China’s [digital] farming generation

A recent report from the Boston Consulting Group reveals some interesting trends about China’s “digital generation”: Chinese netizens are said to spend about 1 billion hours online each day – that’s more than double the daily total in the USA. They also seem to have “leapfrogged” over e-mail - only 53% actively use e-mail – preferring instead instant messaging services such as QQ.

Social networking services (SNS) also appear to be extremely popular. Happy Farm puts players in the boots of farm owners. They have to do all the work of cultivating, irrigating, fertilizing, spraying, harvesting and selling crops but the most enjoyable activity appears to be stealing crops from other virtual gardens - toucai (stealing cabbage) turned out to be the most searched-for word on Chinanews.com in 2009…

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Newsweek has attributed the craze for the game (and its clones) to a nostalgia for China’s traditional agrarian way of life. Apparently some urban dwellers have even started leasing farmland and are building vegetable plots across South China. Not sure that this will be the tool that (re)-connects the urban areas with the countryside or reduce the growing income gap. At least it will make “cityzens” more aware of the difficulties to tend land.