2008: A Look Back — Big David Feng Things

13:55 (UTC+08:00), 31 DEC 2008 | CHN BEIJING

Closer to home — here’s a look at Eight Big Things that was, and still remains big, the way I — David Feng — see things…

Too Revolutionary To Forget: Apple Store Opening

When seven Mac revolutionaries started this thing called the Beijing Macintosh User Group about six years ago, one of the first thing we were dying for: an Apple Store. The US was getting them by the boatload, and one of those stores hit home pretty close — in Japan, that is.

This thing called the East China Sea was all that separated the People’s Republic from an Apple Store. (And, of course, Supreme Command it seemed — from 1 Infinite Loop.)

Back in the day, an Apple Store seemed a remote paradise. Then came the iPod. The iPhone. The whole Mac-shebang. BootCamp. YouNameIt.

Suddenly, the Mac became “something”.

It became a very big “something” on July 19, 2008, when the Apple Store was about to open in Sanlitun. Oh my God. The crowds. The overnight waiting. I was number six, but that meant nothing not being number one. What made the whole thing really worthwhile was not the mass tweeting, but to be part of Beijing Mac history with the Mac community.

Indeed, when the TV mics pointed to someone from another Mac site in Beijing who was number one, I felt real pleased about it. This was what the entire Mac community in Beijing had been yelling at Cupertino for, at decibels beyond 248 dB.

And now we got it!

This wasn’t about winning or losing Spot Number One. Everyone in the Mac community in the Jing and the People’s Republic — were winners.

Too Much of Please Get Ready For Your Arrival To Forget: Lines 8, 10 and the Airport Express Opening Up

Easily the most “Please get ready for your arrival” event of the year — Lines 8 and 10 and the Airport Express opened at 14:00 on July 19, 2008.

Local Subway forums were all the more The Temptation, leaking “pre-release” pics of Line 10 stations. I knew about those >beep<-crazy column designs at, say, Liangmaqiao station ahead of time, but it was still very "new" and "neat" to see the thing in real life for myself. (And for everyone else, that is!) The Beijing Subway became kind of irrelevant to me until October 7, 2007, when the Mozart Line, or Subway Line 5, opened up. This year, we got three lines. Never mind that Line 8 was Games-only until October 9, 2008: thing was we were closer to 200 km. (We were at 199.31 km on closer counts. Just behind Shanghai and Hong Kong…)

And we’re getting Line 4 next year — wait, this year (2009)! We’d better get ready for our arrival, we’d guess!

Too Speedy To Forget: The 350 km/h-Jingjin Intercity Railway Opens

The Jingjin Intercity Railway put Beijing and all of China on the HSR map again as the PRC did something incredible: it managed to zip up in speed from 200 km/h a la 2006-2007-ish to 350 km/h just mere years later. Oddly enough, this wasn’t that big of “big news” for me — I was more looking forward to the Jingjin Freeway (as I was a car kind of guy).

Until I tested this thing.

Holy mackerelronis.

This thing just screams at 350 km/h. The fastest I saw it do was 348 km/h, and it still managed to reach Tianjin within 30 minutes even after a one-minute intermezzo in a countryside stop in Wuqing. Best thing yet: the first class waiting lounges. (You don’t get this stuff in Switzerland, out of all places!)

Wondering why I’m tweeting from Tianjin more and more? This HSR line’s the reason why. Economically it has meant that instead of Beijing feeding on Tianjin, both cities are doing their own things — and bringing Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei closer as the “third conurbation” in China, after the Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas.

Too Official To Forget: Guiding Foreign Presidents Around the Jing

This might sound like a big bomb to quite a number of you, but I spent much of the year from April 2008 doing “undercover” (not actually) gigs at this place called the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall. The goal: Fulfill your Olympic volunteer-related goals — by guiding — get this — foreign presidents around the Jing in an hour or less!

Little wonder why I got there: I manage this city wiki called Beijingology, which seems to be a Subway-and-freeway-brainwashing ground. (Or think of it as exploring Beijing from the underground railway and the above-ground freeways. Whatever tickles your fancy.) Add to this my expertise in a few (just a few, mind you) “other” foreign languages, and boom — the deal was done. Brush up your Olympic knowledge, and — host foreign dignitaries!

I scored a few firsts for the museum. I hosted foreign heads of state in French for the first-time ever in the history of the museum. We also had top CEOs and ministers head on over — I remember I guided the guys behind Siemens around the place. In a few short months, I hosted high-level guests from up to 50 countries. These included ministers, heads of government departments, university delegations, and more. I also did a few “common tours” for the man on the street who just came on over to see what was going on.

Management there in the back office was sub-optimal, but über-optimal was the chance to disseminate (Subway-intensive) knowledge on those who came on over and saw the Jing from a massive, 1:750 city model.

My increasing radio involvements, though, seem to be taking more and more away from what used to be a Summer and early Autumn at the museum. As one of the last stunts in office, I hosted Beijing’s Vice-Mayor Chen Gang and greeted the official entourage in English, German, French, Italian and Korean. (Too bad the mic didn’t come with a “Tweet and Talk” function.)

Too Many Tweets To Forget: China 2.0

China 2.0 was simply the event that defined 2008 for me. It was just absolutely incredible meeting fellow Tweeps and tweeting and chirping along. Eventually, I ended up as being a total übergeek.

(This was before I got the accursed iPhone, which fed on just about all of my free time. Now, mass Subway tweeting is reality — dreaded reality, that is.)

Still, it wasn’t the geek factor that made China 2.0 special. It was the fact that I got to meet with great people. Mike Butcher. Shel Israel. Sheila Scarborough. Ernst-Jan. The whole group. Christine Lu. George Godula. Everyone. Every last soul in the pack. Spending a full week with these people kind of redefined life for me. (No kiddin’!)

Too International To Forget: The Chinese Blogger Conference

The 2008 edition of the #cnbloggercon is pretty much synonymous with the Scobleizer. Having wanted to come to the show already a year ahead, it was great seeing Robert Scoble — as the real guy — and see the man behind the 16,000+ tweets. (The bridge building started about a year ago, when I started mass tweeting from the 2007 edition already.)

There’s some magic behind the Scobleizer — this is no State Secret. He’s the kind of guy I read via my mobile phone when I get sick, and cracks me up even when I’m nearing 100°F. The other bit about the Scobleizer is that he videoblogs quite a bit!

But to make #cnbloggercon 2008 totally synonymous with the Scobleizer would be ruining it for everyone else. Shel Israel’s keynote on Day 2 (which I happened to translate) isn’t all that far away from a Steve Jobs keynote — with Shel, it’s less the “wow” factor and far more the info factor.

At the end of the day, though, it was a very Chinese blogger conf. I got to meet with the bloggerati and the Twitterati of this great nation. Names like Isaac Mao, Carol Lin, Kenworker, Vista, Zuola, LemonED, Gang Lu were just some of the “big ones” floating around. The networking was great. I did my bit with my presentation on the International Chinese. New ground, but the support I got was very encouraging.

Too AM To Forget: Radio Shows, Mac and Tweets

This was again something that probably a lot of you hadn’t been hearing too much about, but I do radio shows, and from 2009, I’m pleased to preannounce a show which I will in essence “guest host” 100% (or at least a huge chunk of anyway). It’ll be like a freeform show where I get to tell the audience my picks for a day out in the open — be it by high-speed railway, by Subway, or on foot.

The funny thing about all this radioing is the Internet factor. Since I work with the folks at Radio Beijing, they (a) probably haven’t heard about Twitter and (b) have already an existing chat client (which we can’t weave into Twitter). However, reaction to the show has been increasing bit by bit and it’s thanks to Twitter that I’ve spotted tweeple on the show’s chatroom from time to time.

This show probably isn’t huge news, but it is big news to me as the show combines the Internet with traditional radio — two of my faves. It, in essence, is Radio 2.0 — and incredible things happen when you bring the two together. We even did a few shows using video cameras (this must have been a TV show) — incredible things happen when you combine technology to your age-old technology!

No surprise, then: with all this reaching out, it’s good to report that our show’s one of the Top Three shows by Web and radio listenership on AM 774.

Too 2.0 To Forget: David Feng + 2.0

The one thing that defined this year more than others — much more than the Subway: Web 2.0.

I started the year with about 20 or 30 followers — and am on my way to ending it with about 800. That’s a huge leap — about 26 times more than Jan 2008, on conservative guesses. I also kept growing my presence online with services like Dopplr, Facebook and more.

The one thing that made an absolute 2.0 leapfrog came pretty late in the year. When I finally got my iPhone, I stuck all the 2.0 toys on there. The second page of the Main Screen now has buttons to mobile editions (or mobile apps) of Dopplr, Facebook, Flickr, Hahlo (a Twitter client), LinkedIn, PocketTweets, ShoZu, WordPress, Twitteriffic and Xiaonei.

When I suddenly knew I could start uploading photos to Flickr, TwitPic and more using my mobile, that was it. My flickr account was the first-ever beneficiary: it was pretty much frozen in time for nearly two years and counting. Now, it was churning out more pictures than I thought it could.

Twitter, of course, was also an immediate beneficiary. I now could manage more than one Twitter account (thanks to different Twitter apps on the thing), and I finally got Twitter heaven to work — Hahlo on the iPhone! (Thanks @christinelu!)

You might think that the iPhone would have me isolated as this übergeek wired to the phone. But nope. Behind the iPhone are SNS networks made up of people.

In other words, I’m speaking with people. Interacting with people. Over this iPhone thingy.

I can’t think of anything better.