Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tech Trend: Shanzhai


John Powers said...

I love this! I immediately thought about your Django project, which I see as a part of this trend.

It's interesting how the meaning of shanzhai has turned: "Once a term used to suggest something cheap or inferior, shanzhai now suggests to many a certain Chinese cleverness and ingenuity." I'm not sure "pirate" has the same potential. But I do think that "shanzhai" provides a story that connects and inspires people involved. Names emerge organically, but I'm curious as to how similar Make-culture initiatives will be called in different places.

John Powers said...

A little off topic but Keith Hart's new post The political economy of urbanization in contemporary Africa widens the perspective for this open-source economic activity--I'm not sure what to call it, as I think Shanzhai is but one variant of a more widespread trend.

Hart's piece is interesting from so many directions. It seemed particularly useful to round out John Robb's Global Guerrillas.

One point stood out:

"Most economists have approached the informal economy in quantitative terms as a sector of small-scale, low-productivity, low-income activities without benefit of advanced machines, whereas I stress the reliability of income streams and the presence or absence of bureaucratic *form*.

Composing said...

Thanks for the comments as always.

And that Keith Hart is very interesting.