The blank canvas that is Shanghai

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.) When you look down at the city from the 121st floor of the Shanghai Tower, it’s as if you’re looking at a computer simulation. The view that houses 24 million people is insane. Across all horizons, the skyline is filled with exotic skyscrapers and thousands of high rise apartment buildings, nearly […]

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One big café

There’s anonymity in crowds. The urban cacophony of Shanghai creates a wall of sound that absorbs everything. It’s pleasant, like a big café. And with a population of 24 million citizens, you never have to worry about onlookers, because you’re likely to never see them again. When someone cuts you off in traffic, there’s no […]

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Waves

Last week was China’s ‘Golden Week’, when the country goes on a collective holiday. Traffic jams and popular tourist destinations are filled with crowds. So too on Nantong’s Mount Lang, its pagoda providing a view across the city and the Yangtze river. I explored the place and behind the facade, I found this trashed frame with […]

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One Plus One Equals Three review

While this little paperback doesn’t really warrant the title ‘masterclass’, it’s an entertaining and inspiring collection of anecdotes. I doubt any of the examples are directly applicable in most cases, but the bigger message is, and it’s a great way to live by. Trott’s teachings are a powerful anti-sound against the increased jargon, complexity and […]

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Ball Lightning review

What a journey Liu Cixin takes us on. Ball Lightning is science fiction without the spaceships or time travel, but at a more abstract, magical and even philosophical level. The character of the book are vastly different from each other, unconventional in their own ways. Chen, the narrator of the book, is obsessed and unravels […]

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Folding Beijing review

Folding Beijing is a simple story, yet it carries incredible depth by combing Chinese conventions within a futuristic scenario alongside a powerful message. Quarrels are made in an apartment flat, baijiu is served in a state of surveillance, chow mein alternates with autonomous cars, and a girl has to choose between romance and money. It’s […]

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Anna and the King of Siam review

Each virtue carries a vice, and in case of ‘Anna and the King’ it’s the extreme amount of detail. Margaret Landon describes Bangkok of the late 19th century through the eyes of an unlikely English teacher. The widow Anna Leonowens arrives in Bangkok with her son, and observes it with both admiration and disgust, as […]

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Western brands in China: hits and misses

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.com) Western companies looking to expand their business often underestimate the competitiveness of the Chinese market. Often, what stands in the way of success is a lack of understanding on what Chinese consumers value and how they shop. But then there are some that have done their research, made local partnerships, made […]

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The false start of QR codes in the West versus China

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.com) Around ten years ago, when you used a urinal in a popular bar or cinema in Europe, chances were you had an advertisement poster in your view, with a big QR code in the lower right corner. Western marketeers used the QR code primarily to redirect people to their advertisements or […]

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Contextual China

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.com, and in Dutch on Marketingfacts) When we think about China, we often reduce nuances to black and white absolutes. Either China is a country with oppressed people and smog-filled skies, or it is the juggernaut that will inevitably rule the world’s economy. Neither of these views is particularly useful, and rather […]

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