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Ancient wisdom indeed

The article Japan's once mighty tech industry has fallen far behind Silicon Valley spells out the troubles (and some possible bright spots) facing Japan's tech giants. It ends with this uplifting thought about the potential for smart young enterpreneurs in Japan to reverse the decline:

"I am confident the Japanese companies can respond," said startup consultant Herlihy, a former Silicon Valley resident. "If you look at their history, they have dealt with a lot of upheaval -- natural disasters, the Warring States period, complete destruction (during World War II). They've gone through a lot. They are a very resilient culture."

Er... While I share the positive sentiment, I doubt that many of the players in a turnaround will have experience with the devastation of WWII. At the same time, though, I don't want to completely count out seniors who are still making an impact. And even in the case of those who have left the earthly world, certainly many have passed on their hard-won values to today's younger industry leaders.

But... Warring States period? No. Unless eldritch magic is keeping the 500-year-old set at the helm of tech firms (in which case the industry really needs some new blood), nobody alive today has any meaningful experiential connection to events of the 15th to 17th centuries. The people tackling the tech industry have most decidedly not "dealt with" clashing feudal lords, and have not "gone through" national unification under the Tokugawa shogunate, any more than you and I have.

Yes, this is Yet Another Way-trivial Nitpick (YAWN). Sorry. It's ridiculous to have to point out things like this:

1. Experiences are not transmitted across generations like some sort of magical DNA. Those who experience something, experience it. Those who don't, don't.

2. Even if the experiences of a warring period were infused into a "culture" in a way that extends meaningfully through dozens of successive generations, the sadly universal aspect of conflict means that every human on earth would be a recipient of such wartime grit. How are Japan's industry leaders special for having been born under humankind's global legacy of war?

Well. Fine, then, trivial carping is done for today. Back to real life!


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