QQ, Tudou, Mixi and CyWorld are not familiar names in the West, but these websites based in China, Japan and South Korea are more popular, profitable and technically innovative than their Western counterparts, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.
South Korea and Japan are the most advanced internet markets in the world, with China and India rapidly catching up. Yet we in the West seem oblivious to the development of such technologies in Asia.
The dynamic emerging economies of the East are conveniently pigeonholed as the world’s new manufacturing base (China) or a powerhouse for service industries (India), while the high-end 'knowledge economy' is still seen as the preserve of the West.Is it time to revise this view and hail the innovative character of the rising East?
The fast-paced economic development of the emerging economies seems bound up with a wider culture of dynamism. Innovation in China, for example, seems unhindered by the risk-aversion, regulation, and short-term instrumentalism that hampers innovation in the West. So is risk-taking Eastern ‘can-do’ outstripping overly-cautious Western 'know-how'?
How far can the pioneer pragmatism of the emerging economies take us in innovating new technologies? How far can a country such as China really extend the boundaries of technical and intellectual innovation while freedom of thought is confined by censorship, and democracy is curtailed? What, if anything, can the West learn from technical innovation coming out of the emerging economies?- Institute of Ideas
Parminder Bahra is the Executive Editor of Times Online. He has been a journalist for 13 years covering a variety of beats at The Times and Financial Times. Before becoming a journalist, Parminder Bahra was a development economist.
Bahra also goes on electoral observation missions for the Organisation for Security and Development in Europe (OSCE) and has been to Kosovo, Macedonia and Ukraine in this capacity.
Dr. Norman Lewis is the Chief Strategy Officer, Wireless Grids Corporation, USA where he is responsible for business strategy and building key-industry partnerships to bring this technology to market.
Prior to joining WGC, he was the Director of Technology Research for Orange UK, formerly the Home Division of France Telecom, where he focused on the integrated Telco approach to the emerging Web2.0 ecosphere. His research team were subsequently recognised as internet thought-leaders across the world.
Until recently he was an Executive Board member of the MIT Communications Futures Programme - a global research partnership between industry and six laboratories at MIT, Cambridge Mass. He has acted as a consultant to the World Intellectual Property Organisation on issues related to the Digital Divide. He is currently the Chairman of the International Telecommunications Union's TELECOM Forum Programme Committee.
His current focus remains on the subject of digital children and their encounter with innovation in a risk-averse culture. Allied to this he is researching new disruptive business models around Next Generation voice and messaging services.
Dinah McLeod joined BT in 2007 to head BT Global Services sustainability practice, where her key responsibility is to work with customers to encourage the adoption of more sustainable modes of business operation.
In McLeod's previous role as an independent consultant, she worked for clients including the UK's Department for International Development, the Japanese International Development Agency, the African Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Government of Uganda and the Overseas Development Institute.
Her analysis of Uganda's aid financing structure helped reorganize the aid industry in the country.
Until 2004, McLeod was a policy adviser in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in London. Joining the unit in 2002, she managed its work on energy and international development, and was a liaison with the World Bank's Business Partners for Development group. She also led an analysis of the effects of state failure on economic prosperity and social development. Previous to this, McLeod spent six years at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. as a social protection specialist.
Martyn Perks is a design consultant. Perks has written about design, technology and innovation for a number of publications including spiked, Blueprint, New Media Age, the Guardian's arts&entertainment blog.
Perks has also organised and spoken at events including at the Design Council and the Design Museum. Perks convened the Battle for Innovation at the 2007 Battle of Ideas festival.