Posts Tagged ‘masaaki hasegawa#8217;

21
Sep

Future of Communication Vol.1: “HateBrain”

Written on September 21, 2013 by mhasegawa in News

the_sentinel_project

Hatebase is an open technology platform for monitoring and analyzing regionalized hate speech. This project was developed by  Mobiocracy and The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention. Masaaki Hasegawa, alumni of the Master in Visual Media had a chance to interview with Mr. Timothy Quinn, CTO of OMX, in order to explore the objective and the future vision of this unique project. Why do people tweet “Hate Speech”?

MH:  Thank you for taking the time. To better understand who are not familiar with this project, would you describe what is the objective of this unique project?

TQ: Hatebase is an open technology platform for monitoring and analyzing regionalized hate speech. It was built to assist government agencies, NGOs, research organizations and other philanthropic individuals and groups use hate speech as a predictor for regional violence. Language-based classification, or symbolization, is one of a handful of quantifiable steps toward genocide.

MH: It is obvious that words have strong power and impact on communication between people. Why you are focusing on hate speech instead of praise?

TQ: There’s thankfully very little risk to oppressed groups and populations targeted by praise. Just as crime statistics better inform law enforcement than the everyday actions of law-abiding citizens, and emergency room data is more useful for combating pandemics than studying healthy people walking past the hospital, hate speech is a more actionable source of data for us at the Sentinel Project in our efforts to mitigate the risk of genocide.

MH: How did you come with the idea of making Hatebrain?

TQ: We should first clarify what Hatebrain is: Hatebrain is an automated social media engine which we recently deployed as an enhancement of our Hatebase platform. The idea for creating Hatebrain was born of the need to parse large amounts of Twitter data without human moderation. Since turning on Hatebrain, we’ve accrued over 25,000 real-time geotagged hate speech sightings.

the concept of thinking photo from Shutterstock

 

the concept of thinking photo from Shutterstock

MH:  Why it is important to collect the information about location?

TQ: Location is critical for using hate speech as an early warning indicator of regionalized conflict. Without location, hate speech may be informative but it isn’t particularly helpful.

MH: Is there any tendency related to geography, time, or weather that people can tend to tweet something negative?

TQ: We haven’t attempted to correlate our data with weather or time of day, but we believe there’s a strong potential correlation with geography once you normalize for population, Internet connectivity and Twitter adoption. There’s a great opportunity here for individuals and organizations to identify further correlations by leveraging our open dataset at hatebase.org/connect_api.

MH: Is there any pattern you have found in hate speech, such as words mostly used?

TQ: A good place to look for this sort of information is in our published statistics: http://www.hatebase.org/popular (bear in mind, however, that this is currently still raw data rather than normalized data).

MH:  Why people blame on others, speak ill of someone, and often become very aggressive to say something negative?

TQ: There’s no shortage of theory on the persistence of human aggression, but it’s not implausible that aggressive behavior and externalization of subpopulations would have conferred an advantage in our evolutionary past. It’s difficult, however, to cleanly separate biological determinism from cultural, sociological or psychological factors: history is rife with examples of hate speech flourishing in environments of particular social and political instability.

MH: Like some videos and articles become viral, emotional moment and words can be infected from one person to another. Is it possible to arouse certain emotion by intentionally spreading words or speech?

TQ: The epidemiologic metaphor is apt: hate speech is most insidious when it relies upon a tacit acknowledgement of the acceptability of externalization. The disease spreads when the body’s immune system is compromised.

MH:  It seems that it would be difficult to use direct negative expression as people become more connected each other. Do you think the way to express something negative will be more indirect or ambiguous?

TQ: Unfortunately, the opposite is probably true — as our means of connecting with each other have diversified, so too have our opportunities for disparagement. If anything, social media emboldens hate speech through social feedback loops.There are very few biases which, no matter how absurd or invidious, won’t achieve validation from someone.

MH:  What would be the future project once you have achieved the objective of this project?

TQ: The Sentinel Project is currently working on our next software product, which is an open source rumour management platform called WikiRumours. Our goal is to mitigate escalation of conflict by intercepting misinformation and disinformation.

6
Sep

Talented young vol.1: To live your own life

Written on September 6, 2013 by mhasegawa in News

alisaAlisa Ueno is producer of one of the most famous Japanese fashion brands, Fig & Viper, which is now getting attention of celebrities and young people around the world.  We had a chance to have an interview with her, and she shared the story behind her success and the secret to realize what you think.

 

 

 

 

MH: First of all, let us know about the brand’s concept and vision.

AU: We are unique and create original design for clothes. You cannot find similar products at any other places and they are products that you can enjoy, regardless of your age. Our clothes allow a person to be different from the person they are on typical days when they are working in an office wearing an uniform. We understand that we do not compete with fast fashion brands such as H&M and we differentiate our brand from them in that we are comparatively expensive for young people but worth the price. We put emphasis on originality and providing quality clothing.

 

MH: How did you come to find your own brand without any experience in the industry.

AU: When I was around 19 years old, my mentor encouraged me to jump into this field. At that time, I was working as a professional model as well as attending university and working a part-time job. I had no fear due to my age and I was not as serious as I am now. It is just that I happened to get involved in starting up this brand, to tell you the truth.

 

MH: What was the first step that you took to start your own brand? What was the biggest challenge?

AU: The first step was understanding the fashion business and where our label fit. I spent time thinking about what people were willing to pay and how to design decent, unique items. I had a great deal of knowledge in terms of the fashion industry, including fashion brands, as I was fond of shopping and often found points to improve in clothes that I bought. Thus, I aimed at designing something that I would be fully content with from the viewpoint of the buyer. My colleagues sometimes advised me to design something more commercial, from a business view point, but I never compromised on design because the label represents my personal brand value and image. Our consumers are likely to purchase items that I wear and then post on my blog. My colleagues gradually came to rely on my design. Over the course of two years, I came to understand the balance between my own preference and market demands.

 

MH: You and your brand have been on the cutting edge since the beginning and now the industry follows you. What has enabled you to achieve this? 

AU: Most importantly, compared to huge companies, one advantage is that our business has relatively less operational process and that enables us to be more creative and challenge the status quo. On the other hand, our weak point is bringing our business to scale because we only have six people, including me, except four for clerks in our brick n’ mortar stores. We manage to deal with everything. Personally, I believe that relationship and the strong bond between employees strongly influences our performance. In fact, all people in our company trust each other as if we are a family. This point is obviously different from the huge companies in which people are working as a small part of the big organization. All the people in Fig & Viper share a common vision and feel that every single behavior has an impact on the brand. 

 

MH: Though various kinds of media have covered your brand, your company does not have a formal public relations team. How did you achieve such huge media exposure?

 AU: It is because we have focused on our brand idea that I mentioned above, since our beginning, and that has made our brand quite different and outstanding in the industry that leads media to pay attention. The most important thing is doing something different from others and being interesting. Mass media are eager to know something they do not know. In fact, we have never promoted our brand and items to mass media. Needless to say, I appreciate stylists and media who have taken up our brand and I would like to contribute to their business somehow in the future by making my brand bigger.  

 

MH: You have effectively used SMS such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to communicate with the market. What effect does it have on your brand?

AU: Frankly speaking, in this industry social media currently has stronger power and influence on consumer behavior than magazine or mass media. In fact, I access the most valuable information through social media, sharing information with people around the world.  Instagram, especially, has an amazingly huge influence on our brand. For example, the reason that we decided to deliver our products to foreign countries is that a great number of people are following me on Instagram. I like the concept of social media that you can instantly connect with people all over the world and it has potential to make your business unbelievably huge. 

 

MH:  After just a couple or years your brand has collaborated with Steve Aoki, who is one of the world’s top DJs. Rita Ora has shared your brand items on her Instagram and Chili from TLC has given attention to your brand. What is the key to getting such great celebrity endorsements?

AU: It could be my personality! I think it is very important to say and share what you want and like. It is true that I have been in the environment which is closer to those celebrities than other industries but I have kept saying “I love Steve Aoki” that brought about the opportunity to participate in his brand’s catalogue as a model. This one time chance ended up bringing another  business opportunity with him, a collaboration with his brand. I just keep saying and sharing and more opportunities come to me. Beside that, language plays an important roll especially in the Japanese market, because not so many young Japanese people speak other languages, including English, and thus my ability to speak another language is obviously an advantage over others. I have never stayed in foreign countries longer than two weeks but I can communicate with people around the world in English. This shows that the language barrier can be overcome by your own effort and that is why I keep studying English. I do not want to lose any opportunity because of lack of effort. English let me connect with people all over the world. It is critically important.    

 

MH: No matter how busy you are, you keep changing guise and traveling around the world. What is the reason that the producer of Fig&Viper is always so progressive?

AU: My aim is to lead people all of the time so that they do not get bored. I do not want to be considered an old-fashioned product/ You know, you get one shot at life and we will all die someday. There is no escaping that reality. Traveling allows you to encounter people and experiences that you have never imagined. I am eager to know what I do not know and encounter the type of people whom I have never met. It is not based on some intricate calculation or strategy, but personal preference that is my character and personality. I love myself. 

 

MH: It is sometimes challenging and controversial to put some symbols which contain religious meaning into design, particularly when your expanding your business overseas. 

AU: It is true that I need to think more about the meaning of symbols that I have depicted in my design from the viewpoint of branding. Japanese consumers are indifferent about religion and symbols. For example, it is considered rude to position the cross upside-down abroad but it is not an issue here in Japan. However I respect other cultures and their way of thinking. As the brand has become global, I have studied the history and the meaning behind symbols in order to design clothes that are visually beautiful but do not offend anyone. Possibly, our next design focus will be “words”. 

 

MH: You shared an interesting expression, “Live as you would publish your own autobiography in the future”. Give some advice for people who are having a hard time being themselves.

AU: Just do it!! I think people who do not take action would not listen to my advice because they compromise with their life. I believe that it is important to design every single day to be interesting and exciting, to make the most of your own life with the limited time that we all have. You do not have to write something negative in your own autobiography.  Do not be afraid of failure and making mistakes. Your life will be happier in the end if you believe that everything would enrich your life. The most important thing is to keep an open mind and let things happen to you.

Instead of feeling envious of successful people, be a successful person. You are the person who can give up or make changes in your life.

2
Sep

Entrepreneurship vol.4: Beyond the boarder

Written on September 2, 2013 by mhasegawa in News

sokhoSokho Trinh is co-founder of Deparz, which is a new online business focused on services for Expatriates and students, offering you a chance to get in touch with people in the country you are moving to, to help you with anything you may need. He shared valuable information gained from his real experience as an entrepreneur.

 

 

1. What is your background and career path or your interesting life story?

ST: I was born and raised in France. From Chinese parents who were born and raised in Cambodia, who managed to escape the Khmer Rouge during the Pol Pot Regime in the 70`s in Cambodia. I have lived and worked in 3 continents and I can speak 8 languages. I studied my MBA at IE Business School, and before that I studied an MA in International Trade, majored in Asian Business Engineering in France. Originally I studied languages at the prestigious Grande Ecole in Paris: Langues’O and at the University of Paris XII. I also studied a term at the MBA Luxury at the ESSEC Business School, in Paris.

 

2. Why did you move to London?

ST: I moved to London for both professional and personal reasons. London is a vibrant city. I try to absorb its energy and re-use it in my life. I have a group of close friends. I live with my partner and we both enjoy meeting with our dear ex fellows from IE Business School. Above all, London offers you this magical cultural scene, mingled with a cosmopolitan crowd. This is why I would describe London as cosmopolitan and not International. Finally, this is a stunning city which may feed your ambitions – Be it personal, cultural, entrepreneurial. You may experience the stunning global start up vibe, or climb the corporate ladders.

I don’t like this city, I am loving it!

 

3. How did you come up with the idea of helping people particularly who would move to London?

ST: My co-founder and I faced the terrible pain of having to look for a decent and value for money place when we moved to London. Rents are so expensive, flats are taken in no time, and honestly, while being abroad it is almost impossible to sign a flat unless you are in London in person!

 

4. What was the first step to make the idea happen?

ST: Because we started from the pain of finding a place to live in London, we wanted to understand how a solution could be articulated around killing this pain. We started with a full business plan which, I think was probably not necessary at the beginning of our start up journey. We should probably have tried to do a light version of the business plan, and we should have focused on quickly building our prototype website. I think that, if I was asked to do that again, I would probably have used a “lean” start up approach. This first steps took us many months.

 

5. What was the biggest difficulty in the beginning stage to monetize your business model?

ST: It was hard for us to find the right quantity of clients to be matched with the right quantity of assistants. I also think that trying to monetize the site without having a proper success stories to share with the users also was a barrier to monetization. Also, what will be extremely hard is to find the point of liquidity where transactions (people posting requests and assistants responding) are going to be self-feeding themselves in a sufficient quantity to cover all our costs and eventually generate benefits.

 

6. Why this business model is focusing on 3 things: accommodation, work, and language instead of focusing on one of those?

ST: We ran the site in beta as a test during 7 months. From the data we analysed “accommodation” represented 70% of the needs expressed by our users, 20% were related to job search, and 10% to a language related issue faced by both students and professionals expatriates who are not sponsored by their companies. Therefore we decided to focus on these 3 categories, to address the pains expressed by our users, offering them an “all-in-one” solution.

 

7. Whereas the internet allows people to connect each other and to reach a great amount of information instantly, it is hard to strengthen your presence on the Internet. What is your strategy in terms of getting people scattered around the Internet together in your service?

ST: We current follow a phased approach. Even though, Deparz.com aims at being internationalized, we need to first test our concept. This is why our phase 1 is a “Proof of Concept” where we only focus on helping the French and the Spanish to relocate and/or to properly settle down in London. Once the results will prove acceptable we will extend our solution towards others markets. We plan to resort to mostly online marketing to gain visibility with the clients (people who move abroad) and a mix of online and offline to communicate with the assistants. A business development team will help find the professional assistants.

 

8. What is your future vision regarding work and personal life?

ST: I am extremely conscious about the importance of work-life balance. It simply makes you enjoy the little “joys” of your life. I like to think that I am Passionate individual, with a capital “P”.  I sing, I practice photography, and I used to act. I play badminton, and enjoy a good glass of wine with some nice Jazz music. One of my biggest passions is to travel. I visited over 50 countries. My motto in life is: “Live your life with Passion”

 

3
Aug

Entrepreneurship vol 3: Experience you have never experienced

Written on August 3, 2013 by mhasegawa in News

Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 4.59.16 PM

Ichizo Yamamoto, co-founder of Sow Experience Inc(http://corporate.sowxp.co.jp), started his business in 2005, when he was still early 20’s. What Sow Experience provides us is “experience” that would give you unforgettable moment in your life. Masaaki Hasegawa, alumni of Master in Visual Media, class of 2013, had a chance to explore his unique experience and life style that would infer us the advent of new way of life.

 

MH: Why did you make your mind to be an entrepreneur and how did you come up with the idea of merchandising unique experience? 

IY: In my opinion, there are 2 kinds of people who start business. One is who have a specific business plan or things that they aspire to do. And the other is who do not have specific ideas but get motivated to be a self-independent businessperson who owns their own business. I was in this category that I did not have any particular business plans. 

 In my university days, I belonged to Investment Club that I could have generated value from scratch. This experience was so addictive that I could not imagine anything but founding a company by myself, and I started to build up a business plan with friends from junior high school, who finally become co-founders.  When we started business, the overheating in the information technology boom had made aspiring young people tend to develop business in that field but I was believing that I would develop some service/product in which customer would use their five-sensens unlike online experience. Then, we happened to know Virgin Experience Days that is gift service of unique experience and could see the market growth potential in Japan where the size of the gift market is quite huge compared to other countries. I have believed that the history of gift is that of human that it has connected people and strengthen the bond between them, and it should grow further. 

 

MH: What was the first step to realize your business?

IY: It was necessary to customize the idea that we had gotten from Virgin to be fit with Japanese domestic market, but, at that moment, I had no experience or knowledge about market research, and thus it was an ongoing process with trial and error. Also, we did not use time efficiently that we spent a month to build up the 30-pages business plan to raise capital. If I had had experience or knowledge that I have now, I would have quickly developed a prototype to sell.

 

MH: Who was the first target? 

IY: Normally, gift should be well within someone’s budget parameters. And our first product was designed to be a gift, for our own friends, within 10000-yen (approximately 100 US dollar) budget. In the 21st century, where the same product can be consumed by broad range of generation, we have not thought it is an appropriate way to segment the market demographically, and thus we simply focused on developing a product that would be valuable for people surrounding me. 

 

MH: What were the difficulties you faced then?

IY: Getting awareness has been our challenge. At the beginning, we thought that consumer would find us once we have developed a quality product. Unlike in B-to-B business, in B to C business, especially consumer products, it is necessary to sell a product to a number of people because of low profitability per unit and to survive in the fierce competition. Therefore, media exposure has strong influence on our business, but, at the beginning stage, we did not have any media exposure to obtain awareness in the market and it was the hardest issue to be solved at that time. 

 

MH: Unlike the present, there was no means like SNS. How did you get the awareness?

IY: fortunately, Nihon Keizai Shinbun, which is one of the biggest-circulation newspapers in Japan, took up our service. And that article brought about a good deal of exposure and additional interviews. In my opinion, the influence of social media is too tiny to get an enough exposure to sell product whereas the mass media have direct strong impact on sales, and it would be effective to maintain the relationship with existing customer or to execute branding strategy. Still it is not as impactful as TV and newspaper to get new customers. 

 

MH: Many people tend to insist that experience has become much more important than product. Is it true for your business?

IY: I disagree with the opinion that product is less important than experience because I think product is also a part of experience. For example, the delight of experience when buying a bag sophisticatedly designed by an artisan has not changed. Another example is that many people purchase Mac for experience that is incorporated in it. When I start Sow Experience, I just felt that why there is no experiential gift Japan. 

 

MH; what is the most important point on designing experience?

IY: To provide great experience for customers, the most important thing is people in my company having fun, who can have the same viewpoint as our users. Exploring the interesting, exciting experience would enable you to provide experience in which the users would see values. Also, we pay a great attention to small details that can determine the whole impression of experience, and thus we always improve every single detail of each gift. Beside, through the experience we provide, we try delivering the message that there are thousands of different kinds of unique experience you are not familiar with in the world. Our gifts are somewhat provocative and suggestive to make people experience something that they usually do not experience. It is certainly true that our most consumed gift tend to be “massage” or “spa” what heals body and allows you to relief stress in daily life, but we intentionally place the gift which gives you outdoor experience on the top on our webpage. 

 

MH: Why you decided to take MBA in Rady School?

IY: There are 2 reasons. One is to improve myself to be a person who is capable of managing the bigger size of business as my company has grown up. I started business when I was early 20’s and I could have managed it without any serious troubles but I was wondering myself whether I would be able to manage the company when hiring hundreds of employees in the future, and thus, I felt the necessity to learn business science over. Second, I was just interested in living in California where most of interesting cultures that have enriched my personality and life come from and in seeking out the reasons that this location could have generated abundant unique culture and attracted people. In fact, I came to realize that California has a culture to accept new people, product, and culture and adopts those to its original culture. 

MH: People often discuss about the risk.  What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

IY: I think that the definition of risk varies from one to another. For example, I used to work for Hewlett-Packard before taking up my own business, and people said to me it is risky to quit the company. However, for me, not doing what I really want to do is the greatest risk. Particularly, when it is about your life, it is not possible to measure the value of your decision by using some mathematical/financial calculation model like ROI (Return on Investment). It is true that, in business, it is sometimes necessary to calculate the short-term profitability, but I believe that we need to think our life as a marathon that you do not have to live in a hurry. These days, starting up and selling out business is a sort of trend or common sense among young entrepreneurs. As a result, so many intelligent young people are likely to be drown into the field of application development aimed at gaining the short-term profit. I see the competition in the startup culture is now heating up too much that young people are likely to disdain the large corporations but I think that it takes decades of time with a great deal of capital to develop technology something really meaningful, innovative and influential in the society that would make the world better. I do not think it is a good way of business that you puddle hard when no waves coming. Also, I think many people are likely to look for instant role models to be successful and to put themselves into the template to measure their value of life. 

 

MH: Please give a message for future entrepreneurs

IY: Try not to intentionally make a startup idea. You can generate something only based on your own knowledge and experience, and thus, it would be naturally generated from your inner side if you keep thinking about it. In my case, I had been making a list of the restaurant and places that were interesting, and had a passion and motivation to explore new experience by temperament. That is why I could have founded Sow Experience and led it to be successful. No matter how harshly other people criticize on your business model or laugh at your idea, the true courageous mind and the key point to be successful is to be yourself. Have courage to dig deep into what you have experienced. 

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