This Week in Asia: Social Commentary Around Singapore’s Domestic Workers Reply

Mums and Maids, a YouTube video generating some debate on this tropical isle, perhaps deserves more credit than local media coverage and public discussion currently grants.  Some have taken exception to the video’s portrait of maids who know children better than the parents in this video.  The argument is that parents might spend more time with the kids, thereby allowing domestic workers to have a day of.

And that is the point of the video–giving maids a day of rest.  #igiveadayoff

But perhaps something more important is happening here.  In a country where public bodies create messages about understanding dementia (Ah Kong), showing tolerance (or understanding) of people from different nations and cultures, and even arrange public networking for singles seeking a partner….to see a message like this coming from an NGO is important.

The fact that this public conversation has been sparked by a workers’ rights group, Transient Workers Count Too, represents an important act of participating in a  civil society.  This is a more sophisticated act of public discourse compared to the blunt stridence communicated by opposition parties or the “move to the centre of the train” messages facing commuters each day.  Both are important, so please do not mistake my point, but many of these messages fail to generate genuine public discourse around the issue.

#igiveadayoff has generated such discourse, and they should be credited for their civic contribution regardless of which side of the issue you may fall.

This Week in Asia: China Mounts a Canon Atop Its Great Firewall Reply

This week I share 3 items that may interest my APAC readers.

  1. China adds a new weapon to its web control arsenal.  While many links are available, this one is courtesy of Fortune.
  2. Hank Paulson’s new book, Dealing with China, is receiving favourable comments from may China watchers.  I wonder if the timing of this book makes him a possible candidate for a VP nomination or embassy nominee?  hmmm
  3. A few weeks ago We Are Social released a huge report on digital APAC and it is worth a look (especially if you are a data junkie, like me).

Click below to listen, and as always do subscribe to For Immediate Release over at iTunes.

The Connection Between Facebook and Unhappiness — Science of Us Reply

Need a good reason to ignore your friends’ fake-ation photos?  Continue reading to learn how these photos, at least in part, resonate through one popular social network.

The authors write, “Both studies provide evidence that people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel badly when comparing themselves to others.” The researchers also tested the reverse idea — that depressed people spend more time on Facebook, are more likely to make social comparisons, and therefore see worse outcomes — but didn’t find much statistical support for this idea. So overall, it seems to be the case that Facebook generates a stream of endless opportunities to compare ourselves to our peers — via their vacation and spouse pictures, their employment updates, and so on — and these comparisons stress us out and depress us.

via The Connection Between Facebook and Unhappiness — Science of Us.

For A Change…Good News Regarding a Corporate Cover-Up Reply

Ever since listening devices were found at Democratic Party HQ in Washington’s Watergate building, the suffix “gate” has been appended to high-level scandals. But it was not until 2013 that the conspiracy that brought down a US president was equated with see-through yoga pants. This week, pant designer Lululemon told latter-day Woodward and Bernsteins it had recovered from ‘Sheergate’.  A cover-up that worked.

via Week in Review, March 28 –

3 Good Reads for Your Sunday Morning Reply

morning-coffee-and-newspaper-debwireSelecting only 3 good reads this weekend has been a challenge.  Given the plethora of sharing around the passing of Singapore’ Lee Kuan Yew, I could probably select 3 from that theme alone.  But wanting to spread the wealth, here are 3 reads which I hope add some richness to your morning.

1. The Wise Man of the East.  Economist has published what I believe is one of the more thoughtful remembrances of of Lee Kuan Yew.  Given the caricature of Singapore so often found in western media and minds, this article offers good insight on what Singapore’s first Prime Minister has accomplished.

2. A better understanding of cybershaming.  Jon Ronson has published a new book titled So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and it appears to be a thoughtful work.  In this interview, Ronson looks at folks like Monica Lewinsky, Justine Sacco, and Lindsey Stone whose behaviors have brought upon them tremendous public shane, scorn, and even death threats.  Centerstage in Ronson’s inquiry you find the behaviors of everyday people–basically good people doing their part in society day in and day out–who heap tremendous hurt and pain onto those deemed guilty of some unspeakable crime.You all know what I mean.  Look at your Facebook feed.  Who are the people in that feed delivering daily posts telling us how wrong someone else’s choices are, how stupid someone else must be, or how ignorant some party is–all in the tone that the author is somehow superior, in the know, or better positioned to be judge and jury.  I am sure you most likely have one of these people in your newsfeed.Now multiply that same basic behavior by hundreds of thousands of people across many continents, merge it all into a herd mentality, and try to imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end.

Ronson makes what I believe is a fairly good point.  Social media has enabled a certain behavior set similar to that practiced by the Stasi (neighbor watching neighbor then shaming).  Given the speed with which we eagerly and with a smile screen capture someone’s less-than-finest moment and broadcast it beyond that person’s network makes me think Ronson offers a lesson we should be thinking about.

3. Exhaustion is not a Status Symbol.  Last for this weekend, does overwork and exhaustion create a certain numbness that allows us conveniently overlook other parts of our lives?  Do we then justify this numbness by wearing it as a badge of pride about how hard we work and the excesses of our accomplishment?  A darned good question, and a final read worth your while.

Have a great weekend!

This Week in Asia for March 24 Reply

This week, upon the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, I share different views I gathered in obituaries from around the world, and the evolution of my own thoughts about Singapore’s founding father.  In short, part of his brilliance and success was genuinely knowing what it took to read the context, govern in Singapore, and build the nation.

Congratulations to Shel and Neville for having delivered 800 episodes of For Immediate Release.  What an accomplishment!


10 facts about technology use in the emerging world | Pew Research Center Reply

This item has been siting on my desktop for a couple days, but happy to finally share some of the latest Pew research insights. The Pew Research Center surveyed thousands of people across 32 emerging and developing nations about their technology use and how the rising influence of the internet affects their daily lives. But beyond the larger findings, we found some notable data points about specific countries that might have been lost in the fray.

1.  Chinese internet users love to shop. About half of online Chinese (52%) have used the internet to buy products in the past 12 months. Given the size of the online Chinese marketplace, this goes a long way in explaining the meteoric rise of commerce giants such as Alibaba and Baidu.

2.  Filipinos love social networking. Among adult internet users in the Philippines, 93% say that they use social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is the highest such percentage across the emerging and developing countries surveyed and greater than the 74% of internet users in the U.S. who use social networking sites. Roughly seven-in-ten of those Filipino social networkers use these platforms to share views about music and movies, while half talk about sports. FT_15.03.20_globalTech_socialNet

via 10 facts about technology use in the emerging world | Pew Research Center.

3 Must Read Articles for Your Weekend Reply

sunday-morning-paper-tmSome very compelling reads caught my attention this weekend and in my first must-read list of the year I would like to share these with you.

  1. What We Should Be Telling Children about College Admissions.  College admissions madness.  It’s the time of the year I am surrounded by eyesores telling me how many students get a job offer before graduation, how much money they earn, and more.  This article finds a rare center of gravity that should help us all understand what is really important about getting our kids into college.
  2. My Friend’s Tragic Run of Depression.  The author makes a personal and important point we all need to understand–depression is an illness, not a character flaw.  The touching way in which he leads us to this point, however, is the real journey worth sharing.  Take a few minutes to read this one.
  3. If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You even Know?  I read recently that 47% of existing and well paying jobs will be subject to competitive pressure from computers using algorithms to do the same work (and cheaper).  Here is an example of how writers are about to be subject to the pressure, and is worth a read too.

Tech giants risk reputation, warn business leaders – Reply

data_privacy_1Large technology companies will experience the same collapse in reputation as banks have endured in recent years unless they rapidly change their policy approach, business leaders have cautioned.

Their warning was directed at the influential heads of technology companies, such as the Silicon Valley giants, who were told they needed to recognise that self-regulation will not be sufficient to stave off mounting public alarm about issues such as privacy.

“Self-regulation, no matter what you do, is just not going to be good enough [for tech companies],” said Paul Achleitner, chairman of the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank. Addressing the Davos economic forum, he pointed out that a self-regulatory approach had been previously employed by banks — but notably failed to quell a political backlash against their over-reach.

via Davos 2015: Tech giants risk reputation, warn business leaders –