The 中文网志年会 Chinese Blogger Conference 2005 has been going on in Shanghai for the last couple of days. Rebecca McKinnon at RConversation, among other English language bloggers has been there keeping up daily coverage.
The conference in itself has been really cool, for the density of topics covered, and the dissemination of the proceedings on the internet by a swarm of mediums from blogs to IRC, to video-blogs, and running translations from Chinese to English. Rebecca’s last post on the conference encapsulates for me the pervasiveness of the internet in China (and also across Asia).
What always made me happy when I’m in Guangzhou is the casual adoption and use of new technologies, which goes far beyond the standard email-web plus separate mobile combination in most western countries I’ve been. The ease of interconnectedness between various applications, mobile devices, and dominance of other methods of communication besides email-static web is a far smarter use of available tools, and removes the arbitrary distinction between on- and off-line.
Web2.0 is potentially a very Chinese thing. One of the most important words in the Chinese language is “guanxi.”It means “relationship.”Whatever you think about the term “Web2.0”, the point is that social networking and relationship-building are at the core of today’s most exciting web innovations. The Chinese happen to be the most natural and skilled social networkers on earth.
The Chinese economy functions today (to the extent that it does) thanks largely to personal relationship networks: networks that enable people to get stuff done despite bone-headed regulations, politics, logistical obstacles, and everything else. You are nothing in China –and can accomplish very little –without a good “guanxi”network. Expect Chinese internet users to seize upon Web 2.0 tools as a way to expand and deepen their human relationships, enhancing both personal lives and businesses. Expect Chinese users build new tools that suit their own preferred ways of communication. The Chinese are likely to have a growing impact on the evolution of web applications.