State of Social and Internet 2017

A while back, my friend Jeremiah Owyang wrote his perception of the state of social to which I contributed. Decided I’ll add onto my blog as well.

Twitter: dumpster fire but central to US current events, news
Facebook: where The Olds who ‘don’t get’ other social networks congregate to get attention, Asia’s LinkedIn, and others have an account for the sole purpose of Messenger (messenger.com via web)
Messenger: communication utility (Skype / Hangouts replacement; the Westerner’s WeChat and Weibo — encrypted messaging and P2P payments? Yes please!)
LinkedIn: depot of shameless self promoters and what NOT to do cues for teens and millennials professionally networking. I.E., Stay away from descriptors such as, but not limited, to: ‘futurist’, ‘keynote speaker’, ‘innovator’, ‘change agent’, etc., etc.,
Snapchat: dancing Hot Dog and awesome filters to cross post onto IG
IG: branding tool for the non-olds (teens). Lifestyle diary for Millennials (food, beauty, fashion, etc.)
Google+: Huh? What’s that???
Telegram: status symbol to show you’re ‘in the know’ about cryptocurrencies.
Slack: quickly becoming the new email
WhatsApp: where European Android users are
LINE: only relevant to Thais and old Japanese people
Ding Talk: where Chinese who don’t trust Weibo or WeChat conduct business

Social networks aside, my phone is the place I do the most internetting and boy has my homescreen changed a lot. Take a look:

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The three apps on the bottom are apps most used: Twitter, brower, mail.
1. Apple’s mail app has been replaced by Outlook (yes, Microsoft Outlook) because Gmail loads the quickest plus the experience is much better. I can’t believe I’m saying this either but hey — it is what it is.
2. Safari has been replaced by Brave — which I wrote extensively about here.

Despite having 256gigs on my phone, I only have one page of apps. Mainly because I realized long ago I only use a handful on the daily. I also turn off the little red circles because they induce anxiety and helped me wean off my addiction. (Read about that journey here.)

Funny how things change!

Related: Snap Chat should be worried — check out this neat graph I found. 300M daily active users for Instagram stories! Amazing.

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Trump’s Recklessness and Potential Global Impact

Until someone as uninformed, angry, self-absorbed, and delusionally unaware of their own short-comings as Trump took seat as the leader of the free world, I am ashamed to admit I had no idea the power and impact of an American president.

He bullies and insults members of Congress, high-ranking and respectable government and military officials, scholars, businessmen, and world leaders. He rallies support by corralling the forgotten Americans with his “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, singling out ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic demographic groups resulting in the creation of angry hate mobs.

By preying on the weak, Trump has enabled the worst of the worst of the American people giving them platforms and a voice. He’s putting money in capitalist scumbags’ pockets who are profiting from the hate. The impact from their selfish purposes has caused more damage than anyone could’ve probably imagined. I don’t even know how long it will take the country to heal from the Nazis coming out of the woodworks into the public, hate rallies and speeches that are being held, to the American citizens openly making racist remarks and bigotry that is exercised, all justified under “MAGA”. He has put forth unfathomable policies, putting unqualified family members and extremist conservatives into positions of power and, well, I am probably preaching to the choir.

Meanwhile, over in other parts of the world, China and Russia are making power moves in regions the economy is rapidly growing. The rate the Middle Class is growing in, for example, ASEAN, is moving along as been predicted by the big financial institutions: MS, GS, JP Morgan, et al., and starting 2020, economic powers will begin shifting.

And here is Trump, touting MAGA, and the damage he is causing for America is not good, to say the least. I truly hope there are people in Trump’s inner circle advising in terms of long-term economic and geo-political implications since things are moving quickly on the ground in the high-growth Nations.

Another concerning thing is the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency. And no I am not talking about ICO (initial coin offering, which is the same as an IPO). I’m talking more about the core value of crypto and the reason why VCs and entrepreneurs are into an alternate form of currency aside from the current thing we call ‘money’. Crypto is a post on its own but once cryptocurrency is adopted to the masses, it is highly likely the dollar will start losing value.

So, essentially, the dollar will start losing power alongside American economic power (purchasing, market, bargaining, trade, class, etc.) and there is a chance America will no longer be a ‘super power’.

These things aren’t going to happen tomorrow or next year and I hope we don’t see effects within Trump’s presidency (a decline that rapid is a sure indicator of a disastrous outcome).

An economist scholar once said to me: “Don’t worry Mona, the economy always works itself out.” but I can not help but be concerned for our future. 

I cannot vote (am not a U.S. citizen) but I hope those with voting rights in America, do. Because as much as we all complain about America, I do not know another country on the planet where democracy actually works and makes impact, quickly (just look at the mid-term elections). Another country where there are so many bright, enlightened, and experienced people are changing the way the world behaves and thinks. America is, one of the greatest countries in the world to live and I cannot see a world where American influence (usually for the good) is no longer a reality.

But most concerning, if you look closely at Trump’s business accomplishments, he’s capitalized through his name (licensing, trademarks, etc.) not wise business decisions. He is a brand marketer. Not a businessman. I do not trust him to grow America’s economy and I hope you don’t, either. So please. Vote!

Resurrection of TokyoFinds

BIG NEWS

I laid TokyoFinds to rest at the beginning of the year.

Thanks to Leah and Angie at Tumblr, IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE!!

REJOICE. Visit Finds here: tokyofinds.com

Sidenotes: as much space as I take up on the internet, TokyoFinds is the only place I post under a paid domain LOL
For those wondering what Finds is:

Instead of polluting my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with all things Tokyo and Japan, I decided to deposit them here. Enjoy.

Big shout-out to Leah!!!!!!!’n Thank you, thank you thank you!

Why I Love the Internet

Warning: this post has nothing to do Japan, Asia, chat apps, or tech but an ode to the Internet.

There has been a stranger tweeting me with his photos.
Take a look:

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And one more for good measure:

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I totally get how people might be creeped out by him. I mean, he’s this old guy posing in front of a pile of dirty dishes. Heck, I can’t even tell if all his teeth are in place.

I think he should be celebrated.

This man, let’s call him John, is tweeting photos to random females from all over. I don’t know how he finds them, the women he are tweeting are really, that random (I checked his stream). He is using Twitter as a dating tool.

Looking at these photos of this man I am calling John, I assume he lives in South Carolina. Or far up north in Florida. Maybe Arkansas, or some state in the South in a town with a population of 500.

He lives in a trailer littered with beer cans and there are piles of ashtrays filled with charred cigarette butts — he smokes every cigarette until it reaches the filter. His kitchen counter has no space, covered with heaps of  Wonder Bread, Oscar Mayer bologna, Kraft Singles, and BBQ potato chip wrappers. He has a tv with rabbit ears that only has one channel: FOX.

He works as a dish washer at a truck stop and his apron is stained with maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, mayo. Every night after work, he stops by the bar along Highway 5 to drink a warm beer, served by the 50 year old bartender Barbara.

He owns a Samsung SCH-293874923861723 — a prepaid, throwaway Android with maybe a three hour battery life. 3G connection.

This man John, whose life I can only imagine, has found his way onto twitter. He created an account. Figured out a way to take photos. Then tweet the photos to random women all over the world. And I fucking love it. How can you not?

I love that the Internet gives everyone a voice. Even John from Timbuktunowhere. And this, is only one of the many reasons why I love the Internet and technology so so so much.

It’s really, the little things.
*if you need another reminder, I posted another one a while back here.

WeChat 101- Quit Comparing WeChat and WhatsApp

WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and Snapchat are not like WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk.

I’ve written about LINE and KakaoTalk but now it’s time to intro the last player – WeChat. WeChat is not – I repeat NOT anything like WhatsApp or Viber.

Aside from multi-media communication capabilities: photos, video, walkie-talkie and broadcast features, in August of 2013, WeChat completely overhauled their product with v5.1 to add a bunch of new features and functions.

They keep differentiating themselves from the rest of the chat apps and this is why:

  • in-app payments
  • P2P (peer to peer) and O2O (offline-online) core strategy aside from games <– HUGE
  • multiple monetization streams

Payments

WeChat-2

WeChat Payments connects bank card to WeChat account so users can make payments in-app.
Users can make transactions happen through 1. payments to WeChat authorized partner retailers 2. P2P (peer to peer) or in plain English other WeChat users – example: users can send one person a specified amount, or send money to a group and divide the lump sum among a group of friends.  If I had a penny for every time I’ve had issues with group payments where one person pays too much, too little I’d have about four extra iPhones sitting around. Or think about that one person who never has cash, etc., etc. WeChat group payments is the perfect resolution for group events / activities.

O2O / P2P Commerce

WeChat also partnered with sites and services – whether through acquisitions or buying a stake in the company – doing flash sales or becoming the preferred payment partner. To date, DianPing – China’s answer to Yelp, with a Groupon type group buying feature DianPing also offers coupons and discounts and users can even order food for delivery – is one of the most notable.

The other is Didi Dache – China’s Uber – where users can order a taxi and make payments, all in-app. Since forming the partnership in Jan., WeChat reports

  • 21mm cab rides have been booked via WeChat
  • 700k daily bookings via WeChat
  • Didi Dache and WeChat also pay cab drivers bonuses when the drivers use their services vs a competitor

WeChat also aggressively positions themselves as the entry point for global brands who want to reach China’s youths. Most recently, Vivienne Tam and WeChat collaborated to bring NYFW (NY Fashion Week) to WeChat users.

They’ve also done campaigns with Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, Burberry, Pepsi and Maybelline – bottom line, they are making money becoming a payment solution and by advertising as well.

Another monetization channel through partnerships is content. WeChat and Chinese media outlets bring news and entertainment to users. However, instead of solely bringing content into the app like Flipboard or Facebook’s Paper, they have their media partners build proprietary micro-sites into WeChat with proprietary URLs ie: mp.weixin.qq/majorchinesenetwork and charge users subscription fees.

They’ve also ventured into streaming video, launching a standalone TV with CNTV (major Chinese tv network).

If you think that’s all, they are also China’s small business e/m-commerce solution (like Etsy or even Amazon).
Small business accounts are

  • free to create — fee is dependent on level of API customization and how much a business wants to integrate their products and services into WeChat
  • transactions are conducted inside WeChat — which leads to increased time spent inside app
  • bar-code scanner capabilities so people can scan a bar code in a store of something they see and shop for it online for example
  • built in loyalty cards and point card systems

Major brands and retailers to even a college student with a fruit stand can buy and sell on WeChat – that’s how simple it is.

WeChat states they have 300mm active users per month and YoY growth of 124% (note: these numbers are before the Red Envelope campaign that reportedly activated 20mm transactions within 9 days and announcement of all their partnerships).

WeChat is not fucking around.

I’m sure there are so many more features and functions, products and services I may be missing. This is information I gathered through English sources (FT, Economist, WSJ, Techcrunch, The Next Web, Tech in Asia and some random Chinese sites I ran through Google Translate) but even if I don’t know all the details, it’s pretty clear they are one step above the rest of the chat app herd.

One can argue their success is due to the uniqueness of the Chinese market and how the economy is intertwined by a select few and with the government, but strip away all that noise and look at WeChat as a product. They are still several steps ahead of the rest — even LINE, that I am a massive fan of.

2014 is going to be a year to closely watch Asia.

Tragic Incidents and Social Media

There was a 23 year old beaten and murdered outside of a California club. The news has been passing through my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds all day. I’ve been meaning to Tweet or Facebook or something about the incident, but think it deserves more than a Facebook post or a 140 character tweet.

This is a tragic incident and my heart is absolutely broken at the notion of such a young girl meeting her death from such an every day activity as going out. This could’ve happened to anyone and it does. Just Google “beaten to death outside of club” if you’re into that sort of thing.

What’s really disappointing, is how people took the time to take photos and video to upload onto Instagram, Twitter and Facebook while this young girl was getting the living daylights beaten out of her. And then she ended up dying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s up to the spectators to be superheros but I wonder what it was like before all this social media stuff.

I mean, if people have the time to take photos and video, shouldn’t they… well, call for help? There are club bouncers for a reason. Or at least call 9-1-1 before taking the photo and choosing a filter.

Think back to when we had our Nokia phones, BlackBerries and even Sidekicks and we saw someone getting beat up. Did we still stand around and watch? Did we pretend not to notice? When did we start thinking collectively as a society, that it’s ok to share with our networks vs. helping?

Or is our sharing, just a way to help us humans process such shocking events?

Either which way, something to think about as functioning humans in civilized societies. And especially, for our next generations.

Coverage on the incident are here and here.

Messaging Apps are Not Social Networks

There is a lot of emphasis on Facebook’s youth demographic decreasing and how messaging apps like Snapchat, LINE, WhatsApp and KakaoTalk are becoming the new Facebook and I can’t help but to think: wow, people don’t understand product and technical differences.

Facebook is a social networking platform. Messaging apps are tools for communication.

It’s not that people are leaving Facebook or Instagram for messaging apps, it’s that people are using messaging apps as tools to communicate differently.

There is room for both in the world. It’s just that people are choosing how to talk to those they want to talk to (messaging apps), rather than putting themselves out there for everyone and – literally – their mothers to see (Facebook).

So just like how most people don’t want to socialize with tens and hundreds of people every second of every day, many are choosing to socialize with people in different ways. And they are doing so with photos, videos, text and content.

Facebook and messaging apps are two different things.

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