ESPN is dead. Maybe not Dickens doorknob dead but at least JK Rowling’s Professor Binns the ghost at Hogwarts dead. We are an NBA fan and as we were about to leave our office earlier this week we glanced at Twitter (the world’s fourth worst invention) and saw the news of the trade of Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics. We clicked on a link that brought us to three writers from The Ringer website discussing the trade on Facebook Live. Unlike a couple of years ago, it never occurred to us to turn on ESPN or to even go to their website. There has been lots written over the last year about ESPN’s financial slowdown and now we experienced personally what is happening to the company. Indeed to all television companies. Television is dying too. Ironically this may ultimately mean if not the death of, then a slowdown in professional athletes salaries. Or will sports leagues be able to squeeze out large revenue streams from Facebook and other entities? As we await the answer to that question we inquire into the battle of innovation and censorship in China, answer where the African millionaires are and interrogate who publishes the most books. It’s this week’s International Need to Know, providing international wisdom and data on any medium that will have us.
Without further ado, here’s what you need to know.
China In With Innovation, Out with Ideas
If China was a romantic relationship, it would be the one you tell your friends is complicated. The question is can a country with so many contradictions continue its economic success or will it break up in an angry economic divorce? We are no Dr. Phil but early last year we noted that China does not get enough credit for being innovative, that too many people still think China merely copies what others are doing. This week brought more evidence of China’s innovation in an article by the always interesting Connie Chan outlining the 16 ways QR codes are being used in China. The Chinese use QR codes for pet tags, sharing bikes and even providing more information about pandas. QR codes are used far more in China than in the United States. At the same time, however, China’s government continues to crack down on the free flow of ideas. Innovation is built off of ideas and if one does not have access to them, well, then innovation may be in trouble. The most recent example is the attempt to force Cambridge’s China Quarterly to remove 300 articles that the Chinese government deemed offensive. At first, Cambridge caved but then later in the week decided they would not remove the articles. Now China Quarterly is inaccessible in China. An enterprising programmer scanned the articles in question and created the word chart below to give a sense of what China’s government is scared of.