The Monday Media Diet with Eugene Kan

On newsletters, Range, and Hakone

Eugene Kan (EK) is a friend of WITI, and someone whose taste we greatly admire. He’s the former editorial director of Hypebeast and is now running Maekan, a media company he co-founded with business partner Alex Maeland. We’re pleased to have his perspective from Hong Kong on the page today. -Colin (CJN)

Describe your media diet. 

I recently told somebody that I rarely feel the need/urge to curtail my media consumption despite the fact it consumes me. Back in the day, I pretty much lived in my RSS to find news while at HYPEBEAST so that habit is still there.

I always have this sense of FOMO for new developments. The doom scrolling stuff doesn’t really impact me cause weirdly it puts me at ease ‘cause there’s a sense of understanding of what’s going on.

But in general, I spend most of my time on RSS, newsletters, reddit (with quite a few terrible subreddits thrown in for good measure), and Twitter. Instagram is trash but I guess I’m only on it cause my friends are there. 

Here are a few of my favorite newsletters/reads:

Sixth Tone: A look into various cultural moments ongoing in China 

Jing Daily: A breakdown of the Chinese luxury landscape (in English).

The Line Between A newsletter by my illustrator/designer friend Coleen Baik who opens up about her creative process. 

Kneeling Bus: Drew Austin’s newsletter is a fun take on the tech world and often connects tech to broader themes and ideas. 

Culture Study: Anne Helen Petersen’s newsletter does a great job of crystallizing ideas you’ve been thinking into something easy to understand. 

No Grass in the Clouds: An alternative look into the world of soccer/football and some of the more metric-driven tactics in the game. 

Dense Dsicovery: A really well-put-together newsletter focused on tools/ideas that help you creatively. 

Farnam Street: They’re pretty OG, but have some good regular insights into mental models and improving critical thought/analysis. 

FUTUREVVORLD: They highlight (more) environmentally sustainable practices going on in fashion/sneakers. 

Trapital / Beats and Bytes: Two newsletters that look into the business/tech side of music. 

r/aboringdystopia: A serious/not so serious look at the current state of our world lol. 

What’s the last great book you read?

I don’t read a ton of books so my underlying “library” is limited. But I really liked Range by David Epstein which discussed the role of expert generalists. I think for the most part “expert generalism” is both a very broad and specific title all at once. It certainly has levels where one can carve out their own niche within that realm.  It’s good to apply some of its upsides to your daily/professional life by finding how to connect disparate things. The book provides a nice way of shaping how you can tackle problems through this revised framework. 

What are you reading now?

Earlier, I mentioned I don’t read many books, but I recently decided to just take the personal pressure off of book reading and just read at my own pace and not feel guilty if I skipped a few days of reading a book. I also started reading more than one book at once which provides a nice change of pace/style when I need it. 

The two books I’m reading:

  1. The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory, and the Future of the World by Dexter Roberts

My good friend Scott recommended this as we often love to talk about geopolitics so this was right up my alley. All things geopolitical are largely unavoidable living in Hong Kong. The book tracks several different personalities across China and how they’ve managed their own lives amidst the economic boom as well as the potential challenges China will face going forward. 

  1. Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks and Fraud in Financial Reports by Howard M. Schilit

This is actually yet another recommendation from my friend Scott. To be honest, this book is way out of my wheelhouse but written in an approachable way that you can still derive some value even if you’re not a hardcore investor. The book has quite a few real-world (albeit dated) references which make it easy to understand. 

What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

My reading strategy is what I alluded to above about feeling ok not reading something like it was a routine and just let myself enjoy the process. I think that in the past, so much of my “reading” was for work that I felt compelled to see every article/book through to the end. 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

I enjoy the writing over at Artnome. They take an interesting and less financial approach towards the future of (digital) art and how the role of AI/NFTs will shape the future. This piece on how NFTs and museums can integrate goes beyond the current shillfest around NFTs. 

I also really like Currant Magazine’s approach towards the future of food and food culture. The insights and trends they bring to light are often ultra-relevant without being overly dense for the common non-industry person. 

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

There’s this app that upon sharing it… will feel wholly contradictory to everything I said about “enjoying reading.” It’s called Outread and it’s a speed reading app combined with brain exercises, the latter being a more recent addition. Sometimes you just wanna crank out some news articles and you just let the app do its thing. It flashes the words on your screen similar to karaoke so there’s no scanning needed. 

Plane or train?

Train all day. The fact I can roll up 10 minutes before the train departs should be more than sufficient reason to choose that over a plane. 

What is one place everyone should visit? 

The last trip I took that was perhaps a bit off the beaten path was Hakone in Japan. It’s not that far from Tokyo but just a chill vibe and in close proximity to a lot of onsens. It’s a good alternative if you’ve been to Japan a few times. 

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into. 

My most recent rabbit hole was around the latest development in goalkeeper gloves (for football/soccer). I needed a new pair because the indie brand I was wearing was going out of business and I had to research which of last year’s models were the best bang for your buck since I’m in that old school mentality that technique > grip and well I’m not getting paid to play so “good enough” suffices. If you’re curious, I ended up getting the Uhlsport PURE ALLIANCE ABSOLUTGRIP FINGER SURROUND. (EK)

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Eugene (EK) 

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