We are increasingly asked by clients about our point of view on how to bring innovations to the Chinese market.
"Contradictory" is the first word that comes to mind when addressing this question. While there are numerous examples of IP infringement and copycat strategies (consider Meizu's M8, China's response to Apple's iPhone; or this unbranded PSP phone; or Oriental Virgin's rip-off of Sony Ericsson's brand), there is plenty of genuine innovation too (such as AOpen and Fortune Motor's Car PC; or China's plans for commercial jet development). Similarly, for every story of government over-regulation (of user-generated content; of online access; of mobile), there is a trend that runs against it (such as the boom in e-commerce; the very existence of a china web 2.0 meta-blog; or VC fundingÂ of the Chinese version of Joost).
Stay tuned to this space for more thoughts on how to manage these contradictions...
A new e-mail management solution introduces a virtual currency to relieve knowledge workers from attention disorder
The ability for customers to broadcast their experiences with companies is greater than any time in the last 150 years ago when we all lived in small villages. My earlier post on my experience with Audi's corporate feedback loop is a perfect example: that micro experience gets amplified to potentially rival big budget advertising efforts (not to say my one in particular has this effect...).
Have you heard of Twitter yet? Well it seems like that's all I hear about lately when perusing through the WPF and Flash community blogs. The concept couldn't be simpler. You make posts saying nothing more than what you are doing at the time. The more you do it, the more interesting it becomes. You can follow other Twitters as well as adding them as friends. Think of it like a set of one sentence blog posts that allow people to track what you're up to. This has been particularly useful for people who are attending conferences as it's a great way to find people. The popularity of Twitter seems to be exploding!
Go over and sign up and you can follow me here.
The new Optomap Retinal Exam from Optos has improved the User Experience of eye exams. I've worn glasses forever and every year I get an eye exam. In the past, eye exams consisted of a series of tests, one of which was pupil dilation in order to better examine the internal surface of the eye. This dilation has always been difficult because it lasts for several hours and makes the eyes quite sensitive to light. The Panoramic200 Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (this company's product) takes a digital image of the eye which apparently provides enough information to the Opthamologist so that they don't require pupil dilation. Additionally, the images are very cool. This isn't my eye but you wouldn't know the difference.
Science and engineering just took another step towards a better future. Now we just need to pick up the pace a little.
One of the most inspiring organizations I can think of, Architecture for Humanity, has recently launched the Open Architecture Network, an online platform for architects to collaborate on housing design solutions for developing nations. The site's FAQ outlines their mission:
"One billion people live in abject poverty. Four billion live in fragile but growing economies. One in seven people live in slum settlements. By 2020 it will be one in three. We don't need to choose between architecture or revolution. What we need is an architectural revolution."
The site contains tools, specs, and other documentation that allows architects from around the world to collaborate on open source solutions to designing housing and other structures for the developing world. Their work is quite often amazing - taking simple, local materials and building homes and clinics substantially more livable and beautiful than my New York studio.
As I understand it, the OAN represents a kind of return to the roots of Architecture for Humanity, which I once heard its founder Cameron Sinclair describe as the result of simply going out to the web and asking people to help solve the kinds of housing problems that traditional architecture had been unable to deal with.
There does seem to be a small but encouraging trend of open source ideas jumping from the digital to the physical world. One of the most promising that I've heard of recently is the Institute for OneWorld Health - to my knowledge the world's first nonprofit pharmaceutical company (about time). There is of course a difference between open source and simply nonprofit - as OneWorld Health's original drug product came from scouring databases of drugs whose patents had expired it does, in a sense, encompass both.
What gives me the most hope about these initiatives is only partially their direct benefit in terms of products. I am more excited by the fact that one of open source's main side-effects is education. If you need proof, how many of you learned HTML from hitting the 'view source' button? I don't think anyone can predict what kinds of revolutionary innovation will occur when millions of people in emerging economies are able to hit 'view source' on the institutions that hamper development.
Spotted at the corner of 3rd and Brannan.
When Apple first added the airport express to its line of products, they seamlessly integrated the experience of connecting remotely to your stereo. As an unabashed admirer of their products, I picked one up fairly early on and was quite pleased with it. At the time I had only one device but did hear some rumblings about multiple adapters and Apple's inability to play through multiple sources at once. The grumbling quickly faded to the background and I forgot about it.
As promised, here is the update on Carla Diana's "fragile: handle with care" installationÂ projectÂ in france.
She has also been working on a workshop with local kids in Savana at the city art museum. She described the photo below as a "radioactive pizza". Check it out. Nice stuff.
A few days into South By Southwest (SXSW), SXSW Film will world-premiere Gary Hustwit's documentary "Helvetica," starring Erik Spiekerman, Neville Brody, and many others, celebrating the famous typeface that was initially conceived as the incarnation of Swiss neutrality (some graphic designers say that if diplomacy were a font, it would look like Helvetica).