During the discussion at night, we started to talk about voice mail – why there is no voice mail in China. I happened to write a Chinese blog about it more than one month ago: The Network Effect of Technology Application. In that blog, I argued that Chinese don’t use voice mail because of lack of network effect. Voice mail is only useful when more people (at least more than half) will actually check their voice mail if you do leave one, or people will often check their voice mail only when you get at least one voice mail once every year! (I setup an answer machine with Wendy’s and my greeting at home, only to receive one valid voice mail during the first half year before I gave it up). The reason there is no network effect (no other people using that technology) is because voice mail emerges far ahead of mobile phone, and people in China just frog leap from no phone to mobile phone. The same situation happened to Video Recorder in VHS format – the tapes of video. Chinese directly entered VCD era – the first home video system in most Chinese families are VCD. The same for fax machine, and newspaper classified. Oh. I remember I also wrote about it in an English blog: Why People don’t Use Voice Mail in China and later, Whole Society is the Biggest Network Effect.
Another thing that people don’t mention was, calendar. Do you have a Calendar briefly discussed about it, but again, it is something with some sort of network effect – calendar is only useful when everyone has one if you want to keep the exact time for meetings. Otherwise, your life will be miserable with delay of meetings, and no shows if you are the only person who are not flexible enough to move meetings randomly on that day.
One of the sharpest question about Buddhism during our visit to South Putuo Temple was about the high ticket price to enter most temple in China. In my personal view, with the systematic destruction and a little bit construction of religion in China, the Buddhism temple has gone to a path to tourism location. The original meaning of quiet meditation and peace in soul have been forced to count the revenue of donations, so they build bigger houses to attract more people. The improvement of buildings in a temple certainly cannot meet the stronger religious needs from the confused people.
A Generation of Confusion
I know our American friends were confused by the Confucius ideology and the materialism and needs for a higher moral standard in China. When asked how I feel, my quick answer is, I am confused.
China has entered into a stage of conflicts. Within a short period of 30 years, the rich and the poor, the money-centric culture, and the traditional virtue, the new laws, and old conflicting laws, the materialism and the remaining internal pride not to talk about it — all these things mixed together, in a chaotic way that many people including me are quite confused, and one way out (as many people take), is don’t think about it, if you don’t to be more and more confused. I talked a lot about that confusion in my daily life on this blog in the last 7-8 years.
Heard an interesting song when going to Karaoke with American fellows: Love Shack. It is an interesting song – very funny for me to listen and with a nice MTV attached to it. The closest song I can find to match that style of 1980’s American song is the Mice Loves Rice about few years ago in China. It is nothing serious – just that type of song completely for fun with repeated sentence: “I love you, just like the mice loves rice”. It is an expression of simple, stupid, but true happiness, and people love that popular folk song. I am happy that people in China started to appreciate those songs without high morale standard in it (as opposite to those propaganda songs)
Another note about Xiamen. It is, as I always say, an amazing city. This is maybe the third time I am in Xiamen this year. Xiamen is just 299 RMB or 1.5 hour away from Shanghai, and the airport is pretty close to the hotel area (not the downtown – the hotels with beach), and you can safely treat Xiamen as the back garden for Shanghai (although most people say Hangzhou is the back garden). I love Xiamen and I love to put my meetings in this amazing city.