Monday, May 4, 2009

Navigating Our Lives, Our Economy, Our World with the Cellphone,

The cellphone has been a basic tool of micro-enterprise in numerous countries for sometime now. On a local level, it provides a relatively cheap means of communication, organization and control. Now it is beginning to create a new paradigm on a global scale. Two articles, again from the New York Times, provide a contrast between the potential of world connection and the realities of global markets, one although abstract is becoming a reality, the other a reality could change how we think about doing business.

SCIENCE | February 17, 2009 The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives By JOHN MARKOFF
Cellphones have changed how we communicate with others, and now they are changing how we think about information.

The cellphone is the world’s most ubiquitous computer. The four billion cellphones in use around the globe carry personal information, provide access to the Web and are being used more and more to navigate the real world. And as cellphones change how we live, computer scientists say, they are also changing how we think about information.

With the dominance of the cellphone, a new metaphor is emerging for how we organize, find and use information. New in one sense, that is. It is also as ancient as humanity itself. That metaphor is the map. “The map underlies man’s ability to perceive,” said Richard Saul Wurman, a graphic designer who was a pioneer in the use of maps as a generalized way to search for information of all kinds before the emergence of the online world.
TECHNOLOGY | April 28, 2009 In China, Knockoff Cellphones Are a Hit By DAVID BARBOZA
An industry building look-alike mobile phones for as little as $35 is tickling China's pride in rebellious creativity.
“Five years ago, there were no counterfeit phones,” says Xiong Ting, a sales manager at Triquint Semiconductor, a maker of mobile phone parts, while visiting Shenzhen. “You needed a design house. You needed software guys. You needed hardware design. But now, a company with five guys can do it. Within 100 miles of here, you can find all your suppliers.”

Even Chinese mobile phone producers are losing market share to underground companies, which have a built-in cost advantage because they evade taxes, regulatory fees and safety checks.

There are environmental dangers posed by this black market technology, but their is also a sense of backroom disruptive innovation going on as well.

Some experts say they believe the shanzhai phenomena is about being creative, Chinese style.

“Chinese grass-roots companies are actually very innovative,” says Yu Zhou, a professor at Vassar College. “It’s not so much technology as how they form supply chains and how rapidly they react to new trends.”
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