What They're Using: Michael Anti and His Eee PC

Michael Anti is an engineer and journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Huaxia Times, 21st Century World Herald, Washington Post, Southern Metropolis Daily and Far and Wide Journal. He has been a researcher, a columnist, a reporter, a war correspondent in Baghdad (in 2003) and more—and achieved notoriety in 2005 when Microsoft deleted his blog. Today, he is best known for his landmark work on press freedom in China—efforts that have earned him a Wolfson press fellowship at Cambridge University and Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.

Mike Anti and His Eee PC

It was at a Harvard meeting where I noticed that Michael was using an ASUS Eee PC, with exceptional ease and enthusiasm. Turns out, it's one he bought from Amazon. It came new with Knoppix, but then he "cracked" it to do more than ASUS expects of ordinary users (for example, expanding windows to a full screen). I was impressed by how rapidly he typed on the keyboard. Later I found that he was actually typing in Chinese. I hadn't realized, until he explained it, that it's actually possible to type Chinese at the speed of speech on a qwerty keyboard. "I type in Chinese about five times faster than I write", he says. The word Harvard, for example, is four keystrokes rather than seven. So, if you know Chinese, you can use it as a kind of shorthand—impressive. (As you see from the photo, he was using Smart Pinyin.)

Typing in Chinese

Using Smart Pinyin

In sum, Michael said he has found the Eee PC ideal for three things: 1) hacking, 2) doing journalistic work and 3) watching TV. (In fact, he believes it is "the future of the TV".)

Ethan Zuckerman, who was at the same meeting, added, "I've seen these all over the place. I ran into (some) Asian businessmen in Amsterdam last week. And they were all carrying them. It's caught on really, really fast."

His one caution is adaptation. It took him a week to get used to the smaller-size keyboard. Plus, he adds, "You should have some five minutes to get used to it" when you're coming from a normal-size keyboard. Seems like time he's willing to invest.


Doc Searls is editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, where he has been on the masthead since 1996. He is also co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto (Basic Books, 2000, 2010), author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), a fellow of the Center for Information Technology & Society (CITS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an alumnus fellow of the Berkman Klien Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He continues to run ProjectVRM, which he launched at the BKC in 2006, and is a co-founder and board member of its nonprofit spinoff, Customer Commons. Contact Doc through [email protected].

Load Disqus comments