Who's using QR codes?

Not the affluent over 40s, it seems.

The terribly BCBG "Precious" magazine offers lots of glossy images promoting expensive European brands, with nary a QR code to offend the delicate eyes of its precious readers ...


The somewhat younger and less elitist "STORY" magazine contains four QR codes...

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A new world view

I've been a fan of the Strange Maps web site for a while - and I particularly like the maps that "tell a story" by making visual changes to reflect certain demographic data etc.

Today in the Telegraph newspaper (not a paper that I normally read) there's a series of such maps and some of them are fascinating. The one below shows each country's size in proportion to the NET number of tourists who visit. (i.e. the number  of incoming tourists minus the number of outgoing tourists).

Click on the link below to see the full size version and several more maps on the Telegraph web site:


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The future of the internet is mobile...

Dr. Philip Sugai at International University Japan's Mobile Consumer Lab points to a recent report from IBM, which predicts that "Worldwide adoption of the mobile phone as the preferred device for accessing the Internet is just around the corner."

I think we can already see this today among young consumers and in developing countries, where cheap cell phones are more readily available than PCs with internet connections. To quote William Gibson: "The future is already here; it just isnt' evenly distributed yet."

Philip points out that the interfaces for mobile internet should not be the same as those we use for other media - they should leverage the strengths of mobile devices. He points to the example of Amazon Japan, which lets its mobile site's users navigate to its product pages by scanning the barcodes on DVDs or books that they come across in the real world.

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Who are the movers and the shakers of Tokyo's Social Computing scene?

I had a very enjoyable evening yesterday at the Bloggers' Dinner in Tokyo. It was great to speak with the group of about 30 Japanese and non-Japanese bloggers who had so many interesting perspectives to share. We met at Fujimama's near Omotesando - an ideal venue for this kind of open networking evening.

Jeremiah Owyang introduced the evening with his observations that Japanese consumers are ahead of Japanese companies in their adoption of Social media - Whereas consumers are eagerly leveraging new media to express themselves and interact with each other, Japan's corporate world seems rather hesitant.

Forrester's Technographics data shows that Japanese consumers are eagerly participating in social media as creators, critics, collectors, joiners and spectators.... so why aren't Japanese firms putting more effort into engaging with customers via social media? Here are three thoughts or recommendations that came to my mind. If you disagree, or if you have better recommendations, please post a comment.

With regard to Social Computing - what aren't Japanese companies doing that they should be doing?

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Problem with Feedburner feed

Someone recently told me that he received some weird E-mail updates from my blog. On several occasions he got repeated alerts about the same post and once or twice he got a message about a very old blog post, which was puzzling.

Forrester's online community manager, John Cass, investigated the issue. Apparently, it's a known problem with the Feedburner solution that Forrester uses to generate E-mail updates. It seems that Google, the company that acquired Feedburner, has not fixed the problem, despite several requests from users. You can see a couple of online threads (going back to March 2008) that discuss this issue:


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Google Maps - Overcoming the challenges of transliterating Japanese

Fascinating blog post by the Google Maps team;


"This week we will be releasing English labels of city names, prefectures, districts and transit station names in Japan. We have used a combination of transliteration (local pronunciation into English alphabet) and translation so that "Shibuya Eki" would read as "Shibuya Station", for example. We thought it would be more helpful to transliterate the name but let users know the difference between a city or a station. We've even used macrons so "Tokyo" reads as "Tōkyō" to help with pronunciation."

I totally agree with their approach - It's more helpful for English speakers to see "Shibuya Station" than "Shibuya Eki". And macrons .... who doesn't love macrons?

[Let me issue a bad pun warning for that last hyperlink]

Notes from the road... When I'm naked, I'm blind

You may remember that I complained about web sites that use illegible text in January.

Back then I promised to write about 'some "day in the life" scenes from a person with crummy eyesight (me).' I'm sorry that I forgot about that promise until this week when I made a business trip to Europe and found myself struggling to identify the shampoo...


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Forrester's events for marketing and strategy executives in North America and Europe

Here's a plug for two terrific events that Forrester is hosting in the US and the UK. The theme for these events is "Keeping Ahead of Tomorrow's Customer". We will be exploring the things companies need to do today in order to be thriving in 20 years.

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K.I.S.S. Award #2 - Tomy AeroSpider remote controlled car

You may recall that I announced the creation of the K.I.S.S. award (Keep It Simple, stupid) in April this year. Today I want to thank the Terries Take newsletter for alerting me to a worthy winner: The Tomy AeroSpider - a remote controlled car that climbs walls.


To get a preview of the wonderful things that this toy can do, check out this video:

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Japan & Korea prefer anonymous social computing

Chang-Won Kim reports that Korea's top actress, Jin-sil Choi, has just taken her own life. It seems that she was deeply hurt by anonymous comments leveled at her online:

Chang makes the point that social media need a more robust system of identity and reputation to support online interaction -- so that communities have ways to freeze out irresponsible and hateful individuals.

I think this is a particularly serious issue in countries like Korea and Japan. In these countries, where "real life" society is quite buttoned up, people turn to online forums to let off steam anonymously. For example, Japan's social networks (such as Mixi) tend to be anonymous and the most famous bulletin board, 2-channel is full of posts under the identity "No Name". Many Japanese people feel that this anonymity protects their privacy and liberates them to say what they really think.

I remember a conversation that I had a few months ago with a Japanese technology blogger who hides his "real life" identity. His technology blogging struck me as inoffensive (and brilliant), so I couldn't understand why he asks people to refrain from taking his photograph and why he dons a disguise before making a speech in public. (It sounds like a comedy about the mafia... right?) He told me that he feels a need to stay anonymous, even for his politically neutral blog.

I wonder if it will always be this way? I hope that more people in Japan will see the value of social media where online identities are associated with offline identities. That seems to be the surest way to ensure that people behave responsibly.

[On an unrelated note - I have heard that the email subscription software on this blog has been sending out multiple emails with the same information. I'm trying to get that fixed as soon as possible].