Saturday 18 July 2009

Context Collapse

In itself context collapse is a heavy duty context, but however we approach the meaning of meaning, this Youtube presentation by Professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University given at the Personal Democracy Forum is essential viewing.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Information DJ

I was talking to Fabio the other day who gave me an idea that requires outright and blatant theft. Any thoughts on me having Information DJ on a business card? That's basically all I do.

 Commercial Via Famous Rob

Monday 13 July 2009

Digital Backflips

I like digital backflips. It's the equivalent of being a bit creative with software and tools when it's for the internet. In this instance a friend couldn't gouge this clip off his Sony Vaio hard drive, for years after filming it on a yacht trip I mentioned back here for another 40th birthday where we sailed for a few days in the Andaman Sea. We finally managed to transfer it between two ASEAN countries and I chuckled on first viewing. I remember well, that the best of Duran Duran were playing for much of the sailing (much to the surly skippers annoyance) but I don't recall in the slightest that 'Notorious' was playing as I dived off. I would however, have been just as delighted if it were 'Girls on film' which has that wonderful opening sequential shutter sequence that you can listen to here.

Feelings are more important than facts

That's a little phrase I use when explaining what we know about communication theory or rather what we've learned in the last few years through terrific thinkers like Russell Davies, Paul Feldwick, Faris Yacob, John Grant, Richard Huntington and Mark Earls. I'd also include Johnnie Moore but he's cleverly identified that he can facilitate change much more powerfully on the inside than through external messaging on the outside. They might not say it quite the way I do because there's always a context  

That little phrase is the reason why I think the Levi's commercial I blogged, is more profound than any washes "Whiter than White" soap powder commercial could. Can you remember which brand said that? It does however have Walt Whitman's poetry in it so I'll try to weave in some messaging thoughts.

In principle we know that the messaging 'ammunition', and it's conceptual artillery of a say a 'mortar rocket' - the brand proposition - are a really brutal way to articulate what a brand stands for - which is why so much advertising sucks. The dirty secret of advertising is that most message based advertising is (from a global persective) in the FMCG segment and is really more about using a propaganda based frequency (repetition) and reach (penetration) platform that is a numerically driven  and quantitatively assesed communications model. Now it works in principle because it's a level playing field for all brands to size each other up. It's flat flat flat. Something like; 'we're rubbish and you're rubbish but at least we can compare how rubbish we are. Like for like is easier than great creative against great creative

Then we squeeze the mediocre output through the link-testing sausage making machine, that removes all the bits that stand out (the scary bits for marketing managers - the interesting bits for creatives and planners) and deliver something that manages both the risk, and let's face it, diminishes it's ability to be persuasive. The magic is, that because it's all so uniform and standard, it can be measured more fairly than working out if say a kiss on the lips is more romantic than licking an ear lobe. It's that ability to brutally compare, which gives the largely illusional security to marketing managers who absolutely don't want to fuck up on their next ad. And why would they? They've got mortgages to pay. So we rely upon the messaging model to sell 90% of our goods, and guess what? 90% of our advertising sucks.

It's boring, patronising and is complained about by exactly the same respondents who we then recruit to tell us what ideas are good or bad. Until we reconcile this illogical way of thinking i.e Asking people how to improve ads and ignore that they don't like what we do as a business, we're kidding ourselves that we're in the creativity business. It's the safety business we're in. Of course this doesn't apply to all work but ask people what they think about most advertising and you'll get the answer to why we should't recruit them in link tests.

However there's an awful lot of complexity to this subject because actually, messaging does work - on some levels - and it's hugely dependant on the CONTEXT which is something I've banged on and on about over and over again. Even this blog post can never define the solution (or even accurately outline the full problem one suspects) because without knowing the full context, the answer may well fly in the face of everything I've just written. Nothing new there then.

But for the sake of focus I'll highlight two messaging models that DO work.

The first is Propaganda. Most of it is done by people who are used to  giving orders. Military style like instructions or bureaucratically hierarchical management. When I say jump, you jump. When I say smoke a reefer, you smoke a reefer (well obviously not, but you get the gist).I've given some examples throughout this post and tried to also show that once it becomes a meme, we've given people something to do which in marketing communications is one step above feelings.

The second great messaging model example is Google Adsense and which has almost reduced much of the advertising revenue slice of the classifed ads cake to a digital utility. Here's a quick example.

There you go. The most profitable messaging business model in the Universe. However, the reason for writing this erratic and probably slightly incoherent post is I got to thinking about when people pick up on a meme and get involved, it's a force for good and should be embraced in much the same way that the Keep Calm meme has evolved throughout this post. People nicking your content and playing with it is far more effective than the messaging model which is largely illusory has a control medium and so finally it's important to bear in mind that while feelings are more important than facts, action's speak louder than words.

Update: I've since learned that Walt Whitman had some pretty shabby views on ethic groups other than Anglo Saxons.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Reinterpreting Ronald

I got stuck into Ronald McDonald's character a bit over here and subsequently discovered this below. I can live with this interpretation. I take everything back as clearly there's lots of room for some exciting transmedia planning ideas when I see subtlety like this. One of the reasons I like Japanese creatives is their subtlety which can transform creative briefs into something more gentle and likable that is outside my imagination.

In this instance the less aggressive use of colour, which is just so much more powerful than rigid corporate identity imposed from afar, is instantly more likable to me. The Japanese often manage to keep their distance from that whole  international identity policing strictness. A common reason is because NPD in Japan, for say beverages, (particularly RTD) is so much faster than what the US is used to, and transcontinental involvement isn't tolerated or the product releases wouldn't keep up with the competition. A snooze you lose scenario.

I like this. But then I've said that already.

Why I love Print Advertising So Much

You can hear a loud silent something can't you? More details over here.

Via the mandatory bhatnaturally

Saturday 11 July 2009

Jung Von Matt

I can't hear the music to this as I'm in an internet cafe, but if they've got it right then strategically and creatively it's an awesome ad. 

Wealthy people who like driving cars often work very hard and long hours. They are often still at the wheel, late into the night. Check out the autobahn next time you're pulling a Stadt zu Stadt all nighter. They're always there and look just as keen as you to get home.

This is great work from one of my favourite German agencies, although that sheep at the end looks like a nod to British advertising (despite being quintessentially German Kinky). It's not far off this recent Passat ad that I also like. However I don't respect this execution as a VW ad. It's too off-brand from the VW brand topography I'm familiar with. It Could be any car couldn't it? 

The Benz number however is solid "future of motoring" territory. 

Anyway cars are dull. The epitomy of 20th century mass production and corporate mindsets. Great advertising though.

1969 - Apollo 11 Moon Landing

There's a lot of history that went down in 1969 including this and this not to mention DARPANET, which indirectly led me to have a brand infatuation moment yesterday in Causeway Bay. I used to live in the area there on Haven Street, which is a groovy place because locals in the know, drop by during the wee hours for famous local desserts.

But what really turned me on was the New Omega Shop which looks a little bit like it could be a flagship store. I mentioned that the IWC "Top Gun" Official USAF watch was kind of OK on me back here but I think they're a little too showy even though the sales staff are awesome.

I've also been toying with buying a Chanel number that caught my eye.

The strap is ceramic like the Rado watches of recent decades and it's a thing of beauty, although once again a little ostentatious. But now I've seen the watch I want, because it ticks all the right boxes on lots of levels. Through their renovation display, Omega have sold me a watch that is the Omega Speedmaster. The first and only watch worn on the moon.

 You're probably wondering why I'm waffling on about watches. I should point out that inside the suitcase stolen by the taxi driver, was the only luxury watch I've ever bought. It was the beautiful and robust Montblanc watch that I once had to go head to head with Rob on his blog about. I also coincidentally bought this watch the last time I was in Hong Kong from a delightful sales lady called Van Wong at the Montblanc Store. Here is a very similar model as it's the unique rubber strap and elegant face that sold me this watch.

 I'm pretty much reconciled to losing this fine friend because it's now been three weeks since it was stolen and the application process for determining a license plate is arbitrary as I understand it. But that's OK because this damm Omega is telling me that despite having quite funky tastes in watches....

....I still need a piece of craftsmanship on my wrist. It's not so much about having the correct time. For me it's about reminding me how valuable time is. Life my friends, is beautiful. Even when we lose everything we own. I'm going to write a bit more about that. Time is something you can't save. Only lose.

Below is one more shop picture of the striking shop renovation for Omega that celebrates the first and only watch on the moon. I think they're onto something. The watch, which I cannot afford till I get a new computer and some clothes firts, will be on my wrist one day. You can count on it. Here's the bit of the moon that the Apollo 11 space capsule in which the Omega Speedmaster was worn landed on. Neat huh? I think we're made for each other.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Real Media

As I've been running on vapours and not always had access to a computer, I've been blogging with paper and pen sometimes in much the same way as I started to write my first post over here, on a flight from New Delhi to Mumbai in 2006.

There's lots of mistakes and chunks missing if you can see at all, but just in case anyone wanted to see how appalling my handwriting is I thought I'd post them anyway. I'll try and get them typed up later this week and really there's a self referential (ooh so po mo) element to this because the longer of the two posts is about Understanding Media from a paper (analogue) to electronic spectrum; or if we include this post it's starting off electronically. You may note that I used the back of the police report for my stolen goods to write this (so some good came out of it) as well as the EMERGENCY number for the British Embassy that the police gave me and which didn't work. Meaning I had to sleep in the police waiting room for the night before borrowing precisely Two dollars to catch the ferry home the next day.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Communication Efficacy

My planning mentor would have just distilled that title down to 'Efficacy', which is the what we planners do. But in any case Richard Huntington of Saatchi & Saatchi has put a presentation up that he did at the IPA called "Developing your own style" which is the school of planning that I learned at HHCL & Partners where Richard and I both worked, nearly a decade ago. Richard also includes some words from Guy Murphy the Global Planning Director for JWT and one of the reasons why I joined JWT and would fear them in any big pitch. Guy is easily the best multinational network planner I've had the luxury of spending time with when I worked for JWT in London before heading out to Beijing.

Often it's not what Guy says. It's what he doesn't say that commands most respect and is to my mind genius clever from the perspective of garruolous planners like myself. Less is more and all that.

Anyway enough of my waffle. Take a couple of minutes to see how powerful the right combination of words can be from some of the best in the business. And as someone who has lived and worked in more countries than most as a planner I think I can seperate the politically savvy but creatively mediocre beasts from the best in class cats.

And Love

My career is dotted with ads I ideas I couldn't coax through the system. There was the "Freedom" idea for Coca-cola or "We Miss You" for Post Tsunami Thailand and yet when I see work like this, I feel that I'm not the only one to roll this way. Levi's suddenly become relevant again. 

I'm reminded that I recently read that Americans often insist on having their Jeans Made in the USA (complete with label), and that the luxury end of the market is paradoxically robust. This just makes sense as the United States is the home of Denim (Well you get what I mean). Great work from Levi's here. Via Influx Insights

UPDATE: The director for this movie is Cary Fukunaga and the words are by Walt Whitman who you may remember from back here. The more I see this film the more I love it.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Good News

I've got a New passport *wipes brow* (And biometrics and computer chips and all the other lovely stuff that means I'm real and exist)

Actually the British Embassy were in the end very cooperative and seemed to know who I was, so maybe that journalist interview with the South China Morning Post did the trick but I pity the person who doesn't know how to be a squeaky wheel.

The bad news is I've not heard from Sam since last Thursday, as he's climbing a mountain in Tanzania, and I've had to assume the Punk Kiva funds will take too long to get here  now that I'm now officially a registered human. 

It means I can once again get on with my life.

I guess that Sam will take care of refunding all the wonderful and generous contributions you collectively made. I want to take this opportunity to thank both all of you and Sam for rallying around at a bleak point. You all proved that this isn't just about me, it's about us. It's about what we stand for and how we follow through with our deeds and actions. 

I'm enormously grateful and forever indebted towards your spontaneous kindness, humanity and generosity. To paraphrase Ali G: 'Is it because I is a social object?' 


It's now important for me to get on with my plans for the rest of this year including a much needed trip to Beijing as soon as possible.

Once again Thank you. Hope is fortified by deeds and you just did it.

McDonalds & Family Guy

I shouldn't say this given my pseudo Neo-Marxist and anti Globalist/Corporate sentiment but I'm fascinated by McDonalds. No really; practically obsessed with them and particularly their breakfasts which (when I wrote this post and put it in the draft folder) I'm just waiting for some jeans to tumble dry (naughty given I'm in the tropics) and then I'm off for one of the finest precision breakfasts on the planet. The Sausage and Egg McMuffin with hash brown and coffee. I've also been squeezing in a couple of hot cakes with syrup after but you don't need to know that, because I really don't want to think about it.

So let's start as we mean to go on and shoot straight, because I think what McDonalds knows about themselves and what they don't know about themselves is the gap that I'd like to help them out on if a chance avails itself which is unlikely given I have a problem with Ronald McDonald. He's got to go; or at least maybe lose the clown suit, the make up, the big feet, the voice and that fucking red wig. I mean, we all know that a person better have a great personality if they have ginger pubes in much the same way that if born black in American it's a good idea to stay as far away from the law enforcement officers and their testosterone pumped, steroidal spiked aggression issues. That doesn't mean I don't like red hair. On the contrary; along with a Jewish Princess girlfriend I alway keep an eye open. You know, just in case.

I will come back to Family Guy a lot more, because when Faris wrote a while back that sport and religion have a wider remit than just playful competition and spiritual fulfilment I agreed with him and then some. I wrote back here that I think football performs an interesting social function when observed as conversation in pubs, and say, back-of-taxi discussions. I'll be using Family Guy for the same purpose in the future, as a tool, but first I should explain that even though I've only watched Season Five I'm convinced I'll be able to explain a lot of stuff using these types of clips that don't really exist legally on Youtube and yet are a poweful way for content producers to 'showcase' their stuff in much the same way as advertising works.

The one above serves it's purpose for me to dramatise police agression and also introduces some more people to Family Guy. If FOX were smarter they'd have every known  humorous scenario of 5-10 second clips available on a searchable database for free so that people could use it to explain stuff. Same applies to the Simpsons or indeed any content such as the ghastly Friends or infinitely hipper Seinfeld. Both of which I've never watched much of but get the gist.

Back to McDonalds because I read this tweet earlier by Saul Kaplan who I often disagree with, but more in terms of scope than sentiment. The thing is that while it's easy to bash McDonalds for being the archetypical globalised brand with rapacious corporate in-sustainability, it is not so well know that McDonalds is one of the more progressive global brands when it comes to moving in the right direction. Sure they may have some farming methods which are mind boggling huge but they actively work on their responsibilities much harder than many so called mega corporate brands. We too have our responsibilities as I wrote back here and I've been using the same plastic knife and fork they give out as it's no trouble to reuse.

But what really excites me about McDonalds is that I think they are one of the few brands that almost ticks off the religious devotion that is, like my breakfast addiction, probably irrational and yet as I've learned in many different countries I think McDonalds also has the ubiquity of understanding globally that means it's here to stay and which is why I want to be on the inside and not on the outside.

Let me explain.

All over the planet I will have problems asking for different basic words in different languages. My Cantonese is rubbish so I'm struggling to ask for essential things like 'water', or 'food' or 'somewhere to sit down' or 'coffee', and yet it doesn't matter where I am on the planet, even if the country has no McDonalds. Everybody understands what I mean. It's global language and that is a powerful idea which we need to nurture and try to work on so that it retains some sense of dignity and that too is where I get excited about McDonalds.

I first got to thinking about this stuff the last time I was in Hong Kong because I have a deep respect for a global franchise that hires a person with learning difficulties. I've blogged about this elsewhere but can't find it in either posts or comments so I need to repeat that when enjoying (and I do enjoy them) a Sausage and Egg McMuffin with Hash Brown and Coffee I think it's great that while I'm not quite so comfortable having my table wiped by someone with learning difficulties, who reminds me of the sadness in the world, I'm moved and humbled by brands that employ people with challenges in life, who might otherwise remain anonymous and day by day lose their ability to integrate with the world. So thanks for that McDonalds because I respect you and your more open minded employment policy. But there's also a lot more to you.

I was reminded only a couple of weekends ago on a Ferry ride away in Aberdeen, Hong  Kong because I got talking to more local Cantonese than any other time in my life. The Chinese are often held to be inscrutable but in my experience public life interaction is culturally different and like any other culture there's always going to be a latent resentment of other dominant cultures. But the subject is massive so don't sound-bite me on that or even thin slice me because I've got a massive post brewing on handwritten paper to try and flesh that topic out and it's both enormously sensitive and one of the trickiest to tip toe around without sounding like a pampered white boy - which I am. It does need typing up first though.

My first conversation with a retired but smartly dressed Chinese guy nearly made me fall off my stool. He paid no attention to the black nail varnish I've occasionally been wearing this year or even my silly hat and scarves affectation I've moved on to.  But for Asians they mean a lotbecause the nail that sticks out gets hammered in and yet this chap proceeded to engage in broken English conversation. After introducing myself and explaining a little of what I do, he did something that is anathema for many people let alone an elderly Asian gent having a conversation with Gweilo as we're referred to in this part of the world (it means ghost and is semiotically up there with Farang in Thailand though like Thailand, it's ubiquity has softened it's tonality).

He explained to me that his son was lazy. That his son's wife was fat and that they both were not working full time although his son had some cancer that prevented him from working some times. He described to me how fat the wife was and how they both turned up at his house religiously each evening for a cooked meal that his own wife had prepared because they were too lazy to do so themselves. He didn't explain it with malice. It was pure matter of fact and then he went on to describe that he was disappointed in his son who had received an education in England and from his not unreasonable Engineers salary had received a reasonable number of opportunities in life. I couldn't help but correlate that I was his own sons age and that we had talked about how I could be so mobile. It was  a lovely converation while we drank our coffee together waiting for his wife to return from a bit of shopping in an area that I can only reference as being the Bull Ring of Hong Kong in terms of it's urban tonality and yet oddly enough I noticed it was completely void of teenagers. Babies and Pensioners yes. But no teens.

I guess it was me going back for some more of those hot cakes with that maple syrup they do which t led to my next encounter. Sitting next to me was a young and attractively dressed woman with two gorgeous toddlers clambering all over the seats and demanding attention in that way only really cute kid can pull off without appearing tiresome and boy these two kids were cute. We got talking and the mother used the opportunity to remind the lovely little urchins that they were both doing English at school  and so could say hello and give me their names. I spoke briefly to the mother who I admired because it was evident she was working in some capacity during the week, taking care of her children and both managed to look presentable as well as having delightfully cute kids. The apple hadn't fallen far from the tree in this instance.

I've no idea why I knew she worked in the week but it's a skill I've picked up over the years reading peoples clothes to know this sort of thing. Lots of little indicators like the watch, shoes, makeup and accessories. Accessories tell us a lot if we look hard enough.

Anyway, mission accomplished I dispensed with the ferry ride back and caught a bus into Hong Kong central as I'm determined to cover as much ground as possible while I'm here and get to know the whole place. The bit that kept me ticking over was the good luck to have proper interaction with locals. There's little chance that I could have done this with both a young mother and an elderly gent in places like Starbucks or Pret a manger and it's that social interaction permission that I think is a powerful part of the future of McDonalds because they've nailed all that outstanding value breakfasts which cut right through demographics and geography. I think it's time to start figuring out both more of the role they play in the social fabric of all the communities that they fulfill a role in. Which in this age is really a highly fractured and increasingly atomised nuclear family structure. The ability to faciliate more meaning in the world means, I believe, that they need more meaning management. Something I'm quite keen to do for them.

Sunday 5 July 2009

It's the Amygdala Stupid

This Evian ad is doing the rounds on the blogs and I thought it was a good time to revisit the neurological influences that drive some advertising through the our response or compulsion oriented reptilian brain or the R Complex or basal ganglia if you wish.

While I think it's a sweet execution, isn't it just crypto neuro marketing? Or is it coincidental that this was one of the biggest spreadable media (viral) content successes of the internet? Here's an updated version.

I was having a brilliant lunch with Rob last week and I realised that just shooting the breeze with him is solid gold planning lessons that ordinairly he invoices interesting brands for. So if ever there is a good reason to get blogging and get involved in the conversation instead of just reading or lurking on blogs, here it is because I've gotten to know Rob and   pester him for lunch through blogging. Though  of course it's OK if you just like to observe.

Anyway I got talking about my experience on the success of a Coca-cola drink brand called Qoo across Asia some years back because I met the Japanese creatives at Hakuhodo in Tokyo who came up with the creative concept and discovered a secret. Qoo is an expression that the Japanese make when taking a cold drink on a hot day. The beverage was named Qoo and a brand cartoon character was developed to appeal to children.

I learned that, much like the dancing babies above, the Qoo character is largely  a neurological hook; particularly for children. The cartoon character was designed sketched and refined 'on-the-fly' in focus groups with bits of paper going back and forth between the illustrator and the kids and it was seen that using traits such as a big head, baby eyes and a small body appealed to children most and there was no doubt at all which character made the kids most excited. The winning design formula had an unmistakably positive response to say the least.

This is why the product used to fly off the shelves in Asian markets. Strategically it's an RTD (ready to drink) low juice, sugared soda with a few vitamins added for marketing to mothers at a rational level, and the Qoo character for children at an emotionally responsive level. It was quite a learning experience discovering the design gestation process and seeing how well it performed with commercials as short as 15 seconds in the China market. I wrote about one execution I worked on in Hong Kong and Shanghai over here.

Strictly speaking the amygdala is part of the paleomammalian complex but then we get into the R Complex as broad description for stuff that overrides reason and neocortical functions. This isn't a good place to get too deeply into Reptilian claims of neurological superiority undistracted by our higher functions such as love and humour that are viewed as a weakness and evolutionarily superfluous according to the available literature of the Draco Reptilians which is minuscule, elusively sourced and yet difficult to completely dismiss when factoring in Mesopotamian history threads with contemporary contactee reports. Either way it's a fun way to start poking around brain bits that would otherwise be completely forgettable.

Neurological Processing

I find it deeply human to know that my consciousness is somewhat analogous to the broadband internet connection I'm using to write this (and download (illegally of course) The Wire and Family Guy with a P2P bit torrent utility). What is amazing is that to concentrate, I'm also ignoring the roughly-equivalent data-bandwidth of the whole 70 story apartment building block overlooking Victoria Harbour in Tung Chung (is that right?) and Chek Lap Kok airport.

Basically our brains are a vast filtering system designed to keep us focused and with enough back office processing to have an imagination too. This very short video is brilliant and comes via the formidable
Katie Chatfield who along with Gavin were top of my Australia visit-list (and of course Angus) before all this Dacoity/Detective Inspector Clouseau stuff that I'm hoping will make some progress very shortly.

Check out Sputnik Observatory for more hardcore info-porn over here.

Friday 3 July 2009

Malcolm X

Just been browsing Youtube this morning and lucked out big time. It's not that it doesn't have great content but when I'm in random mode, I often think Youtube doesn't know what I've never told it I'd like to see (or that the suggestions aren't always compelling). 

So after switching off the awful and wasted opportunity of Martin Bashir and Michael Jackson (an illegally downloaded file that I'm grateful not to pay a penny for) though it's now 6 years later before I could finally watch it, I guess I got to thinking about black American artists, which led just now, to my first viewing of that Great American writer (the revolution will not be televised) Gill Scott Heron, and then on to Malcolm X. And then it occured to me during his crisp torrent of erudite and lucid intellect in the interview that, I've never stopped thinking about him and even a week or so ago was still referring to Malcolm X indirectly from his Nutmeg and Lindy Hopping days in this post.

Over 20 years after reading his autobiography and I'm still dropping his life into mine and  I find it astonishing I can see him now for the first time on Youtube and connect in that way which suggests I always deeply admired Malcolm X. I just didn't know how much I deeply admired him.


Chinese Antiques

One of the features of having a suitcase of the most important things I possess stolen by a taxi driver who has yet to receive a knock on the door because it takes ten days or more to follow up a licence plate number in Hong Kong is that I've gone through an enforced digital separation. 

Apart from stints prefaced by annoying over-the-shoulder peering, on a friends computer, I'm pretty much obliged to use internet cafes and the like. I haven't done this regularly for a number of years as there was a time when traveling around Asia that I'd be observing the kids from a lot of countries in a rowdy, usually post-school gamer, web cam  or plain old digitally socialised media which in Asia was adopted very quickly through Friendster and which you can still find me on over here. It was 2002 I think when one of the senior creatives at BBDO Dusseldorf, where I was working invited me to join in the 'virtual snowball fight' I think he called it. Not a bad description and one that holds up to this day.

The benefit of this enforced seperation is that I've started to immerse myself back into the world of books and printed media. I've even got a few handwritten posts that need typing up. Not only am I reading books but another feature of my new analogue life is that I'm talking to and meeting lots more people. It's obvious really but instead of gulping down mobile RSS in the back of a taxi or blogging at the restaurant table on an N95 I've started engaging in conversations a lot more; which is fun because I'm meeting people I'd otherwise have missed. One has asked me to help sell her Chinese Antiques of which I know nothing; but as we are going to be living on the same Island in the future I figure it would be wise to be helpful as for sure there will be another day when I will need help. It's part of the human condition and also she's a very interesting person. I've been meeting a lot more interesting people since going analogue (ooh check me).

So without further waffling on I'd like to ask if any of you know what these metal and spherically shaped containers are? Or failing that do you know anyone who does? I've used a standard business card in the photos to give scale. The enamel work on them is evidently superior and has been unquestionably done by a craftsman, although the patina conceals a lot of the beauty and which I guess could be polished. The shots I've taken here are on phone I'm borrowing and not as good as the Nokia N95 ones I've enjoyed taking in the last two years but I think you get the picture.
So. Does anybody know what these are? Even better does anyone know how I can get these assesed? We need an Antiques Road Show I guess in Hong Kong, but in the mean time I'm asking you or if you could send this post to people who do know using the email icon below. That would be just terrific. Thank you.

Wednesday 1 July 2009


Being a bit thick and unaware as well as living in countries where the main stream media language isn't in English, I've missed the whole Burial thing. It's a bit dark for my taste but as it was brought to my attention I've given it some thought and concluded that like the burials going on here, there, here and here plus there, here, there and here in the last seven days. The subject matter is very dark possibly suggesting that two wrongs don't make a right and only benefits from dialogue and free and transparent discussion.

So thanks for that.

I guessed I missed Burial winning the Mercury Prize last year as I was traveling around Beijing for the Olympics after my trip to Mexico, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I"m hoping for some funds to arrive tomorrow as today is a bank holiday and I'll let you know how that goes as I'm still without a passport and money.