January Featured People: David Li
Interview &Translation / Alice Dong
1. Welcome to Xindanwei.com, Please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in the field?
I am originally from Taiwan and moved to Shanghai from Los Angels in 2003. I have been a free software programmer and open source advocate for more then 20 years. I founded XinCheJian the first hackerspace in China with a few friends in 2010 on the second floor of Xindanwei.
2. You’ve also been one of the driving forces behind Startup Weekend. Can you tell us a bit about the event, your experiences with it, and how it got started?
Startup weekend is a event to help people get their startup ideas off the ground by making them focus on one idea for the whole weekend. These days, people are full of ideas of making startups but never go behind chatting about it. Startup weekend is designed to make people focus on one idea for the whole weekend with likeminded partners. I have participated in Startup Weekend as a mentor since it was started in Shanghai last year and become part of the organizing team when Liu Yan asked.
3. We learned that Chris Anderson mentioned you in his lasted book Makers: the New Industrial Revolution, Could you tell us something about it and what are your future steps in Xinshanzhai?
As one of the founders of Xinchejian and Xinchejian being the first hackerspace in China, I have been asked a lot about the connection between hackerspace and innovation in China. After a lot of conversations and researches, I have discovered the similarities between the global makers and open source hardware movement and the Shanzhai industries in China. They almost look like twin separated at birth. Lynn Jeffery of the Institute of Future in Silicon Valley organize a group of hackers around the world to have a conversation on this topic and some of my words in the conversation was citied in Chris Anderson’s latest book “Makers.” I was also invited to the announcement event of the Chinese version of Makers and had a great conversation with Chris on the topic.
Shanzhai as an open innovation model have served China well in the past and I think the sharing nature of the industry would also work well to bring China to the next innovation stage coupling the global open source hardware and makers movement.
4. Of course a follow up to the previous question is, what do you think about crowd funding and how has it impacted or effected the long tail market?
Crowdfunding brings back the old face to face tradition of consumption. I know in detail not just the goods but the people behind the goods I am getting. Knowing that I play a part in making a new project or product reality is very satisfactory experience.
Crowd funding enables niche market in long tails to happen fast and lower the risk of the producers of the products for this market.
5.We heard that you are advocating urban farming, especially the use of hydroponic, aquaponic and aquaponic to actually produce food in urban environment. Could you say something about the aquaponic workshop you hosted this September?
I have been into urban farming for years and have discovered aquaponics, a method combining aquaculture and hydroponic to grow both vegetables and fishes together in a balance ways. The method is efficient and conservative in the use of resources such as water and fertilizers. I setup my first four square meters outdoor aquaponic this year and have enough the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, basils and other vegetables from it since summer. Aquaponics vegetables grow as fast as hydroponics with the full body tastes of the best organic. I got a chance to invited Chris Sharp, one of the global pioneers in aquaponic to Shanghai and gave a two days workshop. We have found a lot of interests in this and we plan to organize more workshop in the future to promote this healthy, fun and clean way to grow food.