Monet in the Legion of Honor

San Francisco’s most beautiful museum – The Legion of Honor, is my best-loved place in the city. Located in Lincoln Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean on one side and the City on the other, it has the world’s most awe-inspiriting collection of 4,000 years European art.

My love for the Legion goes beyond its fine arts; I love its neoclassical architecture, its magnificent beauty, and its breath-taking and unforgettable view of Golden Gate Bridge. Most of all, I love it because it holds a precious moment in my life that is a secret only belonging to me!

This Saturday, we returned to the Legion of Honor for Monet in Normandy exhibition. The exhibit includes fifty-three splendid impressionist paintings by at the turn of the century.

As a lover of all forms of art, it was a delight to have an overview of Monet’s paintings throughout his career. Monet drew artistic inspiration from the countryside of Normandy, its villages and towns, and the seasonal rhythms of the region. His unique techniques to capture the effects of weather, light and color made his painting illusively beautiful and picturesque.

Among all the paintings, my favorites are still the ones he painted at Giverny, a town outside Paris where he spent the last decade of his life. The beauteous water-lilies and Japanese bridge in Monet’s garden became enduring sources of inspiration for his creativity. The richness of the colors in those paintings contrasted the blurring images of his early works, and indicated the peak of his artistic expression.

The incident brought back a sweet memory: on my honeymoon, we took a day trip from Paris to visit Monet’s house and his gorgeous garden at Giverny. It was a romantic addition to the beginning of our life together. Standing on the famous Japanese bridge and gazing at the water-lilies in the pond were indeed reminiscent and enlightening….

It was a beautiful art exhibition of Monet at the beautiful Legion of Honor. As we were leaving, the late afternoon sun painted a golden color onto the museum, presenting a sublime view of the Legion of Honor.

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A Country of Young Netizens

In my previous post, I talked about the unofficial number of China’s Internet users estimated at 150 – 200 million. Yesterday’s Xinhua news revealed the new statistics from China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC): the number of Internet users in China has reached 123 million, representing a 19.4 per cent growth since June 2005.

This means, in a year or two, China will “officially” surpass the United States and become the number one country in term of Internet users.

While this sounds encouraging for people who want to tap into the Internet boom in China, a closer look at the numbers showed some signs of a problem: more than 80 percent of the Chinese netizens are below age 35, with 40 percent of them between age 18 – 24. The ratio of high school students is even higher, at 50 percent

As Lu Bowang, CNNIC senior consultant, said, “It may be a worrying phenomenon that the ratio of Internet users above 30 years old is dropping because the Internet economy is too much focused on entertainment and young users,”

I remember my friends in China complained about the silliness and mindlessness of the content on the Internet. Compared with the US, majority of people on the Internet in China are young people seeking entertainment and fun, versus professionals searching for information and knowledge.

I believe one of the reasons is because there is less outdoor space in China. After school, those kids, full of energy, don’t have many places to go. Sitting in front of computers and escaping into cyber space becomes a natural alternative.

As for business people, they usually have their secretaries, typically young girls, to surf the Internet for them for any business related information. No wonder this resulted in a country of young netizens!

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Chinese YouTube – Yoqoo

A new Internet video sharing site Yoqoo (??) was launched in Beijing last month. Similar to YouTube in the US, it allows users to generate short video clips and share online with their friends and families.

The founder is my friend – the former COO of Sohu Victor Koo! According to Victor, Yoqoo lets people to watch funny clips to relax themselves before they start their day at work or when they leave their offices in the evening. “That will be a new lifestyle,” Victor said.

Video sites that offer clip sharing are getting increasingly popular in the United States. For instance, YouTube has quickly become one of the most-viewed website, with users uploading 50,000 video clips per day. The video offerings of Google and Yahoo! have also generated a lot of traction.

What’s different about Yoqoo is it taps into the opportunity of the convergence of broadband Internet, 3G (third generation) mobile technology and traditional TV networks. With the country’s 400 million mobile phone users and 3G technology, Yoqoo will allow users to download video clips to their handsets.

As to business model, Yoqoo is targeting advertisements from TV companies and even film makers. It also expects some studios to post trailers at the site as part of their marketing strategy.

However, the question remains who would watch video clips and how to navigate the ocean of information overload. In my opinion, an aggregator site that can help users sort out useful and quality information will be critical.

It seems to me in the past when we talked about Internet, it was about text and pictures. Now it’s about audio and videos. User-generated content is the trend. As Yoqoo’s logo says: “?????” – the world is watching!

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China’s Cyber-Savvy and Pragmatic Youth

Chinese youth is an interesting, vibrant and cyber-savvy sector of Chinese demographics that is shaping the future of China.

Yesterday’s Seeking Alpha article says, eighty percent of Chinese youth in urban areas between the ages of 18 and 25 are active bloggers. That is approximately 50 million bloggers! They blog on a variety of topics, ranging from celebrities to sports to lifestyle. They discuss on topics such as what clothing to buy, what music to listen to, and what movies to watch.

These days, young people don’t care about political issues. They care about being cool and getting ahead. They are pragmatic, driven and extremely international-minded that set them apart from their parents.

Chinese youth also forms a major class of consumers. There are about 15 million undergraduate students in Chinese universities. They are increasingly keen on buying iPod music players, fashionable cosmetics and clothing, as well as other famous name-brand goods.

The number of Chinese college students is expected to grow to 30 million by 2010. These young adults are products of the controversial “one-child” policy. Chinese parents, wishing the best for their only child, are willing to foot every bill for their children during college years to ensure their success.

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It’s a Dream

The last day of our trip to the east coast, we were strolling around Annapolis – the capital city of Maryland. At the Café Normandy on Main Street, I picked up a local newspaper – Bay Weekly. The following lines caught my attention:

“It’s a dream where people enjoy a high quality of life in a sustainable way that they’ll be able to hand down for generations to come.

It’s a dream of people who want more than dismal, doom-and-gloom news and mind-numbering entertainment. In a world bombarded with the sights and sounds of everything that’s wrong in society, we are at risk of taking on the characteristics of those dark elements we see and hear.

Bay Weekly’s goal is to provide a quality alternative, to focus on the good in society and to explore ways to improve our world.”

How refreshing and enchanting to read these reflective and sensible statements in a small local newspaper! Isn’t it essential for us to “enjoy a high quality of life in a sustainable way?” When will be the time that people can read the headlines that “focus on the good in society and explore ways to improve our world?”

Is it just a dream?

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