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Kunming: A New Perspective

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Editor's note: If you were with us at the Best of Kunming Awards Ceremony, between the laughter and drinks, you may have heard Tommy Hung's speech entitled A New Perspective. We have reproduced it here, in its entirety, so the greater community can better understand our vision.

The past few months have been an interesting and intense time around the GoKunming office. There have been many firsts for us and there are many more yet to come. With the website redesign, we hope to give our users new functional tools and our community better and more up-to-date ways to communicate.

But the redesign is only the first step. While the platform has become a vital source of information and communication for those visiting and living in Kunming and Yunnan, we believe that, just as Yunnan has vast potential to develop, we have so many resources and avenues in our sights that we aim to start pursuing.

With so many activities planned, GoKunming needed to make sure our vision was up to par, so we put on our reading glasses, noted we were viewing things with a 2010 prescription, and set up an appointment with the optometrist. Walking out of the doctor's office, we were shocked at the vivid new lines and shapes we saw everywhere.

New angles quickly became apparent, making it dizzying to walk straight. Shocked and a little shaken at the difference, we took the afternoon off to sit by Green Lake and write down our new vision. What we ended up with was refreshing. We saw many things we could do with our platform, and more importantly, we saw new potential in our community. It was not just the community that exists currently that we saw, but what it could be — a more connected, international Kunming.

In essence, we had discovered a new perspective, and we hope to provide a new perspective for Kunming. With the release of the new design, we wanted to share our new perspective with you as well.

So what is this New Perspective?

It's a new take on what we can offer our users and a refreshed view of ourselves and the way we do things.

For our users, we want to push the perspective that Kunming is developing into an international city. Along with this maturation come different viewpoints from a wide range of cultures. These should be shared so that our community can continue to diversify and grow.

Of course, we want you to use GoKunming when you need to reference something, but we don't want to be a static platform. We want to be an active voice in the community ourselves and provide a platform where others can find their voices as well. We want to be a part of the development, not just a witness to it.

We've attempted to break down our new perspective into three categories: personal, organic and international.

Personal

We are a personal website, changing for and with the community we serve. Like many of the expatriates here in Yunnan, the members of the GoKunming team never necessarily planned on moving to China permanently. Our preliminary knowledge of the country before coming here was limited at best. And although we all arrived in Kunming by separate paths, we were all captivated by the cultures, people and beautiful landscapes that make Yunnan so unique.

We saw a culture vastly different from our own and much more varied than our preconceptions. We became ineluctably drawn to it. In the years we have been here, we have all traveled the strange road between acclimating to Chinese culture and keeping our own cultures alive in a new place. The GoKunming team story is just one example of how many foreigners have found their own niches in Yunnan, picking up the language and customs and exploring local traditions.

To some local Chinese, the change may be fairly imperceptible, but many Yunnan-based foreigners have incorporated Chinese language, habits and ways of thinking into their lives. This has been going on for several decades but now the trend is accelerating noticeably.

While not exactly locals, people of this mindset are a new and growing breed of expatriates that are bridging the gap between foreigners and Chinese in Kunming and Yunnan. At the same time, more and more Chinese are interacting with foreigners, also bridging gaps in the realms of family, friends, business and study. It is this interaction that we hope to personify.

GoKunming is evolving in the hands of the current management team as we become more aware of what the community wants and needs. Those changes would not have been possible without the foundational work and vision of GoKunming's founders upon which we are now building.

This newest incarnation of GoKunming is more interactive and gives users and small businesses alike a larger voice. It allows foreigners to find small pieces of home, whether in a slice of pizza or a quiz night, and has made traveling around Yunnan more accessible to those without high Chinese literacy. It has increased its diversity in content, both in subject matters and in authors. All of these changes are reflective of our personal community.

We are working to update user profiles and will soon expand functionality that encourages greater social networking. Avatars will be integrated to give each user a visual image. Users are now able to submit events and listings. In the near future there will be more interaction in the form of an event RSVP function as well as up/down voting on user posts throughout the site. As these changes are unveiled, we will continue thinking of new ways of incorporating more social involvement and welcome your thoughts as well.

All of these decisions are made with the personal angle at their core, so that the personal is better represented to the community.

Organic

To be a personal website, we decided the site must also move beyond being a single platform and become organic, establishing a presence in the physical world outside of computer screens. Also, just as technology has moved from being on desktops to being in pockets — customizable and vital to the lives of each individual — we aim to be a bigger part of our users' daily life by being more accessible anytime, anywhere.

For the goal of taking a more active role in the real world, we have plans to enlarge the range and scope of our contests and begin to sponsor and organize public events. We are already in hopeful talks with various educational, artistic and cultural entities in Kunming in an effort to bring GoKunming sponsored and organized events to you in the future.

As to the objective of becoming more accessible, we aim to improve our presence on mobile platforms in order to make GoKunming accessible to an ever-greater number of users. To this end, weekend events will be posted through WeChat as well as on the website, and greater use of various media outlets will be emphasized. We hope that our users will have a larger role in events backed by GoKunming through interactive media such as these.

These are some large projects, and they will be implemented at a measured pace because we want to make sure we have met our standards of quality, but rest assured, these projects have viable and optimized timelines. GoKunming will become an organic tool, more accessible, more interactive, and progressing alongside you and the province.

International

Many people perceive GoKunming as a website directed at foreigners living and visiting Kunming. We are offering a new perspective. GoKunming will continue to integrate more Chinese into the site's content with the goal of attracting more Chinese to participate in our online community.

We see Kunming as an international city and we see ourselves as one of many bridges between foreigners and locals. The site has measurable plans to be partially in Chinese soon, with the ultimate goal of being completely bilingual.

We want our users from all over the world to be able to communicate with one another so that we can help Kunming truly become an international city. While this goal is no easy feat, we hope to utilize the increasingly bilingual and well-traveled population of Kunming to help out.

Within the last two years, we have received a lot of help from talented individuals of both local and foreign descent. Through their eyes and their influences, we have been able to utilize our current team's ideas combined with theirs to flesh out a more international perspective. What once seemed a distant and blurred goal is slowly sliding into focus.

We would like to welcome you, whether you've known of us for years, or if you have just recently discovered us, to contact us if you have any ideas or suggestions. Remember, we need the voices of our community to optimize what we can do with the community.

Finally, we would like to welcome all of you to the new GoKunming and we hope that together, with your help, we can give Kunming and the rest of the world a new perspective — an international Kunming.

Perspective image: roumazeilles
Organic image: Mother Earth News
International image: Vallee Photos

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Comments

Great new look! Is it possible to have a share button added for We chat? Since I think most of us use it.

Great to know you guys are going to be Kunming boosters. In spite of many problems, like never ending construction, worsening air quality and the forever metro project it is a good place to live.

I just hope you guys have the balls to point out when the emperor isn't fully clothed.

Is there a 'search' button somewhere? If not, the site badly needs one.

Alien: Each section has an improved search function in the top left. A global search function is coming soon!

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