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Inside Asia


Jul 19, 2017

This episode I’m in the dining room of the Westin Hotel in Singapore. My guest is Kent Wertime, the Co-CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Asia-Pacific. Our conversation took place in the brilliant sunshine, beside a wide window that overlooked the Singapore ports, towards Malaysia.

This week my topic is the shape and impact of the digital revolution in Asia. Kent first wrote about what he was seeing in his groundbreaking book DigiMarketing: The Essential Guide to New Marketing & Digital Media. That was essential reading for me when I first arrived in Asia.

During our conversation, Kent provided some idea of the ground that a history of digital emergence in Asia might have to cover. As everyone knows, Asia has been forerunner in terms of mobility and mobile applications. There’s a reason for this, of course; they didn’t have the fixed line networks that were everywhere in the West. Adoption rates of mobile devices and use of data took off immediately in Asia. It’s a history that’s sometimes forgotten—and one that disrupts our idea of the west being the home of innovation in the digital age.

But there’s also a dark side and Kent is remarkably candid about that as well. We live in a world where tens of thousands of mental actions and re-actions occupy our every minute. We intertwine (and sometimes convolute) our professional, personal, emotional lives by the millisecond and spit them out through a wild array of digital mediums. And to what end? Are we trying to he heard? Or are we trying to hear?

This is the reality of the situation, Kent tells us, when it comes to our digital selves. Our minds are made up for us and our biases are confirmed invisibly, even inevitably.