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Thu 05 Jun 2003
A View from Chengdu
Category : Commentary/chengdu.txt
I've got permission from my friend in Chengdu to reproduce a part of what he wrote me, in the context of a discussion we had on the merits of the Mac vs the PC. But that's not what I want to focus on. What we have here is the view, from another pair of eyes, of the relation between Chinese University kids and their computers.
And that's why we read, right? We can't be everywhere. We read to leaven our experiences with other people's observations. The truth is usually somewhere in-between.
"Walking round the computer shops here... tell you what I see... you know people here are poor, not all university kids can afford new computers (or even computers at all). Sometimes 4 kids combine to buy parts for a PC in their hostel (sleeping 8 students to a room), or 1 kid would skimp together enough money to buy 2nd or 3rd hand parts for a machine.
"In the 2nd hand computer shops, Intel and AMD cpu's are piled in trays like chocolate chip cookies, old motherboards stacked up like magazines. The parts are generally dusty, scratched, dented, but they (in general) work. It's a beat up universe, and very democratic somehow. The idea that a Chinese farm kid in his dirty hostel room, has a dusty little box, with its side open, wires sticking out, staring at his little 15 inch screen; and this little box probably has more computing power than that giant Intergraph we had when we were at NUS in the 80's. The idea of that is beautiful, more than any nice packaging or slick OS look and feel... I ask them if they'd ever considered MACS and I get loud laughter. 'Who can afford it?', they reply."
Put your Mac to Work