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All Things Pythonic
Tim O'Reilly in China
by Guido van van Rossum
July 25, 2007
A quick comment on an off-the-cuff remark by Tim O'Reilly


At OSCON, when Nat Torkington announced Tim O'Reilly ("the man"), they played some kind of old-fashioned marching band music (similar to the "Monty Python" march). Tim started laughing, and Nat explained, "I was at a conference in China, and they played this music for every speaker." Tim replied, "I was at a conference in China too, and it was mind-numbingly boring -- long party speeches between topics of substance."

I don't know if they still do this in China, but even if they do, mentioning this (and nothing else) about China it reinforces a totally wrong, and dangerous stereotype -- that of China as a backwater where they don't quite "get" how things are done. The opposite is true -- China is embracing western ideas, technology and attitudes at a breakneck speed (though not -- yet -- democracy; give it time). Its economy is bound to overtake western economies in many areas within 1-2 decades, if it hasn't already done so (e.g. textile, manufacturing). I'm not saying China is dangerous. i'm saying it is important, and we should be paying attention to its growth and development. It is dangerous to ignore it or to minimize its important.

I'm sure Nat & Tim didn't mean to do this consciously -- it was early in the morning, and the remarks were off-the-cuff, on the spur of the moment; but it seemed to indicate a lack of understanding of China's importance.


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About the Blogger

Guido van Rossum is the creator of Python, one of the major programming languages on and off the web. The Python community refers to him as the BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life), a title straight from a Monty Python skit. He moved from the Netherlands to the USA in 1995, where he met his wife. Until July 2003 they lived in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC with their son Orlijn, who was born in 2001. They then moved to Silicon Valley where Guido now works for Google (spending 50% of his time on Python!).

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2007 Guido van van Rossum. All rights reserved.

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