It’s been three months since I published my first post on Interconnected. Since then, I’ve been writing articles on a wide range of technology and business topics, twice a week in both English and Chinese.
In this post, I want to take a break from the analysis and zoom out to explain the deeper motivation behind why I’m writing this publication bilingually.
We live in an unfortunate reality where the US and China, the two most powerful nations in the world, trust each other less and less. That erosion of trust is already causing damage to technological innovation, business operations, and the most consequential bilateral relationship of this century. This damage is also spilling over to other parts of the world.
In my mind, the root cause of this problem lies in the lack of information accountability. It’s generally true that most people will arrive at similar conclusions if given similar information. However, this adage overlooks a crucial element: the accountability of the source of information. During a time when trust in institutions overall is low, information accountability is further obfuscated when most information is attached to a faceless organization -- media, think tanks, universities, government agencies.
There’s even more skepticism when a piece of information is displayed in a language that’s attached to a country that, for a wide range of reasons, a reader may have doubts about, regardless of that information’s inherent quality. The meaning and value of that information are not just “lost in translation”, but “lost in suspicion”. One of my recent articles, “In Defense of Zoom: China FUD, Performance Tradeoff, Open Source”, was met with knee-jerk skepticism by English readers just because it has a Chinese language version. But some of them engaged with me directly, got to know me, which helped them remove that suspicion. This only worked because I’m the lone source of accountability for everything that happens in this publication. Period.
That effect is something I hope to achieve more of from writing Interconnected in both English and Chinese, as a small example of “information accountability”. There’s no one to trust but me. There’s no one to blame but me. That clarity of accountability is missing, especially now when the trust between English (primarily American) readers and Chinese readers is at an all-time low.
Information should only be judged based on its truthfulness and usefulness to the people who consumed it. The language used to express that information is just a tool to deliver that usefulness. The more language you can use, the people you can deliver to.
That’s why even though the blog is bilingual, I don’t just write about topics that have a US-China angle. My sole focus is delivering accurate and useful information to the best of my ability on issues in which I have the relevant knowledge and experience. That happens to be mostly enterprise technology businesses that are intertwined in regulations and geopolitics. Thus, many of my posts end up being about the cloud computing industry and platforms like AWS and Azure, which have little business presence in China. To the extent that other articles are focused on China, like the 3-part series on “Open Source in China”, I wrote them to meet the same goal: deliver accurate and useful information.
My long-term hope is to build Interconnected into a communication bridge -- a place where people can absorb and think about useful information on technology and business using two of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, with information accountability, and without prejudice and suspicion.
Given the current trajectory of trends around the world, this hope may seem like a fool’s errand. But I have time, patience, and faith in humanity. Our journey is just getting started.