IWOM Watch May Special Edition
From: CIC_China, 6 hours ago
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Paul Denlinger, the author of the blog ChinaVortex.com recently tweeted these two articles about Americans. A common perception of America, especially in Asia is one of a Cowboy Superpower that disregards others. The strange thing is many Amercians, within their borders, are completely oblivious to this perception.
However when you speak to an American expatriate in Asia, they are generally very understanding of how they are seen to the world. They are logically patriotic but not in an confrontational way and they (although they generally do not subscribe to) understand the cultural and societal differences between Western ideology and Eastern/ Middle Eastern ideology. They, unlike those tested in the University of Chicago, do have the ability to understand another person's perspective without giving up their own beliefs of the rights of the individual. They, I believe, in essence provide evidence to suggest that perception and individual focus of Western Culture are not mutually exclusive.
Further to this is a proportion of the American population that have a thumb in each pie. Chinese American's, I believe, have a thorough belief and understanding of thinking on behalf of the “collective” through immigrant families that exist in an individualist society. In a culture like the USA that have accepted immigrants from nations of Collectivists Gone Wrong we see that much of that ability to perceive on behalf of others is retained, and in the case of China, where it went wrong and is now begun the long road to getting it right, the country is benefiting from the return of 2nd generation American Chinese that bring with them the cultural residue of Collectivism through their families and the drive that comes with Individualism of mainstream American culture. It is these people and their offspring that will be key power brokers that will bridge the divide between the shrinking American Empire and the Growing Global “hyperconnected” Collective.
PS: I am not American
So I found some eye drops, wiped splatter from my dinner off my glasses and I've logged onto my bedside notebook.
A little history about the machine I am using now to type this blog entry. This is an Acer notebook with an AMD processor and bugger-all RAM. It was left by my mother a couple of months ago when she bought a new Compaq. During the last couple of months before she decided to upgrade, this machine was horribly slow, the built in Wireless had stopped working so she put in a PCMCIA wireless card and because she upgraded to Office 2007 and God knows what other software she had, it would crash every 2 hours.
So I took it and installed Ubuntu 8 and all of a sudden the built in wireless adaptor started working and it now sits next to my bed as the "non-work notebook" The thing about the new Ubuntu is that it comes bundled with Firefox 3 which I have avoided using on my Thinkpad cos the add-on's have not caught up yet. Since it was bundled on this notebook it seemed silly to downgrade. Lucky for me Yoono works on Firefox 3.
It took the crew at Yoono a while to give me an invite to play with their beta but I finally got it yesterday. Problem is I couldn't remember what Yoono was. So obediently I signed in, connected to Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Flickr, GTalk and msn. If I had an ICQ or Yahoo or AIM profile I could add those too. Having logged into every other social network I could think of (reminding me of FriendFeed or Pulse) I imagined it was something similar to other mashups but delivered as a plugin rather than a website. When I started fidgeting with it, I found that perhaps I was wrong and Yoono was something completely different.
Once I got the invitation email the add-on was quite quick to download and easy to install I now have an extra menu bar on the left that I am currently playing with as I write this on Google Docs. The first thing I notice is that the Yoono menu is like taking every 2.0 app or service that was ever popular, putting it into a cocktail shaker and shaking the sh*t out of it for about 20 minutes. Then pouring the contents through a strainer and serving it up as a private beta to see if it tastes any good. Having said that it seems to have a little bit of everything all thrown into it and it will either be a fantastic success or a horrible failure. I get the feeling that because it leverages off other communities as well as having the capabilites of creating it's own it is neither here nor there. Is it a client (like twitterfox on steriods?) or is it it's own social network unto itself or is it a mashup like FriendFeed or Plaxo Pulse? I think the answer to that question will be determined by how it takes off and how users use it.
Too Many Friends
The default menu for Yoono comes with three widgets. You can add more (6 currently) but I've not got that far yet. The first widget is Friends.
Now I am not one of those people connected to everyone nor do I indiscriminately add people to my Facebook or Twitter Profile but I have about 300 friends on Facebook, maybe about 400 people I am following on Twitter, a hundred or so people via msn, and maybe 50 on Gtalk. These are not the same people either. Different circles of friends and acquaintances or mine are connected by different social networks. Thats 700-800 people on a contact displayed in a sidebar...and this before I import the thousand or so Gmail contacts.
For me, a list this long is not that useful but if you are okay with managing this many contacts then I guess it is good that the categories from our msn list is also imported as are you GTalk classifications. When you click on an msn contact you can "star" that contact, open up their Yoono page or actually chat with them in the sidebar. Similarly with your twitter friends you can @reply to them from the contact list or tweet.
Essentially the interface works a little like Pidgin with a much nicer UI and connectible to many more protocols. Still in this same widget is a button that is labeled "friends activity" that looks like a blue RSS logo. When you click this you get all your updates in one chronological feed. Even if you connected both FriendFeed and Twitter it actually merges the two feeds so that you don't get every tweet twice. This is actually pretty cool because you can @reply, comment and open a Facebook Wall page all from the comfort of one feed. And when you don't have the Friend's widget open the add-on gives you a Twhirl/Twitterfox style pop-up on the bottom right of your Firefox window. (actually as I re-read this again those pop-up are getting a little annoying, but you can switch them off.)
All in all, a pretty good mashup but I would advise that if you intend to use this as a replacement for Twhirl or Twitterfox or your other iGoogle Gadgets then make sure you have a large monitor. On my 12.1 inch notebook monitor I am slowly going blind scrolling through my 700 contacts and keeping my left eye on the flashing icon that informs me that my tweet feed is updated. I'm going to try to find some eye drops now and will let you know about what I think of the "Web notes", "Discoveries" widgets when I have regained my sight again.
P.S. If you didn't know, Rojak is an Malaysian Indian dish that is made up vegetables, hard boiled egg, fried tofu and prawn crackers covered in a sweet black sauce and crushed peanuts.Colloquially rojak refers to being mixed up.
My 3 year old daughter came home last week with a small blue envelope with 5 cards in it. It was obviously an ingenious way to teach the very young that they should let their mother inspect for symptoms of the EV71 virus that causes Hand Foot & Mouth Disease which has claimed over 40 young lives in China this spring.
In context it makes a lot of sense but my first impression was shock because I saw card 4 before the others. Not being able to read Chinese I was wondering why the child in the illustration was mooning the teacher. ...
I recently asked the question, what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in Online Social Networks. A quick search in Google found articles on how posting pictures of your real life unacceptable behaviour on a social network might cause your employer to doubt your suitability (http://snipr.com/29rd6 ) and I found a company that just does "e-moderation" of community sites for MNC's to make them kiddy safe (http://snipr.com/29rdp ) but found nothing advising those who are new to social media on how they should be behave when interacting with other real people through your computer monitor. So drawing from my status as a novice in social media I have listed 5 suggestions that will hopefully help you navigate the minefield of interpersonal interaction via your keyboard.
1. Be a real person.
If you are a man in real life, then be a man online. If you are a woman, then be a woman. If you are a 4 ft tall transvestite with third nipple then be exactly that online. Real online social networks are about finding communities to participate in where other people participating have to take you for your word. Don't create a false persona because you think people will like you more because chances are somewhere down the line, you'll probably want to just be yourself anyway, like in a real social community. Having said that you don't need to post your resume and full medical history along with images of the scar from the mole you removed last summer. Just enough of you so that others can relate.
2. Social Media does not mean hi-tech multi-level marketing.
Facebook is not a Tupperware party, or an Amway meeting or in anyway a tool for you to participate in multi-level marketing. Social media is a way for people to socialise, discuss issues, get advice, give advice or even gather support for a cause. It is not something you should exploit to sell plasticware, soap, insurance, Canadian pharmaceuticals or penis enhancing herbs. Not only is that going to brand you as a leper but somewhere down the line a moderator is going to block you or the community will black list you. Save the Amway pitch for the next time you share a seat on a long bus trip.
3. Don't Stalk
If you find someone who has a hot Facebook profile image or their party photos makes your monogamous relationship with your Macbook seem mundane, don't be shy about contacting that person....once. Twice if you are really interested in making contact but chances are if you don't get a reply by the second invitation, they are not stuck in a black out, nor did your message get garbled in cyberspace. THEY DON"T WANT TO MEET YOU. So get over it and move on. A lot of people use social media to keep in touch with people who they already know so when a perfect stranger writes on their Funwall to ask if they want to meet in this quaint little cafe in Second Life they click the "Ignore" button and hope you were not offended. So don't be offended and don't continue to send invitations. It will just freak them out and drive them back into the real world.
4. Don't be afraid to contribute.
One of the lessons that I learned participating in a limited number of social networks as well as in real life is that chances are there are people out there who are dumber than you. Sure there are people with PhD's from MIT who you follow on Twitter but that doesn't mean he knows the best way to separate the egg white from the egg yoke when making a high protein omelette. The best thing about communities is that nobody knows everything but together there is a wealth of knowledge from real people on line. So when someone asks a question and you think you know the answer, speak up. The worst thing that can happen is that you are wrong and if someone points that out, then you will have learned something.
5. Welcome people to your network.
The reason why I asked this question in the first place is because I felt really bad about not saying "Hi" to the people who began following me on Twitter. I posed the question " Has anyone blogged about twittiquette? i feel bad about not welcoming my new followers. i need someone to tell me it's ok" and the comment that I got from @TimNoonan was "@dedlam You welcomed me, I feel extra special now :-)". This got me thinking cos when I started following someone and they thanked me for following or acknowledged my existence I felt really warm a gooey. Like turning up to a party and finding that you didn't know anybody there but having the host introduce you to a few friendly people and bringing you a drink. @jlojlo does this with each of her followers and I think it is a great way to stimulate conversation and interaction. So to all the people who have followed me and I have just ignored them, I apologise and warmly welcome you to my twittersphere. And to the spambots who have followed me in the attempt to sell me dog food or Viagra I hope you choke yourself to death on your own mouse cord.
I took this video of the stopped traffic during 2:28pm 3 minutes of silence to commemorate the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake. The video is boring as batsh*t but if you listen to the sound, it's not a glitch. People all over China were honking their horns in unison to grieve the loss of life in Sichuan. It was more like 3 minutes of racket but a very moving moment nonetheless.
The date of 5/12/2008 will be burned into the minds of many Chinese in much the same way as 9/11 is remembered as the day the World Trade Center fell. The 12th May marked one of the largest earthquakes to hit China in the last three decades, however what amazes me is what happened afterwards, especially in a semi-closed economy like China. Within four days of this natural disaster an amazing RMB6.023 billion (USD860 million) in aid was raised to provide relief to those affected by the Sichuan earthquake. (http://snipr.com/29ixo) Another amazing fact is that most of these donation were not from governments (who contributed RMB720 million) but by the general public. Domestic public donations totaled RMB4.9 billion and it is the first time in history that public donations have surpassed the Central Government donations.
The other astounding fact about this disaster for China is the unsurpassed amount of media coverage of the event. What seems to me like weeks of media coverage has really only been less than a week but through television, the internet and social media like twitter and blogs like www.shanghaiist.com the public has been able to track developments, understand the humanitarian effects of the disaster, see rescue stories and generally understand how people have been affected.
Surely both these factors are not mutually exclusive and it is a lesson of the effectiveness of Public Relations and a responsible reaction from media outlets who were given the freedom to report. On evening of the 12th May, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiao Bao was on the ground in Sichuan and addressing survivors and consoling children who had lost their family in the quake with a television crew. Within minutes footage of rescue efforts and the devastation in the quake effected areas were beam all over the world so that citizens & the public at large could feel the anguish suffered by victims of the quake. One of the first stories that made me physically cry and still now brings moisture to my eyes was the report of 900 children trapped by a collapsing school.
It was these stories, images and footage that made it easy for me to reach into my pocket to donate money to those whom I felt really needed it. And I am not a Chinese citizen.
The next news cycle that I recall was mostly about others who have donated. Stories about people lining up putting RMB100 bills into donations boxes across the country. Chinese communities in countries as far as Brazil taking collections for victims of the quake were played repetitively on television in all Chinese channels. This resulted in contributions from. not only those who can normally afford charity, but even children were reported to have broken their piggy banks to give to the needy.
Over the weekend, it seemed that the international media had had enough of quake news and were mostly reporting about the Bush visit to the Middle East, the continued mishandling of cyclone relief in Myanmar and H.R. Clinton's refusal to quit but, in what appears to be a final step in a masterful PR campaign, the Government has raised the flag above Tienanmen Square at half mast (something that has never been done before for civilian reasons), announced 3 minutes of silence across the nation at 2:28pm today, along with a three day nationwide ban on all entertainment media on TV and the internet to grieve for the loss of life.
When the world who is unaffected directly by this disaster forgets the emotion they feel now, we will look back and see a media campaign that enabled not only the 1.2 billion citizens of China but the World for a week to feel the empathy for the hundreds of thousands of people who will have to rebuild what is left of their lives. A campaign that made it easy for us to be charitable and hopefully a campaign that will make us remember how lucky we are.
In so many conferences that I have run and attended I have heard much about CSR and Social Responsibility but until now it has always appeared that CSR is just another way for business to justify what they do to make money. It is not until now that I have seen PR as a real tool of Social Responsibility. I hope that PR professionals will be able to see what a powerful tool they wield and that they will also have the opportunity to do something that is really worthwhile far beyond manipulating public opinion to protect corporate bottom lines.
I attended a private school in Sydney's inner west. My school's colors were green and white and if you are from that part of the world you will know which school it is. A nearby private school in the same area used the colors black and white.
These two schools were rivals. Not only on the sporting field and in academic achievement did we compete but at the train stations, where students from both these schools would congregate before and after school hours, we also competed for territory at Strathfield Station and for the attention of girls from the nearby private girls schools. It was not an understatement to say that we hated each other.
As I watch the development of two humanitarian disasters unfold in Sichuan and Myanmar, I am reminded of an incident in the late 80's when a senior student from another local catholic non-private school, (in peer driven act of teenage stupidity) struck a junior student from my school and broke his nose. Now I am not here to justify what occurred afterwards but when the news got out, the senior boy from the catholic school and his mates got the retribution of not just the friends of the boy who's nose was broken but from the rubgy teams of both my school and the black and white school. Our normal rivalry and social hatred dissolved as we joined forces to right a perceived wrong.
In Sichuan today I am reading aid workers from Japan, Taiwan & Russia have reached the disaster area. Donations have come and are still coming from all over the world and I can see, countries that are usually at odds with China, joining forces to right this perceived wrong. To combat a common enemy of disaster and misfortune. Furthermore, citizens, children, foreigners and even those who can scarcely afford charity are digging into their pockets to contribute to the relief being provided to the victims and survivors of the earthquake.
Elsewhere in Asia though, I can see that no such solidarity is evident in Myanmar. Although there are aid organisation and countries lining up to offer help, within the country, those who most need this aid are not getting it. It angers me to see that the government in power are trying to fool the world into thinking that everything is under control when it is evidently not.
This may seem simplistic but I put this difference down to a difference in perception. China perceives the enemy is the disaster and we who have nothing else in common are united in fighting the enemy that is common. Sure there are political ramifications to think of but the Chinese Government has correctly prioritized that death and destruction is a greater enemy than the balance of trade or border conflicts.
Conversely the enemy in Myanmar is perceived to be the "The Image of Myanmar in the global community" and the cyclone has attacked not the citizens but has attacked that image. The cyclone has attacked the perception that "everything is okay in Myanmar" and in their fight against this enemy, they are doing everything they can to fix this perception and let everybody know that everything is okay. Unfortunately this enemy is not the same as everyone else's and so there is no alignment.
It is sad to think that simply because the leadership's perception is wrong that some of the 25 thousand plus casualties were not avoided, however it is encouraging to think that many lives have been saved because the Chinese leadership and the world have banded together, despite their differences to fight a common enemy.
It is also interesting to note that in the 1976 Tangshan earthquake it appears that China thought the same way as Myanmar does now. The official death toll for that disaster was a quarter million. Unofficially over 600,000. Let's hope that Myanmar learns quickly before more life is lost.
I like to think of myself as someone in touch with technology but in reality I am just someone who likes to watch. I like to watch what people buy. I like to watch what people are tweeting and I like to think that I am part of that community of people who talk about internet startups, widgets, web 2.0 and social media, but in reality I am a just a voyeur with a keyboard.
Yesterday I started to watch the discussion on the earthquake in Sichuan. My interest came from my Ayi who has still not been able to contact her parents and her brother in Beichuan. What she knows is that her village was flattened and that the roads are too bad to reach her village and that it is unlikely that her parents survived the quake. To me, this struck a little too close to home. Here is the person whom I employ to look after my child, potentially losing her family. Luckily she was able to get a message from her own daughter and sister via sms and they are okay.
So this twitter phenomenon kind of happened because I wanted to collect as much news as possible so that when I got home I could hopefully bring her some news. Rather than cutting and pasting the links I read, I started retweeting posts from people who had found articles, images or eyewitness accounts so that I could just feed my twitter feed into Google Reader and have all those links in one place.
What I found was that as I was retweeting, people were noticing and then retweeting what I was retweeting. Some people referred to me as live blogging from China and more people started following. I found that strange but then I realised that this was a game of Chinese Whispers where those who heard me and pass on what they heard, so I kept on retweeting people kept on following.
Kaiser who blogs at http://digitalwatch.ogilvy.com.cn/en/ mentioned that there is some discussion about twitter breaking the earthquake story and Robert Scoble also wrote something in his blog about twitter but in reality I was following 3 maybe 4 people actually in Chengdu who were tweeting in English and others who were just scanning the various news sources that actually had journalist at the scene.
I got an email from someone from Aljazeera asking to speak to me about the situation in China and I thought to myself that what I was doing in China today, I could have done in Sydney or San Francisco or from my PDA on a beach in Phuket.
So at the end of the day, It was nice to be noticed for a day but all I really did was emulate what Google Reader already does and that was to aggregate what I was reading and then posting it on another feed. As for twitter, I love what it is, and what it is is just a broadcast sms service delivered over the internet where people share what they are doing, and as a watcher or voyeur, what I have seen is that most people spend a lot of their time just surfing the internet and then letting people know what they have read.
It was an interesting, emotional and thought provoking day today. I'll see you all tomorrow and I will be watching.
Weddings for me is always a cultural experience. Growing up in Australia, I was accustomed to the church service/ reception dinner arrangement. When I finally got married it was a different affair. I married a Chinese Malaysian which meant that there was no "Christian" Church involved and instead a series of games and challenges to get into the Brides house followed by a tea ceremony and then a sit-down Chinese Wedding Banquet at the Mandarin Oriental. For Chinese, the wedding dinner wasn't so much a getting-pissed-and-doing-inappropriate-speeches affair but more of a themed dinner where the bride and groom are the entertainment.
Chinese culture in China is an odd animal. The wedding I attended last night was the second Chinese wedding I had ever attended and once again it was a learning experience. I have noticed in China is the evolution of Chinese culture is actually not driven by tradition, (as it is in Chinese communities outside China), but driven by modern influences.
At almost every wedding I had attended in the last decade one of the activities on stage is a Champagne fountain of some description. At this one I attended last night they have simplified and modernised even this concept. Rather than building a pyramid out of champagne glasses the hotel supplied a contraption that left an impressive yet somewhat kitch impression. Mounted on stage was a double glazed sheet of glass in a frame that had a UV light shining on it. The Bride and Groom then poured the champagne into an opening at the top of the frame that funneled the liquid into a groove between the two panes of glass that spelled out the words "Our Love" which glowed a violet hue due to the UV lights. It was a bit gimmicky but it had more of an impact in this day and age since everyone has already seen a champagne pyramid before.
The other surprising thing was the Bride and Groom were absent from the reception for most of the night. They made their entrance in the beginning, did the champagne gambit and other on-stage photo ops, one speech, and then vanished. Then all the courses came out almost simultaneously before they appeared again just before dessert.
As I recall from my own Chinese banquet style wedding, we had a running sheet of 2 courses, dress change, 2 courses, best man & bridesmaid speeches, 2 courses dress change, 2 courses, parental speeches, 2 courses, thank you's and song & dance, 2 courses, cheesy mobi-disco.
The final surprising thing was at the end of the wedding, they had door prizes and game shows which felt like those celebrity shows they do in Taiwan and Hong Kong. It was at this point that I got this feeling that I was in a scene from "Requiem to a Dream".
The general effect was that it was a fun wedding that didn't really feel like a wedding. This might be a good thing but the absence of the bride and groom for most of the night made if feel like any other dinner. I guess the night served it's purpose of giving friends and relatives a date to mark their anniversary but with all the activities going on, the only thing that I didn't get enough of was seeing the bride & groom.
The Sofitel Highlands situated in the middle Nanjing Dong Lu was a nice venue for the wedding although there were some issues that you should consider if you are intending to a wedding there as well. If you are planning to have a four hour wedding, book for 5 hours or try to get everything done in 3 hours so that the waiters are not rushing through the meal. One of the annoying things about the service, although the staff were attentive, they were taking dishes away before we were finished with them. The alternative is to have the dishes divided up for the guests. There is nothing more disruptive than having a dish removed while you are still eating it just to make room on the table for the next dish. Another alternatively ask the hotel to transfer the food to smaller plates and return them to the table.
A blow by blow of the meal is below.
First Course was a collection of Shanghai Cold dishes including Jellied Pork and Pigs Ears, Red Dates, Mung Beans, Marinated Eel and Prawns.
It was also at this stage that we cracked open the first bottle of wine. The wine at first glance looks French or at least that what the name suggested however upon further inspection, the label stated that it was "Made from the best grapes in the World and made from Advanced Internal Technics". The quality of the Chinglish gave it's Chinese origins away as did the headache I had when I got home that night.
First hot course was the obligatory Shark fin soup. I imagine that the quantity of shark fin was related to the price however environmentalists will be pleased that it is unlikely that a shark died as a result of this dish. It was more likely just wounded.
2nd Dish: Sweet and Sour Prawns. Good size. Adequate freshness.3rd Dish: Chicken marinated with Soy Sauce. Typical Cantonese dish.
4th Dish: Lobster with a cheesy sauce on top of a bed of noodles.
Crab in a what looks like a fair bit of corn starch
Stir-fried prawns and broccoli
Fried noodles that remained untouched. For those unaccustomed to the Chinese wedding banquet this is the meal's buffer. If at the end of the meal, if you find that your guests have devoured this dish in it's entirety, then you did not provide enough food. Most Cantonese Wedding banquets will also include a fried rice too. Both of these dishes generally go back to the kitchen staff.
Dessert was a bit of a weird combo. The buns you see are actually Char Siew (BBQ Pork) and the Egg Tarts are ...well... egg tarts. Both items are Dim Sum items traditionally. Strangely enough though after about a litre of Red wine, it went down quite well.
So as you can see, the meal was plentiful which is all you can really ask for from a wedding in a hotel. If I had to score the food quality I would give the meal a 6.5 out of 10 but as with most weddings (where newly weds are looking to start their new life together) it makes sense to treat the wedding as a matter of economics. In modern China (and most of middle class Chinese Asia I imagine) the wedding banquet costs are actually borne by the Bride & Groom rather than the brides parents as it is in Western weddings. For a young couple starting out their new life in a new home, this was indeed a great way to start that journey.
To David & Josie, Congratulations!
I've trying work out how to make Brightkite useful when the Google Map for shanghai is pretty but useless. In fact if you go to the Map mode you will discover that shanghai has actually only two roads. So after sending a couple of messages through GetSatisfaction I was quickly informed that I could check-in using a latitude and longitude.
My next challenge was to find out what my latitude and longitude was. The answer to every question can be found in Google and after a few seconds I found http://itouchmap.com/latlong.html which quite simply allowed me to drop a marker where I was and it would give me the correct coordinates.
So now I can let the world know exactly where I am without people actually understanding where I am, and that's how I use brightkite in Shanghai.
My office (as you can see above) is located at 31.214783, 121.389613. Drop in for a chat if you get the chance.
With the failed attempt to purchase Yahoo has Steve Ballmer really decided to diversify the business?
I saw the SANTANA Vista on the way home today. Yeah I know it's stupid but small things amuse simple minds. That's why I always leave the gents smiling.