Monday, January 23, 2012

Economist: Fujifilm vs. Kodak

Most recently, The Economist magazine had two articles in a row comparing Kodak's woes and Fujifilm's revitalization. They are very much worth of reading. In particular I like the following quotes from the articles, which I specially shared here with the Thinking Space readers.

"...most important, firms must resist looking for a magic wand when hard work in needed."

"It is easy to think that companies can compete by outsourcing production and focus on developing and marketing. But many innovations bubble up from the factory floor. ... Today, as debates rage in America over the degree to which returns on capital exceed those from actual business operations, and the relative merits of employment in manufacturing versus the services sector, the history of Kodak is more relevant than ever."

The links to the original articles:

1. The last Kodak moment?

2. How Fujifilm survived?

A New Year Post and the new generation Chinese

Today is the Chinese New Year. Sincerely I wish all the readers of Thinking Space a great new year of dragon!

In this very first post of 2012, I would like to share how the new generation Chinese (typically to who were born after 1980) are thinking of some old, but at the same time very much timely, topics of mankind---revolution, democracy, and freedom.

The year of 2011 is remarkable for the global-wide revolution of looking for more freedom and democracy. From Tunisia to Egypt and Syria, and to the Wall Street, revolution and protests were everywhere. In consequence, TIME magazine made the Protester the person of the year 2011.

Being the largest nation of the world that remains the dictatorial leadership, China was expected to be greatly affected in the movement by many western human-right activists. In reality, however, the nation is barely shaken. At the end of December 2011, just few days before the new year, Han Han (韩寒), the most popular and well-known blogger in China, published his so-far most profound and clearly-stated viewpoints on revolution, democracy, and freedom. The three blog posts, "Speak Revolution" (谈革命), "Say Democracy" (说民主), and "Ask Freedom" (要自由), are the manifesto of the Chinese new generation on what they believe China will and shall be in this rapidly changing world. Han Han, being the speaker of this new generation Chinese, organized and concluded the message.

To anyone who are interesting in the contemporary China or the people who want to learn the future of China, he must pay attention to the three articles. In this post I therefore share some selected viewpoints from them. Moreover, I add it with a few comments of my own. Hopefully the comments may help the readers to understand better of the original messages.

Speak Revolution (谈革命)

Q: Does China need a revolution?

Han Han: No. China needs reform. But China does not need revolution.

The problems of having revolution in China:

(1) Only the cruel persons could (and would) be the ultimate beneficiaries of revolution. This is especially true in the eastern societies (such as China) that are constituted of many different classes and with very complicated interest distribution in heritage.

(2) Besides anti-corruption there is no other general consensus in China. Anti-corruption, however, can only be served as the cause of a revolution but not the goal of a revolution.

(3) Normally the goal of revolutions is to realize the common interest such as "freedom" or "just". There are, unfortunately, no markets of these issues in the contemporary China. Most Chinese people "feel" that they are now free. When being asked about just, most Chinese do not really care of it until themselves are unjustly treated.

Therefore, in the contemporary China revolution is impossible. The only transformation that may occur is reform. And it is happening.

Q: Isn't the problem of China too great to a reform?

Han Han: If it would be a revolution and suppose it were not suppressed (very unlikely) by the government, the following would become reality.

In the middle of the revolution, we will face the problem of whom leads. There will be no consensus among the students, the ordinary city citizens, the social elites, the intellectuals, the peasants, and the workers. In particular, the about 250 million people, who are very poor and previously have no access to Internet at all, will stand out. The revolution, no matter how it begins, will end with another wave of predatory wealth redistribution (in the name of "getting MY money back"). The middle-class will be destroyed. People will kill each other to grasp more money. Only if the society might be in disorder for 5 years, the people of China would look for a new dictator to end the turbulence and they would bow to his dictatorship. Revolution in China has no hope of bringing the true democracy.

Q: When would be the best time to have revolution and realize democracy in China (if it might happen)?

Han Han: Revolution and democracy are two less-related terms. One does not lead to another. In our history we have proved that revolution can not guarantee to bring democracy. History had given China an opportunity. The generation of our fathers had made their choice. Today China is the least likely nation of the world that may have revolution. At the same time China is with the most urgent need to be reformed. If you insist on asking when the best time of a revolution is, it will be when everyone automatically turns off the high beam of their cars on the street intersections. In fact, however, when it does come true revolution has already become unnecessary.

My comments:

Symbolically in the current China being able to access Internet or not divides Chinese into two groups. The ones who can access Internet are the beneficiaries of the economic reform. The ones who cannot are the sacrifiers. The people of the western society are often only able to hear the voice of the economic-reform beneficiaries. Precisely Han Han is a speaker of this group. Although many times Han Han writes and makes voices for whom cannot access Internet, it is undeniable that he represents only the ultimate interest group of his stand, the economic-reform beneficiaries. It distinguishes him from some other aggressive Chinese human rights activists such as Liu Xiaopo (刘晓波).

The ratio of population between the said two groups determines the stability of the current Chinese society. Since the economic-reform beneficiaries take control of media and government, the revolution of China may not occur unless the number of the economic-reform sacrifiers become significantly greater than the number of the economic-reform beneficiaries. Until now it is not the fact. Therefore I agree to Han Han's observation---currently in China there is no chance of any revolution that is similar to the Arab Spring to happen.

As in any society, people who are grouped because of benefit will break quickly as soon as the benefit becomes no longer. This is why Han Han asks for more and deeper economic reform. And this is why the Chinese government has to make all efforts for sustaining an annual growth rates of 8%. The longer the economic reform continues being effective, the more time China may keep its stability.

There is not going to be revolution in China soon. But the risk always exists because the economic reform has not addressed and will not solve a very fundamental conflict in Chinese society---the conflict between ethics poverty and immoral wealth. Pessimistically Han Han predicted that only the cruel persons might be the ultimate beneficiaries of revolution. It is inferred by the fact that during the economic reform the majority of the great beneficiaries get their benefit through the immoral ways such as corruption. The slogan of the Chinese economic reform ("white cat or black cat, whoever catches mice is the good cat") disclaims the value of morality and truth in the process of economic growth. By the theory it is only the economic outcome that matters. This philosophy accompanies the growing-up of the Chinese new generation. And it has become the dominant style of thinking among this generation.

Empowered by such an outcome-directing philosophy, many of the Chinese new generation become extremely selfish. They do not care of environment until the environment around themselves fails. They do not care of poverty until themselves become poor. They do not care of just until themselves are treated unjustly. Everything must be self, self, and self-centralized. It is truly impossible to imagine a revolution participated by them. On the other hand, the situation is desired by the dictatorial government because the risk of organized anti-government movements is thus restricted to the minimum.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The first poem written by Vania

Vania, my daughter, is 10-year old now. Today she wrote her first poem ever in the style of haiku (a Japanese poetic form). The poem is so beautiful that I cannot help from sharing it here.


Hard winds blow astray
As clouds swirl around each other
Making day the night

The following is my translation of the poem into Chinese.



The original publication of the poem is here. She typed it and cited the picture by herself.

A beautiful song to share --- lovers sung by Jackie Evancho

Jackie Evancho is a brilliant singer. It is unimaginable to believe she is barely 12, especially when you hear her songs. Lovers is one of her songs that I loved the most. She has interpreted the song so wonderful. I think that even the original movie itself does not deserve this marvelous rendering.

The Lyrics

There was a field in my old town
Where we always played hand in hand
The wind was gently touching the grass
We were so young so fearless

Then I dreamt over and over
of you holding me tight under the stars
I made a promise to my dear lord
I will love you forever

Time has passed
So much has changed
But the field remains in my heart

Oh, where are you?
I need to tell you I still love you
So I reach out for you
You fly around me like a butterfly

Your voice still echoes in my heart
You are my true love

There was a field in my old town
Where in spring all flowers blossomed wide
We were chasing butterflies
Hand in hand ‘till close of day

Your voice still echoes in my heart

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Remember Steve Jobs

I feel very sad of his passing away. He is truly a legend.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Computing, a new public utility of the 21st century, Part 2

From the economic, the web evolutionary, the societal, and the technological perspectives, the computing as a utility has already begun.

This is the part 2 of a three-installment mini-series.

Part 1: a broad view of public utilities

Part 2: another thinking of the mobile web and the apps

The rise of the mobile web and the prevalence of the mobile apps combine to be the most significant phenomenon about the Web since the hype of Web 2.0. Based on a recent report from TheNextWeb, 31% of the 5 billion mobile phone users in 2010 accessed the web through their phones. The analysts predicted that in as early as 2014 the total number of global mobile Internet users would be equal to the total number of desktop Internet users. According to the data by Business Insider in March, from June 2009 to March 2001 the number of iPhone apps increased 7 times and reached the total number of 350K. During the same time period the number of apps on Android increased 50 times and reached beyond the total number of 250K.

What does this phenomenon represent? Among the many people have explained it based on four typical perspectives.

Economically the mobile web rises due to the economic need. Fred Wilson declared that "the mobile economics will trend toward Web economics". The mobile web business is what the Web business extends itself to the mobile phones for the convenience of the customers. Although cautiously I disagree to Wilson's corollary that "the business models that don't work well on the web will not work well in mobile in the long run", sincerely I am inclined to his prediction that the size of the mobile web business will be "even bigger and more exciting" than the desktop web business we have experienced.

Evolutionarily the Internet demands new types of links to grow. Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff claimed that the rise of the mobile web was one indicator to "the Web is dead". "The rise of machine-to-machine communications", Anderson wrote, "... is all about control." Web 2.0 brings the Web users closer to each other. The mobile web, by contrast, brings the users' computing closer to the respective service computing providers. Through the mobile apps the direct links between the service providers and the service consumers are established and enhanced. With these new strong connections the Internet was woven to be more diverse in the style of its links.

Societally we are able to get to the more delicate details of our society through the mobile apps. Ed Schipul emphasized that the mobile web equaled to a new way of communication in his public presentation "Mobile Web: How the impact of the iPhone will change Communications". Through the mobile web, the unspeakable living context is added to the social networks. The mobile web is a natural extension of Web 2.0 that is dedicated to the discovery and enhancement of the interpersonal relationships in our society.

Technologically it is a new gadget revolution that makes us live better. The prevalence of the mobile apps has updated the vision from software as a service (SaaS) to mobile as a platform. The quick adoption of iOS and Android indicates us a new era of information technology. They are not another operating system. They represent a technological revolution that liberates us from the sole binding to the computers for knowledge calculation.

Behind the four explanations it is the shift of computing from the local computers to the cloud as an utility.

Because of the computing as an utility, we are able to invent the new, less-powerful gadgets such as the smart phones to handle the more and more sophisticated demands of information calculation. This is the technological impact.

Because the new information-computing gadgets are smaller and less powerful, which means cheaper, more users are actively involved into the tide of information creation. More delicate details of our social life are digitized by the small gadgets. This information is then sent to the more powerful cloud and executed by the utility. This is the societal impact.

Because the demands are generated by the gadgets while the solutions are provided by the utility, the Internet is evolving toward an enhanced web whose new links directly connect the demands and the solutions. This is the web evolutionary impact.

And at last, because of all of the above computing becomes more efficient and more effective by the form of being an utility. In consequence we can use it to produce more output that satisfies our economic needs. This is the economic impact.

The cloud computing at present is still on its very early stage. Let it alone the computing as a utility in its ultimate form. But as we discussed in this post, the process of computing to be a utility is already inevitable by the mean of technology, by the mean of societal influence, by the mean of web evolution, and by the mean of economy. It is only a matter of when in contrast to a matter of whether or not.


In the first installment of the series we studied that in theory computing is eligible to be a utility. In the second installment we discussed how the process of computing being a utility had already begun. In the next installment we will then share how the world and our life would be after the computing as a utility comes true.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Being a pastor is hard

It has been 5 months. I must say that it is hard to keep on sharing a reasonably insightful post about the belief of Christianity every Sunday. Then I can imagine how hard it must be for a pastor to prepare a sermon that must inspire and bring light to hundreds of listeners every week.

The difference is that a post like this, let it alone a sermon, must be the sharing of truth and love. It is unlike writing the technology articles, which you do not have to put into your spirit. A post of technology does not require me to study and examine the deepest of my heart. But any post (or sermon) of the belief takes the heart with the writing. Before we speak of the truth, we were first judged and examined by the truth. The experience is hard. And many times it is even painful because it is truly difficult to write about sunshine when we find ourselves still in the darkness.

Ephesians 6:24

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

In Chinese Translation (以弗所书 6)

24 并愿所有诚心爱我们主耶稣基督的人都蒙恩惠!