Freedom to roam

Freedom to roam

Blogger Casy Lau's Popcorn media network helps ensure Hongkongers have news of latest trends and smart buys at their fingertips

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Freedom to roam_L
Photo: James Whittle
Like many other people in Hong Kong, Casey Lau has an iPad, an iPhone, a laptop and a desktop computer. His life and work is surrounded by all the latest gadgets.

"You can check what your friends are doing ... anytime, anywhere. There's no need to 'catch up over coffee'. And I don't have to be in my office while working. With technology, I feel free," says Lau. "The trend now is that you read, buy, and connect with others on the internet. It's cool and hip."

Lau is a digital entrepreneur who grew up in Vancouver, Canada. With a degree in graphic design, he came to Hong Kong before the handover and designed CD-Rom programmes for companies. Within a few years, there was little that he didn't know about IT software and applications. But he didn't like working in an office. In 2009, he co-founded the Popcorn media network with a friend. The network consists of free and up-to-date blogs on the latest trends and smart buys in town, including fashionable clothes and accessories, digital products, and wine and dining.

"Our blogs are short and sweet, like popcorn. People now don't have time to read heavy text like in some magazines. They want to get instant information and get going," says Lau.

As a seasoned blogger, Lau has seen the changes in technology and how the digital era has overtaken Hong Kong. "Hong Kong is very advanced in terms of technology, with everybody embracing Facebook, Twitter and blogs. But many people have not yet realised the potential and what they can do or create with the technology," he says.

"Take musicians, for example. Many artists overseas are using the internet as their platform and uploading their music online. But in Hong Kong, there are some 200 music bands; only 10 per cent are doing that. To be a singer today, you don't need a record label, you need fans. Putting your music online gives you that."

He is referring to an online video which shows a group of young people making music with only their gadgets. In the video, two men play the guitar and the piano using software on their iPad. One man sings to the music and records it on his iPhone. The YouTube video has attracted thousands of viewers.

Lau is keen to share his tips of entrepreneurship with others. He has been running "Startups" sessions for followers of Popcorn. In June, he will also run a competition with universities in Hong Kong. Teams of students will present their ideas of using the social media to start a business. The winners will go to Japan to compete with other champions in the Asia-Pacific region.

"In today's world, technology is everything. And if you have talent, you should be an entrepreneur and start your own business. You can never really fail. Just do it," he says.

Lau will speak at the Social Media Week Hong Kong, which runs from tomorrow until Saturday. At his event, iMusic, the audience will be given a live demonstration of how to use technology, such as iPad and iPhone applications, to create "instant" digital music.

Social Media Week, to be held in Asia for the first time, is a global platform that began in New York City in 2009. It connects people and allows them to share content and conversations about emerging trends in social and mobile media.

Another event, For Love or Money?, is hosted by PR agency impactasia and advisory board members, such as Lau, Amazing Race Asia 3 winner Vince Chung, and Hong Kong Twitterer Jay Oatway.

For more information, go to socialmediaweek.org/hongkong

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