The Next Net

Nowadays, Web 2.0 is a buzzword. Silicon Valley is steaming up again with excitement and a new breed of start-ups. While people are still trying to define what Web 2.0 means exactly, the word is often associated with Technorati,, and Flickr.

Yet, the Web is evolving quickly beyond the early pioneers into The Next Net phenomenon. The featured article by the latest Business 2.0 “The Next Net 25” defines Web 2.0 in the following five categories:

  1. Social Media that allows everyone to create content on the Web including articles, music, and video
  2. Mashups and Filters that mix, match and filter the information on the Web
  3. Internet Phones that make phone calls affordable anywhere around the world
  4. The Webtop Applications that make use of ubiquitous broadband connection
  5. Web-based Software Platforms and Tools that make The Next Net possible

Most of these things are already happening around us. For example, I am a heavy user of Gather – the social networking and blogging site that mirrors MySpace for teenagers. The Job search sites Indeed and SimplyHired look really cool to me. I have used Skype to call my family in China for free since long ago. Having seen the demo of Zimbra, I am very much convinced we are coming to an age that the webtop makes more sense than the desktop.

However, the biggest question is still the business model. Most of these sites are not making money at this time, hoping to flip to the big guys such as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Amazon, and eBay. But, was that what people were hoping for only “a bubble ago?”

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Two Sides of One Coin

These days, nobody writes letters anymore. With Internet and telecommunication technologies, we have emails, IMs, and better yet, my folks in China are mostly writing SMS on mobile phones.

My dad in China, unaffected by whatever the technology, still wants to write letters to me. I would send him the pre-printed address labels so he doesn’t have to struggle to write my address in English on the envelope. Each time, I would remind him: “remember to put your own address on the upper left corner and put my address on the lower right corner of the envelope. This is the American way.”

Indeed, it’s the opposite way of Chinese writing the envelop. In China, we put the receiver’s address at upper left corner, and the sender’s address in the lower right corner. Even the order of writing address is opposite. In China, it starts with the country, then the province / state, then the city, the street address, and finally the name. In America, the name goes first, then the street address, then the city, the state, and finally the country.

While the cultural differences of the east and west are deeply rooted in religions and people’s belief systems, here is a peek at these differences from my personal point of view:

Dominated by teaching, emphasizes the virtue of modesty and putting other people before “self,” while is characterized by individualism and personal identity. In addressing an envelop, Chinese acknowledge the other people by putting them before and above the “self;” while Americans, the other way around, proclaim the “self” as oppose to the others.

Chinese culture is heavily influenced by and , which stress the individuals as the part of the whole; while American culture seems to more focus on the individuals that make the whole. So, in China, you write an envelop starting with the whole: the country – the province / state – the city – the street – the name; whereas in America, you start with the individual: the name – the street – the city – the state – the country.

Another notable example is the order of the first name and last name. Chinese put the family name first because it’s very important to honor the family and ancestors; while Americans put their own names first and family names last, because people may or may not know their ancestors. With a culture that is less hierarchical, some can even make up their last names.

This list can go on and on…. More startling examples include the emergency number, which is “911” in America, is “119” in China, and the directory number, which is “411” on this soil, is “114” across the globe. Whether they are mysterious coincidences or manmade mistakes, it does make me wonder if all these are part of God’s grand plan for humanity….

Seemingly opposite to each other, I see the east and west are the ying and yang of the universe. Chinese culture has more emphasis on feminine energy of the universe (ying), which includes humbleness, patience, letting be and motionless; while American culture accents masculine energy of the universe (yang): proactive, aggressiveness, goal-oriented, and taking action. They are two sides of one coin and we need the both to be one.

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Internet and Democracy

Last week, there were many criticisms about , , , and other technology companies’ submission to the Chinese government’s request to censor the information on the Internet. It has become a public concern that these companies are doing business there at the peril of human rights.

As a native Chinese, I completely understand these concerns and critics. However, I have to agree that the presence of American companies in China provides much greater benefit to the Chinese people. It will help democracy in the long run.

For a country that has three-thousand years of history in feudalism, democracy is a gradual and long term process. It won’t happen overnight. It’s a matter of changing people’s hearts and mindsets rather than changing the government and system.

Economic progress, technology advancement, and globalization are all part of this process. The State Department’s proposal to form a “Global Internet Freedom” task force to address censorship issues at the international level is one step closer toward that end.

I believe democracy in China as well as in other parts of the world is not only imminent, but also inevitable.

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To all those who are in a romantic mood on :

Kisses are the messengers of love.
– Danish Proverb

When soul meets soul on lovers’ lips.

A kiss is a secret told to the mouth instead of to the ear.

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.

Kissing is a means of getting two people so close together that they can’t see anything wrong with each other.
– Gene Yasenak

Where do the noses go? I always wondered where the noses would go.

That farewell kiss which resembled greeting, that last glance of love which becomes the sharpest pang of sorrow.

Never a lip is curved with pain that can’t be kissed into smiles again.

Kissing power is stronger than will power.
Abigail Van Buren

It was thy kiss, Love, that made me immortal.
– Margaret Witter Fuller

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Women’s Leadership Forum

In TiE Women’s Leadership Forum, Rayona Sharpnak, founder and president of Institute for Women’s Leadership, brought together three panelists from industry to share with a roomful of women their successful stories as female leaders, and discuss the topics that are mostly of concern by women in their career.

“Follow your passion” emerged as a theme of discussion. Amal Johnson, CEO of MarketTools, told us she was never qualified for any job she was looking for. What she has is her love of learning, and that has got her to where she is today. “Set your own metrics for success – it’s your life, and enjoy each chapter of your life.” was the advice Amal gave to the audience.

Meeta Mhatre, CIO for Siemens Medical Solutions, emphasized the importance of interpersonal skills, which was not taught in school, especially from a traditional Indian background.

Stacy Sullivan, Director of Human Resources at , gave a perspective on emerging core competences in corporate America from a hiring point of view: 1) team players who can promote the team’s success, 2) people with potentials rather than experience, and 3) well-rounded individuals who also excel outside their work areas.

It’s very inspiring for me to hear these women talk about their experiences and reflections. Many of them I can relate with my own. I found the ending remark by Rayona particularly encouraging, which I will use to end this post:

Success is moving from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

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Art of Bubble Bath

My dearest husband knows I love bubble bath. When remodeling the house, he deliberately made an effort to put in a whirlpool bath tub for me. Thanks to his loving kindness, since then, the bubble bath has become my weekly ritual.

In the end of a day, nothing can be more luxurious than immersing myself in the rich bath bubbles filled with refreshing aroma. I would dim the light, turn on the soothing music, and then soak into a deep tranquility…. I could feel the silky water running through my body and washing away all the stress and tension; I would let my thoughts travel with my prayers through time and space to utterly nothingness, and let the healing power of the universe permeate me…. That’s the time when I completely let myself be…..

Sometime, I like to have an invigorating bubble bath. Instead of using soothing lavender, I would put in chocolate milk bubble bath made of organic cocoa antioxidant complex with milk proteins. It is an ultimate bath indulgence! After absorbing in a water of delicious chocolate bliss with milky foam, I emerge from the tub feeling sweet, creamy, and irresistible! Next day, my skin would shine with a healthy shimming copper color under the sun. That’s the time when I am rejuvenated and renewed….

In a romantic evening, I would light the candles around the bath tub, pour in rosewater bubble bath gel, drop a few flower petals into the water, and invite my loved one to join me for an exotic bath…. I would splash the water back and forth; I would let foam hide me and reveal me; I could feel the surging wave of love above me and beneath me; I could sense the flaming fire of desire fill me and enrapture me…. That’s the time when the two become one and one becomes eternal….

This is the art of bubble bath. Please, indulge yourselves in the sensation of the bubble bath, at least once a week. It will help us to restore our sanity and serenity, and feel wholesome and blissful!

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A Star Ballerina

I am a fan of Yuan Yuan Tan, a Shanghai-born principal dancer of San Francisco Ballet. In the past few years, I have seen her blossom as a star ballerina and reach her peak as one of the top ballet dancers in the world.

This year, the classical ballet Swan Lake returns to the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco with a renewed beauty. Yuan Yuan Tan, performing the duel role of White and Black Swan, dazzled the audience with her beautiful dancing and flawless flux of movements. Choreographed by to the original Tchaikovsky score, Yuan Yuan’s charm added a glorious significance to this legendary romantic love story.

Sitting in the audience, I couldn’t help feeling proud of her. I understand what it is like for her to realize her dream and become a world’s top ballerina and the most acclaimed dancer ever to emerge from China.

It all started when Yuan Yuan was five years old – she saw a performance of Swan Lake on TV and that was it! The seed planted in a child’s heart grew into an ultimate passion for dance. Since then, Yuan Yuan has danced to live and lived to dance. The journey took her from Shanghai to Paris and finally to San Francisco, until she reached ballet’s highest rank – the principal dancer of a world-class ballet company.

Now in her prime, Yuan Yuan danced at the White House for President and Chinese Premier . She also presented a key to the city when Chinese President visited San Francisco. Her achievement has brought great joy and glory to her family as well as her country.

Today, that five-year old ugly duckling has become a beautiful swan queen. I hope Yuan Yuan Tan continues to shine as the most brilliant star ballerina in the world!

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