singularity industries

"To learn and do good."

Singapore, I live in a great city.

i have a strange relationship with my country, Singapore. On one hand, i’m disheartened by the stories i read on STOMP, and on the other, there really is no place like this.

And then you read magazines like Monocle, who’ve created a one page city guide of how awesome Singapore is as a business city.

And yet, you read all the things that are wrong about Singapore, the control, the low pays, the way we just accept what our governments do and how apathetic we are that we cannot change anything.

Actually, there is as much discontent as there are about things that make Singapore a great city to live in. But I’m going to turn this one on it’s head by saying that we should change ourselves first as individuals rather than wait for circumstances.

Singapore should not be a great place because it’s got Sentosa, and upcoming integrated resort, a Singapore Flyer, and Esplanade, a small but thriving music scene, AWESOME food, nooks and crannies like Haji Lane, or the list that Monocle provided us.

It shouldn’t be a bad place because of the powers that be, the ERP we have to pay, the high cost of living, the strange employment regulations, or even the grueling and unforgiving education system we go through.

I think the intrinsic happiness and contentment comes from within ourselves. Regardless of social status, or academia, or material possessions, i think Singapore would be a great city if we were just genuinely nicer to each other. both locals and foreigners. if we had more community spirit and didn’t just look out for our own interests.


do you see what i’m driving at? money doesn’t buy happiness.. there are people who live in Nepal who lead simple lives, but yet.. they’re there for each other, they have REAL friendships and despite physical hardship.. they have something I envy.. a genuine smile from a stranger.. something that makes it seem that we aren’t alone in this world.

I hope as Singaporeans, we can be there for each other, we can be there for the rest of the world.. that Singapore as nation can smile to her children, and to the children in other parts of the world. And then not just this country, but this world won’t be such a lonely and unforgiving place.

We’re the same, can’t you see?

Filed under: culture, , , , , ,

Whose side are you on?

One day ago, TODAY newspaper announced the formation of The Association of Bloggers (Singapore). I’d actually been told of such an association forming before they went public yesterday, and when i was told then, i immediately drew a parallel to the Marvel story arc: Civil War

The parallel is startling because of my fascination with the themes associated with “the responsibilities of those in power.” I’m somewhat convinced that there are those of us online who believe that there is power in the words we type, the causes we support, the unity of our actions. Of course there are also online citizens who would very much like to be left alone, or don’t see themselves with that sort of responsibility. More power to them.. this blog post isn’t about telling you what’s right or wrong. You make that choice yourself.

Without going into vendettas that seem to be plaguing most of the online discussion over the formation of this group, I personally would not join the association. On the grounds that I am a free-thinking individual and I owe no specific allegiance to anyone. That is the beauty of blogging and exercising our right to freedom of speech. This sentiment is also voiced by one of The Association’s members, Xtralicious.

I do applaud the association for championing “more professionalism in blogging”, because I think that blogging has the potential to make things happen, and if you find a group of like-minded individuals, more power to you. And although that is in alignment with some of my own ideals, i realise my interest is not so much in being an activist, but more an observer, to even offer third party opinions.. or practicing the journalistic ideal of the 4th estate.

Again, I do not see the need to pay a membership fee to join the association simply because i do not want to join the association. I’m definitely not a “professional” blogger (whatever that is), I’m simply a blogger who’s sharing his opinion. I applaud professional behavior such as being civil, ethical and checking of facts.. but i don’t think “professional” blogging is an occupation that requires a membership to an association. What pre-requisites does one need to join the association? It’s not like a medical, accounting or law associations where you need certain credentials. And if all you need is “to be a blogger”, then that’s hardly a criteria.. and you can see where this circular argument is going.

One final concern I have about this action, is that after 24 hours, you can see the effects of splintering. There are those who support the formation of the association, and there are those who are vehemently opposed to it. Bloggers seem to be starting to take sides and there has also been a revisitation of old wounds, unaddressed issues, bloggers calling out for the motivations of starting the association, personal attacks, boycotts.. it’s a little tragic I believe, the symptoms of a civil war.

I doubt it will escalate to that, but it seems that some prominent Singapore bloggers are against the idea. Naturally, they also maintain an anonymous presence on the web. [Links: Rockson, Singabloodypore]

Anonymity plays an important role in exercising some level of freedom of speech. It allows you to say what’s really on your mind without the ramifications of personal attacks, political attacks, things that could harm your reputation offline. In an ideal democracy, I’d say there’s little need for such anonymity, but I don’t think that exists anywhere in the world today. On the flipside, many abuse anonymity and undermine the efforts of various organisations unnecessarily. This is where something like the association would come in handy.

But I don’t think the Internet will ever be a place of registered and unregistered bloggers. If it does, I’m inclined to think that some form of personal freedom is taken away. While i choose to reveal my own identity public, I never expect it of everybody. That is your own choice.

It is with this regard to freedom of choice, and freedom of expression that I find I would rather not join the association. My validation as a blogger comes through my own integrity and my audience. Not necessarily through an external body. It works for me, but YOU will definitely have your own opinion.

If you want to find out what works for you, I urge you to make your own decision and be true to yourself in your own blogging endeavors.

Insert 21 January 2009, 10:29 AM: After reading the comments, I realise I made a poor job articulating that I don’t see this as a black or white issue, and that I’d hate to see us having to take sides. There is a massive clout of grey in this discussion, and I believe most of us exist in the “grey” paradigm. There is no need to call for boycotts or call each other un-patriots. The Net exists as an ecosystem of free thought, some unsavory, some enlightening. Just thought I would make that clearer -)

Filed under: affairs, , , , , , , , ,

Two essential skills for better social media

If you’ve ever been interested in social media, i’m sure you would have come across guide after guide of exhaustive lists of what tools you should try, what tactics you can use to make your content more sharable, or perhaps even how to write better content.

that’s all well and good, but if you’re feeling swamped, i encourage you to go one step further back, and that’s to know what works for you, and how you want to address those issues.

so what i’m talking about is essentially media literacy and better communications.

media literacy
if you can read and write, i’d say you’re literate, and you’ve been the product of your education system. but media literacy, that’s the ability to make sense of the changes around you, the trends around you so that you do not get caught in an echo chamber.

increasingly, with all this talk about social media, best practices, tips and strategies, and basically everyone else banking in on the brilliant concept of “social media”, i’m afraid we’re being caught in an echo chamber. where it’s only media practitioners raving about social media with other practitioners. basically just jumping onto the bandwagon.

does a video you saw on the Internet mean it’s real? what if it’s been planted by a PR or Advertising agency? and even if it has been, does it really matter?

i work in public relations, and online conversations are one of the most exciting aspects of real communications. it helps when i know where the video came from, and what the agenda of the video is. then it allows me to interact in a purer form.

i’d say, being media literate, is to know the agenda, intents and purposes of the source of communications.

i think that’s what’s missing in our interactions with the media.. that’s why we become skeptical of corporations.. and instead of digging deeper into the truth, we usually just take it at face value.

it’s easy to type without thinking, but understanding the power of our words, the channels and tools at our disposal is essential to being better media practitioners. and in today’s day and age, we’re all media practitioners. so what separates the good ones from the bad ones?

it’s very easy to ramble on a blog, and there are little checks to do quality control on the message we’re trying to get across.

if you’ve become a blogger or netizen that wants to contribute fairly and positively to the Net, then we have to become better communicators.

i believe it comes down to better communications.

say only what you need to say, and get to the point.

i love writing, and i love reading.. and i think the above statement is somewhat subjective. but without the need for guidelines or rules, let’s bank on our commonsense to communicate in a manner that addresses the issues we blog about.

let’s censor out all those personal prejudices and attacks that make for good drama, but ultimately loses the plot when we’re trying to make a point.

the desire to reduce bad content on the net begins with ourselves. we’re all flawed and not perfect. let’s look at ourselves first before pointing the finger at someone else. let’s listen to what’s really being said before we craft our response. let’s communicate with as little assumptions as possible.. and then we can get onto the things that matter.

Filed under: media, , , ,

2009: why start a new blog of all things?

welcome to the brand new singularity industries. with more and more blogs being started everyday, why would i add one more? how is one more blog going to make a difference or be heard amongst the hundreds of millions of other blogs out there?

you know what? i don’t care.

i don’t care if this gets read or not, whether i’m a digital influencer or not. that’s the beauty of blogging, i have the power to publish, and if an audience finds this a worthwhile blog, then great.. we share a relationship of audience and publisher. but my advice to anyone out there reading this is that, no one can take away your power of personal publishing, only you yourself can kill your own blog. kill your own voice.

it’s not that i don’t care about the audience. i think having an audience is great, because we can discuss ideas through a two way channel. but if i were to visualise a sphere of influence for this blog’s audience, it would be myself at the center. individually, we are always the primary audience if we are to maintain our integrity and unique voice.

it’s that same uniqueness that i believe we loved reading blogs in the first place. but more on that next time.

so why did i start a new blog? i could have done it on harmless? bananas!, but i always felt schizophrenia.. like some of the new ideas i developed didn’t seem to find it’s place on the other blog. in a sense, ideas would get diluted because of the myriad of other blog posts, sometimes not meaning anything at all, just self expression.

it’s also because i can experiment with this medium, that i did. instead of keeping all my content centralised, i’m decentralising it and letting the conversation flow wherever it takes me.

and that’s finally why i’m doing this. to make sense of all the noise that exists on the net. while our perception of noise is subjective.. i’d like to remain idealistic that i can be a signal to some. and because i care about my world, i’d like to publish what i think is responsible social content to see if there are like-minded people out there in the world, who are interested to make sense of all the signals and noise that exists in our increasingly mediated world today.

Filed under: media