My Readings For the Week

A wise man once told me that if you need to market your product, THAT product  sucks. Well, that’s a sweeping statement but has some nuggets of wisdom especially in a fierce market where there is so much noise.

If you love “listacles” (short for list articles), here’s another one that compiles predictions on how marketing will be in the future. Read up on 25 Predictions on What Marketing Would Be Like in 2020. Here’s a great quote from Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Taco Bell: “At Taco Bell, we look at three approaches to content: Create, Co-Create, and Curate. Create is our own content, co-create is content created in partnership with consumers, and curate is taking the user generated content we like and showing it to more people. The most important ingredient in all of this is authenticity.”

The future instrument is a mix of creativity, engineering, design and software. Check out this instrument that got $80,000 in commitment through Kickstarter in 6 hours. Invented by musician Mike Butera who has a PHd in Sound Studies at Virgina Tech, this instrument, dubbed INSTRUMENT 1, is set to go sale anytime soon, after the group was able to demo its prototype.

I stumbled upon this minimalist & curated site called “Defringed.” It’s a term that many designers would know. What is this site about? It’s an online destination for creative content, chosen by their editors. The site, which I discovered through Ello.co, features design, photography, art, typography, architecture, etc. If you’re tired of the messy, cluttered social networks, bookmark this site. It’s worth your while.

Other alternative sites that I have discovered: Fusion.net (a site supposed to be designed for millennials); mic.com, which features news catering to the young people. Both sites are not as loud as Buzzfeed.com, but they also offer fresh insights and perspectives other than what you’ve grown tired of seeing on click-baiting websites.

Quo vadis, Philippine cinema?

20150227_154035Today, I heard one of the most revealing truths about Philippine cinema. It’s not dead or dying. It is just, well, polarized.

As I endured the cold Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium at the De La Salle University, Filipino director and professorial lecturer Jose Javier Reyes warmed up the place with his no-holds-barred talk about Philippine cinema and movies. There is apparently a distinction between a film and a movie; the latter is a product that is meant to be sold. Speaking before students, faculty and guests at the 1st DLSU Communications Conference, Reyes began his exposition with questions about the top grossing films in the Philippines. Then, he went on to reveal how much money did the Metro Manila Film Festival make–it was about PhP 1.1 billion. And the top grossing films? Let’s just say, they are mostly romcoms, produced primarily by a dominant studio, which also happens to be producing the most popular stars in movies and on television.

Reyes’ talk focused on how BIG studios today dictate how movies are made, and how economics play a big part in the distribution and production of these movies in cinemas. Contrast that to indie films which, by the way, is not a genre but a business model that simply means films not produced by BIG outfits. The success of English Only, Please and the recent That Thing Called Tadhana–films which Reyes dubbed as “maindies,” have succeeded despite it being produced by smaller outfits.

Indie films are often misconstrued as art or experimental films that only the intellectual moviegoers appreciate. Unfortunately, many Philippine indie films don’t have the marketing muscle and distribution that BIG studio-produced films have, thus are often not making enough money, or worse, forgotten and pulled down from cinemas after less than a week of public showing. Think of Bwakaw.

Reyes argued that Philippine cinema is polarized between movies that are produced as products that sell versus movies that are made by independent outfits that are often only seen in Cinemalaya or, rarely, in short-runs in local cinemas. The top-grossing films in Philippine cinema of all time are produced by BIG studios that feature popular celebrities (who mostly got popular on television), and a well-known director who has mastered the kiliti of the masses. Every year, this has been the case, until some films like English Only, Please break out of the mold. English Only, Please is a romcom that is independently produced. It has also won awards, and has made its producers money, according to Reyes.

The truth is, Philippine cinema does not need to be mind-numbing and crass to be able to make money. There are good films out there–many are even winning awards abroad, but since BIG outfits control the distribution and cinemas, the audience only get to see films that are formulaic.

Reyes stressed that films can and should entertain. But, as it entertains, it should also INNOVATE, REDISCOVER, and REDEFINE Philippine cinema. Innovate perhaps in terms of distribution and production (there’s always digital media waiting to be tapped). Rediscover means the industry being able to figure out ways to showcase local indie filmmakers in cinemas or via digital distribution. Redefine: This is an area where Reyes gets fired up: Philippine movies shouldn’t be classified as indie or mainstream. There should only be one: Philippine cinema, just like Bollywood.

 

 

 

 

 

Internet speed matters [Missing 45Mbps in my computer]

The infographic from this story tells it all. The Philippines has the most pathetic Internet speeds and cost to consumers. There’s no real competition and choice. Now, one of our good Senators is trying to chase this down, hoping to find solutions for us, poor and paying customers.

As I write this, I’m enjoying Internet speeds of 45Mbps. This is according to a speed test that I conducted two nights ago. You may be wondering where in the world am I? I’m in a country that boasts of blazing Internet speeds available to consumers: South Korea.

I came across an article that cited studies that linked economic growth in countries to the availability of fast Internet services. South Korea falls into this category. A quick search on the Internet led me to this ITU white paper that attempts to establish the link between economic growth and the widespread availability and adoption of broadband technology. It’s a long study done in 2012. It’s a good read.

This got me thinking, and writing several observations that are based on years of writing about government policies on information and communications technology, and now being in the middle of all these development. So indulge me and read on. Note: All these are my own opinion and does not reflect views of any organization I work for or of which I represent.

1. Faster Internet speeds help generate more business. My theory of establishing link between the adoption and availability of fast Internet and economic growth is based on how businesses see this as an important aspect of doing business. As consumers demand more bandwidth-hungry services like streaming high-resolution video, Internet speeds are critical. Disruptive services like Netflix are just a start, and more will emerge and continue to evolve. And if this theory goes well, we should expect MORE enhanced services that rely heavily on digital services delivered through the cloud. Internet speeds available to consumers will be a critical factor that will push businesses and start-ups to consider to invest in digital services.

2. Efficient economies have digital backbones that rely on hyper-fast broadband infrastructure. This goes beyond the wired network. I’m talking about the digital backbone that connect us to the cloud of services. Broadband Internet is an important layer for the Internet of Things to happen. The intelligence of a system will NOT reside in devices, but in the cloud. Think Matrix, without the evil, alien-like machines chasing down humans.

3. Faster Internet will lead to the creation of more disruptive industries and new product categories. Have you heard of the phenomenon called “cord-cutting or cord-shaving?” These are terms that you will hear, as more Netflix-like services will start replacing or disrupting existing and dominant players in the video business. With innovations come new business categ0ries and opportunities for “Netflix-like” services to emerge.

4. Broadband Internet services will create new jobs. You don’t have to look any further: Silicon Valley is powered by fast Internet highways. This place has been creating new economies and new job categories. So why are we still wondering why places with poor Internet infrastructure are playing catch-up?

5. Broadband Internet is a utility, a basic human right. History indicates that regulators will face issues like Net Neutrality. This issue is, however, becoming murky as detractors are trying to muddle the discussion about its benefits. What you should know is that the cost of broadband Internet will go down. Market forces will dictate that. But there is also significant pressure from service providers to keep profits up, while balancing its operational expenses and margins. Regulators and policy-makers should have consumers top-of-mind, and they should serve them first and well. The reality, however, is that consumers are the last in discussions about delivering fast Internet. This is a topic that divides the industry, the policy-makers, and government. Currently, there is no clear winner. But there’s a clear loser: we THE consumers.

 

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Going back to my little story about my brief stay in Korea for the past 4 days. What could take hours to do,  it took less than 10 minutes. I tried for two-straight nights to send a 50MB, full-HD video that I took using my smartphone camera. While this may sound too trivial, this experience has a lot to do with the economy and the digital lifestyle that we now have.

Access to communications technology is another basic human right. Without it, economies would collapse. Faster, broadband infrastructures are highways that we need to allow us to discover new stuff. They provide us the means to learn new things, to understand and figure out solutions to the questions about our universe. It’s the very fabric that we require to test out scientific and economic question, and hopefully, come up with practical solutions.

The overwhelming Internet speed in my hotel room here in South Korea allowed me to send 2 full-HD videos in a few minutes, sparing me time to spend with friends, to walk around the beautiful city of Suwon and experience its culture–and food. That is priceless.

How I am going to miss my 45MBps Internet bandwidth tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clay Shirky: Social Media and the making of history

This has been one of my favorite Ted Talks of all of time. It comes from Clay Shirky.

From his TED Talks bio:

“Shirky is an adjunct professor in New York Universityʼs graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he teaches a course named “Social Weather.” Heʼs the author of several books. This spring at the TED headquarters in New York, he gave an impassioned talk against SOPA/PIPA that saw 1 million views in 48 hours.”

Watch and learn.

When my filter bubble worked against me

I felt out of the loop when my boss told me this morning that I missed news about the Hong Kong protests. As I tried to think of an excuse, he quickly added, “That’s your filter bubble working.”

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a filter bubble, it is this: if you’re dependent on social networks for news, you are most likely going to see news that you want–and filtering out those news you don’t want. Filter bubbles are little universes that we create as social networks learn about our behavior, our preferences, our tastes, and our intent. It literally filters out “noise” and replaces it with more relevant and personal information based on my social behavior and, of course, likes.

If you’re seeing a lot of technology content being pushed to you on Facebook, this means at least two things: you’re following that topic through a page, or you’re friends are sharing it. In my case, it is the former that decides my filter bubble.

So why did I miss the Hong Kong protests news? I’m not sure why but I would venture to think that it might be the number 1 social network adjusting my feeds, again. This New York Times article, for one, says our news feeds are ripe for experimentation by people running it.

Here’s a quote from NYT article:

Facebook probably takes the most heat for adjusting how it delivers information in its news feed. Since the feed was introduced in 2006, Facebook has ranked posts based on a computer program meant to show the posts you’ll find the most interesting and engaging.

As a result, you can never be sure whether something you post to Facebook will be seen by your friends. Companies that have spent countless hours and dollars building up their Facebook “likes” may find themselves shouting into the wind. And promoted posts — paid ads — can seem even more glaringly out of place, because they pop up regularly, unlike some of your friends or favorite brands.

We are what we read…