Posts tagged “globalization”

Lowrider: Take a little trip and see

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Image from documentary film South American Cholo

The New York Times, in Lowrider Culture Spreads to Brazil and Beyond, offers up yet another astounding example of globalization meets enthusiast-culture.

The spread of this seemingly distant subculture, with Brazilian followers calling themselves “cholos” and cruising around in their low-and-slow automobiles, is raising eyebrows here in South America’s largest city. Some who cannot afford to buy vintage cars and customize them into lowriders simply roam S?£o Paulo’s labyrinthine streets at the helm of bicycles accessorized with high-rise handlebars and banana seats.

Even when they just strut around in oversize khaki shorts and white muscle shirts, they speak to something larger: the global fluidity of conceptions of ethnicity, identity and style, propelling a street culture once so closely tied to the borderlands of the United States and Mexico well beyond its birthplace.

ChittahChattah Quickies

Volkswagen turns off Blackberry email after work hours [BBC News] – Technology changes work boundaries and work patterns. Will a technological solution work? The article suggests that they will stop people from receiving email after hours, but will they stop people from sending email after hours? Is the demand for after hours work coming through the email messages or are there other pressures? So many questions about this one!

Volkswagen has agreed to stop its Blackberry servers sending emails to some of its employees when they are off-shift. The carmaker confirmed it made the move earlier this year following complaints that staff’s work and home lives were becoming blurred. Under the arrangement servers stop routing emails 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts, and then start again 30 minutes before they return to work. “It’s bad for the individual worker’s performance being online and available 24-7. You do need downtime, you do need periods in which you can actually reflect on something without needing instantaneously to give a reaction,” said Will Hutton, chair of the Big Innovation Centre at The Work Foundation.

Manischewitz Creates Kosher Food for Gentiles [NYT] – Having grown up with the traditional meaning of the brand, I find this a bit challenging but am intrigued by the potential to reframe and expand their story.

“Instead of taking the older products we have out of the kosher aisle and forcing them into the main aisle, we’re creating new products that have a place in the main aisle,” said Alain Bankier. A new line of broths, for example, is being shelved in many supermarkets not with most Manischewitz items but rather in the soup aisle. A new line of Manischewitz gravies also will be stocked with other mainstream brands. Manischewitz ads traditionally have emphasized Judaism, showing yarmulke-wearing celebrants at, say, a Seder. But new ads, by Joseph Jacobs Advertising in New York, the Manischewitz agency for more than three decades, take a decidedly more secular approach. “Don’t miss the boat,” says a print ad for beef gravy, which shows it being poured from a sauce boat onto mashed potatoes – no shofar or Star of David in sight. New ads “make little if any reference to any Jewish holiday,” said Elie Rosenfeld, chief executive of Joseph Jacobs. “There’s a tagline we use, ‘Bringing families to the table since 1888,’ and we want to be part of that family with you whether it’s Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah or Easter.”

Samoa Sacrifices a Day for Its Future [NYT] – A massive change in infrastructure and function, revealing time (or at least our documentation of it) to be more arbitrary than fixed.

The Pacific island nation of Samoa and its even tinier neighbor Tokelau are skipping Friday this week, jumping westward in time across the international date line and into the shifting economic balance of the 21st century. The time change is meant to align Samoa with its Asian trading partners; it moves the islands’ work days further from the United States, which dominated its economy in the past. In this giant-step version of daylight saving time, the island’s 186,000 citizens, and the 1,500 who live in Tokelau, will go to sleep on Thursday and wake up on Saturday. The government has decreed that those who miss a day of work on Friday will be paid all the same.

Portable Cathedrals [Domus] – Dan Hill’s epic articulate review of the Nokia N9 isn’t a gadget review, it’s a (tl;dr) cultural critique of design, where culture is within the producer organizations as much as – if not more than – the consumer society.

Yet the skeuomorphic nonsense that incomprehensibly pervades apps like Apple’s own Contacts, Calendar, iBooks, GameCenter, Find My Friends et al-all awkward faux-leather, wood and paper stylings-is is of such questionable “taste” it threatens to damage the overall harmony of iOS with its discordant notes. You cannot derive value from the idle suggestion of such textures on screen; they are physical properties and should be experienced as such, or not at all. Yet Apple’s design team will not explore those physical properties, merely sublimating their desire for such qualities into a picture of leather, a picture of wood. It recalls Marcel Duchamp’s critique of ‘retinal art’ i.e. intended only to please the eye.

For a Corn Chip Maker, the New Spokesman Is the Product Itself [NYT] – The argot of advertising is hilarious and depressing all at once. Zany and authentic spokesbag?

At the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, the game’s sponsor, Tostitos, will have a new endorser – a “spokesbag” puppet in the form of a chip bag with arms, a mouth and a generous dollop of swagger – to humorously convey the message that it is the tortilla chip brand that enlivens social gatherings. The new life-of-the-party campaign resurrects the top-selling snack’s 1990s theme. ” ‘Tostitos Knows How to Party’ means we are returning to our roots,” said Janelle Anderson, the brand’s senior director for marketing. Tostitos returned to the ’90s theme after marketing research over the last year found that its customers wanted reasons to celebrate and have fun in economically lean times. Tostitos chose a zany character “to get the message across and make it authentic,” said Ms. Anderson. “We wanted something that was magnetic, fun and approachable.” The brand’s new advertising agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, decided to “bring personality to the brand, and, in one of those rare cases, have the actual product be the actual spokesperson,” said Brett Craig, the group’s creative director for Tostitos. Working with Legacy Effects, a Los Angeles special effects company, the agency developed the hand-manipulated puppet with movable parts and special effects to convey energy, said Mr. Craig.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] ALT/1977: WE ARE NOT TIME TRAVELERS [Behance] – [Alex Varanese's thought-provoking concepts go beyond blogosphere-hipster-silliness to really provoke reflection on design and functionality often taken for granted] What would you do if you could travel back in time? Here's what I'd do after that: grab all the modern technology I could find, take it to the late 70's, superficially redesign it all to blend in, start a consumer electronics company to unleash it upon the world, then sit back as I rake in billions, trillions, or even millions of dollars. I've explored that idea in this series by re-imagining four common products from 2010 as if they were designed in 1977: an mp3 player, a laptop, a mobile phone and a handheld video game system. I then created a series of fictitious but stylistically accurate print ads. I've learned that there is no greater design element than the anachronism. I've learned that the strongest contrast isn't spatial or tonal but historical. I've learned that there's retro, and then there's time travel.
  • [from julienorvaisas] 10:10 Tags Symbolize Committment to Climate Change [10:10global.org/uk] – [The fact that this tag is tangible but also symbolic rather than overt, and versatile enough to be carried on the body as a daily reminder of a commitment to the cause of climate change can help change behavior and improve compliance, as well as subtly telegraph solidarity.] The 10:10 Tag is made from a recycled jumbo jet, and can be worn on the neck, wrist, lapel or leotard to symbolise your 10:10 commitment. Whether you pin it to the lapel of your business suit or thread it through the laces of your skateboard trainers, your 10:10 Tag shows others that not only do you know how to accessorise; you’re also part of the solution to climate change.
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Grateful Dead scholar in heaven at UC Santa Cruz [SFGate] – [More big things happening at my Alma Mater] The ultimate job in Dead-dom is in Room 1370 at McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz. The door is marked by the steal-your-face logo, and superimposed over it reads the name Nicholas G. Meriwether, Grateful Dead Archivist.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Ariely’s Upside of Irrationality: using irrational cognitive blindspots to your advantage [Boing Boing] – [We've seen the principles of behavioral economics applied to help us understand and explain consumers irrational choices in a business context, now here's a self-help book helping us apply them to our own everyday lives.] Upside of Irrationality is a mostly successful attempt to transform the scientific critique of the 'rational consumer' principal into practical advice for living a better life. 'Mostly successful' only because some of our habitual irrationality is fundamentally insurmountable — there's almost nothing we can do to mitigate it.
  • [from steve_portigal] Text 2.0 – What if your book really knew where you are gazing at? – [This is essentially one of the concepts we proposed from our Reading Ahead research – where an eyetracker in a digital book manipulates the text dynamically based on your gaze. In our use case, we addressed the interrupt-driven commute reading revealed by our research. If the book saw you looking away, it could mark your spot to enable more efficient resuming]
  • [from steve_portigal] Twitter a hit in Japan as millions ‘mumble’ online [Yahoo! News] – Japanese-language Twitter taps into a greater sense of individuality in Japan, especially among younger people less accepting of the Japanese understatement and conformity. 16.3% of Japanese Internet tweet 16.3% (vs. 9.8% in US). "Japan is enjoying the richest and most varied form of Twitter usage as a communication tool…It's playing out as a rediscovery of the Internet.” It's possible to say so much more in Japanese within Twitter's 140 letters. "Information" requires just 2 letters in Japanese. Another is that people own up to their identities on Twitter. One well-known case is a woman who posted the photo of a park her father sent in e-mail before he died. Twitter was immediately abuzz with people comparing parks…"It's telling that Twitter was translated as 'mumbling' in Japanese," he said. "They love the idea of talking to themselves," he said…"In finding fulfillment in expressing what's on your mind for the moment, Twitter is like haiku," he said. "It is so Japanese."

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Rent a White Guy [The Atlantic] – And so I became a fake businessman in China, an often lucrative gig for underworked expatriates here. One friend, an American who works in film, was paid to represent a Canadian company and give a speech espousing a low-carbon future. Another was flown to Shanghai to act as a seasonal-gifts buyer. Recruiting fake businessmen is one way to create the image—particularly, the image of connection—that Chinese companies crave. My Chinese-language tutor, at first aghast about how much we were getting paid, put it this way: “Having foreigners in nice suits gives the company face.” We were supposedly representing a California-based company that was building a facility in Dongying. Our responsibilities would include making daily trips to the construction site, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and hobnobbing. During the ceremony, one of us would have to give a speech as the company’s director. That duty fell to my friend Ernie. His business cards had already been made. (via @Kottke)
  • [from julienorvaisas] Hey Facebook! Here’s your privacy redesign [Fortune.com] – [The community is now literally begging Facebook to fix this issue. Free design!] We asked several leading user experience designers how they'd overhaul the social network's obtuse privacy settings interface if given the chance. Here, in their own words, are their innovative solutions.
  • [from steve_portigal] For Forgetful, Cash Helps the Medicine Go Down [NYTimes.com] – [The challenge of marketing, design & other forms of corporate persuasion is revealed when you see that people need incentive/motivation to take medication] One-third to one-half of all patients do not take medication as prescribed, and up to one-quarter never fill prescriptions at all, experts say. Such lapses fuel more than $100 billion dollars in health costs annually because those patients often get sicker. Now, a controversial, and seemingly counterintuitive, effort to tackle the problem is gaining ground: paying people money to take medicine or to comply with prescribed treatment. The idea, which is being embraced by doctors, pharmacy companies, insurers and researchers, is that paying modest financial incentives up front can save much larger costs of hospitalization…Although “economically irrational,” Dr. Corrigan said, small sums might work better than bigger ones because otherwise patients might think, “ ‘I’m only doing this for the money,’ and it would undermine treatment.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Creativity thrives in Pixar’s animated workplace [SF Chronicle] – At another company, the employee in Payne's position might be a feared corporate rules-enforcer – the guy who tells you not to put tack holes in the plaster or forbids you from painting over the white walls next to your cubicle. But the architect and 14-year Pixar veteran embraces the madness. Among the more creative additions on the campus: One animator built a bookcase with a secret panel – which opens up into a speakeasy-style sitting area with a card table, bar and security monitor. Other employees work in modified Tuff Sheds, tricked out to look like little houses with front porches and chandeliers. "Sometimes I just have to let go," Payne says with an amused sigh, as he walks into a newer building with a high ceiling – where someone has interrupted the clean sightlines with a wooden loft. A couch and a mini-refrigerator are balanced 10 feet above the floor. [Did a mini-ethnography of Pixar a few years ago and the cultural factors around creativity and community were outstanding]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The Americanization of Mental Illness [NYTimes.com] – Mental illnesses have never been the same the world over but are inevitably sparked and shaped by the ethos of particular times and places…“We might think of the culture as possessing a ‘symptom repertoire’ ­ a range of physical symptoms available to the unconscious mind for the physical expression of psychological conflict."..Those who minister to the mentally ill inadvertently help to select which symptoms will be recognized as legitimate…For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world…we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders ­ depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them ­ now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases.
  • The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s [NYTimes.com] – They theorize that the ever-accelerating pace of technological change may be minting a series of mini-generation gaps, with each group of children uniquely influenced by the tech tools available in their formative stages of development.

    “People two, three or four years apart are having completely different experiences with technology,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. “College students scratch their heads at what their high school siblings are doing, and they scratch their heads at their younger siblings. It has sped up generational differences.”

    Those in the Net Generation spend two hours a day talking on the phone and still use e-mail frequently. The iGeneration spends considerably more time texting than talking on the phone, pays less attention to television and tends to communicate more over instant-messenger. The newest generations will expect an instant response from everyone they communicate with

Die Hard 4.0: Die Hard Goes Global

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Die Hard 4.0 poster, Taipei

It’s not news that movies are released with different titles in other markets. Still, it was curious to see a familiar product under a slightly different brand. Live Free or Die is an American slogan, and so outside North America, perhaps Live Free or Die Hard doesn’t work as well as a title (perhaps the American-ness is not as appealing, or there is less recognition of the reference).

IMDB lists the different titles (and working titles) around the world.

Die Hard 4.0    Australia / Denmark / Finland / Japan / Netherlands / Sweden / UK / USA (working title)
Duro de matar 4.0    Argentina / Mexico / Peru / Venezuela
Die Hard 4    USA (working title)
Die Hard 4: Die Hardest    USA (working title)
Die Hard: Reset    USA (working title)
Die Hard: Tears of the Sun    USA (working title)
Die hard – Vivere o morire    Italy
Die hard 4 – Legdr?°g?°bb az életed    Hungary
Die hard 4 – Retour en enfer    France
Duro de Matar 4.0    Brazil
Jungla 4.0, La    Spain
Poly skliros gia na pethanei 4.0     Greece
Smrtonosná pasca 4.0    Slovakia
Stirb langsam 4.0    Germany
Szklana pulapka 4.0    Poland
Umri muski 4.0     Serbia
Vis libre ou crève    Canada (French title)
Visa hing 4    Estonia
Zor ölüm 4.0    Turkey (Turkish title)

Making the familiar unfamiliar, or traveling the continuum of appetizing-ness

While in Japan, in a Mitsukoshi food hall, we came across Konopizza, pizza (and desserts!) in a cone.
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It’s not just a Japanese company, and they are aiming for the English speaking market with “the future of pizza, the pizza of the future.” I have seen the future of pizza and its name is Kono? Personally, I hope not. Think about biting into one and managing the mass of bubbling cheese goo. I foresee burning messy gagging.

Here are some variations on the hot dog from Ginza.
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Coney dog, okay. Cheese dog, sure. Bacon potato, I dunno?

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Egg? Zucchini? These are rather elegant reinterpretations of the serviceable wiener, but they read so unappealing and dissonant. I’m all for elegant reinterpretations of fast food but these struck me as very foreign (granted, I was the foreigner, trying to find the symbols of home in another environment).

Stay tuned for our Taiwan snack food experiences.

And one more that I’ve been hanging onto for a very long time. Family Boat appears to be a concept restaurant, with a website intended to appeal to investors and future franchisees. They’ve opened one pilot store in Holland. The concept is all around providing food in “boats.”

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Potatoboats

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Sandwichboats

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Ice boats

Lots of designy stuff on the site as well:
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Anyone ever tried any of these foods? What do you think?

Foreign foods in foreign lands

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Although we were dazzled by the array of Asian cuisines available in the food halls at Taipei 101 we observed the biggest (and most eager) crowd at the KFC. We were further surprised to note the Air Canada promotion (amusingly inaccurate translation here including surprising use of the word urine) where, to honor the culture and flavors of Canada, they’re selling a traditional Chinese egg tart drizzled with maple syrup. We passed, thanks (we had hoped it was a traditional Canadian butter tart, but no luck).

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The outside of the KFC stand was decorated with retro Americana and historical brand imagery.

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The American Road Trip promotion at TGI Friday’s
Around the corner was TGI Friday’s, with an American-themed promotion, throwing together states, highways, and foods that might believably (in Taiwan, I guess) carry a geographic association: Kansas Cinnadunker Donuts, Illinois Mushroom Steak, California Shrimp Martini, Missouri Chicken Parmesan, Texas Dragonfire Chicken, Arizona Cape Cod Shrimp Louie, and New Mexico Tortilla Tilapia.

Check out the press release for this promotion.

Movie lovers must have seen car chase scenes on American inter-state highways, the most notable of which is the No 66 Highway. The new menu features characteristic foods of the eight states through which the No 66 inter-state highway runs. That would include Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California.

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Start spreading the news
Although not a food venue specifically, it’s worth pointing out the New York, New York shopping mall, noted for the presence of American brands.

It’s a curious part of the experience of being a foreigner — in addition to noting the things that seem strange (and some of those will be appearing here eventually), in our global world we are likely to encounter things that we expect to be familiar, yet through someone else’s lenses they are very very different.

The World According To Sesame Street

Last night I started watching The World According To Sesame Street. I say started, because while it was interesting, it wasn’t all that entertaining, and I eventually gave up. The film deals with the various international co-productions they’ve set up in other countries, and how they tune their tried-and-tested approach to the various local cultures by involving people from those cultures to create with them. The idea of the film is fantastic, but it was a little too heavy on the earnestness, looking at how wonderful these places are despite all their hardship due to poverty, civil war, or AIDS. It may have just been my mood, though.

Great quote about their process:

Because of the way that we work which is to basically to repeat the experiment that we did in the United States in 1968, which is identifying what the needs are and then coming up with some sort of curriculum that addresses those needs, and then bringing together researchers and creative people to produce a show that does, we rely very heavily on local people.

Here are some images of various versions of the show in different countries.

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This Week In Globalization

We have some time before we can expect to be driving Chinese cars.

Despite growing anxiety that the Chinese would quickly seek to conquer yet another important industry, it now looks as if it will be at least another several years before Chinese automakers start exporting large numbers of cars they both design and make. They had intended to start selling their own brands in the United States as soon as 2007 but have pushed off their plans by a couple of years.

And now, some Chinese auto executives admit, it could be as late as 2020 before they will be ready to take on the world auto market.

That’s not to say that the Chinese will not follow in the footsteps of Japanese automakers, who first sent over chintzy cars that were roundly criticized, only to set new standards for the industry in later years.

Still, despite China’s manufacturing prowess, it is, for now, proving a lot harder than automakers here anticipated to make cars that appeal to Western tastes.

Here’s a story about who these Indian engineers are, or aren’t. Frankly, I was glad to see this article, not for protectionist reasons, but simply to acknowledge that we’ve got dramatically different cultures around work, collaboration, education, success, and everything else, and that’s obviously going to play out in the hiring/working space.

India still produces plenty of engineers, nearly 400,000 a year at last count. But their competence has become the issue.

A study commissioned by a trade group, the National Association of Software and Service Companies, or Nasscom, found only one in four engineering graduates to be employable. The rest were deficient in the required technical skills, fluency in English or ability to work in a team or deliver basic oral presentations.

And finally here’s yet another story about Americans working for Indian firms (I last blogged about it here)

For the job seekers, India represents a new kind of ticket. Katrina Anderson, 22, a math major from Manhattan, Kan., accepted the Infosys offer because, she said, it provided the most extensive training of any company that offered her a job.

An added bonus was the chance to travel halfway around the world. “Some people were scared by the India relocation,” she recalled. “But that pretty much sold it for me.”

When she finishes the training in January, Ms. Anderson, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, will return to the United States, to work in the Infosys office in Phoenix.

For the Americans at Infosys, culture shock combines with surprising discoveries. Mr. Craig and Ms. Anderson admitted to having their stereotypes of India quickly upturned. Mr. Craig expected elephants and crowded sidewalks; Ms. Anderson expected stifling heat and women who covered their heads.

The Infosys training center, with its 300 acres of manicured shrubbery, is a far cry from the poverty of much of this country. There is a bowling alley on campus, a state-of-the-art gym, a swimming pool, tennis courts and an auditorium modeled on the Epcot Center.

Mr. Craig, who still calls home nearly every day, says he has made an effort to teach himself a few things about his new, temporary home. He has learned how to conduct himself properly at a Hindu temple. He makes an extra effort to be more courteous. He has learned to ignore the things that rattle him in India – the habit of cutting in line, for instance, or the ease with which a stranger here can ask what he would consider a deeply personal question.

“I definitely feel like a minority here,” he said, sounding surprised at the very possibility.

Ms. Anderson has tried to ignore what she sees as a penchant for staring, especially by men. She has donned Indian clothes in hopes of deflecting attention, only to realize that it has the opposite effect. She has stopped brooding quietly when someone cuts in line. “I say, ‘Excuse me, there’s a line here.’ “

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