By >RENO J. TIBKE
Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
This week it’s Sony’s Walkman as renaissance metaphor, some Japanese public officials are still figuring out privacy on the internet, and a Pacific Rim review.
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Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday:
It’s already Friday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News every Friday morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.
:: JTFF – July 12, 2013 ::
• The Walkman as Metaphor for Japan Tech (i.e., need another one – bring back the innovation)
The JTFF has presented no shortage of criticism for Japan’s lack of innovation and the consistently stagnating nature of its once global-leading tech firms – Sony being the favorite whipping boy (out of love, promise). The funny thing is, Japan never really stopped innovating and wowing the world with its tech, its just that it taught the world such a good lesson, that the world caught up. Then Apple and Samsung, et al, started matching. Japan rested on its tech laurels, and now the best selling phone in Japan is made by an American company. They’ve gotta be able to see this, they’ve gotta.
[J-INNOVATION STILL POSSIBLE, MAYBE ON THE HORIZON - GLOBE & MAIL]
• Arrive Late to the Desktop Internet, Learn the Desktop Internet’s Lessons Late
For the longest time (long before most of the rest of the world), conceptually, the “Internet” was something the Japanese had on their phones, not something connected to a PC and a keyboard and monitor and mouse. The JTFF is too lazy to pull up the statistics, but trust us, the penetration of home/office internet access in Japan was much slower than that of the U.S., for example. Reasons include office work being much more of a paper affair here (even now), so why bother – the internet was in your pocket (many Japanese sites still hang on to their mobile-optimzed sites from 5-10 years ago, and mobile carriers still try to sign you up for an email address they bill as tied to the smartphone you just bought – because for a long while, it actually was). That the Japanese had a healthy network of mobile-optimized sites long before smartphones were anything but tech-geeky playthings for westerners speaks to their early mobile internet tenacity, but as pointed out in the piece above, conceptually they rested on that without a lot of effort toward innovation. There were no browser cookies watching your online moves, everything was by default anonymous or shared via pseudonym, and search engines weren’t keeping track of users’ personal data. Bearing this in mind, for governmental, educational, and media agencies to get caught with their Google Groups privacy pants down makes a bit more sense. So, a cautionary tale, this.
A quote from the piece bears repeating:
“Over 6,000 cases where information from public and private organizations, including hospital records, was found to be publicly available by Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. The publication, however, was one of the organizations that failed to lock down privacy settings to members only. The Yomirui, which is said to be the world’s biggest-selling newspaper, said its journalists had been using Google Groups with no privacy restrictions. The oversight exposed draft stories and interview transcripts to any internet user who visited the Google Groups site.“
• Review of Pacific Rim (because we’ve pointed out its Japanese roots)
Funny, imaginative, original – some goofy acting, perhaps – not a whole lot to comment on here, but go read the review, go see the movie, and know the broad Japanese shoulders upon which this film stands. We can’t wait for it to open here.
[REVIEW: PACIFIC RIM - FOX NEWS]
That was the JTFF, and live from the future – that is all.
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Reno J. Tibke is the founder and operator of Anthrobotic.com, where the JTFF was born.
Tokyo at Night image via PhotoEverywhere.