Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream

Can the world’s biggest economy actually innovate? Clay Shirky explores China at a crossroads.

Little Rice Cover Image

Smartphones have to be made someplace, and that place is China. In just five years, a company named Xiaomi (which means “little rice” in Mandarin) has grown into the most valuable startup ever, becoming the third largest vendor of smartphones, behind only Samsung and Apple. China is now both the world’s largest producer and consumer of a little device that brings the entire globe to its user’s fingertips. How has this changed the Chinese people? How did Xiaomi conquer the world’s biggest market? Can the rise of Xiaomi help realize the Chinese Dream, China’s bid to link personal success with national greatness?

Clay Shirky, one of the most influential and original thinkers on the internet's effects on society, spends a year in Shanghai chronicling China’s attempt to become a tech originator—and what it means for the future course of globalization. 

"I will read anything Clay writes, but when he's writing about the intersection of Chinese manufacturing and the Western Internet, man, is that ever in my zone." —Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

"A compact, accessible, and intelligently delivered update on China's evolving economic and political front via one particularly accomplished electronics venture." —Kirkus Reviews

"Shirky investigates the rise of the Xiaomi start-up culture ... Recommended for those who enjoy reading about how mobile technology works and particularly in exploring its impact on global business." —Library Journal

For more information and to purchase Little Rice, please visit Columbia Global Reports