Technology in China

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Technology in China by Mind Map: Technology in China


1.1. Ordering Takeout Food or "外卖"

1.1.1. One of the ways Chinese technology meets with daily actions and traditional thought is food delivery. A swarm of delivery man is a common sight in Chinese cities, flowing (流) through the streets delivering energy (气) in the form of food, to costumers. -- "A person of great virtue is like the flowing water. Water benefits all things and contends not with them. It puts itself in a place that no one wishes to be and thus is closest to Tao" Chapter VII Tao Te Ching

1.2. Riding a RIdeSharing bike or 分享单车

1.2.1. Transportation systems in China are tracked and connected. From freight cargo trucks to small individual shared bikes. Even the shortest of trips, is a vector in an ever-ending mash of trajectories, that flow forth and back as currents. -- "A virtuous person is like water which adapts itself to the perfect place. (...) His work is of talent like the free flow of water. His movement is of right timing like water that flows smoothly." Chapter VIII Tao Te Ching

1.3. Sopping Online in the "Real Space"

1.3.1. Visual recognition is a playful manner to explore how retail apps have turned the most mundane objects into the drivers of a planetary scale transformation of landscapes, resources and labor. -- "Man models the Way of earth; Earth models the Way of heaven; Heaven models the Way of Tao; Tao models the Way of nature." Chapter XXV, Tao Te Ching

1.4. Streaming and Influencers

1.4.1. "Virality" is on its own, a sort of organic behavior that supersedes individual and manifests unconscious forces taking hold of social psyche. The popularization of streaming platforms and endless video feeds are among the main drivers of this phenomenon, as well as an increasingly defining trait of Chinese Internet. -- "As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, it becomes ugly. As soon as virtue is being known as something good, it becomes evil. Therefore being and non-being give birth to each other." Chapter II, Tao Te Ching

1.5. Weibo and polemic trend topics

1.5.1. Western internet is conceived as detached from morality, as a neutral, limitless and secular space of free speech and free will. What if values like "Trustworthiness" or "Piety" would be the foundation of a web? -- "The government that seems the most unwise, Oft goodness to the people best supplies; That which is meddling, touching everything, Will work but ill, and disappointment bring." Chapter LVII, Tao Te Ching


2.1. Cosmology

2.1.1. 道 Dao or "The way" is the core concept of Daoist (or Taoist) belief. In the words of Yuk Hui: "Dao stands for the supreme order of things (...), Dao is present in everything and in every being (...) Dao is not a particular object nor is the principle of a specific genre of objects; it is present in every being, yet escapes all objetification". In our analogy between cosmological concepts and technology, the Dao would be represented by the Data: ever present, ever changing, ever flowing. Data is quantifiable Dao.

2.1.2. 器 Qi or "Machine" is a complementary concept of Dao. In traditional Chinese cosmology, a good 'machine' or 'instrument' is one that channels the Dao and doesn't corrupt it. In this energetic view of the world, beings are joined together in a cosmic order which communicates through a conciousness common to them all (Dao), and techniques concerns the ability to skilfully bring something together that resonates with this cosmic order.

2.1.3. 流 Liu or "Flow" is an inherent characteristic of Dao, and therefore of every being. It embodies the transformation under which everything is under. It is as well, the key connection between the cosmological principles of ancient China and the practical reality of its contemporary information society.

2.1.4. 孝 Xiao or "Filial piety" is a concept in Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, which is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. This good conduct brings good name to your lineage, and ensures the smooth functioning of society. This "filial piety" extends to your teachers, bosses, government officials, all the way to the emperor (in ancient times) or the chairman (XiJinPing) in contemporary China.

2.1.5. 气 Chi is translated as 'air', 'energy' and it represents the vital force of a living entity. Is one of the main elements in Chinese cosmology, medicine and martial arts, and stands for the vital energy of beings, which is in constant flow and transformation, that can be cultivate, and must be in balance to preserve health. It is considered as a pseudo-scientific concept similar to energy, that hasn't been observed or mesured, and it is used in common contemporary Chinese to talk about steam, breath, emotions, food and mental health.

2.2. Government

2.2.1. Great Firewall 防火长城 FangHuo ChangCheng is the combination of legislative actions and technologies enforced by the People's Republic of China to regulate the Internet domestically. It blocks access to selected foreign websites and can slow down cross-border internet traffic, as well as censor content deemed 'inappropriate'. It makes sure that every website or software operator in China abides by Chinese law. Its deployment has been crucial to the nurturing and development of a local Chinese Internet ecosystem, that has followed different paths from international software firms.

2.2.2. Social Credit Score 社会信用体系 SheHui XinYong Tixi is a national reputation system being developed by the Chinese government. By 2020, it is intended to standardize the assessment of citizens and businesses economic and social reputation, or 'Social Credit'. The score is influenced by the type of purchases you make, time you spend doing certain activities, if you abide by traffic laws or even social media comments you make. If high, can allow access for selected education institutions, healthcare services or credit loans. If low, can bar the user from purchasing plane or train tickets, and more.

2.3. Real Space

2.3.1. “Taobao Villages" 淘宝村 TaoBaoCun or "Taobao Villages" are villages in China that had transformed their local economy through the online shopping platform "Taobao" (the Chinese Amazon). Normally they focus their production on a series of similar consumer products, involving many families or sometimes the whole village. This has been one of the main drivers of the repopulation of rural areas by the working-age people, as well as the main drivers of economic development in rural China. As of 2019, they surpass 1,500 villages and towns.

2.3.2. Transportation & Infrastructure Chinese infrastructure projects are getting international attention, either as news of Chinese economic development, or as viral videos on social media. The accelerated construction of highways, railways and 4G networks (with the 5G unfolding right now) has facilitated the connection of remote areas of the nation as parts of the economic superstructure, expanding urban privileges to rural areas.

2.3.3. Retail Locations and Machines Retail locations in China follow market forces, and are boosted by big data profiling of costumers. With the rise of mobile payments, they can target their audience, as well as market directly through the apps that host the payments. As such, there are many discounts and bonuses for buying with your device, and even more for sharing with your contacts, all of which ensures broader data collection.

2.3.4. Web Servers The Chinese Government requires that all tech companies, both local and foreign, store their information in web servers located inside China. This ensures the government's full sovereignty over the data produced in the country, as well as access to it if needed.

2.3.5. Delivery Services 快递 KuaiDi or delivery services are one of the supports of the digital revolution in consumer goods. Dozens of rivaling companies offer nationwide transportation of goods, stretching out to even the most remote villages and delivering from 1 day to a week.

2.4. Internet

2.4.1. Mobile Payment Is a technology through which users can pay for any service with their phones. The most popular services, WeChat and AliPay, are social media apps with a range of other applications, which sometimes only allows for that only payment method (which is hosted within the app). They surged because of the slow deployment of credit card payments, and currently over 90% of Chinese uses it. In physical stores, there is always a QR code that can be scanned to make the payment.

2.4.2. Tencent & Wechat Tencent is the parent company of WeChat, a texting and social media app that has over one billion active users every day. It allows to communicate and share with friends, as well as purchase clothing, food, train tickets, hotels, book hospital appointments, make payments through WeChat Pay, among many, many applications more. By allowing third party apps to host 'mini apps' inside WeChat, they can process and collect the data of the transactions made through them, allowing massive Big Data optimization for all the Tencent products.

2.4.3. Alibaba & Taobao Alibaba is a business conglomerate that has TaoBao, 'the Chinese Amazon'. By only allowing purchases through their mobile payment system 'Alipay', they ensure a wide base for their financial system network 'Zhima credit' (that provides credits or any bank service through the phone), as well as massive data collection for their web services business AliCloud.

2.4.4. DouYin and Video Streaming Video streaming is the next digital industry in China, set to be bigger than cinema box office by 2025. There are many popular platforms, but the main one is 抖音 DouYin, known in the west as 'TikTok'. Its viral and addictive format of short videos mixed with live stream revenue format, made TikTok one of the biggest social media apps in 2018 worldwide. These platforms have created a class of influencers and livestreamers big and far apart across China, even in remote rural areas. It also provides additional revenue income for street artists and performers, street food vendors among others.

2.4.5. Weibo Is known as the 'Chinese twitter', and hosts most of the trending topics discussed by common people and the media. Is usually the public space for pressing social matters, and because of this is also the target of government surveillance to spot dissent.

2.4.6. XueXi 学习 is an app released by the government to study the teachings, history and doctrine of 习近平 XijinPing, the current chairman of China. (the title plays with the character 习, which is both the last name of the chairman and also part of the word 学习 that means 'to study'). Inside the app you have some trivia that will provide a score, which you can post on your WeChat or other social media, and also with a local, regional and national ranking. Is safe to assume, that performing well in this app might earn you also some good social credit points in the future.