Post-Trip Note

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I know I told myself to write a blow-by-blow account of what happened during the trip, but I didn't really realize how tired I was until this morning when my major muscles just kinda quit on me. I have lots of mental notes to go through, and even more pictures to consider so it'll take time. So in lieu of that, I'll just write down a thought that lingered throughout my stay in Japan.

Japan is supposed to be a high-tech city. When I visited Tokyo 9 years ago, they were on fliptop colored LCD phones running on 3G with a highly integrated interface with the internet. 9 years later and we're only beginning to mature to the same level as far as connectivity goes. It shouldn't be a surprise if we all think that if ever we want to see the future of a wired society, we'd just need to look at Japan.

This trip, I tried that, and the more I did it it seems, the more it appeared that I was seeing things in the wrong manner. Allow me to explain.

1. With the advent of tablets, wide-lcd phones like the iPhone, as well as wide internet content availability, you'd think printed media will already go out of fashion. Admittedly, manga sales in Japan have been in dire straits for the past few years, but as far as comparing it to the western counterpart, it still hasn't entered the niche-only status that comic books have already found itself in. You'd still see people of all ages reading tankobans and comic digest magazines in public places. It may be dying, but culturally it's not yet dead.

2. Speaking of phones, the boom of haptic-based controls ushered in by the iPhone and the qwerty-style mobile keyboards seems to have not taken hold, as one would predict considering how far reaching such devices have already gotten elsewhere. The standard fliphone configuration is still the dominant style, and the phone screens were no larger now than they were before.

3. Considering Japan churns out more gadgets than any other product for export, you'd think the people there would be crazy of their owns stuff. It's surprising then to note that in my entire visit of 5 days, I saw 5 PSPs, 2 DSs, and about 4 iPhones/iPod Touches. People in the subway were either using their phones, or just sleeping. Very few people were using earphones. Matter of opinion, more people in our MRT use earphones. Few people were camera crazy, even in tourist spots, and those that did want to take pictures were happy to use their mobile phones.

If ever, I just think what I was able to observe gives me an idea that it is entirely possible for a society to embrace technology and not place it at the center of the social structure - which is what I am seeing in countries like ours and the US. As for the reasons for why this is happening, I'd leave out for another conversation. I'm still tired, and I have work tomorrow.

Post script: I know there are about five wrong things in my post. I am largely aware of them, but I'm not writing a feature article or a reseach paper. So as a disclaimer, I'd just say this piece is bias, inaccurate, and exactly what I want to read years after I forget about this topic.

1 comment:

ji said...

i see a japan-related post and i jump right in to comment. LOL

i have to agree about those items you mentioned especially that part about people being quiet inside the subways (or any other public transpo for that matter) so much different here where i'm at (you do know what i mean right?).


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