Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | google
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16-year-old Sunmee Huh I hate to say it, but that "Model Minority" stereotype is based on reality sometimes. Some young Asian Americans are just darned smart, hard-working good students. Take Sunmee Huh, a 16-year-old Maryland teenager, for instance. Last year, she noticed her grandfather struggling to use a search engine, and had she an idea. She decided to build her own search engine, designed for older, tired eyes, so her grandfather could search the Web for information easily, without straining to read the text or messing with his browser to make the type larger. She started with the most popular search engine, Google, and used its backend programming to drive her version. She then enlisted the graphic arts help of her younger (!) sister Dahlia to make everything look nice, called the search engine Good50. 16-year-old Sunmee Huh created the Good50 search engine for her grandfather.In the process she made it super easy to change font size as well as background color (the black background, she explains in Good50's About Us page, is a "high contrast" version to help people with poor vision that also happens to use less energy to display, so it's a "green" option). "Designed with the public's health in mind, Good50 has pre-set the search box to a larger size and gives the option to adjust to a larger font in the search results," the About Us page explains. "These features of Good50 will reduce eye strain and help to prevent Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Some possible symptoms of CVS include headaches, dry and/or red eyes, fatigue, double vision, and neck or back pain." Although she's reaching out for publicity top spread the word about Good50, Sunmee isn't in it for the money. She has Google ads on the search engine but refused to add the "sponsored links" that are often at the top of Google search results, figuring those ads are just confusing for Internet newbies -- and her grandfather. And, she also pledged to donate at least 5 cents for every 50 visits to the search engine, from the Google advertising revenue she collects. In April, she made her first donation: $50 to the Red Cross for Haiti relief. In May, she sent a $100 donation to Meals on Wheels.

Is it just me, or is it irritating to have some white guy co-opting Asian iconography for a TV commercial and combining two different cultures? Sure, it's a cool idea, and certainly well-executed production-wise. But this stop-action video made to pimp Google's new Nexus One "super-phone" (their description, not mine) bugs me. The animated miniature ninjas -- of non-specific, though...

Tak Toyoshima, creator of Secret Asian Man, and Jeff Yang, one of the editors of "Secret Identities," at the 2009 AAJA Convention in Boston. Tak Toyoshima, creator of "Secret Asian Man," and Jeff Yang, one of the editors of the recently-published book "Secret Identities," sign copies at the 2009 AAJA Convention in Boston. “Where are you from?” “So, where are YOU from?” “Hi, where’re you from?” I was in Boston a couple of weeks ago, at a convention where everyone asked each other “Where are you from?” and no one got offended. It cracked me up, hearing the question over and over. Let me explain, for my non-Asian readers: Just about every Asian American I know – seriously – has been asked this question sometime (or many times) in their life. It’s often preceded by a variation of the statement, “You speak English so well… where are you from?” And once we answer “California,” or “Denver,” it’s often followed by a variation of “No, you know what I mean, where were you born?” Which might be followed, after we answer “California” or “New York City,” by “No, where’s your FAMILY from?” That’s when we can cut off the silliness and get to the point: “Are you asking what’s my ethnic heritage?” I just don’t see European Americans having this conversation, unless they have, say, a British or French or German accent. People assume Asian Americans are foreigners even if we "speak English so well" because of the way we look. Anyway, I heard the “where are you from?” question dozens of times and we all answered eagerly without getting defensive. It’s because the ones asking were also AAPI, and we really did want to know where each other was from. We were at the annual convention of the Asian American Journalists Association, a non-profit professional organization that supports Asian Americans in the media. And after spending several days in Boston with the AAJA, I have hope for journalism.

Google ran into trouble in japan over the use of historical maps of Tokyo that showed areas where burakumin, or the lowest caste, used to live. Poor Google. They're in a tough spot this time. The Internet giant has hit some cultural snags in Japan before, over how it rolled out its products in the Land of the Rising Sun. This time, they're in trouble because Google used publicly available historical maps of Tokyo and Osaka in an overlay for its popular (and amazing) Google Earth program. The problem is, the maps showed the locations of former villages where the "burakumin" used to live in feudal times. The locations have long since been developed with the concrete, steel and glass of modern Tokyo, but the antique map has dredged up centuries and shame, and a fresh spate of anger from the descendants of burakumin as well as government officials who'd just as soon forget that such prejudice ever existed -- and apparently still exists.