Tech corner

Much extreme mouth-frothing and outrage in Hong Kong today, after protesters break a glass door and sort of get into the Legislative Council building at Admiralty. Anyone wanting a live, blow-by-blow account of the action could have followed the squabble, or – since it happened in the early hours – caught up with it first thing this morning, on Twitter…

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The Umbrella-Occupy movement has probably doubled the amount of time I ‘devote’, shall we say, every day to Twitter. The ‘social networking service’ (as it’s officially termed) also conveys profound thoughts from the most authoritative of sources…

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…and occasional bits of pointlessness that manage to get through, even though – in the interests of squeezing some sleeping and eating into my schedule – I limit myself to following less than 100 Tweeters, or whatever they’re called…

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WhatsAppScreenshotsThe other social-media thing I do is WhatsApp, which is essentially a simple and instant email system (so instant, it makes email seem stupid and pointless unless you want to attach a document or contact any of the 99% of people not on WhatsApp). When everyone was in a panic about Occupy Central occupying the main business district and requiring workplace closures, my office’s contingency plan relied on WhatsApp messaging to let Zenky, Panny and the rest know whether to come in. As the thumbs-up on the right show, it worked.

As we can also see on the right, WhatsApp can be used to send photographs – in this case essential guidance to the depraved on how to cut a lemon with a driver’s licence in order to make gin and tonic with the latter-day Hogarthian beverage known as King Robert.

Until recently, the main nagging problem facing WhatsApp users was that one day the company providing the service would follow through on its longstanding threat to implement charges, specifically of US$0.99 a year. Instead, however, it has implemented a system of ‘blue ticks’ in the outgoing-message box, which let the sender see whether and when the recipient has read the missive. What the engineers probably saw as a modestly useful new function has now become a nightmare of our modern, on-line existence.

In Saudi Arabia, a man divorced his wife after finding that she hadn’t bothered reading his latest boorish pronouncement. But the problem doesn’t end with people ignoring messages. The real complication arises from the fact that many users want to be able to read messages – but pretend they haven’t. Someone wants to tell you something; you know what it is that they want to tell you – but they don’t know that you know, and that basically means you’re in charge. Senders’ ability to use the blue ticks to find out at what time you read the message even further undermines your privacy and mastership of your own destiny.

The WhatsApp people, grief-stricken by the mayhem they had unleashed on the world, hurriedly designed a way to make the blue ticks optional. And so the trauma comes to an end. But, of course, no.

The Standard surveys a number of Hong Kong users, starting – quite rightly – with former weathergirl Icy Wong. Icy is minded to disable the blue ticks for privacy reasons, but she’s a bit dim. One KK Chan is smarter, reasoning that if you switch the function off, others will wonder why you did so, and what it is you are trying to hide. From them.

The game now looks like this: someone wants to tell you something; you know what it is that they want to tell you; they don’t know that you know; and they know you don’t want them to know that you know. And they will obviously never trust you again, for being such a devious, secretive, deceitful, underhand piece of slime. Yet another improvement to our lives brought to us by modern technology.

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12 Responses to Tech corner

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    I prefer WeChat. Don’t join “groups”. Don’t do updates with tons of photos. Just bare bones basic.

  2. PD says:

    A couple of millennia ago MS Outlook introduced a similar “service” where you could check whether an email had been received.

    Potentially useful in HK, where people phone to ask whether you’ve received a message due to be sent a couple of minutes later.

  3. Herr Torquewrench says:

    It’s given rise to a new phenomenum known as “Blueticitis”.

    Psychiatrists are already being trained to diagnose and treat this affliction.

  4. Ivor Towers says:

    Hemmers, apart from the two blue ticks in the first paragraph I do believe you are studiously ignoring today’s elephant in the room. The game looks like this: I know that you know that…etc.

  5. nulle says:

    WeChat are for morons and for sheeps you could get arrested saying the ‘wrong’ thing on WeChat…

    Use WhatsApp like the rest of the world…

  6. Joe Blow says:

    Next week the bailiffs will again remove a few barricades, this time in Mong Kok. They are mobilizing 3000 pigs as back-up. THREE THOUSAND.

    Nothing like an occupation army of 3000 pigs to bring the Mong Kok masses out on the street for a long-overdue people’s happening.

    Expect a long and hot week.

  7. Scotty Dotty says:

    @ Joe Blow

    Referring to the police as pigs is unnecessary and, if I may, really rather rude

    I think Asia’s Finest has really stumbled with these protests, but it still has a lot of very fine people, many of whom still do great jobs

  8. Joe Blow says:

    Scotty, you are entitled to your opinions, which I respect. I am entitled to mine.

    Bringing in 3000 law enforcers for a simple bailiff operation means one thing: Hong Kong is now a bona fide police state. The police are now at the beck and call of CY Leung and the Communist Party.

    Last nite 6 protestors who broke into the Legco building were promptly arrested.

    Last month 7 policemen brutalized an innocent protestor: they have neither been arrested nor charged. Apparently there is a separate kind of law for them.

    On second thought: yes, they are pigs.

  9. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    The different groups held a public form on Tuesday to discuss what they’d do.

    The forum (in Cantonese) is online and you can probably find it through the Passion Times video channel.

    LSD says they have 500 people who will stay put, get arrested and jam up the court system.

    Everyone else said they’d just move one street over, as the court order relates only to the street they are on.

  10. Cassowary says:

    It’s obvious that Those On High have decreed that those 7 policemen will not be arrested because the government doesn’t want to deal with the optics of prosecuting policemen while the streets are still occupied. The police force has been shamefully politicized, that much is clear.

    But it is still disingenuous of you to call the Mong Kok clearance “a simple bailiff operation” after what happened the last time they simply tried to remove a few barriers. Tactically, they’d be stupid not to expect a fight, and stupid not to go in with numbers best described as overkill.

    What we have is a highly trained, professional police force being sent to do a dirty job. It’s not pretty, it’s not nice, and it’s not fair, but on the whole I prefer them to a bunch of ill-trained macho thugs trying to win a dick measuring contest.

  11. Hills says:

    When I see police officers patrolling the streets, they look like friendly house fathers, a bit nerdy, a bit overweight, sure not pigs. But when I see them charging innocent students and hitting them like crazy, I indeed see them as pigs, willing tools of the Communist Party and CY Leung.
    For me, the jury is still out.

  12. nulle says:

    actually HK is becoming a police state and the HK Police technically could be called pigs…

    I seriously advise anyone invested in China in any form to pull out their investments if you doesn’t want to lose your pants…

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