Elliott Ng’s inspiration for CN Reviews

During 2007, I’ve been busy with Kango (now Uptake), a new travel review aggregator that collects reviews

Uptake Vacation Search logo

fom across the web and uses semantic analysis to make it all searchable. Our goal is to help people make better travel decisions on where to go, where to stay, and what to do. I’m VP of Marketing and a founding seed investor in the company. We just launched our private beta, and was recently covered in VentureBeat, TechCrunch, GigaOm, WebWare, Jupiter’s Diane Clarkson, Jens Thraenhart, and HotelMarketing (and many others). We also received coverage in the Chinese blogosphere here, and here. This was a surprise as we had not given any thought to the Chinese market at all.

There is an incredible one-way mirror (technically a two-way mirror) effect in the world today. People (ok, educated elites) in China have a high degree of awareness about what is going on in the US.One Way Mirror But most people (including educated elites) in the US have a low degree of awareness of China.

Our recent launch of Kango was a great example. Kango is 100% focused on the North American market but nevertheless we received some Chinese blogosphere coverage. On the other hand, I don’t really know what is going on in our space in China outside of Ctrip, Elong, and Qunar.

Min Guo, my CNReviews blog partner based in Shanghai, told me about YeeYan, which crowdsources volunteer translation from English to Chinese. But the flow of translation from Chinese to English is pretty small. Another one-way mirror.

There is a vibrant and diverse community of China blogs in English. Sites like Wangjianshuo, Danwei, Sexy Beijing, EastSouthWestNorth, Sinosplice, GlobalVoicesOnline, China Law Blog, RConversation and CWReview are just a few examples. But for those of us still learning the Chinese language, the visibility into the Chinese blogosphere and society is via a relatively small number of bridges like these.

Desperate HousewivesThe one-way mirror was especially clear when discussing popular culture. Last year, I spoke at length at dinner with a marketing director at a company that I was advising. The conversation turned to American TV shows, and she shared that she was an avid follower of Prison Break and Entourage. This was a “zen slap” of sudden realization for me–a typical Chinese professional in Beijing knowing more about US TV shows than an American professional (me) in Silicon Valley. Later, Min shared with me that she and her husband spend the entire National Day holiday in China watching Desperate Housewives! I mean, isn’t this show incredibly culturally specific? Another “zen slap” realization that the world knows America but America knows little about the world.

China National WeekSo Min and I decided to embark on doing some blogging to bring greater awareness in both directions. We’ll just launch into it without having a clear roadmap and see where it takes us! So what are you interested in?

UPDATE:  As I’ve been blogging, I have found that I need an outlet for posts that are just off-topic for CN Reviews.  So I just launched a new blog at ElliottNg.com.   Go there for my other random ramblings!

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