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MultiView - FusionView and Dulwich OnView interview

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Thursday, 08 May, 2008

Content I've been in touch with London-based, Malaysian-born writer Yang-May who I profiled on Visible Chinese, and she recently asked to profile me back on two websites she is involved with. It's now up on her sites and I thought I'd include the text here as well. More details and links at the end of the article...

Article :

Unofficially named "Mark Wu" (my Chinese name being my legal identifier), I've led a quite straight-forward life. My parents came to the UK when they were teenagers and met and married young.

My brother, sister and I were subsequently born into the British Chinese culture which labels a generation of young Chinese people whose parents immigrated to the UK, and where the majority of families were involved in one way or another, in catering.

With a talent for drawing, at an early age, I was "destined" for the arts and eventually found myself drawn to digital design.

In the last decade, I've spent most of my life focusing on working through my co-founded design company Kibook Interactive Design, which at its peak in the dot-com boom, grew to eight people plus freelancers.

Aside from working quite alot, doing the company thing also meant meeting and working directly with a variety of clients and living a life that combined freedom (sort of) and choice with responsibility.

Some of our clients were British Chinese organisations such as Yellow Earth Theatre and The Pearl Foundation and that was great for me personally, to be able to tap into my own culture professionally.

Working with them in the last five years or so, meant being involved with what I perceive to be an important time in the UK's Chinese culture, with its growth and development being quite passive initially but which is now continually increasing in pace, encouraged by the Olympics in China this year.

Promoting Chinese culture in the UK is something I am passionate about and as a result, I am a Trustee of The Pearl Foundation, Interactive Associate of Yellow Earth Theatre and a core member of The British Chinese Project which is an organisation that works to help integrate more British Chinese people into politics.

Visible Chinese

Bringing together my passion for promoting British Chinese culture and design for the web, I also created another website which came about through a simple idea. The website is at VisibleChinese.com and it aims to become an Authoritative Independent Listing of Achievers within the UK's Chinese Culture. Pretty much like a Who's Who.

Visible Chinese is a site that is focused on profiling just individuals, as opposed to organisations, putting faces to names, as I insist on a photograph to accompany each profile. Profiles can be flexible in what they say, as long as they are biographical in some way.

People can also outline what they do professionally and include links to their websites, so Visible Chinese serves as a great advertisement for their services and a useful tool for networking.

I like to think of it as the sum of its parts being greater than the whole. Someone I met recently mentioned how it would be useful to see what people looked like in order to help recognise them at a future networking event.

The site doesn't take long to maintain, and also doesn't have the same pressure as a blog requiring constant (perhaps daily) updates, so all in all, the whole concept is a win-win situation for both the people featured, and for myself in gaining the satisfaction of creating something useful.

Not so silent minority

The Chinese community in London seems to be advancing and growing in voice and confidence, from the media labeled "silent minority" it began as. Traditionally, the visible aspects of Chinese culture seemed to consist of takeaways, large suburban supermarkets and the annual Chinese New Year event around the UK's Chinatowns.

However, in recent years, there are signs that the next generation of young professionals are beginning to influence the community. Young professionals who have grown up in both Chinese and English cultures, and who are not just comfortable, but fluent in both.

As the British Chinese population increases, the diversity of talent also increases and is steadily gaining exposure. Take The Pearl Awards for instance. An annual event which will be in its fifth year in 2008. Each year saw the awards grow in profile and diversity with the fourth awards in 2007 set in the Royal Festival Hall, including HRH The Prince of Wales as one of its distinguished guests.

The British Chinese Project is also a significant initiative, founded by the prominent Chinese Solicitor, Christine Lee and which is supported by the UK Chinese Embassy, representatives from the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and a variety of different organisations and Chinese community groups.

It aims to encourage more British Chinese to take an interest in politics, particularly the younger generations, but in itself, also counts a number of young professionals as members, the like of who are increasingly looking to play active roles in the community.

Go Croydon!

In the North-South London debate, I was a classic, born North Londoner who believes everything there is better, alas more expensive, than South London. A few years ago, I moved down to Croydon to my partner's place and have been there ever since.

Croydon has a kind of stigma attached to it, but one which I think is over the years, being slowly eroded. It might be because of this, but everything in South London does seem to be cheaper than the North. Redevelopment in some areas is happening, and so I think the South is in someways, quite an exciting place to live.

What I can't fault is the convenience of being so close to shopping areas like North End, and the fast rail links into Central London - a bonus since I've been able to avoid getting on the claustrophobic tube to work.

Bruce Lee still inspires

I started my first blog One Inch Punch in December 2006 - during a quiet Christmas break, when I felt I really had no excuse not to. I had been working in the web industry for more than eight years and aside from a small portfolio site, had nothing of my own to show for it.

Building a blog was something that I wanted to do for awhile and it was also a good idea for several reasons. These included knowing the ins and outs of the process - which I could easily advise my clients on. "Walking the walk" as they say.

For almost a decade, I had been nurturing an idea for creating a large and complex East-Asian community website. Several visual designs came about, and the idea was refined, changed, amended and refined once more. I had never got beyond that, partly because of the time required and also due to lack of technical know-how required to get the idea made.

However, in the last few years, blogging technology has improved massively - enough for me to fine tune my comprehensive ideas down to a simple (and practical!) East-Asian entertainment link site. Hence, OneInchPunch.net was born.

Comprehensive as the ideas were, keeping things simple inspired the name OneInchPunch. I basically wanted to aim for one post update a day, which would consist of a visual and a link. Something short but effective, which literally speaking, is basically what a One Inch Punch is.

For those who don't know, the "One Inch Punch" is a martial arts technique, made world famous by Bruce Lee, which unleashes explosive internal (as opposed to muscular) power from a very short distance.

So the name was not just dynamic-sounding, but also indirectly name checks probably the world's most famous East-Asian.

Article end.

Yang-May Ooi is a writer and social media consultant based in the UK. She has published two novels with Hodder & Stoughton, UK. Yang-May blogs and podcasts at her multimedia online "magazine" Fusion View, an East / West blog on writing, culture and the arts at www.fusionview.co.uk.

The above article was published on FusionView and Dulwich OnView.

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