The Japanese Foreign Ministry has come up with a new wrinkle - three roving ambassadors for Japan's "kawaii" culture. Misako Aoki appears to hold the 'Lolita' portfolio; it's not clear what trends the others represent.
While this may seem like more biggov silliness, it makes a sort of sense. Japanese cultural exports have become a big business, even as its leadership in electronics slips southward to Korea and China. The reach in the US is slowly breaking out of the typically adolescent otaku set; last week I spotted a copy of Shonen Jump in my orthopedist's waiting room.
At a time where everything from economic activity to religious beliefs seems to sorting out along a red/blue state divide, here's something quite different. While there don't seem to be any tests for statistical significance associated with this graphic, it sure looks like US public library usage falls into an east-west pattern of stripes across the country. The only basis I can imagine is that this still follows the East to West migrations of the 19th and early 20th century. Assuming that's correct, it's a cultural pattern that's persisted in spite of all the economic and politically induced mobility of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Fascinating!
"But doesn't this seem like a false move on Google's part, akin to Microsoft competing with Dell and HP? The platform strategy here is very interesting..."
I think Google's move is no mistake, and the analogy to the PC market is false in this case. Both for the same reason: Wireless carriers.
PC vendors have never been forced to deal with a distribution channel with such divergent interests in product sales, up to and including desires to cripple functionality in the interests of maintaining customer control (the so-called 'walled garden'). Handset vendors, in contrast, are near-captives of the existing carrier distribution system, and may not dare to work around it, in fear of retribution in the next buying cycle.
In this setting, Google's move fulfills two purposes. As a high end examplar of what can be done with the Android platform, Nexus will set market expectations for smart phone functionality among end users. Since it is both high end and non-subsidized, it will do this at a price point that ensures it is a niche product. Its cannibalization of mainstream market sales from other Android licensees will be minimal, and its capability to drive functionality expectations could be profound.
Google's second purpose is to do something that Android licensees cannot do for themselves: Test the market (and political) waters for non-subsidized smart phone sales. Google has been pushing the view that all net access should be open and 'neutral'. Nexus is a double down on this bet, proposing that wireless access device and access network should be independent choices, just as in the PC and wire-line markets. A proof-point that the market will pay for this freedom will benefit Google, but also any Android licensees dreaming of a future in which their fate is more independent of the carriers.
I'm back home after surgery and resting comfortably in bed. Hurrah for Vicodin! (And a controlled surgical incision is a lot less painful than the trauma of shattered tib/fib.) Here's the hardware collection that came out of the leg:
If you count carefully, that's 26 screws. And if you look even more carefully, you'll notice that two of the longest ones are missing their self-threading tips, lost to metal fatigue. They'll be with me the rest of my days, but getting the rest of the metal shop out of my leg should certainly help the irritation problem. Maybe I need to get these cast in Lucite as a memento?
Those who've been following my scribblings for a while may recall that nearly two years ago I broke my right tibia and fibula rather severely. The repair and rehab from that accident left me with two metal plates in my lower leg. Their presence causes internal irritation after walking more than 3 or 4 miles, or being on my feet for several hours. The medical professionals as well as friends who've dealt with implants agree that such problems only get worse with age.
So tomorrow bright and early I'm going under the knife again to get the hardware removed. Expect a short hiatus here, possibly followed by some Vicodin-hazed posting. I'm assured that the back-to-normal-physical-activity time for this is about six weeks, largely waiting for the holes left in the bone by removed screws to fill in. Until then, they are a sort of 'break here' dotted line inviting more trouble. That's a far cry from the six months for partial rehab from last time (it was really about a year to regain full strength), and I've been able to schedule the down time for the worst Pacific coast weather period. This time I should be back on my feet ain time for the wildflower and hiking seasons.