Podcast culture in Vietnam soon?

Podcast has been the rage these days in the US in terms of the medium to consume and distribute information. I can imagine why that is the case. There is a lot of navigating through traffic on the streets, doing mindless work at home and at one’s job or working out in a gym. Users need something to help them power through the boredom without using their eyes. On the content creator side, a podcast episode takes less work and time to produce than a video. As long as you have a reliable recorder, a decent Internet connection and more importantly, what to share with the world, that’s enough for a podcast episode.

I have been wondering whether Vietnamese folks at home will like podcasts as much as we do here in America. I quickly polled two friends of mine who are millennials and work professionally in the biggest city in Vietnam. They both told me that they didn’t think podcast would interest Vietnamese people as our folks nowadays tend to consume more tabloid news and instant gratification. There is some truth in that.

There is coverage on Vietnamese people’s losing interest in reading. Reportedly, my countrymen on average read one book a year. If a book is 300 pages long, that’s less than one page a day. I often see on my Newsfeed a lot of junk content shared by my connections. As a huge fan of reading and consuming quality content, that’s a seriously concerning sign. I suspect that there are several reasons for that. Firstly, we were dealt with a bad hand growing up. Reading is not part of our curriculums at school. We don’t get to know the beauty of reading when we are young. I didn’t. I grew up learning only maths. Luckily, I went to a high school where a lot of my peers read and the habit rubbed off on me. Secondly, there is not a whole lot of quality content in Vietnamese. Even though English is popular now among the young, folks still prefer consuming content in our native language. If they felt comfortable with English podcasts, there is no shortage out there. But content in our mother tongue is in short supply (or at least none that I have ever heard of). Sometimes, there are some quality pieces, but there is no consistent source of audio content on the market.

Nonetheless, there are signs that I think are favorable for podcast consumption as a trend. First, terrible traffic in Vietnam. If you ever travel to Hanoi or Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), you’ll experience the terrible traffic there. There is traffic jam at ALL times from 7:30am to around 7pm every week day. My house in Vietnam is 10km away from the city center where I used to work. Every day, it took me at least an hour in total to commute back and forth, let alone time to meet friends. As in the case here in the US, folks can listen to podcast instead of music. Another favorable condition is that mobile Internet in Vietnam is cheap. About 200,000 VND, you can have decent speed and data packages to download podcasts. Plus, young professionals make up a big part of the population in Vietnam. My impression is that a lot of them want to learn and grow. The problem, as mentioned above, is that they don’t seem to find content in Vietnamese that they can consume comfortably. Last but not least, there are many interesting Vietnamese folks out there worth interviewing, from entrepreneurs, designers, chefs, actors, mathematicians or authors.

I hope that in the near future, Vietnamese people will read more and the podcast culture will catch fire for the sake of knowledge consumption and advertising hidden talent and minds.

Weekly readings – 9th March 2019

Shared scooters don’t last long – a bear case for shared e-scooters. I rode Lime once in Austin. Coming from a country where the primary transportation means is scooters, I see it first-hand what a similar experience is like. Don’t get me wrong. The technology is impressive, but I wasn’t that excited. There is a lot to figure, not only from the economic perspective, but also from the logistics side. People throw scooters left and right on pavements. When the number of scooters explodes, what would happen then? On top of that, there have been quite a number of documented accidents so far from scooters. Finally, I am a fan of public transportation. I’d love to see America invest more in public transit than in shared scooters.

Civil rights under Trump – Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. Important information on what is going on in the US and the Census going into 2020.

Warren Buffett’s FAQ. An impressive collection of WB’s perspectives in different areas

HQ2: Understanding What Happened & Why. I don’t really care that much about the whole situation because 1) different stakeholders (Amazon, citizens in the neighborhood, politicians who want to create jobs, politicians who dislike the potential impact on the neighborhood) have different interests. 2) Nobody could guarantee the outcome if the deal went through. Nonetheless, it’s a very good and informative piece, most of which I tend to agree with.

Its Not Capitalism, its Crony Capitalism. An interesting perspective that is elegantly explained. To me, greed is good, but too much greed is terrible. What people hate and talk about on the news is too much greed. Who wouldn’t want to make money out of their innovation or effort? On the other hand, if education and healthcare are too expensive to afford as they are in the US, why would it be a draconian thing to give some support to the citizens? Social benefits DONT equal to socialism. You also need a nationalization of the economy which the US doesn’t have.

How to Shoot on iPhone series. I am a big fan of short, simple and educational marketing videos. Love this series from Apple. If they can continue to release videos like these to help unlock the functionalities and usage of the hardware, chances are that users would love them even more.

This is actually a double. BestBuy and Target transformation. Retail is interesting as a space to watch. I don’t believe in the apocalypse of bricks-and-mortar stores as many predict. In fact, Target, as mentioned in the article, increased its footprint. I documented some retailers which increased footprint here as well. It’s a matter of responding to the changes in the business environment. If a retailer refuses to embrace technology or to change, the doom is imminent. But if you have a game plan to leverage technology to keep your competitive advantages, it’s not a “it’s Amazon’s to lose” situation. At least not yet.

Informative newsletter and tech sources

Where we get information matters. As there is so much information/noise floating around, a good curator and/or a great content provider has become increasingly important, at least to me. Here are a few of my go-to sources every day. Keep in mind that these are related to business and technology, two areas I am invested in. 

CBInsights

It offers deep-dive reports into technology and business. There are many free reports that can be downloaded or consumed immediately on site. What I like about CBInsights is that their researchers really roll up their sleeves in their work and offer great insights, sometimes from a surprising angle. Their use of visualizations such as tables, graphs or mind maps is pretty rad as well

The Hustle

It’s a newsletter on business and tech. Apart from offering what news you should know at the beginning of a day, The Hustle has a great team of copywriters. Their witty and funny writing is what hooks me up. The newsletters don’t have the same level of deep investigation as CBInsights does, but if you want a skim of what is going on out there in business and technology, it’s pretty good. Oh, if you want to do some B2B marketing, it can be a promising channel. I have seen Airtable, Microsoft and Salesforce sponsored content by The Hustle

Morning Brew

Same as The Hustle. I consider The Hustle a tad better & funnier. Still it’s worth giving Morning Brew a try

Ben Evans newsletter

His newsletter is on a weekly basis. It’s a collection of articles in technology and business that he thinks are important. 

Ben Thompson’s Stratechery

It’s a highly regarded website on strategy and technology. There is a paywall to his daily content, but his weekly content, I believe, is free. You will learn a lot from Ben as many others, including some famous names in technology, do. 

ARK

A friend suggested this one to me a few weeks back. I am still pretty new to it. But if you are a fan of cryptocurrency, AI, machine learning, industrial innovation…it is worth a read