Thursday May 28, 2009

The World Learning English

Interesting little video about the world learning English. And check out China. My goodness. Are they motivated or what? They view learning English as pure opportunity. Very interesting perspective.

Monday Sep 22, 2008

Left in the Street in Beijing

I'm in Beijing for the week. Just got in. Really wild ride to the hotel from the airport. The driver got lost. Three times. Ok, it happens. Not a big deal. He was a charming fellow and trying very hard to please me. But each time he stopped and got out to ask for directions, he left the car running in the street. In the middle of the street. In traffic. With me in it. Now, Beijing is known to be a rather busy place. In fact, it's one of the most densely populated places on the planet. And with the lines on the road being mere suggestions, why would you park your car in traffic with a customer inside as you dart through oncoming traffic to ask for directions from the guy all the way over there on the sidewalk? I must admit, this has never happened to me before. Fortunately, the guys in the gigantic trucks were able to see the car in time and dodge around me with horns blasting. Got my attention, though, that's for sure.

Monday Aug 04, 2008

Ignoring China

Silicon Valley: If we ignore China, will it go away: "From Hong Kong to Singapore to Tokyo to Beijing and Sydney, they get it. But here in the Valley, there’s push back to the idea that China poses a threat to the Valley’s continued tech dominance. It took me a while to realize why. The Valley really is threatened and, rather than confront the challenge, prefers to remain in a state of denial. It’s easier in the short term. The questions I’m asked here in the Valley mostly center on Chinese government politics, Internet censorship, counterfeiting, and pollution. Sure, these are big issues, but there’s very little curiosity about what new technologies are being developed in China. It’s just a given that there really aren’t any, so why bother asking?" -- Rebecca A. Fannin, VentureBeat

Should be an interesting decade, eh? Not asking questions is a fascinating position to take in any situation. Looks like an interesting new book. Will check it out.

Tuesday Jul 15, 2008

Koppel on China

A great conversation here between Charlie rose and Ted Koppel talking about China. Looking forward to viewing Koppel's new program.

Sunday May 11, 2008

Avoiding Competition

You catch that Fortune article -- You have 7 years to learn Mandarin -- about China surpassing the United States economically in seven years? Whether it's seven years or fifty doesn't really matter, I suppose, since people will be arguing about how to measure this for a while. And the measurements themselves are changing, it seems. How convenient. Whatever. I think it's cool either way because it offers new opportunities, and that´s what I´m after. In fact, aside from the word freedom, I can´t think of another word that describes Americans better than the word opportunity. Can you?

But Fortune seems defensive. We are supposed to "worry" about this, and we are told that American individuals "can avoid competition with Chinese workers by doing place-based work, which ranges in value from highly skilled (emergency-room surgery) to menial (pouring concrete). But the many people who do information-based work, which is most subject to competition, will have to get dramatically better to be worth what they cost. For government leaders: Improve U.S. education above all."

The first part of that paragraph is ridiculous. You can't "avoid competition" in a global economy, and I´m not "worrying" at all. Why not embrace the change as an opportunity? In fact, wouldn't be cool to live in China for a bit to check all this out first hand? Wouldn´t it be cool to learn some Chinese and interact with Chinese from their perspective for a while? I don´t see very many people in the US thinking this way about the rise of China (and India, for that matter, and some other emerging markets around the world, too). In fact, Sin-Yaw Wang has it right when he comments about the Fortune piece: "The new generation of business leaders, now in their 20s or 40s, must learn to do business in China and with Chinese. 7 years is not that long to master a language, especially when one is not even trying." I agree. And I´m reading this view (the not trying bit) over and over again. It´s defensive. Oh, well. I suppose that´s an opportunity for those who see it differently, right?

Thursday May 01, 2008

Crazy English in China

Fascinating piece about this guy Li Yang teaching "Crazy English" to huge crowds of people in China. His technique is rather unique, but I can see how it may have significant benefits for anyone learning another language as an adult. The larger language issue in China, though, is illustrated by this utterly amazing quote from the article: "Linguists estimate the number of Chinese now studying or speaking English at between two hundred million and three hundred and fifty million, a figure that’s on the order of the population of the United States." Just think about that. Just think about how that changes things in the future with language barriers beginning to melt away and what means for global communications and global economics. Also, Ampontan has a detailed analysis of the article that's well worth reading and adds some interesting context from Japan.

Monday Oct 22, 2007

Shanghai Tonight

Nice night tonight in Shanghai. I'm here for Sun's Tech Days event this week. Should be a great time. The conference center around the corner is where OpenSolaris was actually announced in 2004. Good to be back.

Shanghai

Shanghai set on flickr

Tuesday Oct 09, 2007

China's Global Growth

China Begins to Fulfill Its Potential for Big Profits: "This year, China for the first time will contribute more to global economic growth than any other country, including the U.S., according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund. With its economy expanding at a rate of more than 11% this year, China is on track to surpass Germany as the world's third-largest national economy by dollar value, although its annual output is still less than one-quarter of the U.S.'s at market exchange rates." -- Andrew Batson and Jason Dean, Wall Street Journal

The article mentions Caterpillar, Sun, Intel, and others as they all rapidly invest to expand in China.

Tuesday Jul 17, 2007

Chinese Internet Demographics

China to overtake US in number of Internet users in 2009: "There are now an estimated 137 million Internet users in China, and that number has been growing by 18 percent since 2004 until it picked up even more steam in 2006, going up to 23 percent. The United States has 165 million Internet users, according to Pew, with 25 million of those users being aged 12-17. At the current rate of growth in China, the number of Chinese web surfers will surpass the number of American users some time in 2009, and it will continue to rise sharply afterward. With more than half of Americans already online, China's growth over the next 10 years will easily dwarf that of the United States." -- Jeremy Reimer

It will be wild to experience how these demographics change the Internet. And China, too.

Friday Jul 06, 2007

Asia: The Future of Development?

Developer Population to Reach 19 Million by 2010 -- "By 2010, 43% of all developers will be found in the APAC region. That is an 83% increase from 2006, compared to just a 15% increase in North America for the same period." -- Evans Data

Thursday Jun 10, 2004

My Captor

chinaI went shopping the other day at the Xiushui Outdoor Market in Beijing with some friends. Exhausting experience, but I loved it. You just gotta go there if you are ever in Beijing. If you go, though, be prepared. You'll not be alone. Walk through that entrance and you enter a different world .... I made a new friend in there ... this sweet kid here. She was a charming teenager who taught me an extremely valuable business lesson. One I'll never forget. Notice her, ah, gentle -- yet persistent -- negotiating technique in the picture below. Strong kid, I can assure you. You see, she wanted 850 RMB for a sweater. I wanted to pay 80. Ok, we were far apart, but who the hell knows what anything is worth in this place, so I decided "look around a little bit and come back." Wrong answer. She wanted to negotiate more.
 
It took me 10 minutes to get out of her 20 square foot booth (her store, actually ... one among hundreds lined up along the street). She had me cornered. I finally had to shove my way past her as gently as I could to get into the street so I could get away. She had amazing leverage in that little body of hers. After I got out of the booth, she chased me and grabbed my arm. Really strong kid. 
So, we took our negotiations to the street. You negotiate by tapping numbers into a calculator and going back and forth. Very little English in the place. There was a bit of yelling with this one, too. And back and forth we went. Right in the middle of the street. Now, I'm 6 feet and 185 pounds. She was 5 feet and probably 90 pounds. But she was fearless. And she had something else going for her -- she really wanted that sale. We still couldn't agree on a price, so I decided to try to leave again.

Wrong move.

After literally dragging her about 50 feet up the street -- much to the delight of the several hundred people watching this -- I started to break down. My heart was pounding. But strangely, she didn't even break a sweat. She probably does this more than I do. My friend, Danese Cooper, snapped this picture just as my captor won the battle and dragged me back that very same 50 feet to her booth. 100 RMB. Sold.

My lesson? Never give up. Never!
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