In the Land of Magazine Editing

There are plenty of things that can be said in writing, in fact, that is the only time machine we really have (although it only works when traveling to the past). Knowledge, theories, traditions and statements are passed down to us from generation to generation through writing even if we never met that person in real life.

Although today, words spread like fire across the world, there is a new problem that affects us all: clutter. Everyone has a different opinion of everything; even research finds itself to be contradicting from time to time. So how do you know what to take seriously and what to throw away? There is no formula. We’re all free to believe what we want to believe, the thing is, what happens when those beliefs start disagreements, wars even?

We can only trust people to be tolerant to different statements to their own. That’s the beauty of diversity. In my city, a city to be well known as an ever growing one and a friendly place to be in, there are still many factors that are cast aways or that are not paid enough attention.

Therefore, in the spirit of crowd journalism and that today, we all have the right and means to be one, a group of friends and myself have started off a small project. Little detail is what I can offer at the moment, for it’s still in the works. My experience as a writer has been (up until this moment) purely individual work, a very personal view of my surroundings. Perhaps group writing will result in something much more profitable (and no, I’m not just talking about money).

Anyway, our main goal is to bring those unexplored aspects of this city out into the open, those that portray innovation, technology and other things that you may already be taking for granted, yet aren’t fully aware of their importance in your every day life. Perhaps there are places (figurative and physical) right next to you, places you haven’t casted an eye on. Might be worth it, you never know.

The overall question is, will people pay attention anyway? Even if they do, in the slightest manner, I would consider our effort to be well reciprocated. Who knows? It might turn out to be forgotten in little time or it might actually make a tiny difference. We’ll see.

The Economic Machine Finally Flourishing

After entire eras of being blocked from the world with internal ideologies and economic systems, China started the greatest economic growth ever recorded in history. It wasn’t long ago when foreigners turned to look at the Red Dragon for business opportunities. Entire Western educational systems have been shaped around this focus. As more and more foreigners visited the country and many of them decided to call China “home”, there was a clear product consumption difference between locals and foreigners.

While foreigners looked for products that reminded them of home or were internationally trusted labels, locals remained with their traditions and seldom did they choose something else in lieu of. I myself witnessed such a consumer behavior. Even at restaurants, bars or night clubs; the places were full of foreigners and few Chinese citizens to be seen in those places. Perhaps it was I who unknowingly chose those places?

Well it turns out that after four years, my then-roommate went back for another visit to the Red Dragon. This curious division was at last forgotten about. Foreigners started consuming more and more local products, and locals were consuming more international brands in more public places. What made them change?

Although many can speculate the possible reason, perhaps it must have something to do with information consumption and locals’ economic growth. The more you get to know a product and inform yourself about it, the more likely you are to consume it. More importantly, if you have the purchasing power to feed on that curiosity, then the sky is the limit.

So the long standing and rapidly developing economic plans in China have been doing terrific good to its people. So much so, that not only is local consumption being more internationalized, but locals are spending their holidays in other countries. In fact, this 2012 is a marked trend that all major touristic places around the world will be receiving a large flock of Chinese tourism.

Despite the controversial website blockage in China, plenty of Internet development is still occurring. They might not approve of the Internet giants like Facebook, Twitter or Google, but it doesn’t mean they came up with their own versions of these services.

Other than individuals’ economic growth and local IT, what will China do next then? Where will their machine-like economic plan take them?

Daily Headlines are Not Just for Fun

A usual morning for a business person or anyone who is keeping up with world events for personal interest, includes a cup of coffee and reading headlines on their screen. Some may say that it is just a practice done to be in touch with what is happening around us. However, it definitely goes deeper.

Have you ever heard of a histogram? Or may be making predictions…? These things aren’t as hard to do as they sound. Imagine your every morning, holding your cup of coffee and reading the headlines as you always do. Now, keep in mind what happens in a daily basis, make a log out of it, or simply write about it if you will.

After sometime, you start noticing patterns or a particular brand, company, person or situation that is showing up more so than the rest. Based on that, you can make very accurate prediction of what will happen next. Even if you don’t use a sophisticated software to build a perfect model, your own intuition is good enough to predict what is coming next.

Now, all those practiced business people out there already know this, but for beginners or students, it may be an eye opener. Up until half way through college, I found newscast or newspapers or anything “newsy” boring an uninteresting. As time went by, I started noticing the great importance behind it. You can even do a mental SWOT analysis just by reading headlines every day. So stick to your RSS feed, favorite blogs or news channels. One thing is for sure: NEVER get your information from a single source. Diversify, and you’ll get a clearer picture of the truth, however relative it is.

It’s not Laziness, It’s Just Higher IQ

People around the world, no matter their generation, have always heard in their youth how older generations criticize the new ones. Typical phrases such “I used to be more responsible when I was your age”, “When I was young like you, I wouldn’t even imagine having all this stuff…” and so on, and so on. It’s not really that the new generations are  disappointing or found wanting to previous ones, it’s just nostalgia talking. Anyway, if it were in fact true that new generations were worse than previous ones, progress and evolution would be impossible. So, don’t pay attention to older generations saying you’re not filling in their shoes, it’s just human nature to say so.

Furthermore, this particular generation of ours has marked an even bigger misunderstanding between the previous ones and us: millennial, Facebook generation or plain Generation Y. All previous generations feel as if this particular one is lazy, unemployed and utterly unproductive. That may seem so since mainly there has been a major change in lifestyle. For older generations, fun was separate from work. Today, these have come together to result in -yes, believe it or no- MORE productivity. How is this possible? Well, according to a whole bunch of research gathered in a single article in the New York Times, here are the main reasons:

  • Work = Play
While at work, the millennial will check Facebook, Twitter and any other technological gadget not only to take a tiny break now and then, but to stay connected. I’ve often talked about crow-sourcing: this is major team work with a big network of people. If you happen to have a question about work, tweet it or post it on your wall, you’ll have an answer in no time. And even if it’s not work related, you’ll keep yourself happy and thoroughly productive instead of feeling down or plain sick about your work day. Thus, having breaks actually make you MORE productive. Just look at Google’s campus. All that fun? Turns out that Google is indeed the tech King and the most valuable brand out there.
  • Entertainment
People work with music and/or ear buds. Why? It is not to isolate yourself from the rest, but to be motivated all the time. Just like when you go out for a run, you play your favorite music to keep the pace in your run. Same thing applies to work. (I know THAT for sure)
  • Team Work
Unlike any other generation, we are the ones with the most team work hours penciled in on the chart. Why? Because just like crowd sourcing, it makes things quicker, easier and more accurate. “No man is an island” indeed. Cooperation leads people to a greater goal faster, than just focusing on self benefit. Plus, it adds up to happy hours in your life while you get to share things with other. Human beings are social beings, why bring them down from that?
In short, Generation Y has raised grade point average from 2.54 to 3.11 in less than 50 years, all because of greater access to information and other people. We may not do things just like older generations, but that’s just it. It’s because we changed the approach that we have more free time, and more production. Fancy, eh? Now imagine what will the next generations do. May be they’ll swoop in and take our jobs (that’s the general fear) may be there will too be a different approach. But with new generations, new changes come. What are today’s toddlers up to? Have you seen them handle an iPhone or a netbook? Watch out!

Be Seen & Shop

I know I’ve mentioned this film before, but then again, many a time Hollywood is the inspiration to technological developments. It all starts out with an outrageous idea, and somehow, somewhere it gets done a little while after. Anyway, remember Minority Report? There’s a scene in which Tom Cruise walks into the Gap and his eyes are scanned. Immediately after an autoresponse machine welcomes him by name and offers him whatever’s new on his usual tastes. Now, although it sounds so cool because then you don’t have a clerk chasing you around the store to see what you are interested in, it’s also a little creepy if you think about it.

Thanks to technological advancements, this scene would be wow-ing to materialize, but in reality, it wouldn’t be surprising. We’re just a step away from that all thanks to giants like Google. But its precisely Google who is countering this type of advancement. Just recently, Google admitted that in this day and age there’s enough technology to develop face recognition to be available for the general public. Now, first off, it’s a bit different from the scene I described, for it was retina recognition, not facial. Secondly, this technology is already available for governments around the world, like CCTV in the UK. However, unless you have some weird connections, this tech isn’t out there for regular people to purchase.

You see, they do have a strong point. Even though it still represents a risk, this technology is safe in the hands of governments (insert doubtful smirk in here), but to give it to anyone? What if it falls in the wrong hands? A lot of debating has been going on about privacy over the net. There have been multiple attempts to stop further development. Enough of our lives already depend on computers, but then again it makes life easier if a computer already knows what you want. Facebook has had an endless headache on this topic.

What if all this goes a step further? Will it be save? Will we get over it as we have with other similar issues in the past? As I look at it, although things like these have severe reluctance from a lot of people, in the end, they have their way. It would bring a great number of advantages but also of risks. How long will it be until we have facial recognition opened up to the world? It has its risks, and great power. It’s like it is said, with great power, comes great responsibility.

Lifestyle Targeting

The more social networks there are, and the more different they are from one another, the better the chances for companies to target their customers. With Google Ads you can target by keywords that are directly related to your product by what people want. With Facebook campaigns you can target people not only by demographics, but by interests and associations. You’d think that would be narrow enough, but how about lifestyle? Sure that’s already accounted for with heavy spending on market research, but what if you didn’t have to really?

Although it’s been around for a little while now (it’s not like it just came out yesterday), FourSquare has been the key to unlock that segmentation criteria. As a user, everywhere you check in, you are leaving a trail of your most frequented places, what type of places do you go to and who do so with. However, I have not seen it been as exploited as Facebook and Google Ads. Perhaps it’s something the founders of FourSquare don’t consider as relevant. Or may be they’ll just approach it in a different way.

So far, coupons and other promotions that some places have published seem to be free, but does FourSquare charge for these special promotions? A question worth asking.

New Consumer, New Values

As years go by, people change habits, culture, ideals, thoughts and lifestyles. All of these influence greatly on their every day life decisions, and to company´s interests: purchasing decisions. Now, in order to predict or know what certain people are going to look for in what they buy, it’s important to know everything about them. But then again, to anyone used to it, this is just stating the obvious. Here’s the catch though, a recent study explains practically an overnight change in people’s behavior. It’s a consumer behavior study by Ipsos.

In less than 3 years or so, people have taken new habits and ideals.  A change that seems to be growing exponentially. When in the middle ages people were stuck in the same place for literally centuries, change is done overnight these days. Anyway, the study clearly specifies 7 new trends in today’s consumer.

First, people crave more and more material things, making them strive for something new desperately. Once they have it, their emotional void grows stronger. That is something that for my taste, is again, stating the obvious. Material things are cool, but people need people. I didn’t need a study to tell me that. Anyway, it moves on to say that thanks to globalization people have known abundance, but in crisis there exists moderation. Partly obvious, although globalization has indeed caused a counterpoint to typical scarcity in capitalism. If an item sells few articles, the price goes up. This still holds true, but at least there’s so much more variety than you’d ever think.

However, the next “findings” seem to make more sense and seem to be true new changes. There is no massive consumerism anymore. People don’t think too much is too much. Which brings us to their next finding: there are no rules to have a happy life or a successful one. It’s Darwin’s law out there and in every aspect in the world. Although in this day and age it has taken a major reinforcement.

In a world that is constantly changing as you sip your morning coffee, things have no stability or durability. As soon as you buy something, it  becomes obsolete for something new and better is already lining up to fill store shelves. So, people are no longer attached to stuff. Thus, value resides on how quickly you can get your hand on the next best thing.

New social stratification is in order. At last, IQ and EQ combined have taken the spotlight. It no longer matters what you have, but what you know and what you can do with it.

Finally, there are three screens in today’s consumer daily life: TV, computers and their mobile device. In fact, according to this same article, 33% of internet postings are done through a mobile device. There is virtually no paper anymore, just ever changing screens in ever changing days. How fast can it get faster and will it ever stop?