Tag Archive | "technology"

PAP grapples with new media

PAP grapples with new media

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The fear of coming off looking like electricity-fearing Luddites should be great. Very great.

Wong Kan Seng's positive demonstration of embracing technology.

It comes as no surprise that new media was mentioned in President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s Address in Parliament last week, MPs and media experts say.

This group of people also see new media playing a pivotal role in deciding how well the government wants to engage the people as well as in informing the government on what the people want.

New Nation’s very own media expert, Terence Lee, argued that the benefits of using new media far outweighs the problems and feels the Government is late to the game but is slowly getting better at it.

The 25-year-old, co-founder and editor of this particularly punchy, irreverent, Twitter-versed website, said very wisely: “It is now more responsive to comments and less authoritative in its tone.”

Another new media guru, Remy Choo, also 25, who is a lawyer and who founded The Online Citizen site with former editor-chief Andrew Loh who is now at the helm of Publichouse.sg, said the inclusion of new media in the president’s address is a shift by the Government, which previously wrote off the Internet “as an echo chamber of anti-government noise”.

MP Indranee Rajah, in an apparent 180-degree about turn on the ruling party’s long-standing view of the Internet, said: “The discourse on the Internet is an increasingly important source for the Government to ascertain how Singaporeans think and feel, and what they want. So digital media is directly relevant to the agenda for the next five years.”

This is the complete opposite view the ruling party had of the Internet the previous five years. Maybe a paltry 60.1 percent win in the May General Election had something to do with it.

However, MP Baey Yam Keng, honcho at Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm, cautioned the Government against being overly concerned with the “uncontrollable element” of new media.

“It’s not possible for the Government to have the last say in every rumour. It’s not possible to explain everything,” Baey spoke with the authority of a knowledgeable PR man.

“It has to focus on platforms that have traction, and are opinion-shapers among the masses. It must pick its battles,” he authoritatively declared.

He also decried that the Government has not fully exploited the promise of new media.

“It is not just about giving information anymore, but getting buy-in,” emphatically proclaimed Baey.

It is urgent for the Government to engage this group sooner, not later, as their numbers are only going to grow, he added some more and more.

Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said the discussion on new media is appropriate as it is a relatively new platform, although the traditional media remains important.

He said: “Highlighting its characteristics reminds us to be judicious in how we regard it and how we use it. But it does not replace other forms of engagement.”

On Oct. 10, last Monday, Tony Tan’s parliament speech had highlighted the importance of the new media platform as a ‘tremendous tool to empower individuals, link us up with one another, and mobilise people for social causes’.

But he also pointed out its downsides, saying: “On the Internet, truth is not easily distinguished from misinformation. Anonymity is often abused. Harsh, intemperate voices often drown out moderate, considered views.”

Maybe he was thinking about what was said online about his son, Patrick Tan, and the issue of his supposed preferential treatment during National Service.

Or his 0.34 percent Kate-Moss-slender-near-win that secured his presidency.

This is a 60-second reduction of the original article published in The Straits Times on Oct. 12.

Message for US this week: Go green or be owned by China

Message for US this week: Go green or be owned by China

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The world is hot, flat, crowded… and innovation flocks over to the East.

By Fang Shihan

Get naughty and go green at the same time: here's a vibrator powered by the sun. LIBIDA.COM

SO YOU think you’re going green. You’re eating tofu, you’re building your little attap house in the park while thumbing your nose at pretentious ‘campers’ using plasticky environmentally-unfriendly tents.

You may even have started using vegan condoms and/or solar vibrators. But according to Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman, who recently spoke at the University Cultural Centre in NUS, that’s far from being part of a Green Revolution.

That’s just a party.

Of course we’ve all heard the same tired story before. How we can be greener and cleaner; how companies like BP and Exxon Mobil pay lip service to environmentalists while they slowly pollute the sea and whine about not having an off-day (check); how governments must ‘care’ more for mother earth instead of focusing on narrow nationalist interests.

Do I hear you yawning? Yeah, curse those green tree-huggers and their moral high ground.

But what if being Green now meant something concrete: quantifiable in jobs, dollars, and cents?

That was the take home message this week, both from Friedman and Obama, the latter in his state-of the union address.

There is economic and political sense in Green. In Friedman’s words:

“The country that masters Green technology first will control the future of energy production.”

Renewable energy too was mentioned nine times in Obama’s speech, more than twice that of the word “China”, which was mentioned 4 times.

“Clean energy technology”, he says, is “an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Yet he cautions that China and India were real competitors for those coveted jobs (the U.S. unemployment rate still stands at a worrying 9%) and China surprisingly, appears to be even Greener than First World USA, scoring vegan brownie points by hosting the world’s largest private solar research facility.

Wait. Really? Those Chinamen? Those sidewalk-spitting, money-grubbing, melamine producing, known-for-being-unethical Chinamen?

Green has ceased to be merely a moral issue. Being the first to own sustainable energy production knowledge, is very concretely monetary and in today’s world, he who hath the dollars, hath the power to shape the world order.

There needn’t be such a disconnect. Gone are the days when the Greens were those who a) wanted to show that they could afford to care about the planet, or b) wanted to show that they had a moral upper hand over capitalist oil-guzzling, meat-eating creeps.

If the drive for renewable energy is powered by business and innovation instead of angst, then there should be no reason why green companies and toxic toy makers shouldn’t exist side by side, in a country that is generally friendly towards businesses. Exactly like China today.

“If only we became China for a day”, laments Friedman, noting that America just needed a kick in the butt, top-down, to start the downward price spiral for green energy.

Commodities like coal and oil can only increase in price as demand increases but technology-based green energy sources like solar and wind power, can only decrease in price as their take-up rate rises.

So how does Singapore fare in the race to create the next Green Google?

Chris Tobias is the managing director of Forward, an enterprise dedicated to sustainability focused projects. He relocated business operations to Singapore, anticipating significant traction in the region in areas like cleantech, food security, and climate change.

In the U.S. you have entrenched industry stalwarts holding up progress, and even in ‘green’ countries like New Zealand there’s a death-by-consensus snailing visionary projects. Singapore is gratefully without many of these obstacles,” he said.

Another innovator, Darrell Zhang, founder of local startup Optiras Pte Ltd, builds energy optimising solutions. His company was funded under a scheme administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF) starting 2010.

“Three out of seven of the NRF-Appointed Incubators offer funding for cleantech-based projects and it definitely bodes well for the potential of this space” he says.

But he also adds that Singapore still lags behind America in terms of innovation, partly because startups here lack mentorship.

Innovation seems to be drifting out from the West to the East. If I could hedge a bet, I’d say Green energy, a sector heavily driven by innovation, would emerge not from the mature startup market in America, but from a country in the grant-rich East with the right ecosystem.

Winning the race to export green energy will determine which powerhouse will win the global economic war. Why? Because Green has ceased to be merely a moral issue. Being the first to own sustainable energy production knowledge, is very concretely monetary and in today’s world, he who hath the dollars, hath the power to shape the world order.

Phase one

Phase one

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Fang Shihan

It’s Christmas eve and I’m sitting at the dinner table fiddling around with css code. Poor poor arts graduate. Boohoo.

So they say, a blog template is supposed to be the least of your problems…NOT! Then again, we’re not really creating a blog, we’re creating an online magazine here, which brings alot more internal infrastructure problems. Took me a day to create guidelines on how to file photos, for example. If we don’t set the ground rules right, it’ll be a pain to search through 1000 photos every time we need to post an article.

I’m thinking of going for a wordpress conference in Bandung next year:
http://wordcampindonesia.com/ just to not feel so stupid whenever I can’t fix stuff.

But bitching aside, we do need some help with the tech side of things. Interested in being part of a young, crazy workaholic team that aims to create the first commercial online magazine in Singapore geared towards current affairs? We’re looking for people who have one or more of the following:

1) Knowledge of wordpress
2) Knowledge of .css code
3) Expertise in cloud computing
4) A creative flair in web design

Look for us. Money is negotiable, but we assure you, once you’re in it, you know it’ll be for more than just the money.

[p.s. as you can see, even the thumbnail isn’t loading properly. Poor geek’s head got lopped off at the top.]