The Future Looks like a Canton Street Bazaar

An American Youtuber exposes the fascinating labyrinth of industrial South China in his quest to assemble the latest i-Phone from parts acquired in street markets.

Microprocessors and touchscreens are carted over cobbles and cane trash in wooden hand-carts while the vacuum laminators compete for voltage against the noodle vendors. It’s an extraordinary landscape of primitive commerce and precision engineering, itself worthy of sci-fi.

Our hero interviews the headmaster of a mobile-phone repair school and haggles with vendors over whether this or that integrated circuit will be available before such-and-such a lunar festival. We get to see the Dons and consiglieres of Asia’s technological renaissance – but not the Doges. But that’s the whole point. ‘Probably the first i-phone to be assembled by an American,’ as one commentator snorts – his product is built without the blessing of the technological oligarchy in California.

Babel is quaking on its continental shelf. I can’t say I’m sorry.

These are baby steps, of course – but the video certainly supports its opening assertion: ‘The future is here – it’s just not evenly distributed.’

One suspects this may be the shape of things to come.