Saturday, August 25, 2007

Facebook bollocks or none?

"Some 50 percent of workers are blocked from accessing Facebook by business owners worried about the site's impact on productivity and security." Marketing Vox, today.

I know some friends who are increasingly disconnected from their friends for not checking their Multiply and Friendster enough. In this age, whoever talks about issues and problems face-to-face anymore? Everyone is updating everyone else through their social networking sites. I didn't know one of my best friends' rabbit died until I read her blog. And appropriately, I sent my condolences to her in her comment form. We've never talked about it in real life. Ever. Not that it's a sensitive subject but it just didn't seem important enough that it should crop up in our conversations. Maybe people are learning how to segregate their live or problems or happiness? There's no science to determining what stays on the web and what doesn't which reminds me of a really cool website Adeline shared with me (while we're facebooking :) now, how can that be unproductive?)

Whenever and wherever we are connected, I believe there're two 'start-up' actions before we start browsing and combing through the internet for content. Checking emails and checking messages/updates on our social networks. It is inevitable for desk employees to do that if you ask me. But the question of reduced productivity is still valid although I may not fully agree. The extra half an hour used to check my wiring doesn't necessarily translate to an extra half hour of productivity. I could be hanging out near the coffee machine. I could be hanging out at the mamak. I could be distracting my colleagues. I could be using it for anything but work!

However, in this age of multitasking where people are amazingly able to complete more and more task in the same minute, allowing facebooking and the sorts at work seems like nothing more than mere quick exercise of the mind. Multitasking does not only confine to 'doing' but also exercising the attention of the mind. It should if anything, improve employees quick thinking.
There's no stopping technology although we can control it. Like how some employers are doing it. Rather, I'd use it to my work advantage instead of going against the current. I am thinking of creating a facebook for Sparks. For business networking, yea, but honestly. It's really to show off how many friends I have :) And that I can facebook during work as well!

Increase your knowledge: "Based on a popular college and high school Web site, the term "facebooking" has emerged as a verb to describe the activity of logging in to in order to create a profile, share personal information, and meet other members." Netlingo

Friday, August 24, 2007

Why cover up?

At first glance, nobody really bothers about what lays beneath. The (grandmother) lace is after all, quite unattractive. On closer inspection, we suddenly notice a very polished, smooth surface of a very very very sexy flat screen Samsung. It makes one ponder about the objectives of great product design and aesthetic value to certain households, doesn't it?

It doesn't matter if it's the latest pearl black LCD screen with a 7000:1 dynamic contrast and high definition multimedia interface. All it serves as is. A TV. What matters is what's in the display. And not the display itself. Or is it? Are there any reason for people (very possibly the older generation) to cover up and hide such a sweet baby when its was gracefully engineered and destined to be shown off on the centre stage of all homes?Practicality and problem avoidance. Now, there will be no need to dust the furniture if they're properly covered, right? Yes and no. Yes, you don't have to wipe them but no, you'd still need to dust the 'cover' somehow, no? Strange how one goes around to avoid going the extra mile when by going around it is already the extra mile.
Well, there's hardly any hope for in-home product advertising when friends and family come over (unless of course the TV is turned on). Maybe innovators should explore creating materials for furniture and electronic goods' casing that somehow miraculously repel dust? Then all problem solved. At least the design and aesthetic value will still be intacted. All the time.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Web 3.0

Just shortly after I blogged about Sparks being a staunch believer of everything Web 2.0, my friend announced that Web 3.0 is here. It's no surprise because personally, I feel that the lines are blurred. 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, the web does not carry a distinction such as how our mobile offerings (WAP, EDGE and 3G) did. Some say, Web 3.0 will be the merging point of communication portals. It's meant to support all forms of platform creating a truly seamless wired community.

Quoting Wikipedia - In August 2007, the Brazilian digital agency CUBO nominated Web 3.0 as the ability for the customers to communicate with the corporations, either in a direct manner using blogs and other Web 2.0 tools or indirectly, as being the holders of psychographic data analyzed by the Semantic Web and marketing tools such as Microtargeting / Silent Marketing.

This is crazy! Because I've stumbled into the 3.0 mindset without even knowing that Sparks and a community of Norah Jones fans have done it. Although the platform is simple and ancient (yes, blogspot is ancient), but the whole point of garnering active consumer voices to direct corporations where they should focus their attention on is amazing. The whole idea is to encourage netizens to be active participants of consumerism. No more watching ads passively which advertisers still believe in to prime audience into actions. That's quite primitive if you ask me. I think this whole she-bang of user-generated content and people empowerment has become the driving force of the web - community and content. It's like the sign of evolution (go take a look at the trible graphic featured on the poster of The Last Mimzy, and you'll understand). You can read the sign clockwise or anti-clockwise but it's actually a never ending spiral. Everything that starts from one point will stretch out, spiraling out infinitely but when reversed, it will bring us back to the very same point. Consumerism starts from us. And it will end with us.

For those of you who are still blur with what Web 2.0 is all about. Watch this video and all your questions will be answered. Michael Wesch is the brilliant author of this brilliant video. As for the next big bang of the net. Your guess is just as good as mine and the experts'.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Show us the money.

Sparks charges a standard fee for all services offered whether it is on consultancy or support basis. A retainer contract is possible if we're happy working with each other and most importantly, if you want to keep that spark ;)

Mail us and we'll talk.

About us.

Jae Sern is a multi-disciplinary graphic + web designer, art director and illustrator currently working in Auckland, New Zealand. He is inspired by most everything he sees and experiences, especially people, culture, art and design.

A Graphic Design graduate from Curtin University with a major in Digital Media, he worked for various web agencies in Malaysia for 5 years. As a digital art director, he worked on a host of major clients. Heeding his call to go Middle Earth, he pursued his post-graduate diploma at AUT in New Zealand before being hired to lead a design team at an Auckland-based studio.

He keeps himself busy indulging in his favourite past-time of books, music and football (the one with the round ball). He tries to catch all his favourite bands live in concert before band members get sick of one another, break up and disappear into oblivion. He also helps local kiwi bands by designing their gig posters and record covers. He enjoys graphic novels and beautifully illustrated childrens books.

He wishes he spoke more languages, had more bookshelves and that people looked better after one another and the beautiful planet they inhibit.


Jin-Wy is a graduate from APIIT, Malaysia in Computing, majoring in computer system architecture and web development studies. He has been on business development and strategic marketing in the printing and imaging (P&I) industry for 5 years, having had the opportunity to work with some of the top business leaders. He is currently leading the sales force of one of the fastest growing companies in the P&I industry.

He has spent a year and a half travelling to international trade shows for research and development to further capitalize on the billion-dollar imaging business and is in the midst of exploring hidden opportunities for greater growth. Subsequently, in his free time, his passion is put into work in pioneering Asia's first innovative Central Lab Operation for photo service providers which essentially enables consumers to preserve memories eternally at the convenience of their homes.

Jin-Wy is very much both an outdoor and indoor activity junkie. His next target is to conquer Mt. Kinabalu (South East Asia's most prominent peak of 4,095m), which will be a test of endurance and determination - the much needed values to drive his dream for the first Central Lab Operation.


Sue-Anne graduated from RMIT Australia in Creative Advertising, distinction class with background in cultural and societal studies. She has got a total of 6 years experience in strategic planning, insight digging and trendspotting, mentored by various native and imported gurus (to whom she is eternally grateful for) in both local and international advertising agencies. Some of her insight studies include Hip Hop Youth Nation, Women and the Growing Need to Buy, Indie Revolution, Virtual World and Sticky Web Content. And most recently completed, The Green Chronicles.

Her insatiable appetite for travelling has egged her on to 6 different continents, 20 countries and close to a hundred cities. She is happiest when spending time with the natives; exploring local semiotics and semantics, observing human interactions, absorbing the history and cultural context and identifying inevitable social changes. She also spent two years participating and observing the way of the Japanese, breaking down the many old myths the world has construed on the society.

During her free time (if she has any), she buries herself in books from business science to children fantasy. She also crawls dozens of blogs, social networks and communities every day for trends and inspiration. She sometimes contributes an article or two for travel magazines and has very interesting weekends.


Jacq is a Public Relations and Journalism graduate, and has a total of four years in corporate communications and publishing. She is currently contributing to a male magazine and splits her time between writing and doing the blog-jog. It keeps her fingers slim.

She has spent one year immersing in trends and attempting to foretell them when she got her first taste of playing The Editor of an interactive magazine. It was the most laborious role-play she has ever experienced but she’s glad she got the part because it sparked a deeper interest in music and the cultural phenomenon inspired from it. Outside of music, she fascinates herself by tracking sites on literature, food and advances in design. She believes that knowledge on trends will help us make more discerning choices (read: no more bubblegum pop) and instigate a life beyond the ordinary.


Sparks Fourteen Twenty Nine Sdn Bhd (836164-M)
Mail here please.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The concept of Sparks.

Sparks is conceived because of multiple business reasons which I am pretty sure I'll be sorely sorry if I don't do something about it now. I've learned my lesson well from Faith Popcorn and Malcom Gladwell. And this time, I'm not going to let these opportunities fly by. Some of the issues that have been bugging me for quite awhile which eventually lead me to form Sparks are:

1) The importance of knowledge.

Now, more than ever, businesses in various industries are searching to capitalize on existing knowledge and upcoming trends. Yet strangely enough, not everyone knows where to find knowledge and even what to do with it! Although my measly less-than-a-decade experience in the advertising industry does not measure much to all you advertising gurus, I did and still do witness a lot of work produced based on best guesswork or through tried-and-tested-fool-proof methods.

I think one way to break those rules is to be well-informed on what's happening around us. Knowing trends keeps us abreast with people outside our own four walls - at work or at home. Understanding them helps us to see beyond our current business scope and leads us to sparkling breezy blue oceans. Applying them propels us ahead of the competition and into an era of profitable innovation.

Sparks believes that having knowledge without application is just black and white information, as much as we can't manage what we don't know. We focus on social researches that will spark a culture of understanding and innovation.

2) The business speak of the future is profitable social innovation.

It's true when they say, "We have innovated the world into this mess. Now we must innovate ourselves out of it". Businesses need to be more aware of the current impact they are creating in the society and how they can innovate to meet the REAL needs of people. I'm talking about BIG needs that keep people up at night - whether it's that persisting worry or a new found dream. Not just social needs of the less fortunate. And certainly not any artificial desires created by traditional ad campaigns.

Sparks believes that ethics and profits can co-exist and aims to put them back into business.

3) Web 2.0 and counting

Needless to say, Malaysia is one of the ultimate laggards when it comes to internet business and marketing. Everyone is still shivering from the horrible cold of the dotcom era and is blaming everyone else for bad infrastructure and low broadband penetration. But really. What are you doing about it? Businesses in Malaysia are highly equipped to help 'sophisticatize' local internet users but they always use the same old excuse of '3% broadband penetration is not viable'. Really?

Sparks is part of the net revolution and speaks web communities and content because Web 2.0 is borderless and waits for no man. Or woman for that matter.

I truly believe that if Sparks continously check itself with these three issues, the journey from now on will be an exciting and thoroughly unbelievable one. Imagine the possibilities - the innovations - that can be sparked with the true knowledge and understanding of people, culture and technology.