Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
This week it’s all about tiny little Japan's huge reach into the rest of the world: on one hand we've got the Vatican contracting with NTT to digitize over 600 years of archival documents and library stuff, and on the other we've got the Japanese government giving 38 handsome scholarships to some of India's best & brightest.
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Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
It’s already Friday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat Technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News every Friday morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.
:: JTFF – March 21, 2014 ::
• NTT to Help the Vatican Digitize Archival Documents & Stuff
This isn’t exactly future news, it’s actually a day old, but it wasn’t widely reported at first that, of all companies and organizations and tech conglomerates the world over, Japanese telecommunications giant NTT is going to manage digitizing the Vatican’s library and archives from the late 14th century to the 20th. Regardless of how one feels about religion or whatever, clearly this is one of humanity’s most treasured collections of historical information, and the job needs to be done right. Now, of course NTT has the skill to throw down on such things, and Japanese business does have a well-deserved reputation for meticulous attention to detail (sometimes too meticulous, yes), but it’s just kinda curious. Although Shinto and Buddhist tradition permeate Japanese society in much the same way as Judeo-Christian tradition permeates Western civilization, an overwhelming majority of Japanese people describe themselves as non-religious, and most certainly non-Jesus-based religious. There’s no pun-imposed judgement going on here, nothing more really to say, it’s just kinda one of those “Huh.” moments.
[NTT DIGITIZING VATICAN LIBRARY - ASAHI SHIMBUN]
• 38 Indian Students Win Japanese Research Scholarships
In news somewhat related to the above, on the invitation and expense of the Japanese government, a bunch of mostly grad-level Indian students are heading to Japan this year to further their studies. The scholarships are funded by MEXT, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. The reason it’s related to the above is that, for all the talk about Japan being the world’s last great insular monoculture - and it is just that - the technological and economic impact, reach, and palpable presence that 1.8% of humanity’s population extends outward into the rest of the world is profoundly impressive and entirely without precedent in human history. Scholarships, international development, sushi, the Walkman, diverse and impactful contributions to and influence on global pop-culture, Pokemon… Oh, hey, here’s some fun trivia: do you know which country provides the most funding for the United Nations? Easy, the big economy, the 300+ million citizens of the U.S.A. Number two? Economy #3, but with only 130-ish million people, Japan. China, the world’s second largest and fastest growing macro-economy, whose population is more than ten times that of Japan, is #6 on the list, and they contribute only half of what Japan does. Oh, and it's only responsible to mention here that, while heartwarming, this story doesn't exist in a vacuum: Japanese government and industry are very actively cozying up to India for some straight-up economic reasons, and also because India could prove a valuable chess piece in the game Japan's playing with their mutually largest trading partner, UN funder #6 up there. But you know, there’s no judgement going on here, nothing more really to say, it’s just another one of those “Huh.” moments.
[38 INDIANS OFF TO STUDY IN JAPAN - NEW INDIAN TIMES]
That was the JTFF, and live from the future – that is all.
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Tokyo at Night via PhotoEverywhere.