APPsolutely interesting

I am no iPhone junkie (ok I’m lying) but the apps in that little device is serving way beyond its purpose of entertainment, education and productivity. Serious.

The next time you are shopping around the App Store via iTunes, take the time to click on App Stores of other countries. Trawl through the list of Top 10 apps (free or paid) and it will give you a quickie little window into what’s hot in the App download world, in OTHER worlds. You will quickly realise that not every country is into UrbanSpoon or Shazam or Whatsapp – some unfortunately, are into something more raw and visceral, of the animal instinct kind.

Take Saudi Arabia for example. The top paid app for them is : Arab Girls (photography app people…yeah right!). There is no need for me to openly analyse the factors that contribute to this phenomenon, but seriously…how telling is that?

Have some free time? Go browse the global App Stores. Not the fairest sample size to make a sociological conclusion, but hey…it’s a digital world. And I never claim it’s academic.


It has been almost 9 months of vacuum in here, all because I lost my inspiration halfway, had to deal with business issues, figure out some things and finally get inspired to write again after watching Julie & Julia. As I am sure it did to hundreds of past bloggers.

But unlike Julie Powell, I am not aiming to get published nor drive hordes of traffic. This blog has always been my one favourite place to read my own stuff, because often  – I get so bored  reading my own scripts, proposals, news articles and corporate documents. Who wouldn’t after you have to to read and reread again, edit, read and read again? If monotony does not kill you, what does.

A lot has happened in the last 9 months. I ditched the Blackberry and caved into the iPhone, started a business partnership with a technology genius, spend Friday mornings feeding the homeless downtown, hooked up with old friends from past worlds and worst of all – inched a space for myself in that funny universe called Twitter world. For a while I thought I was a bird.

I have been reading a lot of news lately about the sinking television industry in Canada. While stories about broadcasters laying off people are no longer news, producers – the kind with rolling credits (both on screen and from the banks) are closing shops too. Inside stories came in fast and furious, and from what I fathom – it is a problem that’s waiting to happen. The way people consume entertainment has dramatically changed, and if Canada does not follow suit and strategically position itself to provide a comfy bed for content providers doing what they do best, then they may be trailing the bus and have to be content with inhaling smoke.

I am not saying traditional broadcasting has lost its splendour. I sincerely hope not. I love my TV, and I love the complexity of the industry. But it will be foolish to think that traditional broadcast is the end-all of a production, the ultimate resting place of that spark of brilliance when a writer or producer dreamed up an idea. It will be more foolish to just talk about creating multiplatform content, when your understanding of it is merely creating a webspace for your TV show and perhaps, a webisode of the series. Drafting regulations to police the digital framework will not work either, that will be bordering creativity towards artifice.

When a new medium emerges, it is quite simple really. The growth of creative ideas, especially one which is constantly evolving, is organic. Learn from how social media grew (and still growing!). No rules, no policies, no waiting for others.. just incentives to prod the creators along. Market forces will determine how sustainable an idea is, when one fails, reboot and create new ones. No need to whine and over-analyse.

I am still puzzled which part of this entire process that many people still don’t get.

Rock The Vote….off

And so in a few days, we will know who will lead that big, powerful country – either Joe the Plumber’s fan or the Salleh Yaacob lookalike. I have never been so fixated with an election, not even when I was covering it as a journalist – until now. Growing up in Singapore, an election is a boring event of seeing the main party spewing rhetorics of ‘more good years’, when the hammer is seen as the devil and the lightning as the saving grace. Singapore was ruled by a major party for so long and so successfully, that it is hard to fathom the idea of an opposition. And when we did open our minds and let them in, the gap of quality politicians between the major party and the opposition is so wide – that I wonder when they will ever catch up.

Anyway, this post is not about Singapore. It is about the US, and Canada – a place I now call home. I was never introduced to the concept of optional voting until I move here. I never knew you can choose not to register yourself as a voter , and therefore not vote.

Coming from a law-abiding society, and I really mean law-abiding in its full glory – voting is a given in Singapore. You go for the rallies, read all the pro-major-party articles written in the media, squeeze your brains by an ounce to make an intelligent judgement – and end up still voting for the major party anyway. That is the drill. For decades.

So when you have an election that someone told me is a cross between Survivor and American Idol, you get hooked. CNN or ‘Senenen’ as DH and I fondly call it now, is on in our apartment at breakfast, before dinner, during dinner, and after dinner. On some days when we are not disciplined, the station is  on right after Fajar prayers, just before breakfast. We were so hooked to the US elections that the Canadian one, which was two weeks ago – came and swiftly went. DH almost treat it like a chore, I would too if I had to vote. The day of the Canadian election, DH arrived home from work at 6.30 pm, half an hour before voting closes. He then rushed out with me tailing behind  and reach the voting centre at 6.45 pm. Then he realised he went to the wrong centre, and we sped to another voting centre hurriedly. He casted his vote just five minutes before voting closes. And he was not the last one.

When we reached home, we were back into the Senenen world. Sometimes we do remember that we were supposed to switch on CBC instead to catch up on who won the  Canadian election, but we were not loyal to the Canadian networks. Senenen was like dope. Shame on us.

And so like everyone else, I am waiting with bated breath for this US election to be over. I want to go back to my non-Senenen addiction days. I need to flush this US elections out of my system. It makes me worry that when we do manage to peel ourselves from the TV, we end up reading Huffington Post instead.

I do believe this US elections addiction is becoming unhealthy. I need to get back to the OTHER addiction. That little-do where 10 men run around on skates, chasing each other with sticks.

The hockey season has started and I need to be loyal to the true, non-partisan president called The Puck.

Get me a better theory

Someone told me, actually…make that two – that people tend to watch more television during a downturn. It is a way for people to escape the gloom and doom. Ah well…escape, khayal …they all mean the same thing.

It was the kind of statement most producers want to hear I suppose. But for some reason, I was not able to hook myself to that seemingly sweet notion. This downturn is different because while people are happy to watch more television, it does not mean that the advertiser will be spending ad dollars in the broadcasting space. Declining ad ratios is already so rampant and a downturn will basically turn that prudence into panic. Unless of course, if broadcasters are willing to lower their rates. But IF they do, it only means that the license fees given to us producers, get lower. In a highly unionised industry like television and film that means unfortunately, the buck stops with us, the producers.

And so you can tell I am not hot about the idea that people are watching more television during a downturn. It does not mean a thing to me because it is secondary to the growth we all need to harbour a sliver of hope.