04 March 2011

Putting China on the Innovation Map

Rather patronisingly, the West has tended to regard China as little better than a copy-cat in advanced technologies, not least on the Web. That's been fuelled in part by the tendency of Chinese companies to create clones of Western Net companies without even changing the design.

But there's definitely a new wave of innovation coming through, although it's hard for those who don't read Chinese to follow this. But one example that is accessible to everyone is the site O.cn.

That's because it's a mapping site - here's Beijing - and hence highly visual, but rather different to Google Maps because it uses an axonometric projection, which makes it look a little bit like SimCity. Paradoxically, this makes it easier to grasp the lay of the land. Moreover, many individual buildings are named (in Chinese, of course), provided a handy level of detail, and you can also pull out categories like food or entertainment.

All-in-all, its an impressive site, and one that really puts Western rivals in the shade. Expect to see this happening more and more.

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