A Quick Look at 2008 and China

Is there any way at all that 2008 will not be the year of the Chinese Olympics, and by extension, China? Will we be stuck between the rise of China narrative and the sourness to the point of completely puckering up of the US media and to a lesser extent European media re China?

I say yes.

The coverage of China by the major media has been completely unsatisfactory; it has not been informative and has instead driven their own editorial agenda. That old editorial agenda no longer works because it does not reflect the ground reality of China. It does make sense though to take a closer look at China’s development outside of just the tier one cities. Let’s hope that this begins to happen.

In the big picture though, the Chinese Olympics are not the biggest story. There are so many interesting things and opportunities happening on the Internet. I’m surprised that so many people miss them, such as the fall of Facebook even though their numbers continue to increase, and the failure of social networks to monetize their traffic because they have chosen to side with advertisers against their own user base.

Facebook is like a rocket which continues to coast upwards even though its engine has cut off; momentum is carrying it upward. But eventually gravity will win…

We are in the early stages of growth for the Internet, I believe that increasingly new Internet startups will be founded by business people, not technology people. On the PC platform, the technology is mature; it is the business models which aren’t working. Now, the smart technology people are switching their focus to the mobile Internet.

For smart business people who want to disrupt the current business models, 2008 will be a banner year. For more predictions, take a close look at the predictions of Mark Anderson and Fred Wilson. Part of the reason new and viable business models have grown relatively slowly on the Internet is because the business side has been driven by technology people who don’t understand business and how to make deals, and the business people have been thinking too much in terms of the large corporate businesses which are now being disrupted by the Internet.

It is time for a new breed of entrepreneurs who understand technology, and are not behoven to traditional businesses. In China, this has already happened in gaming with Timothy Chen Tianqiao of Shanda and Shi Yuzhu of Giant Interactive. Ironically, it has not happened as quickly in the west.

It’s time to expand the base.

On the web application side, it is getting easier and easier to develop robust applications. Twitter, a very successful social application was developed with Ruby on Rails, a full stack web application framework which was released by 37 Signals, a Chicago-based design firm.

The significance of this is that web applications can now be designed by designers who are more focused on user experience than software engineers who are focused on features (many of which are of dubious value). One thing I have noticed among many Ruby on Rails deployments: narrower focus. Instead of trying to do everything, these applications focus on doing a few tasks very well. Good examples are the online project management tools put out by 37 Signals and which I use to manage my business.

Wouldn’t it be great if these web applications were made available to a Chinese audience?

As for myself, I’m sharing my feeds on Google Reader. You can find them through Google Talk and Gmail by contacting me. You can reach me at paul dot denlinger [at] gmail dot com.

I’d like to see yours too; let’s start sharing in 2008!