Restore Humanity

This post got me thinking again.

“Recommendation media is here. As a result, we’ll make fewer explicit choices (“these are my friends”) and more implicit choices (“this is where the algorithm recommends I should spend my attention”) about how, when, and why we consume content.”

The End of Social Media

The author’s explanation of the end of social media and the transition to “recommendation media” is very reasonable and easy to understand as a man who works for an advertising agency (read the article above for more details), but as an average person who has enjoyed Instagram as a photographer, I’m not sure everyone want that.

I think it may be a success as a business, but I think it will fail as a service.

(My friends will understand.) Taking Instagram as an example, Instagram used to have two major pleasures: the pleasure of creating and the pleasure of viewing.

The enjoyment of creating was not only in taking high quality photos, but also in receiving responses through hashtags or friendships from people you didn’t even know.

The pleasure of viewing was not only to see high quality photos from all over the world, but also to “accidentally” find our favorite creators by following our connections.

Not whether they are famous or not, but whether they are the ones taking amazing photos. And it was up to us to decide whether or not they were great.

Now it is all decided by machine learning algorithms. The pleasure of taking a quality photo is still the same, but the reaction when I post it is almost non-existent. This is because the algorithm decides who will see my post.

And I can’t even view the content of the people I want to view in a timely manner because the algorithm decides what I should see.

The content I want to watch is covered up and not delivered to the people I want it to reach, and the content recommended by the platform looks like the same content with an awareness of trends, and is trivial and uninteresting.

They say that this will become more and more the case in the future, and the content will be delivered perfectly optimized for each consumer. Would you use such a platform?

This may sound like mere nostalgia, but for those who have been creating their own content or have been inspired by other creators, whether it be photography, video, design, or illustration, I don’t think Instagram and other social media have ever been so boring as they are now.

We should be the ones deciding how, when, and why we consume content, right? I think it should be humans who make the “decisions” about which content is good and which creators are good, but if the only option is to prioritize “efficiency” and leave even that decision to machines, where does that leave our humanity?

Uncle kissing a baby on the cheek, and people making small talk make Everyday Life
in the Backstreet of Phnom Penh.

Here is a quote from a nice article.

Therein lies a problem: Artists and creators who are the most likely to succeed in this system are the ones with the most mass appeal, which, to an algorithm, likely means that they appeal to viewers’ basest, lowest common denominator impulses of what human beings want to look at. In short, the kind of art that algorithms pick for us usually isn’t very good.

Bully your rich friends into commissioning more art
By Rebecca Jennings

I think this applies to all kinds of content, not just art.
Here’s another quote from another article.

What does it mean when the practice of design has become intertwined with the most self-centered and harmful dynamics of the social web? For many, it means a reluctance to engage in the psychological and emotional aspects of design that are necessary for design to function as a tool for substantive impact. Despite how exciting and affirming it can feel to practice performative design, or how useful it might be in terms of building an audience online, it ultimately renders a designer’s work static and inert, unable to reach the people that design can, at its best, engage with deeply. In other words, when design becomes performance, “good design” isn’t really design at all.

Today’s Design Is Shaped by Likes. And That’s a Problem

In other words, when design becomes performance, “good design” is no longer really design. This means, in essence, that design that appeals to the masses is not design. It’s the same as what Rebecca Jennings says.

There is an app that is trying to regain what those instagrams and other social media have lost. Glass. I have no idea how many users Glass has, but there are no ads, no algorithms, no likes. It is a photo sharing app just for people who love photos. The functionality is simple. There are no recommendations and you have to go find your favorite photographers by yourself. It takes time and effort. But I like it. There are only people who like photos, and the people in it are mostly people who like warm interactions. As a business, I have no idea if it will ever grow into a media outlet with hundreds of millions of people like Instagram. I don’t even know if it matters. But they are doing it because they like it. It gives us the feeling of a big community where we work together with our other users to come up with the features we think we need. I use it to enjoy photo discussions with other excellent creators while slowly posting only my favorite photos. I look forward to seeing how it evolves in the future, and although there are some improvements, I think it is a very successful service so far.

Not only GAFA, but various other businesses that dream of using technology, data, and machine learning to provide services that solve users’ pain points as quickly, cheaply, efficiently, affordably, and easily as possible, disrupt existing markets, grow super fast, and make huge profits are popping up one after another.

A fisherman’s boat with ghost skyscrapers, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

But how many of these businesses can we feel the “meaning” or “significance” of what they are doing?

Cambodia’s “greed and thirst for growth,” represented by the big luxury cars that drive around just to show off, the empty skyscrapers that are being built like bamboo shoots after rain, and the gilded Chinese clubs that line every city. I feel something similar to that.

On the other hand, in the streets of Cambodia, there are small bookstores, small record shops in dirty markets, secondhand clothing stores in former factories, bakeries that always serve freshly baked delicious bread, coffee shops that offer different recommendations for different people, and chocolate shops with unique production processes and great taste, a vendor that serves only the most flavorful soup, and other small businesses that were thought to go out of business during the pandemic are surviving with customers.

They may not drive big shiny SUVs, but they have warm connections with the people near their stores. They don’t have to live in high-rise apartments, they live close enough to meet relatives and family before the soup gets cold; they don’t have to go to a VIP room, they have a karaoke set where they can sing on the side of the road.

Don’t you feel that we are losing “something important” as we become more convenient? What is this “something important” that we are losing as we become more convenient do you think?

A shopkeeper carefully organizes the products on the shelves, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

It can be something time-consuming that you have to go to a certain place to find or choose something, or a human feeling that you get along with someone after talking to them even though you are annoyed because you got the destination or order wrong, or a human connection that you communicate with your whole body when you don’t understand the meaning of a word. In other words, it is not a pretense, but a soul to soul exchange, or something that smells like humanity.

I think that what small companies and organizations in Cambodia and the team like Glass have in common is that they are trying to “restore humanity.

Men playing Ouk Chaktrang, the Cambodian Chess,
at “Ta Jok” street coffee shop, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Growth trap

What’s the point of “You can reach a wider audience and find new customers by promoting”? It annoys me every time.


Kids picking up something precious in the river of garbage, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2017

It directly means without paying I can’t show my photos to wider audience on Instagram or Facebook. And it means they control the audience to whom I show my photos. Wait. Photos are mine, but why can’t I show my photos to all of my followers? From business points of view, it is fucking correct. But from the points of individual person who loves and uses Instagram since 5, Nov, 2010, I have to say they are completely changed from what they used to be and I am so sad. Fuck it. They had a core value and great slogan “Community First”. I still have a mug with it written on. 


Kandal Market from above, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2017

Now I feel Instagram is just a money making machine for a crappy short videos, not a platform for the people who love photography. And that is happening since Facebook bought them. I read some articles about Meta testing subscription service for small group of people on Instagram. And all of these things were intended since then. They are doing great on business. 


A banana man, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2018

But for the people like me, their strategy is completely wrong. I will never pay any cent to those money making machines. And I will never pay any pence to the weird agents from Russia or India trying to convince me at every opportunity to pay money for them to get growth in the platform. They are trying to trap us in a growth trap, making us pay to buy attention and perceive the number of likes and followers as some kind of status.


Lights and shadows inside Central Market, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2016

All the photos are creative. And I respect all styles of creativity. Portrait, City Scapes, B/W, Animal, Nature, Landscapes, all the perspectives should be respected. If they set the pay wall? I don’t give a shit. Growth in the crappy platform? Bullshit. But creativity matters. How can we stand to have a system or algorithm control what we create and who we show it to? That’s ridiculous. That’s fucking up to us! Creativity is free, and it cannot be controlled.


Lights through the gap, Crab Market, Kep, Cambodia, 2018

I learned a lot through the real voice and interactions from real friends since I shared my feeling yesterday. I have to focus on what I want to express and tell through my photography and I will. I have to care the people who really like and care my perspective and I will. I don’t fucking give a shit on the numbers or I don’t serve for the machines. I’ll just chase what I want to express. I’ll keep on capturing humanity on the street in my way. That’s it. People would find me or may not, but it doesn’t fucking mean anything to me. Who cares. I care my perspectives, and only hope it would contribute to the other people’s perspective. 


A boy playing on the railroad track, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2017

Thank you all of my great friends and strangers for giving me your kind words, sharing your thoughts, and inspiring my philosophy. All of the conversations were precious for me. I am so honored to meet you and know you through photography.


A boy at a skate park, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2018

To all the creative people,
Love and Respect🤘🏻🔥


Independence Day, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2017

Cambodia’s cash-strapped cyclo drivers treated to pedal-in movie


“PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Presented with a movie, meal, medicines and a $20 cash handout, Cambodia’s cyclo taxi drivers received a rare treat at the weekend, and a brief distraction from hard times as the coronavirus takes a toll on tourism.”

By Cindy Liu

Thoughts / 💭

My friend Hao organized a wonderful event called “Cyclo Pedal in Movie”, which welcomed Cyclo drivers whose earnings were drastically reduced due to C-19. The words of the driver and Hao touched my heart. I am proud of my friends who are able to help others in times of hardship. And this beautiful article was written by another friend Cindy. I am so glad to see these young friends at the same time😊

友人のHaoが実施したCyclo Pedal in Movieという素晴らしいEVENT。C-19で稼ぎが激減したCyclo Driverたちを迎え上映されたのは「Fathers」という家族を支えるCyclo Driverの日々を描いた作品。DriverとHaoの言葉が胸に響く。苦しい時に他人のために尽くせる友人を誇りに思う。そしてこのREUTERSの美しい記事自体ももう一人の友人Cindyによって書かれたもの。若き友人たちがこうして一緒に活動しているのを見るのはなんとも気持ちの良いものです。

Street artist FONKi takes us on a journey through Phnom Penh to share Cambodia’s artistic renaissance


“Graffiti is the mirror of the society’: FONKi is capturing Cambodia’s deep history in his art”

Graffiti is the mirror of the society.” FONKi is capturing Cambodia’s deep history and culture in his art.

Thought 💭 /

Born in France to parents who fled Cambodia, FONKi grew up in Montreal and became a successful graffiti artist. A visit to Cambodia in 2012 inspired him to move to Phnom Penh. “Graffiti is a mirror of a developing society, city, and region,” he says. He has successfully harmonized Everyday People and Khmer Culture.

カンボジアから逃れた両親のもとフランスで生まれたFONKi。モントリオールで育ちgraffiti artistとして成功を収めた。2012年にカンボジアを訪れたことがきっかけでプノンペンに移住。”グラフィティは発展する社会・街・地域の鏡”と語る彼。Everyday PeopleとKhmer Cultureを見事に調和させている。

Why Did 74 Million Americans Vote for Trump? This Sociologist Has the Answer


“Arlie Hochschild spent five years interviewing tea party members in Louisiana prior to Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory, and is now hanging out with non-college-educated white guys in Appalachia. Democrats should listen to what she has to say”

Arlie Hochschild. Believes that in order to understand anyone’s politics, we need to understand their “deep story” – how they perceive themselves and their situation. Credit: Paige K. Parsons

Thoughts 💭 /

Carefully listening to people’s stories, understanding them from an emotional standpoint, and approaching the deep stories of individuals. Her approach may provide clues to overcoming the various “empathy barriers” that divide not only U.S. but the World.

#Lobsterr で佐々木さんが紹介していた「壁の向こうの住人たち」著者の社会学者ホックシールドさん。丁寧に人々の話を聴き感情面から相手を理解し個人が持つディープストーリーに迫る。アメリカだけでなく世界を分断する様々な「共感の壁」を克服する手がかりになりそうなアプローチ。


Toxic Internet Culture From East To West


“What the digital worlds of Japan’s imageboards and America’s alt-right reveal about real-life precarity.”

Yu Maeda for Noema Magazine

Thoughts 💭 /

This topic came up when I talked with American friend yesterday about the riots at the Capitol. Why was 2channel born in Japan? Why do similar darkness arise in completely different cultures in Japan and U.S.? Good to read but I can’t find any key to make this better.


Tiny News Collective aims to launch 500 new local news organizations in three years

LINK 👉 Nieman Lab

At least half of the new newsrooms will be “based in communities that are unserved or underserved, run by founders who have historically been shut out.”

Thoughts 💭 /

Just as Bookshop is for local indie bookstores and The Green Hub is for ethical small businesses, The Tiny News Collective is for local indie media. It’s a trend that’s happening in all genres, and as a lover of Giant Killing, I welcome it!

地元のIndies書店向けにBookshopが、EthicalなSmall Business向けにThe Green Hubがあるように地元のIndies Media向けにThe Tiny News Collectiveが誕生。よりLocalでよりCollective。あらゆるジャンルで起こっている動き。Giant Killing好きな僕としては大歓迎な流れです

A New Wave of African Photographers


“From Nigeria to Ethiopia and Senegal to South Africa, photographers from the continent are in demand from global fashion publications. Which brands will tap them for their next ad campaign?”

South African Photographer, Lesedi Mothoagae. Lampost Creative Agency.

Thoughts 💭 /

This is a special feature on African photographers who work for fashion magazines around the world. Each of them is unique, but especially Ogunbanwo, who says, “I have a great responsibility to document the times as they are.” A good photographer has a good philosophy. I have to be careful not to take flimsy pictures.


‘On a huge scale in Cambodia’: Director talks slave labour in Thai fisheries

LINK 👉 Southeast Asia Globe

“While many of the industry’s worst excesses have been cleaned up in recent years, bondage labour persists aboard Southeast Asia’s fishing vessels. Following the reemergence of his film Buoyancy, director Rodd Rathjen talks about the conditions he witnessed in Thailand’s infamous fisheries”

A still from film Buoyancy. Photo: Supplied

Thoughts 💭 /

A conversation between @SEA_GLOBE and the director of “Buoyancy” on Slave Labor in Thailand’s Fishing Industry. Not only at sea, but also in the sewing factories and brick workshops on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, there are people who are exploited in a way similar to slavery. I was impressed by the director’s philosophy, “For me, it’s about giving voice to the voiceless.”

タイの漁業における奴隷労働について @SEA_GLOBE と 「Buoyancy」監督との対話。海上だけでなくPhnom Penhの町はずれに佇む縫製工場や煉瓦工房でも奴隷に近い形で搾取される人々がいる。“For me, it’s about giving voice to the voiceless.”という監督の哲学に感銘を受ける。’s new cocktail club is recreating the city’s bar scene from readers’ homes

LINK 👉 Nieman Lab

“There’s such a fun food scene in the city that we all just miss, and this is our ability to replicate that as much as possible until it’s safe to go back out again.”

Thoughts 💭 /

The Boston Cocktail Club, launched by, is an initiative to help locals feel connected to their community by targeting bars and restaurants that suffer from C19. It is similar to Bookshop and The Green Hub in that it is the local media with the scale, expertise and community that can get everyone involved.

Boston.comが始めたBoston Cocktail Club。C19で苦しむBarやRestaurantを対象とし地元の人々がCommunityとの繋がりを感じられる取り組み。規模、専門知識、Communityを持つ地元メディアだからこそ皆を巻き込めるという点はBookshopやThe Green Hubに共通する。