Why China Will Dominate the Future

A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 16 2012 8:55 AM

Why China Will Dominate the Future

James Fallows notes that Chinese writing is ideally suited to the age of Twitter:

On Feb. 12, Mao Maozi, a cameraman with the state-run Shanghai Education Television network, tweeted an answer to that question on Sina Weibo: "If Jeremy Lin lived on the mainland, he would either be a semi-literate CBA [Chinese Basketball Association, China's state-run professional league] player or an ordinary undergraduate who likes basketball in his spare time. We admire him not because he is an ethnic Chinese, but because he has proved for a fact that the main reason that Chinese don't play basketball well is because of the system, and not their physique!"
And, Yes, for the record, that's all one tweet! The writing system of the Chinese language has its drawbacks, but one of the pluses is that with 140 characters you can say a whole lot more in Chinese.
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Western alphabets were ideally suited to the age of traditional industrial age printing—they make it easier to learn literacy skills and they're great for typesetting. But in the coming era where everything is a Tweet or a Facebook status update, our primitive alphabets are leaving us restricted to the shortest and crudest of thoughts, while Chinese orthography allows for a much deeper range of expression.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.