The Economic Machine Finally Flourishing

After entire eras of being blocked from the world with internal ideologies and economic systems, China started the greatest economic growth ever recorded in history. It wasn’t long ago when foreigners turned to look at the Red Dragon for business opportunities. Entire Western educational systems have been shaped around this focus. As more and more foreigners visited the country and many of them decided to call China “home”, there was a clear product consumption difference between locals and foreigners.

While foreigners looked for products that reminded them of home or were internationally trusted labels, locals remained with their traditions and seldom did they choose something else in lieu of. I myself witnessed such a consumer behavior. Even at restaurants, bars or night clubs; the places were full of foreigners and few Chinese citizens to be seen in those places. Perhaps it was I who unknowingly chose those places?

Well it turns out that after four years, my then-roommate went back for another visit to the Red Dragon. This curious division was at last forgotten about. Foreigners started consuming more and more local products, and locals were consuming more international brands in more public places. What made them change?

Although many can speculate the possible reason, perhaps it must have something to do with information consumption and locals’ economic growth. The more you get to know a product and inform yourself about it, the more likely you are to consume it. More importantly, if you have the purchasing power to feed on that curiosity, then the sky is the limit.

So the long standing and rapidly developing economic plans in China have been doing terrific good to its people. So much so, that not only is local consumption being more internationalized, but locals are spending their holidays in other countries. In fact, this 2012 is a marked trend that all major touristic places around the world will be receiving a large flock of Chinese tourism.

Despite the controversial website blockage in China, plenty of Internet development is still occurring. They might not approve of the Internet giants like Facebook, Twitter or Google, but it doesn’t mean they came up with their own versions of these services.

Other than individuals’ economic growth and local IT, what will China do next then? Where will their machine-like economic plan take them?

New Metrics, New Social Strata

It has already been described in dozens of books and reviews. Daniel Pink made sure to exercise the disruptive hemisphere of the brain with more than just a single book, and the world has now seen it make a huge difference in our society. Even though we are still under the capitalist model, social strata have begun to morph into more than just financial divisions and capabilities. There is now a new scale: creativity.

Employment may appear to have moved overseas, away from “the developed world”, leaving the West with unemployment rates. What is also true is that it’s not about the numbers, but rather the types of jobs that have remained. More intellectually capable, creativity based and psychological capabilities have remained. So much so, that the # 1 buzz word on LinkedIn profile descriptions is: Creativity.

The traditional model has passed away. Perhaps people still mourn the “good old days”, but this does not mean that it is the beginning of the end (or the total end for that matter); this means that the metamorphosis of the mind has finally begun to take place.

New things can be born out of this new structure. Even metrics have changed. A year ago, tech conoceurs would not have even guessed what TPS meant. It means “Tweets per Second”, and it is a record now held by a Japanese film with a total of 25,088 TPS.

A networked society, as described on the previous post, is now capable of going beyond the physical reality into an informed, educated, creative, holistic environment. So I ask, why if there are a zillion more possibilities with these new models, are people still mourning for the good old days? Don’t look back, rather look forward and see what you are missing.

In the Days of a Networked Society

I was watching a small documentary by Ericsson called “Networked Society” where one of the speakers mentioned we were in the “lightbulb era of the Internet”. This compares to the time when the lightbulb was invented, yet people didn’t yet realize all the things that could be done thanks to electric power. Today, this scenario holds true to broadband connection. How many things can we really do thanks to always staying connected to a high speed broadband connection?

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The video even includes a tweeting plant. Yes, even plants can be smart now. Bury an open source internet connected leave next to your plant and it will tell you when it needs to be watered via Twitter. This particular example may seem ridiculous but it has major agricultural implications. It’s not just about artificial gene mixing and reinvention, is actual, real time information of what you can do for crops to yield more produces.

In a networked society, people need not undergo the same Henry-Ford-like line of education. 11-year-olds are now self-taught to come up with apps, products and even small businesses. How could anyone even dream of doing that? Time had to go by in order to open books, read what was “right” for each age and have due-time maturity.

Education is not about grades anymore. Education is about connectivity, about the infinite possibilities derived from curiosity, will and broadband connected devices. Instead of educated people in developed countries, there’s a networked society.

Technology: Friend or Foe?

As we were finishing up on some details at the office the other day, I turned around and asked my partner, “Do you think technology is causing a greater gap between developing and developed countries?” His answer after thinking about it for a few seconds was that it was closing the gap rather than making it bigger.

Then recently, quite a cultural mishap occurred while at Latin America’s largest book fair. You may have read about it by now and the thousands of jokes that derived from the incident. But the true point in this situation (at least for me) was not the fact that a public figure was embarrassed and perhaps even humiliated in front of millions of people. The true point is that he was mocked by people that are just as guilty as he is: lack of lifelong readership background.

Makes me wonder, that even if we do have modern gadgets like the Kindle that will carry thousands of book titles for us instead of pounds of physical books, we are still not motivated to get involved with culture or education. Developed countries still read in average 30 books per person, per year. A recent study even said that 1 in every 10 Icelanders, there’s a published author. In other words, developed countries not only get involved with culture, but actually produce it.

Technology is being distributed all over the world. Even Latin America has sky rocketing numbers on smartphone usage. So what are people using smartphones for (or other gadgets for that matter)? Technology might be a great tool to simplify tasks and get better results, but in the end, that’s just it: a tool. A tool cannot do the job itself. A tool cannot think; a tool cannot set goals and pursue objectives.

So to answer my own question, yes, technology will help (and is helping in some cases) to close the gap between developing and developed countries. People aren’t. Words of change and action can be spat out over and over again, but it takes people to do it in the end. People, make yourselves proud.

The World as Seen from Multiple Screens

Have you ever sat down and thought about how evolution speeds up as time goes by? Think about it, the dark ages lasted for centuries, then each era seemed to be shorter. In the last hundred years we’ve had more progress than anything before that. It was only fifty years ago that there was a big cube in the living room, broadcasting the same content to millions of families at a time, without people having any control over what they watched. Even marketing seemed pragmatic and programmatic. Just watch Mad Men on HBO… how marketing has changed since the 60’s.

Now look at us. TVs are no longer giant, heavy cubes; they’re flat panels hanging from stylish walls most likely to be hooked to different devices or smaller screens. Plug in a digital camera, a PC, a smartphone and now even a tablet. And even when all of the above can be taken everywhere with you, the interesting part is not only being connected 100% of the time, but rather that you have customized content no matter if you are out for a jog, at the office, at your leisure or plain out bored.

Personally, as time passes by, I find myself to be surrounded by more and more gadgets. In my “engadgeted” world I can practically do anything with a decent Internet signal. What’s more, each little piece of machinery offers a different experience that cannot be equaled by any other.

This said, what would happen if all of a sudden all of our gadgets were taken away from us? History tells us that we’re perfectly capable of surviving such “catastrophe”, but how would we cope with hole left in us all? Would panic surround us? Would we remember quickly enough how to do things analogically? I recall this video  not long ago in which several old gadgets were shown to seven-year-olds just to see if they recognized them or at least knew what they were for. The items included a walkman, a vinyl record player, a tape recorder and an old computer. Not a single participant knew what they were for.

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Let’s just hope progress keeps constant and we enjoy our present and our future. In any case, just remember how to read a book in regular pages, how to write by hand and how to walk to the nearest pizza place and get it back home. Can’t harm us, right?

Flash, iOS 5.0.1 and other Demons

It was a week full of technological developments and some managed to alter the caffeine levels in people’s blood streams. Between Adobe’s killing-flash announcement and Apple’s new iOS release, things are a bit sketchy for the mobile world.

First things first. Adobe has been the sole benefactor of Flash development since the mid 90’s, yes, that is before the Internet bubble. You could say it has built an empire and monopoly around the technology. But truth be told, innovation is not only about coming up with new versions of the old stuff. Innovation, after all, is about breaking paradigms. Flash was invented and developed to portray and develop animations and video content within the PC world. What came to be the mobile phone development wasn’t quite well calculated by Adobe.

Nevertheless, Flash continued to build its empire in non-PC devices without really taking into account one very important factor: mobile = small. Indeed, mobile translates to small everything: smaller screen, smaller processor and smaller capacity. A certain someone saw this window of opportunity and along came HTML5. Although young in nature, this new technology has managed to shake Adobe to its core, so much so that the company has pulled Flash from mobile and smart TVs just to pursue the big H.

How does this affect the mobile world? Well, if you turn on your Android tablet, don’t panic, you’ll still be able to watch videos supported by this platform. But eventually it will become a dead technology. No development = eventual death.

Ironically enough, it wasn’t that long after Adobe and Apple had announced their kissing and make up. Was this a dirty play on Adobe’s part? Unlikely. As mentioned earlier, Adobe is dropping the technology just to pursue HTML5, which was the only technology supported by Apple itself.

Apple has enough on its hands at the moment as it is. After the big 4S + Siri launch, all of us with the cute new gadget had come to terms with the very fragile battery life it has. If you’re lucky, you’ll cell phone will last 10 hours with a full battery. Reason? Bugs in the new iOS system. Solution? iOS 5.0.1 just to cure the little insect. Outcome? Well… it doesn’t look any better so far. My battery still runs out at the same rate it did before the upgrade, so what did you really do Apple?

After my rather strong argument against Blackberry and then switching to iPhone, I can’t really complain. Low battery or not, it is technology at its purest and most advanced meaning. So, cheers for all things mobile!

Remember Remember the 5th of November

Who would have thought a movie would have such influence in the mindset of millions of people? Truth be told, there have been a number of films that despite their fictional nature, have changed the course of history; Space Odisey 2001, and now it seems it still is the era of V for Vendetta.

In a futuristic, chaotic world, only the UK survives financial crisis and global conflict. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the promised land, but rather a struggling totalitarian state that only through fear can they hold steady. A particular masked activist decides that their system is no different from all the other fallen states, and so V is born.

That pretty much sums up the fictional plot, but what about the real world? Thousands if not millions of masks are sold around the world. But what’s even more shocking is that an actual group of people have taken in the philosophy and taken down tech systems to prove a point.

They promised that today Facebook would be next. Will this hold true? “Remember Remember the 5th of November”. What’s more, with all this technology around us, we can do anything, so why kill the principle itself? The group claims because of the abuse of power, but aren’t we all in the end in need of control? Where’s the line between control and abuse?

All I can think of is technology as a tool for the betterment of society. It may sound naive but in a connected world like never before seen, anything is possible.

Siri at Last

Yes. I kept my promise: the new iPhone 4s is in my hands now. After The Blackberry meltdown I wrote a pretty heavy note on Mr. Lazaridis poor execution and a “too little too late” apologetic video, I could only be logical and purchase what indeed is innovation by definition.
This post is being written from the WordPress app on my phone, I can even make Siri type for me.
Do note however that even with state of the art advantages, I wouldn’t have switched to Apple if only customers came first with Blackberry.
But now let the apps begin! I’m sure more than one of my readers will be happy to iMessage me 🙂

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The Perks of a Tech Start Up

Every industry has a particular characteristic, one that predefines what your lifestyle will be like; Wall Street has coronaries, Hollywood has endless parties and Silicon Valley has its ping pong tables. How did I know which one to pick? As much as I’ve become a ping pong lover, it wasn’t the blue table that got me hooked.

It was a slow process to be honest. I’ve always had a way to understand technology, mostly because my generation was the first one to grow up surrounded by computers. Remember the dial up connection? It meant a portal to my nickelodeon.com once upon a time. But then I was just a regular kid surfing the net for her favorite cartoons. What was the extra umph?

It wasn’t really after my year abroad that I became geek-e-fied. I started downloading apps instead of programs, more tech savvy, more industry savvy, my blog became a priority and an amateur criticism of the industry. I got fans and people debating on my ideas, I became a technorati writer and behold! The ultimate happening: Silicon Valley.

But most of all, what it was really taught me more than just fiber optics and web strategy, it has been analytical skills. How the market moves, how to judge new products and make out a respectable forecast of what will happen. It’s my career.

Once submerged in the intangibles, you look around and find that this is indeed a profitable scene; one that allows for delights to have room in your life. Truth be told? A recommended lifestyle.

RIM: The Sum of All Fears

This week was known as the week in which Blackberry Smartphones were everything but smart. Not a single BB phone around the world was working properly; it didn’t matter if you were in France, the US or Brazil, heck it didn’t even matter what carrier you had. Plain and simple, Blackberry owners were just carrying a brick around.

Some people couldn’t even make a phone call; alerts weren’t coming through and BBM services were down. Was the late Mr. Jobs sending a message from the underworld? “Blackberry Owners Unite! Switch over to the slick iPhone where your wishes are Siri’s command!” you could almost hear him say. Creepy or not, as a very sorry Blackberry owner, as soon as my services were back up again, I called my carrier and pre-ordered an iPhone 4S.

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I’m sorry Blackberry, for as much as I’d like to be a loyal customer, you didn’t make it even slightly easy on me. For all the times I’ve had to reset that brick, wait for the little black square to think through any process I commanded, I can now almost hear my personal assistant’s voice: Siri.

In a very “too little too late” attempt, Mr. Lazaris – founder and Co-CEO of RIM- sent out an apology to all BlackBerry owners. In the video (you can watch in this post), you can see him reading the teleprompter. Unlike other presenters, like the much mentioned retired soul, didn’t have to use that to know and present their product. It’s not just about the product, it’s about putting your back into it. Forgive Mr. Lazaris, but I just didn’t feel the apology. After so much trouble RIM has been through, this will only make matters worse, but will they pick up after themselves and carry on? There’s only one way to find out.