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One of the big questions about the future of the internet is whether the world's digital habits will someday look like China's.
For some time now, new digital trends – both dystopian and useful – have started and grown up in China. The country was one of the first places where digital payments and credit on smartphones changed finances, online video streamers became superstars, food delivery apps conquered cities, and online misinformation eroded people's trust in facts.
In the US and several other countries, technology watchers have tried to borrow from some of China's internet habits, believing that everywhere they are foreshadowed the future.
The thorny question, however, is whether borrowing from China's digital world can work. Is China a glimpse into the future of technology or a digital island in itself?
It didn't always work. Any app like TikTok, which started with a trend that spread around the world in China, has a number of flaws. Companies have so far tried, and largely failed, to bring fleets of Chinese-style rental bikes to the rest of the world. Just about every messaging app in the world strives to be a do-it-all app like China's WeChat, and almost none. The ubiquitous digital payments in China may not catch on in many other places, as my colleague Raymond Zhong discussed.
And while I've heard a lot of magical thinking that restaurant delivery services can get huge in America like China, it's unlikely. The US and Europe generally lack the conditions that make food delivery (possibly) profitable in China: dense megacities, low labor costs, and the proliferation of all-in-one apps like Meituan that keep people from delivering too more profitable services like travel bookings.
These examples suggest that it cannot be taken for granted that China's digital habits can prevail everywhere else. Even China's tech stars haven't had much success implementing their biggest ideas outside of their home country – with a few exceptions, including TikTok owner ByteDance and video games from WeChat owner Tencent.
Both in China and in the rest of the world, digital trends are constantly changing. How much behavior is developing in a similar way to or differently in China is one of the open questions about our technical future.
Tip of the week
How To Look For A New TV This Black Friday
Brian X. Chen, a consumer technology columnist for the New York Times, has advice on shopping for televisions this time of year when retailers are promoting sales on electronics that may not be good deals:
Typical Black Friday sales started earlier than usual this year. If you're looking to buy a new TV, this may be the best or worst time – depending on how you go about it.
First, you should know that this time of year you can get a significant discount on a TV. Retailers are trying to clear inventory to make way for new models over the next year.
But if a deal sounds too good to be true, there is likely a catch. To get our attention, retailers like Best Buy and Amazon are running incredible big screen TV deals that are only $ 100.
Unfortunately, the so-called doorbuster deals are often below-average sets. Sometimes retailers sell televisions with model numbers that are almost identical to popular, high-quality devices just to lure you in.
What can an accomplished buyer do? My best advice is to prepare. Read reviews of the best TVs for your budget and life situation, write down the model numbers, and keep an eye on their prices.
A good place to start is with the Best Televisions Guide from Wirecutter, The Times' product recommendation website. You will also find daily updates on the best discounts on the Internet on the Wirecutter offer page. You can also use the Camel Camel Camel price tracking tool to keep track of prices online for the TV you are keeping an eye on.
Elissa Sanci from Wirecutter also has other tips on which products are worth buying on Black Friday – and what to avoid.
Before we go …
Your bracelet rattles on you: Some schools, workplaces, sports leagues, and other organizations distribute wearable devices to track people's skin temperature, automatically log their contacts, or otherwise attempt to detect early signs of the coronavirus or alert people to possible virus exposure. My colleague Natasha Singer writes that these wearable trackers could fill an important void in pandemic safety, but they also normalize the continuous monitoring that may outlast this moment.
Try an "informative distancing": Davey Alba and Joe Plambeck write for the Times' California Today newsletter about the types of US election misinformation that is recycled time and again – including unsubstantiated rumors of dead people's voting and unsubstantiated claims that software glitches changed the number of votes . And they suggest tactics to stay cool, including shutting down politicians and experts for a while.
Clear up in corridor five and shoot a video there: Employees at Sephora, Dunkin, GameStop, and a few other retailers are being asked to make TikTok videos to generate awareness for their businesses, reports Modern Retail. Stores hope their employees can promote their messages better than they can, and employees often receive perks like gift cards.
Would you like to see videos of baby sloths ?! (Yes, yes you would.)
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