Black, White and Read all Over

14 08 2011

Newspapers are the thing in HK. Every you go, there’s guaranteed to be someone reading the news – the old school, classic, ink-on-paper kind of news.

Why is it that Hong Kong’s newspaper industry is still going strong despite the onslaught of technology? More on this on a later post…for now, here  are some photos from a recent morning ramble around Causeway Bay. (As usual, click on the photos to view them on Flickr)


The Zuper Generation: Generation Z

27 07 2011

Generation Z: Zuperman! photo from

There’s been a lot said about  Generation X and Generation Y.

But what about my generation – Generation Z? We’re quietly lurking in the background, growing, maturing, absorbing.

Who are the Generation Z-ers? In general, it includes people born as early as 1991 to as late as 2001. I myself am born in 1994 – kind of smack bang in the middle.

What defines us? What do we do? What does the future hold for Generation Z?

Here are some of my observations…

Gen Z are growing up with the products produced by the genius of Gen Y. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Youtube…you name it. Generation Y programming geniuses cooked up these services, and us Generation Z are growing up with it. We live by their technology – we’re not quite yet old enough to come up with our own, so at the moment, I like to think of my generation as ‘absorbing’ the brain juice of Gen Y.

Learning to brand ourselves on the web. Most of us are still too young to think about our ‘web image’, ‘web presence’ and ‘personal brand’ as yet, but I don’t think it’s ever too early to start. We’re born into a digital era,  into globalisation and a technological revolution. Every one of our peers is on the web – so how best to stand out? Stake your own claim to the web, I’d say.

I’m working as an intern at the moment, currently involved in helping to organise TEDxWanChai. At a meeting yesterday to sort out personnel, I was struck by how important it is to have a strong web presence. A lot of it went like this:

“OK, we need a photographer.”

“I know a photographer called Mr. XYZ”

“Google him”.

Quick Google search. Website looks good? Strong web image? Professional personal brand? Hired.

So that’s how important it is. The Web is going to be where people find us now. Not the yellow pages or what not, but Google and Twitter and Facebook and your website. So our web presence needs to look good, because it’s like our second CV. And I believe that if I want to get ahead of my fellow Generation Z-ers, then I need to take full advantage of this fact.

Ask a fish to describe what water feels like – they can’t. In the same way, because Generation Z have grown up surrounded by all this new technology, we can’t really describe how it feels like either. It’s in us. It’s part of us. But herein lies the danger.

As much as online social networking, communicating and the like are all the hype, I think it’s important that we remind ourselves of our pre-Internet roots. Physical social contact. Actually talking to someone face to face. Physical, literal word of mouth. Using social media to leverage our web image is important, but I also believe that Generation Z cannot afford to forget the physical side of things.

We’ve got the power. We can do things for ourselves because we have the power to. We can start our own Twitter campaign, launch our own initiative and garner support on Facebook. The story’s the same on YouTube. Teenagers like iTr3vor and meganheartsmakeup have tens of thousands of people watching their videos. They grow up with a voice in a way that our predecessors never have.

We’re growing up with the power and we will learn to harness that power.

To wrap up: working micro, thinking macro.

It might be true that Generation Z’s attention spans are notoriously short. Yes, we do read and write and consume in micro chunks: 140 character tweets, short status updates, quick and snappy videos. We’re working on a micro scale. 

At the same time though, we’re thinking on a macro scale. Because of the convenience of it all, we can develop a real voice on the Web and really expand beyond just our own circle of friends. There’s the possibility – in fact, it is already a reality for many – to connect with the rest of the world and really promote our own initiatives.

Generation Z ? Generation Zuper.

The Start-Up of You

15 07 2011

I was reading Thomas L. Friedman’s column the other day, titled ‘The Start-Up of You’. Reading it made me think, what does this mean for the things that I’m investing time in now – my school work, SAT preparation, the whole college admission process…?

Basically, Mr. Friedman pointed out that increasingly, we’re going to have to invent our own jobs instead of expecting someone to hire you just because you have a degree. He quotes LinkedIn’s founder:

“The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone. No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.”

Which all is very interesting, because I had just walked into an SAT exam preparation center hoping to see if there was anything that might be of use. Flipping through the center’s brochure, I balked at the incredulously exorbitant prices they charged.

$13 000 HKD for a 30 hour ‘SAT Essentials’ prep course??

You can’t be serious. If people are worried about the tech bubble bursting because various companies are being over-valued, then I’d tell them to come check out HK’s tutorial industry! Clearly SAT’s are important, but to spend $13 000 HKD on a course to prepare you for an exam, when HK’s median monthly income is around $18 000 HKD? Whilst I don’t think education can ever be overvalued, I think certain aspects of it is definitely being grossly overvalued here in HK.

I don’t have much a conclusion. Perhaps Mr. Friedman is right – it’s time we started thinking about how to create our own jobs rather than waiting for a job to find you. If that’s the case then are SATs, colleges and all that still as important as they seem? Maybe. But definitely not important enough to charge $13 000 HKD for a 30 hour course!