzior  russian  uzbek  opentranslationproject  aiweiwei  meedan  inequity  socialjustice  wechat  audio  chinese  china  bias  experience 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Time to get serious about chat apps » Nieman Journalism Lab
“For users, why worry of a more feudal Internet when you can send amazing stickers to select groups of friends? For publishers, you get a direct connection with an untapped audience, with your updates dinging on their phones.”



"WeChat, WhatsApp, Line, and their brethren never played a big role in my daily life until I moved to Asia earlier this year. The extent to which they became indispensable, because communication happens almost exclusively inside their ecosystems, exposed a missed opportunity for Western news organizations. But I expect that to change. 2016 is the year we’ll see more media companies get serious about chat apps.

Chat apps have reached stunning scale across the world — 650 million active monthly unique users on WeChat, and at least that many on WhatsApp. For the many publishers who now capitalize on social sharing, these platforms do more than facilitate chat; they provide a captive audience for updates, one-to-one communication, and payments. (On WeChat, users can not just send money, but book doctor’s appointments, hail cabs, and more.) The engagement possibilities are rife for exploration, and chat apps have young, growing user bases that aren’t being met by Western news sources.

BuzzFeed and BBC are among the players already present on these platforms, but we’re past time far more news publishers — some with the world’s leading data, interactive, and visual news offerings — to find a place in chat apps, too. There’s a compelling reason to be there just for the types of audiences they reach (young, global and growing), but perhaps even more importantly, for the insight these apps can offer about our communications present and future. Even if WeChat, Line, or KakaoTalk never take hold in the United States, experimentation and learning from just trying stuff on chat apps will prepare news organizations for the similar players that will. (Facebook has already signaled it’s following WeChat and Kakao’s lead, by offering Uber hailing inside its Messenger app. What features will follow?)

I realize these are closed networks. Part of WeChat’s popularity is a consequence of China’s great firewall, since it blocks social media most commonly used in the West. Like every other user of WeChat, I trade away any notion of privacy in the deal I make for speed and ease of communication. So it is with KakaoTalk, the messenger with 93 percent penetration rate among smartphone users in South Korea. It’s no secret it turns over private user data to the government.

At the same time, these closed networks also feel intimate. For users, why worry of a more feudal Internet when you can send amazing stickers to select groups of friends? For publishers, you get a direct connection with an untapped audience, with your updates dinging on their phones. It’s also an opportunity to challenge the very order you’d burrow into: Principle-driven news organizations with stories calling out governments, corporations and other institutions of power ought to help inform the huge numbers of readers and viewers inside these walled gardens.

Since we’re in this business partly because we believe news and information are vital, Western media will miss out if we aren’t exploring this mobile chat terrain, reaching the billion-plus on chat apps with information needs that deserve to be met. And the possibilities for us to learn from being there may be as abundant as the audiences."
2015  elisehu  wechat  whatsapp  lineapp  journalism  messaging  communication  socialmedia  kakaotalk  china  mobile  chat 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Untapped Creativity of the Chinese Internet | VICE | United States
"[image]

Somewhere in mainland China, a kid in the grips of puppy love posts one of those raw, unmediated posts so saccharine it's both unbearably endearing and ridiculously funny. It's so completely melodramatic that other users stumble across the post and begin adding their own feelings and thoughts, remixing it to be even funnier. The words are skewed, images and music added, and finally uploaded to Bilibili.com, where users overlay their own comments onto the video in real-time.

The resulting GIFs, poems, videos, and comments spread through the Chinese internet on Sina Weibo and WeChat in a flurry of color and flashing animations. This is So in love, w​ill never feel tired again, an online exhibition of work by Chinese new media and net artist Yin​​g Miao, and it serves as a counterpoint to the West's view of the Chinese internet as bland and heavily censored. Despite all that I've been told in the West, the internet here looks incredibly fun and vibrant to me.

[image]

"The Chinese internet is really raw," Miao tells me. "It's so unlimited but also limited. It's really rich material." We are sitting in a café with our laptops open in downtown Beijing, a brief bike ride from Tiananmen Square. Miao is walking me through her artwork in preparation for the launch of the online exhibition series Ne​tizenet. Miao impresses upon me the depth of creativity on the Chinese internet, showing how memes emerge and morph across platforms and ideologies and around censorship.

While I'm becoming accustomed to relying on my VPN or Tor to use boringly functional sites like Gmail, Miao is taking me on an unblocked tour of her inspirations, the wildest and weirdest of the Chinese internet from behind the so-called Great Firewall. Here, everything can be remixed and .GIFs are always welcomed. Conversations on WeChat (the most popular messaging platform here) are an endless stream of reaction .GIFs that put Tumblr to shame.

[image]

In the series, LAN Love Poem, Miao explores her complicated feelings around the Chinese web. LAN stands for local area network and is suggestive of the localized nature of the internet, in both law and culture, that we in the West are rarely confronted with. Miao uses type inspired by Taobao.com (a site akin to eBay) and intentionally poor English translations of odes to her censored net.

The extreme creativity and vibrancy on the Chinese internet is hard to grasp as a Westerner who is a devout defender of free speech. My ignorance of Miao's raw material, and the many other aspects of Chinese net culture that are difficult to grasp is what Netizienet (or 网友网 in Mandarin and Wǎngyǒuwǎng in Pinyin) is all about.

[image]

Using NewHive, a multimedia publishing platform, Netizenet will examine the internet as a medium from within China, an internet very different from what I grew up with in the States. Through an ongoing series of online exhibitions by Chinese and international artists--of which Miao is the first--Netizenet asks important questions about creativity, differing online aesthetics, and location-based web access. Is the Chinese internet uniquely different from the rest of the world's, or does every country's web have its own unique aesthetics and traits?

The curator behind Netizenet is Michelle Proksell, an independent curator, researcher, and artist currently based in Beijing. Proksell was born in Saudi Arabia to expatriate American parents, and moved to the United States when the Gulf War was starting. Proksell loved traveling through Asia as a kid and this is why she eventually returned and has lived in China for over two years.

Proksell sees a ton of potential in Beijing and Shanghai for the arts, especially net art, and wants to help cultivate the scene. She was fascinated by how the Chinese internet influenced Miao's "artistic aesthetic, process and production," writing that Miao "has a bit of a love affair with the kitschy, low-tech aesthetic, and unreliable nature of this part of the [world wide web.]" ​

[image]

Miao is one of the few net artists in mainland China. She and Proksell have adopted the monumental task of helping to encourage a net art discourse in a country of over 620 million internet users as well as introducing that culture to the West. Proksell tells me, "I really wanted to set a tone for the project by working with an artist who had been intimate with this side of the web early in her art practice."

Miao has certainly been exploring the aesthetics and issues of access in the internet in her work for some time. In 2007, for her undergrad thesis exhibition at the China Academy of Fine Arts near Shanghai, Miao made The Blind Spot, which meticulously documented every word blocked from Google.cn. The piece took Miao three months to make and is a brilliant DIY version of Jason Q. Ng's work documenting blocked words on the popular Chinese social network Sina Weibo. But Miao has no interest in only focusing on the limitations of the Chinese internet, believing there are much more fascinating things underway.

For instance, iPhone Garbage is an incredible convergence of Chinese manufacturing, social media, and ​Shanzhai (slang for pirated and fake goods) culture. A heavily remixed video shows a young entrepreneur aggressively promoting his custom smartphone while continually calling the iPhone "garbage." In Miao's work we see a pushback on Western aesthetics and corporations in favor of a more local flavor.

[image]

Miao suggests that the emerging narrative of Shanzhai might be replicated in net art in China. At first Shanzhai referred only to cheap knockoffs that rarely worked and were an annoying thorn in "legitimate" companies' sides. Now, as Joi Ito has found, Shanzhai merchants are beginning to build entirely unique hardware, offering entirely different capabilities than their Western smartphone counterparts. Miao believes too that Chinese net culture should embrace their differences and push them as far as possible.

In an int​erv​iew between Miao and Proksell, Miao said, "I think there is a bright future for Chinese internet art." Proksell and Miao have an uphill battle proving that to the West, but just as I had never seen many of Miao's influences, this culture is emerging with or without the West's acknowledgement or support. Whether that appreciation comes or not, Netizenet is off to an amazing start and I for one will definitely keep my eyes open for the next show and on Miao."
via:unthinkingly  aesthetic  newaesthetic  internet  web  china  online  accretion  beijing  netart  netizenet  byob  michelleproksell  lanlovepoem  yingmao  newmedia  benvalentine  tumblr  newvibe  gifs  memes  poetry  poems  sinaweibo  weibo  wechat  animation  screenshots  low-techaesthetic  changzhai  socialmedia  joiito  2014  webrococo  newhive 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Tamborzão Goes to Thailand — Chrysaora Weekly — Medium
"It started with a WeChat Sight I received from my mom at 7 a.m. one morning. I squinted sleepily at the silent preview, amused by the elderly Asian woman’s adorable dance moves. Then the music kicked in, and I woke up fast. The woman was dancing on a sidewalk somewhere in Thailand, but the Portuguese rapping and the beatbox beat were unmistakably Brazilian.

This is the kind of world-spanning electronic music thing I live and skip meals for. I spent all my free time over the next two weeks investigating.

*********

The music I care about the most hasn’t settled on an umbrella label, but I know it when I hear it. To generalize wildly: it’s the kind produced by and for young people using pirated software all over the world. It’s loud enough to be its own drug, with a heavy foundation of bass to give people something to gyrate to at dance parties. It’s released online with file names that end in “FINAL DRAFT 05–12.mp3,” and is also sometimes sold in homemade mix CDs by street vendors. Often, it’s raunchy and violent enough to incite moral panic.

Well-made dance music, like design, is a highly functional form of art created in conversation with those who enjoy it. New songs are tested live at parties, often well before they’re finished, and co-evolve alongside the dance forms and fashions they accompany. Many of the genres are so tied to spaces that they’re named after their venues: dancehall, ballroom, or just (Baltimore/Jersey) “club.” The lyrics and instrumentals of the music are prone to sampling, soaking up references to mainstream music, pop culture, current events, and tech with in record turnaround time. The tracks are raw glimpses into their birthplaces, each one reflecting the place not as it was or as it would like itself to be, but as it is in the instant it’s made.

Though the sounds and contexts of these musical genres differ from place to place, they share a lot in common these days: production tools (Ableton Live, Fruity Loops, Roland drum machines), distribution platforms (SoundCloud, YouTube), and demographics (kids who want to party). These commonalities have allowed these regional club scenes to find, borrow from, and even work with each other. The dynamics of this interplay mostly reflect the globalization that connected the world in the first place, with European and American labels acting as brokers and gatekeepers. But occasionally an unexpected cross-pollination appears— like a Thai grandmother dancing to Brazilian music on the sidewalk."



"IRL, dances take place in hard-earned public spaces ruled — and sometimes run — by young people. These dance floors are important liminal spaces where identities and communities can be explored, normalized, and established, and where young people can simply have unsupervised, escapist fun with their peers.

Online, dance floors are asynchronous and global. People share videos of themselves dancing — sometimes in groups, often in their bedrooms or living rooms — and watch each other’s videos in turn to learn new moves or just to take a hit of contagious joy straight to the amygdala.

“Kawo Kawo” itself is not the pinnacle of music production, but it’s remarkable both as the result of an unlikely global discourse and as the rallying call for some incredible dance videos. It’d be overly naïve to claim that dance music alone can breed some kind of universal empathy, but in the success of “Kawo Kawo” I see a glimmer of hope for new global connections born in the rapture of music rather than in the trauma of colonialism.

When the sun is hot and the music is blasting, whether it’s during Songkran or Carnaval, anything seems possible."
christinaxu  2015  music  global  thailand  brasil  brazil  dance  internetonline  youtube  soundcloud  wechat  facebook  international  kawokawo  djchois  mcjairdarocha  crosspollination  remixing 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Three Moments With WeChat | 八八吧 · 88 Bar
"Despite being only four years old, WeChat is more popular in China than Facebook is in the US: 72% of all Chinese people with mobile devices use it, versus the 67% penetration rate Facebook has among American internet users. Yet its Facebook-esque feature, Moments, manages to avoid feeling like the Walmart of social interaction. When my soon-to-be cousin-in-law posted that photo, he no doubt received both sincere congratulations from his professional contacts and older relatives as well as jokes from his closer friends. On Moments, however, each user can only see activity from their own contacts: not even a total count of Likes is available to anyone other than the original poster. This automated privacy curtain means that group social dynamics can remain hidden in plain sight without any moderation effort required from the original poster. In other words, my cousin-in-law could perform his groomal duties without worrying about messy (and potentially embarrassing) context collapse.

This decision to prioritize context separation over the ability to perform social popularity is an important concession to what sociologist Tricia Wang calls the Elastic Self. In a culture where connections are everything, many of WeChat’s features are subtly optimized for “saving face” in complicated situations. You can chat with people without adding them as contacts: someone you met on a chat-coordinated dinner doesn’t automatically become a Contact with access to details about your social life. Even while adding someone as a Contact, there is an option to secretly prevent them from seeing your Moments updates. There’s also a conspicuous lack of presence and typing status indicators as compared to iMessage and other apps, allowing the receiver some measure of plausible deniability about when each message is received.

These days, the buzz around WeChat centers on its impressive sprawl into an entire operating system of features: in certain regions, a user can hail a cab, shop, and even manage their bank accounts all in the app. But these features, introduced in late 2013, only work because they capitalize on WeChat’s already dizzying adoption rate. What lies at the core of WeChat’s success is a series of smart design decisions that reflect the culture they were created in and, together, generate a unique experience that is as functional as it is addictive."



"WeChat privileges another mode of communication equally to text: “Hold to Talk.” This featured, used by almost as many people as texting, allows the sender to record a short voice message which is then sent in the conversation. The receiver taps it when they want to hear it, and if there are multiple messages, each subsequent one autoplays. It’s a brilliant feature that marries the intimacy and simplicity of voice with the convenience of asynchronicity that makes texting so appealing.

“Hold to Talk” may have been created for its convenience, but it’s also a powerfully expressive feature with interesting affordances of its own. In the process of writing this piece, I was thinking about a Chinese phrase I only half-remembered. Forgetting a language is funny — there are some words I can read but not pronounce, and others that I can parse while listening but not recognize visually. I remembered the vague shape and meaning of the phrase, so I sent two voice clips to my mom, fumbling the words awkwardly. An hour later, she responded with a voice clip of her own. I listened to her laugh and rib me about my illiteracy, and chuckled alongside it as if she were next to me."



"Periodically, one of our hosts would pull out his phone (a Samsung Galaxy S4, possibly shanzhai) to shoot video clips of the gathering, documenting everyone who was there. Other relatives crowded around the phone afterwards, watching all of the videos on the phone. They were so interested in the videos taken of our hosts’ lives in Beijing, where they lived for most of the year as migrant workers, that they went to desperate measures to attempt to copy them.

WeChat natively supports a surprising number of media formats: images, custom animated stickers, uploaded videos, natively captured short videos called Sights, and even PowerPoint and Word documents. It also facilitates passing these files from one conversation to another through a prominent “forwarding” option for files.

Now that my 80 year old grandmother is on WeChat, the whole family forwards anything amusing they find to the group chat we share so that she can see it. Often, it’s jokes, articles, and photos of ourselves and our food."



"Scrolling through my WeChat today, I see pictures of my cousin and cousin-in-law surfing and glowing on their honeymoon, pictures of my parents from a friend’s graduation ceremony, at least five jokes I can’t quite grok, and even the occasional dispatch from Nanzhai village. Using a chat app to hail a cab with your phone is cool, but at the end of the day the killer feature of WeChat will always be its ability to shorten distances and navigate social situations as deftly as we need to."

[via: http://tumblr.iamdanw.com/post/119597750700/despite-being-only-four-years-old-wechat-is-more ]
christinaxu  socialmedia  facebook  2015  wechat  china  contextcollapse  privacy  metrics  socialdynamics  social  interaction  moderation  mobile  application  socialnetworks  communication  tumblr  vine 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Futures of text ["A survey of all the current innovation in text as a medium"] | Whoops by Jonathan Libov
"Text is the most socially useful communication technology. It works well in 1:1, 1:N, and M:N modes. It can be indexed and searched efficiently, even by hand. It can be translated. It can be produced and consumed at variable speeds. It is asynchronous. It can be compared, diffed, clustered, corrected, summarized and filtered algorithmically. It permits multiparty editing. It permits branching conversations, lurking, annotation, quoting, reviewing, summarizing, structured responses, exegesis, even fan fic. The breadth, scale and depth of ways people use text is unmatched by anything."



"Messaging is the only interface in which the machine communicates with you much the same as the way you communicate with it. If some of the trends outlined in this post pervade, it would mark a qualitative shift in how we interact with computers. Whereas computer interaction to date has largely been about discrete, deliberate events — typing in the command line, clicking on files, clicking on hyperlinks, tapping on icons — a shift to messaging- or conversational-based UI's and implicit hyperlinks would make computer interaction far more fluid and natural.

What's more, messaging AI benefits from an obvious feedback loop: The more we interact with bots and messaging UI's, the better it'll get. That's perhaps true for GUI as well, but to a far lesser degree. Messaging AI may get better at a rate we've never seen in the GUI world. Hold on tight."

[via: https://twitter.com/equartey/status/570340911227367424
https://twitter.com/hautepop/status/570895976296087552
https://twitter.com/bruces/status/572384468230676480
https://twitter.com/TheRealFuture/status/572502116490747905 ]
text  texting  chat  sms  messaging  ui  communication  interface  design  gui  lark  quicktype  sinaweibo  alipay  qq  wechat  qqhousekeeper  weidan  koudai  facebook  facebookmessenger  talkto  applications  mobile  luka  chatgrape  slack  commandline  bustime  jonathanlibov 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Filtered for top-notch long reads ( 5 Dec., 2014, at Interconnected)
"1.

This well-illustrated piece on Chinese Mobile UI trends [http://dangrover.com/blog/2014/12/01/chinese-mobile-app-ui-trends.html ] is full of great nuggets.

My favourite is that companies have adopted automated "chat" as their official public face. Each brand is a bot that runs inside one of the several apps that users in China have instead of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. How it works:
You can send any kind of message (text, image, voice, etc), and [the bot will] reply, either in an automated fashion or by routing it to a human somewhere. The interface is exactly the same as for chatting with your friends, save for one difference: it has menus at the bottom with shortcuts to the main features of the account.

A couple more features:
Other than that, every feature you can use in a normal chat is available here. WeChat even auto-transcribes the voice messages (mentioned before) into text before passing them to the third-party server running the account. Official accounts can also push news updates to their subscribers. Every media outlet operates one ...

I'm into this, I'm into this. Our western way for interacting with companies (assuming the shitty voice menu things are wildly out-dated) is websites, which we browse. But instead of browsing, a conversation?

So... cultural difference between China and the west, or just one of those forks in the road? Or a glimpse of the future?

2.

Hooked on Labs [http://thelongandshort.org/issues/season-two/hooked-on-labs.html ] (thanks Iain) draws a line between the practice of Robert Hooke in the 1660s and the modern trend for companies to have "labs."
Labs are places where people conduct experiments to test out theories. The new labs proliferating outside the hard sciences are a symptom of the spread of experimentalism as an ideology for how we should shape the future. Curiosity is at the core of experimentalist culture: it holds that knowledge should develop by being testable and therefore provisional ...

I like that the answer to "how should we invent?" can be not a process but a location. Other answers might be "a studio," and "the field," both of which suggest a variety of processes and practices without being pinned down.

I guess my recent preoccupation with coffee mornings is about the same thing. Can the "coffee morning" as a place, with all its informality (which I am desperate to preserve), be a way to dowse the scenius, to allow invention to occur without process?

Also coffee.

And this bit:
One vital source of this conversational approach to science was Copenhagen and the culture that Niels Bohr created around his institute for theoretical physics and his nearby home.

...which reminds me of this terrific story about the development of the theory of electron spin and how it came together as Bohr travelled across Europe by train.

At the beginning of the trip:
Bohr's train to Leiden made a stop in Hamburg, where he was met by Pauli and Stern who had come to the station to ask him what he thought about spin. Bohr must have said that it was very very interesting (his favorite way of expressing that something was wrong), but he could not see how an electron moving in the electric field of the nucleus could experience the magnetic field necessary for producing fine structure.

And as Bohr travels from town to town, he meets scientists, hears arguments, develops his view, and carries information. Great story.

I think of the interactions between scientists as the hidden particles that don't show up in the traces of a cloud chamber. They're there, busy - multiple - far denser and richer and messier than the clean interactions of the citations in scientific papers or at conferences - the invisible trillions of forks that are left out of Feynman diagrams. Those interactions are what really matter, and their stories are the most interesting of all."
mattwebb  2014  china  chinese  interface  input  chat  communication  internet  web  online  browsing  conversation  wechat  labs  openstudioproject  charlesleadbeater  nielsbohr  experiments  experimentation  experimentalism  curiosity  classideas  invention  place  studios  lcproject  informal  informallearning  informality  scenius  process  howwelearn  messiness  interaction  culture  difference  frontiers  us 
december 2014 by robertogreco

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