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August 14, 2005

Jack Ma is my Chinese doppelgänger

Photo483

Who's Jack Ma (above)?

You'll find out soon enough but for those who'd rather do it now than later: he was called "China's accidental internet champion" in a Financial Times headline yesterday.

Long story short: Ma is the founder and CEO of Alibaba, China's leading e-commerce website.

Yahoo this past week gave him $1 billion in cash and its Chinese operations in exchange for a 40% stake in Alibaba.

Now you know who Jack Ma is.

But what does any of that have to do with me?

In the Financial Times story, Ma was revealed as a technodolt just like yours truly — maybe even worse, though that's really hard to believe as there's very little downside from my extremely limited technical capabilities.

In his article, reporter Mure Dickie quoted Ma as follows: "I know nothing about computers. All I can do is send and receive emails. I can't even use a digital camera."

Ma, a former teacher who's 40, began his company nearly a decade ago after he stumbled across the internet nearly by accident while on a visit to the U.S.

He credits his success partly to his lack of digital savvy.

Dickie wrote, "Mr. Ma says that if he is comfortable with an Alibaba service, then it is simple enough for the small and medium–sized enterprises that make up most of the website's users."

Where have we heard this before?

I hate to beat a broken drum yet again but when I have to return my Motorola Razr phone because I can't even begin to figure out how to use it; when I still find RSS a completely incomprehensible mystery; when I have to hire someone — at great expense — after I buy an Apple PowerBook and Airport base station to set the devices up so that they work and I can use them; when I find podcasting way too difficult and far too complex to even consider trying it — then guess what: the same is true for 99% of computer users and 100% of those who won't use computers because they fear seeming incompetent and stupid.

It's the designers and their technology that's incompetent and stupid — 100% of the time.

I am the canary in the internet coal mine.

I could save companies and individuals millions of dollars if they simply ran their crapola by me before dropping it on the unsuspecting public like frozen waste from an airplane lavatory, the euphemistically named "blue ice."

Hey — the computer and telecom hardware and software emerging daily is nothing but garbage — blue ice — 99% of the time.

Because if the intended end–user can't turn it on and make it work the first time without frustration, it's a failure.

Period.

Oh, yeah, one other thing: still think I'm out of line re: my thoughts on the upcoming Chinese century?

August 14, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Comments

In my opinion Alibaba totally sucks!!! It has been my experience that it's the worlds largest meeting place for internet scammers!! I spent 2 years as a paying member and NEVER once was there a legitimate deal.

Posted by: SH | Nov 30, 2005 4:03:30 PM

Alibaba sucks, in my experience. Good idea, but found it really difficult to do anything productive there. Most of the contacts I initiated disappeared into cyber space.

Yet more baseless hype?

You don't really want to be compared to him Joe. I mean, LOOK at that haircut.

Posted by: IB | Aug 15, 2005 1:54:13 AM

Can anyone remember the Harpers (possibly Atlantic) article of about six years ago, by a computer coder, who argued sort of the opposite view: that computers are designed toward the dumbest possible user, and thus beggar all of us in some fundamental way?

Posted by: infoanxiety | Aug 14, 2005 10:44:48 AM

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