Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The last time I was in Shanghai was in 1981 as part of a Nishimachi International School field trip. So... things have changed in 25 years. ;-)

The architecture and the restaurants reminded me of stuff in Japan during the bubble. Everything was experimental, well designed and executed. Although it reminded me of some of the "bubble era" architecture of Japan, much of it had more class.

I visited Augmentum, Leonard Liu's software company. (I wrote about Leonard before.) The company is only just over 2 years old, but it's booming and was in the Red Herring Asia's Top 100 this year. He has hundreds of people working at Augmentum, most of them fresh out of college. Leonard has been recruiting the best and brightest from Chinese universities and it shows. Since most of their customers are currently in the US, everyone speaks English in the office. It was great seeing how motivated, proud and focused everyone was. Considering the difficulty we have finding great people in the US for the various companies I work with, seeing all of these bright people ready to go made me quite envious. Leonard is an amazing and natural leader and his guru-like presence together with these eager minds made me feel like I was watching the beginning of something really big. Anyway, you can tell I was impressed. ;-)

I also met up with a bunch of old friends as well as CEOs of some very cool startups, the food was excellent and overall I now see how people kept telling me to go to Shanghai. I'm sure I'll be back there soon. Thanks to everyone for all of the hospitality!

One of the guys I met at Augmentum took me to the airport on the Maglev. I takes 7 min to go 30 km and hits a top speed of 431 km. Japan has a Maglev, but it's still running as a trial. This one in Shanghai is the first production one I think. Many people say that the reason the Chinese chose not to buy the technology from Japan was because of the political tension between Japan and China. I could imagine that being true. Having said that, I don't really care. It worked and it was great. I took some video. (m4v / avi).


Nice music for the video and I wish we had a Maglev in the US. :(

Made the music with Garage Band. ;-)

"Considering the difficulty we have finding great people in the US for the various companies I work with, seeing all of these bright people ready to go made me quite envious."

Do you think this is becuase there are more companies in the u.s. competing for people (a friend of mine works for a S.F. company that's primarily chinese and indian staffed) or do you think there are fewer qualified and inspired grads in the u.s.? just curious becuase we're always being told how we're falling behind and how China is putting out the future of _________.


Hey all. Yeah tryin to d/l the video tho would loose a sy. yeah well oi joi. IO'm usin mozilla monkey version and it wont let me download stuff. Since I cant remember when exactly, tho I may switch to mozilla firefox (of the first versions) and will do.
Not in a mood of installing another new system jus to check out monkeysea and I only have one computer (stationary) so yeah.
I kno about the tensions btween japan and china so was wondering if youre for real about askin yourself (perhaps I got the surprise wrong() how you may not acces your accountm, yaeah server from china. I mean, korse you can't.
cant remember when this dl problems have started with mozilla. A month or so. Was gonna take a pic of yeah a photograph from .gov museum and it didnt let me so since then.
Good to see you back and allright. dl the wideo at the mo. :p

Shanghai will be hosting the World Expo 2010 and has plans to introduce busses and taxis running on hydrogen until then. There is lots of hydrogen available from chemical companies as an industrial by-product in the area.

One of the reasons there are so many fresh graduates is that China did a national initiative to produce more programmers. I don't remember the exact number but there are hundreds of thousands of programmers graduating this year and something like 30% of them don't have work. The supply side of the equation of human capital is higher in China right now.

The US, of course, has many talented people, but the demand side is much stronger I think.

The problem with offshore outsourcing is social context. For example, if you ask a group of Indian programmers who have never visited Europe or America to develop a management system for state pensions, they won't really understand what you mean or why you want it. It's just something that they don't have in India, it's actually an anathema to a culture where the old are supported by their family network, rather than by the government.

You can say it's just technology, and that if they follow the functional spec everything will be OK. But it won't. Programming is about empathy as much as it is about technology. That said, Leonard Liu sounds like a pretty smart guy and I'm sure he will find projects that make sense for his team.

Joi san, hello...

I hear that business overheats more than Japan of the bubble in Shanghai now as Mr. Joi is talking in this article.
Will you think that it is possible to rise more in the business of Shanghai after the Expo in 2010 in the future?

Mr. Ito -

The video from your maglev ride seems VERY smooth. At 267 mph I'd hope so... But, how was it as for comfort, etc?

Also, thanks for introducing me to the "new golf" :) Having a great time.

Gerald Buckley

What I'm more interested in is the number of people trying for computer science etc as a percentage of grads. Israel for instance has the highest percentage of comp and engineering majors in the world and the highest percent as part of the pop, but obviously the number of people actually in Israel is smaller than many countries. hence thousands of programmers in China taken the 1 billion pop isn't terribly surprising. Anyway, it's always interesting to see these facts. Hong Kong for instance has the highest number of business majors etc. Interior Design is the bee's knees in Korea etc. Physical Education in the U.S. and sports medecine etc., but I've yet to find a decent summary with actual numbers for all the students in the world.

"In 1998, the Chinese government announced that it would build some Chinese universities into world-class institutions. To achieve that goal, the government promised to increase the educational allocation in the national budget by 1 percent a year for each of the five years following 1998."

ye olde myth of asia article:

just to add to my comment, I found the stastics for the u.s. educational system and of course" the number of degrees in computer and information sciences grew 106 percent between 1997–98 and 2002–03."

of course this is the U.S. where 500,000 students from other
countries study per year, but still we're looking at a fairly large growth in i.t. regardless.
Anyway, it's interesting how are medias work, I mean alarm is alarm, but both Japan and the U.S. have fat to burn until China catches up with them in the i.t. fields. Maybe you should try recruiting from China? After all it's close and Shanghai is trendy these days. BTW the maglev is nice, but the subways close at midnight which is uber annoying when you're trying to get from Mongashen art district to hotel while swining by the bun for a night cap.


The Maglev is called Transrapid and is built in Germany. There is a test track there but it was considered to expensive to be used widely. I guess its more of a poster child project for China and it isnt used that much - but the technology is great :-)

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