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I had always thought Japan was more technologically advanced than North America but..

#1
...but I've read two things recently that make me wonder.  The first one was an article (Billboard Magazine maybe?) that said that in North America CD's are in rapid decline in favor of digital downloads and streaming, whereas in Japan, CD's are still "going strong".

And more recently someone in an article claimed that print magazines were more popular among the Japanese as compared with North Americans.

So I was a bit surprised to read these two items. 

What is the impression of people who've actually been to Japan?  Are they slow to embrace new technology?
Edited: 2016-10-02, 8:29 am
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#2
It's not about being technologically advanced or not, because they have the tech, obviously.

They just might be more conservative in general and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Edited: 2016-10-02, 8:46 am
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#3
(2016-10-02, 8:45 am)Robik Wrote: It's not about being technologically advanced or not, because they have the tech, obviously.

They just might be more conservative in general and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Maybe the Japanese are smarter too, because I've read many times that the sound quality of a digital download (mp3 file) is not as good as the sound quality of a CD you buy in the music store.
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#4
(2016-10-02, 8:55 am)phil321 Wrote:
(2016-10-02, 8:45 am)Robik Wrote: It's not about being technologically advanced or not, because they have the tech, obviously.

They just might be more conservative in general and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Maybe the Japanese are smarter too, because I've read many times that the sound quality of a digital download (mp3 file) is not as good as the sound quality of a CD you buy in the music store.

I'm not sure because I never used it, but I think that online stores like itunes sell in lossless format too (but maybe not every artist make his songs available in those formats?)
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#5
(2016-10-02, 8:55 am)phil321 Wrote:
(2016-10-02, 8:45 am)Robik Wrote: It's not about being technologically advanced or not, because they have the tech, obviously.

They just might be more conservative in general and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Maybe the Japanese are smarter too, because I've read many times that the sound quality of a digital download (mp3 file) is not as good as the sound quality of a CD you buy in the music store.

That would be true for pretty much any MP3 you download. MP3 is a lossy compression format. You will never get the same exact quality as you would from a CD, even if you make an MP3 from a CD. There are lossless formats which are the same, if not better, quality as the CD, though. Those are usually much larger in filesize and not as practical for most people.

As for the actual topic: I'm American, but I personally prefer physical CDs and physical magazines. It took me a while to accept Steam because I preferred physical games as well. I still have a resistance to buying digital copies of games of games on consoles like the 3DS, PS3, Vita, etc. I don't think there's anything technical about it. It just feels better having something physical.

The only exception I really make these days is indie bands. I listen to a lot of indie music, half of which isn't even available at regular stores and you need to go to concerts to get. More recently they're slowly putting things on iTunes in a lossy format, but the website OTOTOY has been doing a really good job of making lossless, DRM-free Japanese music available (especially for indie bands). OTOTOY has high resolution 24bit/48KHz available for purchase which is pretty unique, and better quality than what you can get from CDs. Bandcamp as well is commonly used by Japanese indie bands, but that's not country specific.

For what it's worth, I recently bought a cassette tape during my most recent trip to Japan. The only reason I didn't buy the vinyls I wanted is because I don't have a record player and it would be too much of a pain to transport it back home. So I may not be the best judge. ┐(´д`)┌
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#6
Digital downloads aren't a technology, they're a marketing method. The technology used (digital audio and computer networks) both pre-date CDs. So CDs are actually the newer technology: you could've in fact sold someone a song over a computer network, long before CDs were invented.

More importantly, both technologies are 20+ years old. So it's really not how you want to measure technological advancement. And yes, with the Japanese economy stagnating for several decades now, the US is ahead of Japan in technological advancements. Not in all areas, but in most.
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#7
I think the "disruption" concept is a good rough way to differentiate the types of innovation you see in East Asia vs in the USA at least. There's definitely innovation in East Asian economies, but it's less likely to be disruptive innovation. So Japan innovated mobile phone hardware to the hilt, but no one there really conceptualized that mobile phones should be approached as a software problem instead. That's probably the outstanding example in recent memory.
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#8
(2016-10-02, 5:26 pm)Furikake Wrote: I think the "disruption" concept is a good rough way to differentiate the types of innovation you see in East Asia vs in the USA at least. There's definitely innovation in East Asian economies, but it's less likely to be disruptive innovation. So Japan innovated mobile phone hardware to the hilt, but no one there really conceptualized that mobile phones should be approached as a software problem instead. That's probably the outstanding example in recent memory.

Good analysis. The two types of innovation seem to complement each other well: American disruptiveness and Japanese こだわり perfectionism.

There was a great article in wsj recently about how hi-fi freaks in Japan are installing their own private power poles in order to get pure electricity without interference from the neighbor's fridge. I thought Wow, we westerners need to learn from that total commitment to perfection.
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#9
(2016-10-02, 5:42 pm)HOW Wrote: There was a great article in wsj recently about how hi-fi freaks in Japan are installing their own private power poles in order to get pure electricity without interference from the neighbor's fridge. I thought Wow, we westerners need to learn from that total commitment to perfection.

We'd need infrastructure that supports such things first; even a stiff wind will cause a brownout where I live, and from my understanding even people in the suburbs have this problem, though to a lesser extent; basically, if you don't live in the city, your power supply is far from consistent.
Thankfully, the power companies are pretty good about getting things back up when the power gets cut (either at the node or when a transformer fuse blows). And in recent years, we can even have a thunder storm come through without losing power!

Frankly, I'm quite surprised that my computer still works, considering I never got a UPS for it.

Point being, Japan's infrastructure quality far exceeds that of the US (and most of Europe, if my Internet friends from various European nations are correct), but I guess it's not really a fair comparison since there's so much more (rural) land to cover here than there.
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#10
A lot of times they sell extra stuff with CD's. For example AKB48 handshake tickets or 'votes' for the election.

For print media I would say it's mostly because of manga.
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#11
(2016-10-02, 10:12 am)zx573 Wrote:
(2016-10-02, 8:55 am)phil321 Wrote:
(2016-10-02, 8:45 am)Robik Wrote: It's not about being technologically advanced or not, because they have the tech, obviously.

They just might be more conservative in general and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Maybe the Japanese are smarter too, because I've read many times that the sound quality of a digital download (mp3 file) is not as good as the sound quality of a CD you buy in the music store.

That would be true for pretty much any MP3 you download. MP3 is a lossy compression format. You will never get the same exact quality as you would from a CD, even if you make an MP3 from a CD. There are lossless formats which are the same, if not better, quality as the CD, though. Those are usually much larger in filesize and not as practical for most people.

As for the actual topic: I'm American, but I personally prefer physical CDs and physical magazines. It took me a while to accept Steam because I preferred physical games as well. I still have a resistance to buying digital copies of games of games on consoles like the 3DS, PS3, Vita, etc. I don't think there's anything technical about it. It just feels better having something physical.

The only exception I really make these days is indie bands. I listen to a lot of indie music, half of which isn't even available at regular stores and you need to go to concerts to get. More recently they're slowly putting things on iTunes in a lossy format, but the website OTOTOY has been doing a really good job of making lossless, DRM-free Japanese music available (especially for indie bands). OTOTOY has high resolution 24bit/48KHz available for purchase which is pretty unique, and better quality than what you can get from CDs. Bandcamp as well is commonly used by Japanese indie bands, but that's not country specific.

For what it's worth, I recently bought a cassette tape during my most recent trip to Japan. The only reason I didn't buy the vinyls I wanted is because I don't have a record player and it would be too much of a pain to transport it back home. So I may not be the best judge. ┐(´д`)┌

thank you so much for the link to OTOTOY!
I don't think I've ever seen it before and I live for indie music
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#12
(2016-10-03, 2:25 pm)angelneko Wrote: thank you so much for the link to OTOTOY!
I don't think I've ever seen it before and I live for indie music
OTOTOY, Bandcamp, and iTunes gets me most of the way except for some of the more smaller bands. OTOTOY has a selection of both popular and indie stuff. I've probably spent the most money on OTOTOY though. What they carry can be pretty hit or miss though.

Edit: Should throw in a warning for you. If you care about sound quality, always buy it in FLAC! If you buy a lossless CD from them you get all lossless formats (WAV, ALAC, FLAC), but you don't get access to the lossy formats like MP3. it's easy to encode it into MP3 yourself, so if you're into archival stuff like me then always go for FLAC on OTOTOY.
Edited: 2016-10-03, 4:37 pm
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#13
You are right to wonder. The average Japanese teenager (speaking purely in my experience) is terrifyingly tech-illiterate. Some (many?) households don't have a (real - phones don't count) computer, and even then it's not something children necessarily use regularly or at all. There's no take-home assignments where you go home and make a powerpoint presentation or type up an essay, even. So most teenager's experience with computers consists entire of sending messages on a smartphone.
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#14
(2016-10-07, 8:24 am)Aikynaro Wrote: You are right to wonder. The average Japanese teenager (speaking purely in my experience) is terrifyingly tech-illiterate. Some (many?) households don't have a (real - phones don't count) computer, and even then it's not something children necessarily use regularly or at all. There's no take-home assignments where you go home and make a powerpoint presentation or type up an essay, even. So most teenager's experience with computers consists entire of sending messages on a smartphone.

that's not what my Japanese animes told me
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#15
CDs in Japan has a lot to do with how the music industry works, the preference for smartphones over computers, and anti-piracy laws.

It is very common here that bands do not make much money off their concerts (in fact, start-up bands pay to play), so most of the money is made off merchandise. CDs are a very convenient thing to buy, since there's only so many band towels you can get before your tiny closet gets full to the brim. Bars also prefer CDs to mp3s, and there are many collectors around.

Not that itunes and youtube aren't also used, but people get CDs on the side. Since internet companies release all bandwitch information to the government, and Japan has strict anti-piracy laws, torrents are not that popular; universities also install p2p detectors, and it's annoying to uninstall utorrent every time you bring your laptop to school.

Pcs have not caught on for a number of reasons. Tbh, a PC would simply take up too much space in my tiny apt, and I noticed that all my colleagues with laptops prefer teeny-tiny ones, ipads and macbooks. I also know a lot of people whose only connection to the internet is their phones. It's not like they can't buy PCs, it's just a different technology culture. I use a keyboard faster than anyone I know in Japan, but I could never type on a smartphone half as fast as the average Japanese middle-schooler. The fames here run on tiny consoles better than on PCs, and if you do need anything there's always cheap net cafes that are open 24/7, so why buy one?

Technology in Japan is weird in general. It's a country where few things are digitalised, but people casually see robots on display. A lot of that had to do with preference and a dislike for change, some of it has to do with keeping jobs and a lack of desire to invest in restructuring, and some of it has to do with the fact that it's a country of elderly people ran by conservatives who do not feel the need to change their ways or teach all those obaasans how to use different-looking machines.
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#16
I think I recall reading once that a lot of Japan's technological innovation and advances, especially in the post-war-to-bubble high growth period, were focused on manufacturing and export industries rather than things which improve quality of life for individual Japanese people; maybe some of that is mixed in too?
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#17
(2016-10-07, 5:13 pm)pm215 Wrote: I think I recall reading once that a lot of Japan's technological innovation and advances, especially in the post-war-to-bubble high growth period, were focused on manufacturing and export industries rather than things which improve quality of life for individual Japanese people; maybe some of that is mixed in too?
Having a rapidly growing economy IS what improves people's quality of life.

In fact, that's the ONLY thing that improves quality of life. If you look around the world, it's pretty obvious that quality of life is invariably linked to how rich a country is. It's that simple: the average person in a rich country has a high quality of life, the average person in a poor country doesn't. Makes no difference what else those countries are doing, that simple fact still remains true.

And it's also pretty obvious that the only way for a poor country to have a rapidly growing economy is by being more competitive than richer economies, thus allowing them to sell their goods to foreigners, and, by doing that, create a flow of capital from those richer countries into their own economy.

If post war Japanese industries, instead of building goods for foreign markets, were content with just producing whatever their own population could afford to buy, in a misguided attempt to "improve people's quality of life", they would still be a poor country, living the way people in poor countries live.
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#18
I'm not (and my vaguely remembered source was not) trying to suggest that all effort should have been directed at the domestic market, but that if you find terrible quality housing stock and urban landscape, long working hours, etc, going totally unaddressed while manufacturing is the only target of improvement, then perhaps something is a bit unbalanced. Growing the export economy is a means to an end, and can usefully be regulated where it has significant negative impact on people (see for instance air quality problems in China now).

Edit: oh, and I think also they were arguing that at some point you reach near-parity with rich countries and should adjust your strategy accordingly, and Japan didn't.
Edited: 2016-10-08, 12:51 pm
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#19
(2016-10-08, 12:28 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: If post war Japanese industries, instead of building goods for foreign markets, were content with just producing whatever their own population could afford to buy, in a misguided attempt to "improve people's quality of life", they would still be a poor country, living the way people in poor countries live.

And now they're just the country with the highest debt in the world, a severe natality problem, a poverty percentage on the rise (ofc, relative poverty in a country like Japan or the US is still better than the average in most countries, but still), and little to no hope for the future as its current business model collapsed 25 tears ago but people are remarakbly in denial and refuse to restructure the system. A lot better than the whole quality of life nonsens.
Edited: 2016-10-08, 11:13 pm
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#20
(2016-10-08, 1:07 pm)Zgarbas Wrote:
(2016-10-08, 12:28 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote:
(2016-10-07, 5:13 pm)pm215 Wrote: I think I recall reading once that a lot of Japan's technological innovation and advances, especially in the post-war-to-bubble high growth period, were focused on manufacturing and export industries ....
Having a rapidly growing economy IS what improves people's quality of life....

And now they're just the country with the highest debt in the world, a severe natality problem, a poverty percentage on the rise (ofc, relative poverty in a country like Japan or the US is still better than the average in most countries, but still), and little to no hope for the future as its current business model collapsed 25 tears ago but people are remarakbly in denial and refuse to restructure the system. A lot better than the whole quality of life nonsens.

These are problems of entire western world though, and unlike Japan, many of other countries have immigration problem to boot.

Let's wait and see for how long they can try to print out of the problem without acknowledging it didn't work. To the bitter end, is my guess.
Edited: 2016-10-08, 1:21 pm
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#21
(2016-10-02, 8:45 am)Robik Wrote: It's not about being technologically advanced or not, because they have the tech, obviously.

They just might be more conservative in general and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

They're not. The US is ahead of Japan by a long shot in most areas of technology.
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#22
(2016-10-09, 5:10 pm)ryuudou Wrote:
(2016-10-02, 8:45 am)Robik Wrote: It's not about being technologically advanced or not, because they have the tech, obviously.

They just might be more conservative in general and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

They're not. The US is ahead of Japan by a long shot in most areas of technology
Okay... can you name a few then?
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#23
(2016-10-08, 1:07 pm)Zgarbas Wrote: And now they're just the country with the highest debt in the world, a severe natality problem, a poverty percentage on the rise (ofc, relative poverty in a country like Japan or the US is still better than the average in most countries, but still), and little to no hope for the future as its current business model collapsed 25 tears ago but people are remarakbly in denial and refuse to restructure the system. A lot better than the whole quality of life nonsens.
My narrow point, about export vs. consumer driven economies, was that Japan's economic model during the boom years consisted mostly of free market oriented, low government spending policies. Those policies create growth by incentivizing an export driven economy.

In the 80's, the Japanese government changed course, and began spending an ever increasing percentage of Japan's GDP. Currently, they're up to 43%. Just to illustrate the difference between that spending and government spending in a fast growing economy, China's government spends 19.4% of its GDP. The rest stays in private hands, where it can be invested into manufacturing, which is exported, bringing wealth into the country.

Japan's high government spending, on the other hand, transfers money into the hands of consumers, creating a consumer driven, inward looking economy. Couple that with the inherent inefficiency of central planning, and this spending creates stagnation, and makes Japanese businesses less competitive on the global marketplace, leading to a trade deficit with more competitive economies.

And sure, there are many other factors behind the stagnation, including stifling regulations and bureaucracy, and yes, the ever increasing debt also scares away investment into the Japanese economy. I wold however note that Japan's debt is structured differently than that of US and European governments, so a comparison that only looks at total debt as percentage of GDP is unfair. A lot of Japan's debt is owed to their own central bank. Obviously, they don't really have to pay that, if they don't want to. Once you look at how much they owe to private entities, they're more on par with the US and Northern Europe. Still not good, but not as scary as that highly publicized figure of 200% of GDP makes it look. Countries like Spain and Greece are in a much worse situation, even though their debt as a percentage of GDP is lower than Japan's.
Edited: 2016-10-10, 8:19 am
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#24
(2016-10-08, 1:20 pm)Robik Wrote: These are problems of entire western world though, and unlike Japan, many of other countries have immigration problem to boot.
From an economic perspective, immigration isn't a problem, it's a solution. Take Singapore, for instance: it's one of the few rich countries with a rapidly growing economy. Part of the reason, aside from the modest 18.2% of GDP government spending: they have one of the largest percentage of immigrants of any country. 30% of their workforce is immigrants.

That's the equivalent of 22 million foreigners being allowed to go and work in Japan, 60 million foreigners being allowed to work in the US, or 100 million foreigners being allowed to work in the EU.
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#25
(2016-10-10, 8:30 am)Stansfield123 Wrote:
(2016-10-08, 1:20 pm)Robik Wrote: These are problems of entire western world though, and unlike Japan, many of other countries have immigration problem to boot.
From an economic perspective, immigration isn't a problem, it's a solution. Take Singapore, for instance: it's one of the few rich countries with a rapidly growing economy. Part of the reason, aside from the modest 18.2% of GDP government spending: they have one of the largest percentage of immigrants of any country. 30% of their workforce is immigrants.

That's the equivalent of 22 million foreigners being allowed to go and work in Japan, 60 million foreigners being allowed to work in the US, or 100 million foreigners being allowed to work in the EU.
That really depends on the type of the immigrants and the welfare state though.
People who come to collect money from social system don't solve any problem, they are making all problems worse.
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