Creativity for change: how these artists remind us that progress must come with a purpose

Kochi-Muziris Biennale

The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale features creative works by 95 artists in 10 locations around the heritage Fort Kochi district, as well as nine satellite venues. See Part Iand Part II of our photo essays, as well as our coverage of the Bangkok Biennale.

From politics to nature, the art works in this photo essay point a way to hope in their own creative manner. For example, some artists go beyond paints and sculptures to show how ropes (Mrinalini Mukherjee) and seashells (Julie Gough) can be used in installations.

Crushed dreams, the sorrow of conflict, and displacement after natural calamities leave deep scars on society (Rula Halawani, Srinagar Biennale, Chittoprasad Bhattachary). Social divides continue to thrive even after the end of the colonial era (BV Suresh). Rising corruption plagues emerging economies, holding back their right to progress. Reckless urban and rural development wreak havoc on habitat and nature.

It takes sensitisation and a demand for justice to dissect and tackle social-political problems. The artists in this photo essay go beyond images of doom and gloom to show that creative solutions can indeed be found, and in a sustainable manner. They raise awareness about the importance of human rights, dignity, identity, inclusion and expression (Zanelle Muholi; the Braille edition of the Biennale brochure).

“Success for an artist comes from the happiness of making a connect with the audience. It comes from sensitising them to the loss of others, and helping them be grateful for what they have,” said painter-photographer Manisha Gera Baswani, in a chat with YourStory.

Her exhibit, titled Postcards from Home, features photographs of Indian and Pakistani artists whose parents moved across the border during partition. Those who have overcome their sense of loss and displacement in a dignified manner are a source of inspiration for the next generation, she explains.

She advises aspiring artists to listen to their heart, and have faith that the impact of their work will eventually emerge. This is particularly important in a time of international tension and domestic conflict, Manisha urges.

Now, what have you done today to pause and take stock of the world around us, and do your bit to create a better place for us all?


YouTube Studio: better insights or a work in progress?

Will YouTube Studio’s new metrics be better for marketers?

In June of last year, YouTube announced that Creator Studio was about to change. A beta version named YouTube Studio was undergoing testing with hundreds of thousands of users – or should I say ‘creators’.

After nine months of nurturing their new baby, YouTube Studio was unveiled last week. Promises of efficiency, empowerment and increased joy, packaged with new features, metrics and insight. The increased data commitment has been played-up by YouTube.

But did the much anticipated promises deliver? Well, sort of.

YouTube Studio features include three new metrics: Impressions; Impressions Click-Through Rate; Unique Viewers. YouTube says these will give us better understanding of video performance with the aim of helping us produce more impactful video.

What’s an Impression? It’s when a viewer sees one of your video thumbnails; Impressions tell us the potential reach of our videos. It’s an ‘opportunity to view’.

What’s Impressions Click-Through Rate? Simply put, it’s the percentage of Impressions that turned into a video view.

What’s a Unique View? Well, to quote YouTube, it shows us “the estimated number of different people who watch our videos over a period of time.”

And there lies one of my issues. Data should not be estimated. We should be able to know the difference between a unique view and a repeat view. Why is YouTube estimating metrics? As for the ‘opportunity to view’ this just feels like a return to a time when we couldn’t accurately measure irrefutable data. perhaps it’s just me, as I’ve always hated fluffy measurements. In my PR and creative agency days I was forced to peddle PRVs and ‘Opportunities to See’. I hated both.

YouTube’s intent of delivering better insight and metrics should be applauded. It’s a key facet of success for other social media channels and absolutely is the direction they should be taking their Studio platform. Data that helps to evolve the production quality and impact of our videos is welcomed. I just can’t help but feel like this is a work in progress, rather than a refined proposition that’s ready to roll.

I’ll explain why: YouTube tell us that if we’re seeing a low percentage of Impressions convert to Impressions Click-Through Rate, then our thumbnail and title require work. That may be correct in some cases, but we can’t ignore how busy some pages are with thumbnails. Watch a video through to completion and then see how many thumb nails are served to you. It’s busy. Undoubtedly, Impressions will be recorded when users haven’t seen our thumbnails. To be fair though, the same criticism could be made of other social media channels.

Clearly, the Impressions Click-Through Rate is a useful metric. Being able to asses video performance will be insightful. I’m just not sure we needed the Impressions metric.

Now for the good news: we’re excited about YouTube Studio Dashboard – the single view of your data, insights and news. We’ll see three pieces of insight here:

Video Snapshot: A snapshot of our latest video performance, versus past videos – over the same period of time. Quickly, we’ll be able to ascertain if we’ve a production that is resonating, or if refinements are required. This should help us do more of what works, and learn from what isn’t.

Personalised Recommendations: YouTube says this will surface Creator Academy content based on our specific needs. Over time, we’ll also see insight into why certain videos perform better than others. Again, this will help with refinement and development.

News: Dynamic news and community information that is served to us. Meaning we don’t have to discover news, it finds us.

We expect Video Snapshot and Personalised Recommendations to be a real hit with users and the single view definitely receives a thumbs up. It’s just a shame we can’t be as positive about the new data metrics.

Data is resolute. The challenge with data is that it’s sometimes unstructured, requiring a framework to organise and help make the unstructured, structured. Data isn’t, and should never be estimated.

There is no denying that YouTube is onto something with their direction for YouTube Studio. In its current state though, it should be in production, rather than distributed for release. After nine-months of testing, you have to ask who was testing the platform, and why haven’t these basic flaws been flagged sooner?

As my old school tutor would say: “a good effort, but work still to be done!”


Pokemon Go Update Resets Game Progress, Some Users Complain

Pokemon Go Update Resets Game Progress, Some Users ComplainHIGHLIGHTS

  • Latest update has reportedly reset the in-game progress for many players
  • The step counter has been completely removed from the game
  • The damage values for battle moves have been improved with the update

When a game as popular as Pokemon Go gets an update, it is bound to create reactions from all over the world, and so it did. The location-based augmented reality game received an update for both Android and iOS on Saturday and it is reported to have broken more things than it has fixed.

The Android v0.31.0 and iOS v1.1 updates allow players to customise their avatars inside game at any point. Earlier, the game allowed the customisation only in the beginning phase of the game. The update adjusted some damage values of battle moves in gym battles in order to make the fights more balanced, and it has also modified the battle damage calculation. The update also allows you to lock your favourite Pokemon so that you don’t end up accidentally transferring them for ‘Pokemon Candies’.

However, this is where the improvements end and the problems start.


The game update has erased the in-game progress for many Pokemon Go players and players have already started asking the company to either refund the money they spent on the game or to reverse the change, reports Telegraph. The update has also removed the step counter or footprints from the game, which informed the player about their estimated distance from nearby Pokemon.

Players had earlier complained that the feature was not working properly and needed to be fixed but its complete removal has left the players furious as now there is no way to determine exactly how far the nearby Pokemon are.

The Pokemon Go update also brings in certain security-related messages that will turn up right after the initial boot screen for the game and ask the players to be more careful while playing the game. Apart from these changes, the latest update brings in bug fixes and tweaks.

The Pokemon Go update for Android and iOS has also removed the battery saving option from the game which used to dim the brightness of the screen when the phone was held down while walking. This feature, although useful for the battery-drainer game, often made the screen unresponsive after it was held back up after usage according to some customer complaints.

Another important development that coincides with the update’s release is that several third-party apps and websites like Pokevision now longer function, users report. However, there is still no clarity if this development has any direct correlation with the update or not.

It is important to note that the game is yet to be officially released in India. The updated Pokemon Go apps for Android and iOS can be downloaded from respective stores right away in the countries where the game has been officially launched.

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Tags: Android, Apps, Gaming, Pokemon Go, Pokemon Go Update, Pokemon Update, iOS


Rocket Internet Says Making Progress to Limit Losses

Rocket Internet Says Making Progress to Limit Losses

German ecommerce firm Rocket Internet said it was on track to make three of its start-ups profitable by the end of 2017, and its losses should have peaked last year when its companies burned through EUR 1 billion ($1.1 billion or roughly Rs. 7,317 crores).

Founded in Berlin by brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc Samwer in 2007, Rocket has set up dozens of ecommerce sites, aiming to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Russia.

But Europe’s top Internet investor has seen its share price sag since it listed in October 2014 on concerns about the scale of the losses at start-ups ranging from online fashion to food delivery, as well as delays to planned stock market listings.

The stock fell 9.8 percent by 9:48am GMT on Thursday, wiping out gains made this week after it sold a stake in the start-up making the heaviest losses – Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada Group – to Alibaba.

“Rocket has made some progress on financial reporting and transparency but there are still too many one-off opaque adjustments,” said Jefferies analyst David Reynolds, who rates the stock “hold”.

Chief Executive Oliver Samwer said several of Rocket’s companies had made major progress towards breaking even and repeated that three should be profitable by the end of 2017.

“We want to show you a strong improvement in profitability,” Samwer told a presentation for investors. “2016 will be a good year. 2017 will be very good. 2018 will be a great year.”

Samwer, a serial Internet investor who sold German online auction site Alando to eBay in 1999, said the business had strong cash reserves, including 1 billion euros at operating companies, EUR 1.8 billion at Rocket and EUR 1.6 billion raised from investors.

Revenue from Rocket’s top companies rose 69 percent in 2015 to EUR 2.4 billion. But their aggregate adjusted loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was 1 billion euros, up from 600 million in 2014.

However, Rocket said the average adjusted EBITDA margin improved 6 percentage points to a negative 29.7 percent, driven by its online fashion businesses, although losses kept mounting at its food delivery and online general merchandise start-ups.

The biggest loss came at Lazada, meaning that Rocket’s exit should help it meet its promise that 2015 was a peak for losses.

Samwer said that home furnishings retailer Westwing and Russian online fashion firm Lamoda were reining in marketing and delivery costs due to scale benefits, while Delivery Hero and FoodPanda were breaking even in some countries and regions.

Rocket reported strong revenue growth at meal delivery firm HelloFresh, seen as a likely listing candidate, as well as at African online retailer Jumia, although losses rose at both.

Samwer said that a target set last September to list one of its start ups by early 2017 might have to be pushed back due to a focus on improving operations, as well as volatile markets.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Alibaba, Amazon, Apps, E Commerce, Internet, Rocket Internet