How China creates and consumes media II, #theconf @benjaminjoffe

Benjamin Joffe, the conference, day 1 session 1  @benjaminjoffe  

Benjamin Joffe has (and is continuously) done research on local species of internet people.  He looks at local (internet) culture to be able to see the digital evolution. He states that:

  • Things can be invented more than once (in more than one place and time).
  • Ideas doesn’t have a nationality.
  • Time gap can be bridged.


When we think of China and internet we often think of censorship and miss out on the start ups and innovations. Preconceptions are our first challenge when approaching local species. Innovations are actually everywhere and digital species are ideas. Digital species can be native (endemic or indigenous), introduced or invasive.

The 5 c’s of innovation

  • Copy
  • Constraints (begränsningar)
  • Combination
  • Competition (strong in China)
  • Context
To copy is the native way of doing things, we do this as kids, to be able to create on our own we always start by copying.

Example of endemic local species in China

Tencent, that in 1998 was like ICQ in China. In order to survive when competition came along they started with avatars and online games. Today it is a business platform, blog, social community. The third biggest company in it’s genre in the world!

Jiayuan, an online dating service like They did the matchmaking and offline events with it. But the business evolution came with the buying of stamps to be able to send or read messages to/from other members.

Zhenai which is the second largest matchmaking site in China. What they offer is a date manager that gives feedback, advice and call you after a date.

Vancl, an online apparel store that is now going offline and opening shops as well. Vancl starts (members) show their styling ideas, every item bought via what they show they get a 10% commission on.


Online games, China has a lot of online game giants. All the inspiration came from Korea and it is a huge market in China today.

Shanzhai – all piracy and innovation in the area of copying well known brands. QQ farm (a game like Farmville with own buttons on mobile phones), HaiPad (like the… iPad).

All of the introduced species in China that has been successful has mutated.

What about the future for digital species?

Well in order to survive and understand your surrounding make sure to study ecosystems. While doing that you will discover new species,  species will mutate, the mutated ones will survive and thrive.


The slides are available at slideshare







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