December 29th, 2017

In Sign of Resistance, Chinese Balk at Using Apps to Snitch on Neighbors

By: Jeremy Page and Eva Dou    Source: Wall Street Journal   Date: 29/12/2017

BN-WU266_1229CG_HD_20171229105109

Mao Zedong once hailed Fengqiao in eastern China as a model for “mobilizing the masses” to galvanize Communist Party rule. Under President Xi Jinping, there is an app for that.

Launched in Zhejiang province last year, it offers citizens rewards for information as part of a new government effort to meld old-school totalitarian techniques with 21st century e-commerce, big data and digital surveillance.

There’s just one problem: Many people are wary of using the new technology platform.

The “Safe Zhejiang” app enables users to notify authorities of problems ranging from leaky drains and domestic disputes to traffic violations and illegal publications, in text or photographic form, as long as the informants reveal their location and identity.

In exchange, they get perks including discounts at upmarket coffee shops and coupons for taxi-hailing and music-streaming services, as well as for the Alipay online-payment system, run by the financial affiliate of local tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Continue reading

December 13th, 2017

China’s Selfie Obsession

Meitu’s apps are changing what it means to be beautiful in the most populous country on earth.

By: Jiayang Fang       Source: The New Yorker  Date: 8/12/17

171218_r31146

HoneyCC likes to say that she scarcely remembers the last time someone called her by her given name, Lin Chuchu. She took her online name from a 2003 movie starring Jessica Alba, about an aspiring hip-hop dancer and choreographer named Honey who catches her break after a music-video director sees a clip of her performing. Something similar happened for HoneyCC, who also trained in hip-hop dance, as well as in jazz and Chinese folk styles, and was equally determined to be discovered.

After an injury cut short her dancing career, a few years ago, she and some friends set up an advertising business. Many of her clients were social-media companies, and her work for them led to an observation about the sector’s development: first there was the text-based service Weibo, the largest social-media network in China at the time; then people started posting images. “But a single picture can only say so much,” she told me recently. “To really communicate a message, you need a video.”

HoneyCC likes to say that she scarcely remembers the last time someone called her by her given name, Lin Chuchu. She took her online name from a 2003 movie starring Jessica Alba, about an aspiring hip-hop dancer and choreographer named Honey who catches her break after a music-video director sees a clip of her performing. Something similar happened for HoneyCC, who also trained in hip-hop dance, as well as in jazz and Chinese folk styles, and was equally determined to be discovered.

Keep on reading!

November 26th, 2017

Why Hong Kong artists and activists are turning to zines in the digital age

By: Manami Okazaki.   Source: SCMP  Date: 25/11/17

The independently published ‘pocket-sized works of art’ are undergoing something of a resurgence worldwide. In Hong Kong, with its rich printing history, youngsters have discovered a whole other avenue of expression.

 

To the untrained eye, “zines” don’t look like much: pamphlets stapled crudely together, featuring disparate topics and a range of art forms, such as cartoons, illustrations and photography. To collectors, they are pocket-sized works of art, and tools of self-expression.

Keep on reading!