One of the most interesting groups of technologists in China are the shanzhai — a word with connotations similar to Robin Hood's Merry Men. They form small companies which cluster together in larger groups, trying to produce new gizmos so fast that nobody can quite catch up with them. They have a very libertarian attitude towards intellectual property, which is essential to the enterprise. Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang, the silicon hacker on the open-source Chumby project, has written a marvellous explanation of their work. Here are some of the rather bizarre and thought-provoking consumer phones that have emerged from the Shenzhen workshops.
By ZDNet UK's Rupert Goodwins