Update on unauthorized use of my work as the substance of a marketing book

A few years ago I noticed that Sean Mooney (who was once Managing Director of TBWA/Japan, after TBWA bought Nippo, Nissan’s house agency) quotes and paraphrases me liberally in his book, 5,110 Days in Tokyo and Everything’s Hunky-Dory: The Marketer’s Guide to Advertising in Japan, with absolutely zero attribution. Since copying is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess I should be happy, except that in this case it is a violation of my IP rights — and plagiarism, to say nothing of copyright infringement.  My original text is at  http://www.destwest.com/belfry.html and has been since 1996, a good four years earlier than Mooney’s book was published. An earlier article of mine on the same theme is in the authoritative reference book, Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia; Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993.

I had my intellectual property rights attorney in LA look into this and negotiate with Mooney’s publisher. The publisher, to their credit, immediately recognized the validity of my complaint  — that Mooney had in fact stolen fundamental arguments and large portions of the book’s text verbatim from my published work. Despite Sean Mooney’s unethical actions, the publisher’s figures showed that our potential damages would not be enough to make litigation worthwhile. They did agree, however, to cease printing and distributing the book. Whether they have done so is hard to tell, since it is still available on Amazon.

Virtual Heroics in Vile Politics

The risk and reward, the excitement and suspense

Are as addictive as the substances peddled and stolen in “The Wire”. You feel like a hero living that life. Heroism is the most addictive feeling particularly for men, especially for young men. And Heroin was named for that feeling because it makes you feel like a hero without doing anything. True story, you know.

From a marketing/advertising campaign perspective this is essentially why Trump won with his slogan Make America Great Again, a heroic message. A call to heroic action. Compare that to Stronger Together. No comparison. Particularly for young men.

Look at the movies. It’s one man against the establishment or the evil empire. Whatever. And you’re fighting the good fight and it gets worse and worse. Everything you try backfires, then you get one last chance and this time, this time, you’re lucky, the stars align. And everybody recognizes that you are the real hero.

That was what Trump did for these guys, let them feel like they could be heroes, like they were heroes for their suffering and for voting for him.

Stephen Benfey

10 november 2016

Self-driving Cars and the Map App on Your Phone

Remember when GPS was a big thing?

Such a big thing that nobody quite understood how it worked but everybody was just amazed at how it magically knew your location and how to get where you wanted to go? Of course you don’t.

At first GPS was an option when you bought a new car. Then Garmin came along and made it a pocketable device that buried that inevitably out-of-date map data supplied on ancient media called DVD. Today GPS is just another app, free with your phone, giving you directions for walking, driving and public transportation.

Well, guess what? Self driving car technology will follow the same roadmap.

What is self driving technology anyway? Well, I hate to break it to you but it’s just a fancy word for image processing/recognition. It’s what Facebook uses to identify faces in your photos. It’s what lets you get in and out of the EU without the hassle of passport control and the unpredictable mood swings of immigration officers.

What is Deep Learning AI? That’s the process of teaching the system to generalize from specific examples, so it will be able to recognize a dog as a dog, even if it doesn’t look like any particular dog it has seen before.

This is where things get tricky. Like is that 2-wheeled moving vehicle a bicycle or a motorcycle that you see through the chain link fence at 2 o’clock? It’s approaching the intersection where you plan to turn right, but its behavior could be predicted with greater confidence if your AD system could tell the difference with at least human accuracy.

Or take driving at night along an avenue filled with neon signs, street lamps, red lights on top of emergency vehicles, other colors on taxis, and the red tail lights and brake lights of vehicles of every size ahead of you. Is that a red traffic signal in the middle of all that? You know, but does your AI enhanced AD system?

So, I wouldn’t blame some drivers for preferring a little Garmin-GPS-like AD (autonomous drive) device that would sit on your dashboard or in your cupholder and simply tell you what to do. Not autonomous yet. But car hackers would start selling interface kits that linked to your car’s drive-by-wire control modules … eventually. In the meantime you could stop worrying about the dangers of image nonrecognition because you’d be overriding any errors.

Instead of laser and radar sensors, the AD box would use GPS data and maybe a few cheap Bluetooth camera modules to notice and notify you of potential dangers. Sensors would provide distance data.

You could even fit it with an optional belt that would wrap around your brake-pedal leg and apply an electric shock to straighten your leg and cause, in effect, emergency braking. No, not seriously.

Next? AD as an app for your not-Google glasses.

originally published on Medium
https://medium.com/@benfeys/self-driving-cars-and-the-map-app-on-your-phone-d11de2dfe8fb#.4h2r5d8f7

Saving money on English is worse than publishing only Japanese, but they keep on doing it

After a few years of actually caring about the quality of their English language websites, Japanese enterprises have gone back to their bad old habits.

What went wrong? As I understand it, after the subprime mortgage debacle (known in Japan as Lehman Shock) and the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami, Japanese companies went into cost-cutting mode. Instead of outsourcing to professional translators and writers for proper transcreation, they thought, Hey, we have all these young Japanese kids and S.E. Asian interns who can speak English. They can do this work and we can save lots of dough.

You can see the appalling results on the “global” sites of most Japanese companies.

At some point, they are going to start noticing the lack of positive feedback, if not actual negative comments, and a few companies will start doing things the right way again. Then the others will have to follow.

It’s just a matter of time … but how long will it take?

NON-NATIVE SPEAKER FALLACY

It is a fallacy to think that just because a literal translation of Japanese is easily understood by Japanese readers, it will also be highly intelligible to other (non-Japanese) non-native speakers of English. In Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, many English language publications are read and understood by people who do not speak English as their first language. The Japanese language shares structural characteristics with very few other languages. Retaining or imposing such structure on English results in text that is difficult to read and understand for all but those who can “see through” the English to the original Japanese construction.

“Japan seems different — because it is”

Activity in Japan is based upon group consensus and conformity. This means, ideally, that all important members of a group must accept a proposal before any new action is taken — and when it is taken, all members must conform. Interestingly, this ideal of consensus recognizes that there exists a multiplicity of viewpoints and not necessarily just one correct interpretation. This concept was expressed in the famous movie Rashomon, directed by Akira Kurosawa, in which four people give differing, yet equally plausible accounts of a violent crime. This ability of the Japanese to simultaneously accept diffuse viewpoints permits a multi-faceted, almost “cubist” advertising approach. It frequently encompasses the whole gestalt of the product, unlike the narrow, single-point perspective of traditional Western ads. In some cases, it may even take on aspects of surrealism, complete with subconscious imagery.

The headline is the creation of a copywriter whose name I cannot remember. It is not mine.

N.B. I just noticed that Sean Mooney (ex-Managing Director TBWA/Japan) quotes and paraphrases me liberally (including the above) in his book, 5,110 Days in Tokyo and Everything’s Hunky-Dory: The Marketer’s Guide to Advertising in Japan, with absolutely zero attribution. Since copying is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess I should be happy, except that in this case it is plagiarism, to say nothing of copyright infringement.  My original text is at  http://www.destwest.com/belfry.html and has been since 1996, a good four years earlier than Mooney’s book was published. An earlier article of mine on the same theme is in the authoritative reference book, Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia; Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993.

I had my intellectual property rights attorney in LA look into this and negotiate with Mooney’s publisher. The publisher immediately recognized that my complaint was valid — that Mooney had in fact stolen fundamental arguments and large portions of the book’s text verbatim from my published work. Despite Sean Mooney’s unethical actions, the publisher’s figures showed that our potential damages would not be enough to make litigation worthwhile. They did agree, however, to cease printing and distributing the book. Whether they have done so is hard to tell, since it is still available on Amazon.

 

Bad English on corporate websites. Why does it keep happening?

Around the world, corporations are going online with websites targeting a global audience. These are often beautifully designed but poorly written. Part of the problem is the choice of content: corporate policy statements and executive biographies do not engage the reader. But a central issue at many Asian and European companies is management’s distrust of English written at a native-speaker level.

To produce English content, management uses its English speaking employees, or farms the source text out to a local translator. The less literal the translation, the less management is likely to trust it. This is because a good translation will not match the original, word for word. A similar problem arises if a writer is hired to create original English copy. Management cannot judge the quality of English and will try to second guess the writer. Whether using a translator or a writer, management will end up rewriting some or all of the English.

The solution is for management to learn to trust the writer. For this to happen, the writer must study how the company thinks and demonstrate this knowledge to management.

The client

Is always right.
It just takes them a hell of a long time to figure out what “right” is.

Wants to sleep at night.
It’s your job to replace all her worries with sweet dreams.