By Jeff Yang
Any regular reader of technophile Web sites such as Gizmos for Geeks knows that the world’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, Japan, regularly keeps its most innovative and exciting widgetry to itself, selling it only to the domestic market. Some of these devices eventually plod over to U.S. shores months or even years after they’ve become obsolete in Japan. But many never arrive here at all. Why is it that Japanese manufacturers (and, increasingly, those in Korea and China as well) have such a death grip on consumer-electronics cool? And why are Americans deprived of the choicest fruits of this technological bounty? The answers to these questions offer an intriguing look at how culture shapes technology — and vice versa.
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