‘Greater’ Tagged Posts

Notes from Shenzhen — the subsequent Better Bay Space

I simply walked into Shenzhen, and boy, is my thoughts boggled. Let me simply get all my knee-jerk chorus-line reactions out of the best way, earli...

 

I simply walked into Shenzhen, and boy, is my thoughts boggled. Let me simply get all my knee-jerk chorus-line reactions out of the best way, earlier than we get to the bizarre stuff: sure, this place is wonderful. Sure, the scores of shiny new skyscrapers appear to be one thing out of science fiction. Sure, the electronics markets are colossal hives of sensory overload, buzzing nonstop with small-scale high-tech commerce.

And sure, you do get the sense right here of being at a hinge level, in a spot the place historical past is being made whereas we watch. That is solely becoming for the fastest-growing metropolis within the fastest-growing area within the fastest-growing main nation on earth. However extra apparently, it’s a sense that Silicon Valley used to have … however hasn’t for a couple of years now, it appears to me.

Let’s speak about that area for a second. The Pearl River Delta, which incorporates Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and half a dozen different cities you’ve in all probability by no means heard of with populations measured within the tens of millions, has a complete inhabitants which (in all probability) exceeds that of California, Canada, and England – mixed. Yesterday I noticed a reference to this area because the “Better Bay Space.” Take that, San Francisco!

I child, I child; solely a stereotypically self-obsessed San Franciscan might assume that that is about them. America remains to be the king of software program, for now, however China’s tech giants are catching up. China’s authoritarian authorities retains stubbornly refusing to fall, or to guide its individuals into financial collapse, whereas the West is riven by internecine cultural warfare and essentially the most incompetent governments in generations, a minimum of in Washington and London. It appears inevitable that this would be the Asian century. Proper?

…Perhaps not.

(I warned you this was gonna get bizarre.)

I do know of Shenzhen as a result of it’s a hacker vacation spot, in the identical approach that I do know of Yangshuo up the highway as a result of it’s a backpacker vacation spot. One of many attention-grabbing issues concerning the hacker subculture is that, since your interlocutor is commonly/largely simply phrases on a display, it treats nationality like hair or eye colour; like idiosyncratic however finally irrelevant private colour. (Would that this had been true of gender, sigh, however that’s one other submit.) The identical is basically true of the backpacker subculture – so long as you share a standard language.

These two are, respectively, maybe essentially the most technical and most globalized of all of the world’s bizarre subcultures. What if it seems that they level the best way to our technical globalized future? What if forthcoming generations, mediated by real-time AI and English as everybody’s second (or third, or fourth) language, discover out they typically have extra in widespread with a cohort of friends scattered throughout nations everywhere in the world than with their neighbors?

We stay in an period the place tradition and language and memes and multiplayer video video games cross borders far sooner than items. Maybe desires and values are subsequent. I prefer to think about that there’s a minimum of an opportunity that that is the century of distributed communities, somewhat than anyone area of the globe or twentieth-century nation-state. I do know that sounds bizarre; however wanting round on the Pearl River Delta round me, its skyscrapers and bicycles and drones and Bitcoin mining rigs, what I discover myself questioning is whether or not it’s not bizarre sufficient.

Featured Picture: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Photos