New Releases

Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream

October 13, 2015


Clay Shirky spends a year in China chronicling China's (specifically cell phone maker Xiaomi's) attempt to be a tech originator—and what it means for the future course of globalization.

Can the Word's Biggest Economy Actually Innovate?
Clay Shirky explores China at a crossroads.

Smartphones have to be made somewhere, and that place is China.

With the current focus on China and technology—and a Xiaomi new product launch on Oct. 19—the timing could not be better for internet guru Clay Shirky, who has lived in Shanghai for the last year, to weigh in on China's move from manufacturer to innovator. He does just that in his hugely appealing new book, Little Rice Smartphones, Xiaomi, and The Chinese Dream, offering insight and context so that we can grasp how an innovative smartphone company like Xiaomi can thrive in modern China.

Shirky has watched as Xiaomi, which means "little rice" in mandarin, has quietly become the world's third largest seller of smartphones and the most valuable startup ever. He looks at how the story of a homegrown phone that became globally "cool" is actually entwined with the political and economic future of China, and offers insights into China's balancing act between freedom and control.

Clay Shirky is a must-read for anyone trying to gain insight into technology and its implications for our lives and a terrific interview on what is going on there now in the world of technology and innovation.


Clay Shirky is associate professor at NYU Shanghai. He is the author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (2010), Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008), and Voices from the Net (1994). His writings appear frequently in The New York Times, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review, and his TED Talks have been viewed by millions. He currently lives in Shanghai.

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