Clay Shirky Is Back (And He's Taking On China)

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What do you really know about China, smartphones, business and how it impacts the world?

There are only a handful of truly original, influential and innovative modern thinkers when it comes to business, media and technology. If there were a Mount Rushmore of thinkers like this, there is no doubt that Clay Shirky would be on this list. His first two books, Here Comes Everybody (2008) and then Cognitive Surplus (2010), are two of the most important business books that were written on the effects of technology and social change. He holds a joint appointment at NYU as an Associate Arts Professor at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and as an Associate Professor in Journalism Department. A few years back, he decided to move to China instead of Silicon Valley to better understand what was happening in technology today, and to further study the effects of the internet on society. Well, it has been a long six (almost seven!) years since his last book. Now, he’s back with Little Rice – Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream.

Where does your smartphone come from?   

Newsflash: it’s not like babies… it’s not the stork. Odds are, your smartphone (in one way, shape or form) comes from China. Here’s something to think about: A company named Xiaomi (which translates as “little rice” from Mandarin) has managed to become the most valuable startup ever, by becoming the third largest manufacturer of smartphones (just behind Samsung and Apple) in only five years. Think on that. China has quickly become the world’s largest creator of that little device in your pocket (and many other technologies). Clay’s book is about big changes from a big country by a big thinker who spent a year in Shanghai trying to think about this, the future, globalization and how we’re all connected. With that, Shirky recently visited Google to discuss Little Rice, the rise of China and how this technology (which embodies freedom and connectedness) interacts with autocratic countries and non-democratic environments. As is usually the case, Clay is a super-dynamic and passionate presenter who weaves in great and unique stories to make his point. This presentation is no exception.

Watch this: Clay Shirky – “Little Rice” – Talks At Google.