Tag Archives: asia

That TikTok hearing was pretty messed up, right? (Op-Ed)

Instead of asking actual important questions related to how TikTok does business and uses the data it gathers from users, Congress was focused on being xenophobic, and people noticed.


China launches state-sponsored dating app to boost marriage rate

state-sponsored matchmaking app has rolled out in China’s eastern province of Jiangxi. Launched in the city of Guixi, a city with a population of around 640,000 people, the app “Palm Guixi” uses data on single residents to organise blind dates.

Are Thailand’s gay TV dramas the next K-pop?

Thai soap operas about gay romance, generically known as “Boys’ Love” (bl) or sometimes “Y series”, are stealing hearts across Asia. Though the first shows appeared in 2014, the genre, including over a hundred series to date, took off outside Thailand during covid-19 lockdowns, thanks in part to many being available on YouTube. In Japan, a key market, the hashtag Thai numa or “Thai swamp”—a reference to the shows’ addictiveness—is popular on social media. Thailand promotes bl content at international trade shows. In June 2021 the industry secured 360m baht ($10.4m) in foreign investment.


Cultural Dimensions and Possible Futures

There is a distinction between uncertainty and ambiguity.  We live in ambiguous times, not uncertain times.  There is relevant information available for us to better understand the possible future ahead.  The key to robust foresight is the ability to effectively combine distinct analysis tools to clarify the details of social change.

Central to the toolkit I teach to students and use with clients is a method of applied semiotics called Culture Mapping.  Culture Mapping allows us to analyze language as patterns of social change.  It provides a matrix to measure the way language migrates in meaning as it is used to express our affirmation or dissent from established societal codes.  

Other tools are useful in providing additional context to establish hypotheses for analysis. For example, Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions allows us to establish benchmarks of distinct contextual meaning from county to country.  This is particularly useful when determining how social language might affirm or deviate from norms in a country.

The foundation of these cultural dimensions is very useful for discourse analysis.  The key is to see how the emerging language is deviating from certain norms. The signifiers of these deviations provide taxonomies that indicate the dynamics of change within that country.  Evaluation of the distinction between probable and possible futures is determined by that taxonomy more than any other factor.

In the examples, here, I propose how EV adoption might differ in China vs. the USA.  The language in the commercials provides examples of linguistic differences that confirm the hypothesis established by the cultural dimensions.  How EV adoption evolves in each country will reflect the expressed synergy of dissonance in each cultural power system.  How well each country trusts or mistrusts the social order they are in.
USA: https://lnkd.in/dH-kc3kK
China:  https://lnkd.in/dvzdXwe7

How South Korea emerged as the center of the beauty industry is another interesting case study of cultural dimensions related to the semiotics of everyday life.  Beauty in South Korea has become an expression of the tension of cultural dimensions.  The innovation in the category has a lot to do with the dynamics of rapid socio-economic growth, rigid competitiveness, perfection, and an emerging desire to break away from all that and be relaxed and comfortable in one’s own decisions.


China’s ‘rotten girls’ are escaping into erotic fiction about gay men

Danmei is by some measures the most popular genre of fiction for women in China, and its popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Communist party. Danmei fiction draws women into romantic stories that don’t have to confront the realities of being a young woman in China, says Megan Walsh, the author of The Subplot: What China is Reading and Why it Matters. There is no risk of pregnancy, no pressure to marry, and sexual desires can be felt and acted upon without judgment.


The Chinese Consumer’s Sense of Identity vis-à-vis Brand Communication

In China, whenever there is a felt dissonance between the Self and the external world (e.g., disagreement with authorities or media), the external mask solidifies to play along. Having said that, Chinese citizen do seek to balance personal, cultural, and national narrative & identity layers (and more so than Westerners): to reduce unnecessary friction that may impact relationships, the feeling of security, and indeed one’s Sense of Identity.


How Niche Beauty Brands Can Attract Investment from China

A compelling country-of-origin association can also help make a foreign brand attractive to Chinese investors. Geoskincare is a natural skin care brand founded by a dermatologist Penny Vergeest in New Zealand in 2000 and acquired by Chinese businessman Liu Xiaokun (also known as Aaron Liu) in 2014.

When asked to describe his brand in a few words for an interview published on trade show Cosmoprof’s website, Liu says simply: “Natural, new-tech and New Zealand.” Its credentials, in terms of being “natural” are bolstered by coming from New Zealand and continuing to source products there, a country widely associated in Chinese consumers’ minds with a pristine environment.


Hipster-phobia – It’s Hip To Be Scared

Hipster-phobia refers to a fear of trendy people and an instinctive desire to avoid those who dress in hot-to-trot street styles–mostly found in the wild around China’s hot and happening (shopping) areas, e.g., Beijing’s Sanlitun commercial center or Shanghai’s Jing’an District (oh, the clichés we’re churning out here!). The term reflects the “anxiousness and embarrassment of some Chinese when meeting these fashionistas,” even without the presence of a filter.


Dow said it was recycling our shoes. We found them at an Indonesian flea market

U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc and the Singapore government said they were transforming old sneakers into playgrounds and running tracks. Reuters put that promise to the test by planting hidden trackers inside 11 pairs of donated shoes. Most got exported instead.


K-everything: the rise and rise of Korean culture

The global success of Psy’s rap could be traced back to the dramatic rises and falls in fortune that have characterised Korean history (the peninsula has been invaded and colonised many times, without ever encroaching on its neighbours). After the Korean war, South Korea was ranked among the poorest nations in the world. With a mixture of authoritarian repression and collective will, the “hermit kingdom” had by the late 1990s turned that around to look like a tech and manufacturing success story. That rise came to an abrupt end with an economic crash in 1997, when the Korean government was forced to ask the IMF for an emergency loan of $57bn. The day of that request is still known as the Day of National Humility. In order to pay off the debt there were many collective sacrifices (including a drive for gold that saw tens of thousands of ordinary Koreans donate wedding rings to the national cause).