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This blog wishes it be known that the opinions presented herein are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not represent the feelings, opinions, ideas, or conclusions of any affiliated organization or group. Additionally, the author has chosen to keep the blog confidential during the Olympic Games 2008, as the reaction of the PRC towards foreign opinion remains ungauged. Thanks for reading.
Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August -- The Futures Present Opinion: Blue Skies and Blue Screens

Blue Skies, Blue Screens

If there is one global sound that is more recognized than wind blowing, rain falling, or cars honking it is most likely the start-up jingle of any windows machine. This sound, generally accompanied by a blue screen, has been echoing in offices and homes with increasing rapidity, ushering a new generation of computer users into the digital realm.
Yesterday, I walked down to JianGuanCun, the self proclaimed Silicon Valley of Beijing. In the hands of hundreds of happy customers, computing power walked out the doors, on to the streets, and home to join the information super highway. It is a ritual that is repeated daily, in this district, as China, now the global leader in internet users, progresses.
But other questions revolve around this surge in netizens within the PRC.

Where do these new users go online?

What do they do there?

What services will evolve as new users voice their needs, and China’s growing software industry rises up to meet them?

Where will they be going in 10, 20, or even 30 years down the road?

Will the million of Chinese that have web access in 2038 still be sitting in their homes or the prevalent internet cafes?

Today, as I sit in my apartment and ask these questions to a digital page, I can see from my window the Olympic torch building for the first time in months. After a round of induced rains that began a month ago, the air has cleared enough for me to see the building’s form and its megalithic screen that shines down on the site of the Olympic games. It is the first time that I have been able to recognize it through the haze of Beijing’s skies. Indeed, today, those skies are blue, and speckled with clouds, as the government continues to push towards the perfect beginning for the perfect Olympiad. But just 4 days ago, the smog and haze were so thick, that building less than half a kilometer away were shrouded from sight, and already that temporary blue begins to fade along the horizon.

This city is not unique in China, but rather has garnered the attention of the world media as the Olympic games approach. Those who have lived in China for far longer, and in more places would be, perhaps, a more trustworthy source of information concerning air quality in China’s metropolis centers, but therein lies the problem.

While China touts the world’s largest Internet population, those voices currently online are not always those most effected by the poor air conditions of the city. Most computer users sit in the comfortable and air filtered recesses of their home, offices, or cafes. Many travel to digital worlds for recreation, or chat with friends on popular QQ, or MSN messenger. Increasingly they make purchases and trade online. Do they have any interest in having blue skies grace Beijing daily? While the blue of the computer, and the blue of the skies are similar in shade, which shall have the greatest draw for new China?

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