Returning pants, tracking your kid, and scheduling dinner or a football field: 4 functions of Chinese apps

Lots has been written on apps like WeChat or Tmall, but rarely articles zoom in on details. I’ll pick four functions here showing how well everything works together. These apps are not thrilling, but extremely functional. Mind you, these functions are used daily — not just by people handy with phones but most people between […]

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GoEast Mandarin photography

Photography for GoEast Mandarin, an online/offline Chinese language school based in Shanghai, China. All colleagues photographed, as well as some students and notebooks.

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Cutting bok choy in the stairwell

I’m in this old Shanghai house, four apartments on each of five floors, with a kitchen housed in the stairwell. I had to interrupt this gentleman cutting his bok choy to get through. The whole place breathes life, from the sound of my feet on the worn wood, to his smile gifted to me as […]

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You can understand without approval

The internet was supposed to unite everyone in the world, but algorithms and nuance-free formats have made us more divided than ever. The U.S. election is a perfect example, with people on both sides appalled by the way people vote. Any nuance is gone from the debate: You want poor people not to go hungry? […]

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy review

Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is Alice in Wonderland in space. I initially felt the form was getting in the way of function, with a lot of storylines on their own, but halfway through the book they did get together and so got my interest in it. A lot happens and it becomes […]

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If you can’t tell the difference between your strategy and tactics, you have no strategy

People rarely mistake strategy for tactics, but one of the most common mistakes in marketing strategy (or any kind of strategy) is confusing tactics for strategy. When prompted, most people can’t really tell the difference — but knowing the distinct difference between the two makes your strategy (and following tactics) infinitely better. Creativity without strategy is […]

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Carving a bowl

David is partly a tour guide, partly a comedian, partly a philosopher. Confucianism, he sums up, is “Respect the elders, take care of the young”. Another important rule is that you do not impose on others what you do not want yourself. The story he tells is about a family — father, mother, a son […]

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A city on its own terms again

Thank you Wuhan. No longer are you the city of fear and hazmat suits. You’re historic artifacts, eating food together on the street. You’re live music in the park, you’re part of the Yangtze and the Yangtze is part of you. You’re a beautiful university and far grasslands. Of ponds and pagodas. You’re hot dry […]

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Being in Wuhan

Ground zero. My mind can barely comprehend the human chain that is covid-19, that droplets from mouths right here have spread to bodies all around the world within 12 months. I’m at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, which feels like being at ground zero in Hiroshima, or the former site of the Twin towers, […]

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Sihang Warehouse in Shanghai

This is the Sihang Warehouse (四行仓库) at Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek. In 1937 during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, it mainly stored bags of sand, corn, and beans, until the 452 men of the 88th division of the Chinese army retreated into it. The Japanese armies invaded further into the city and the 88th was ordered […]

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