China, The Atlantic, and the Foibles of Big Data, All in 1 Post

"Mr. Serving Dishes" comes to San Francisco and offers American manufacturers new hope.

Act One: Late last year I revisit my friend Liam Casey, the Irish entrepreneur deeply involved in the global outsourcing-industrial complex, at the headquarters of his PCH International  company in Shenzhen, China. I do an an update on his views of the shifting trends in world manufacturing, in an Atlantic story called "Mr. China Comes to America" -- source of the photo above, showing him and one of his factory lines.

     Act One-and-a-Half: Liam tells me to watch for word of his opening a new design center in San Francisco, emblematic of the Bay Area's taking on an expanded role in the ever-faster branding-design-manufacturing cycle.

Act Two: TechCrunch runs a nice story last week on the opening of the new SF design center. The title of the story is "Mr. China Goes to San Francisco," with gracious references to the ongoing Atlantic chronicles of the activities of Mr. China. It also explains Casey's current ambitions for the center, and in general:
A teetotaling Irishman, the inexhaustible Casey ostensibly lives in a hotel [JF: the Four Points Sheraton] in downtown Shenzhen but is nearly always in the air. He and his cross-cultural team make nearly all the accessories you can imagine for multiple vendors. You couldn't point a finger in a Best Buy without hitting a product PCH builds.
He envisions his new building as a gateway to China and a way to help clients - and the public - understand the vagaries of mass manufacturing.
Those are the China-related and Atlantic-related parts of this item. Now, we come to Big Data part:

Act Three: A number of auto-translate bots convert the TechCrunch story to Chinese -- and then evidently back out again. Here is the way it looks when it has made the round trip from English to Chinese and then to English. The headlines, from a site tracking pickup of our articles, will give you the idea:

Liam Casey has both enjoyed and been mildly embarrassed by the jokey moniker "Mr. China." Let's see how he likes becoming "Mr. Serving dishes." All this is in the ongoing category of "big data making us smarter, sort of."

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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