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Desktop users: right click on the image and choose "save image as" or "set as desktop background". Those bowtie-shaped "motorized self-balancing two-wheeled scooters" you see in the windows of strip-mall cellphone repair shops and in mall-kiosks roared out of nowhere and are now everywhere, despite being so new that we don't even know what they're called. This week's Planet Money (MP3) travels to Shenzhen, China, "the world's factory," and tries to figure out where this all started.
Bernstein is interested in this phenomenon as "memeufacturing" -- a couple of social-media stars (or garden-variety celebs) post viral videos of themselves using an obscure gadget, and halfway around the world, factories shut down their e-cig lines and convert them, almost overnight, to hoverboard manufacturing lines. As amazing as that manufacturing story is, I think the weirdness of the product itself is even more amazing. They're part of a new category of hyperspeed gadgets -- like ecigs and LED lightbulbs -- that have no authoritative version. A fun science fiction exercise is to imagine things that are hard and formalized and regulated being replaced with things that are fluid and bottom up. In October, nearly 4,000 exhibitors gathered at a 1 million-square-foot convention center jutting into Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor. Though the fair was a huge production, it is probably more useful to think of it not as one discrete event, but as a single destination in a rolling regional spectacular. Goat Story’s 16 oz horn mug is designed to bring a little Viking to your morning cup, with a spillproof lid and a cross-body carry-strap that converts to a stand to allow you to balance your horn of plenty on your desk between swigs.


Sometimes a round of drinks ends in late night karaoke, body shots, and waking up to a tiger in your hotel room. Boing Boing uses cookies and analytics trackers, and is supported by advertising, merchandise sales and affiliate links. Bernstein cites a source who says that there are 1,000 hoverboard factories in South China -- and another one, Chic Smart, outside of Shanghai, that's threatening to sue all the rest for patent infringement (good luck with that). South China's factories have the nimbleness born of precarity (retool or die!) but even by those standards, 1,000 factories is an incredible number: two factories a day since the first (?) hoverboard shipped. I remember visiting China in 2007 and seeing a million bizarre variants on Ipods, which were the hot category at the time. The copies of the "original" hoverboard (if anyone can ever agree on what that was) created the market, and they were already varied and mutated. They were here to meet some of the people looking to buy and resell fung fo leon, hoverboards, self-balancing two-wheel scooters, power balance boards, whatever you wanted to call them. On eBay UK, an account with a Charizard, Gyarados, Vaporeon, Golduck, Jolteon and Gengar is currently being auctioned for ?1,200. But that's not even the most obscenely priced account on the site.
That story was easy to understand: Apple spent a fortune opening a market for music players of a certain size and shape. There was never a moment at which all the bus-shelters and billboards touted an ideal, original hoverboard that the bottom-feeders started to nibble away at.


The below level 24 account, which features an insanely powerful Arcanine, Vaporeon, Flareon, Hypno and Gengar, is currently being auctioned for ?2,000.Pokemon Go accounts aren't the only things related to the game that are selling for an extortionate amount of cash.
China's entrepreneurs, living in a bubble where Apple's patents and trademarks were largely unenforceable, set to copying that design, and (this is the important part) varying it. The pre-mutated hoverboards arrived without a name (they still don't have a name -- I'm calling them hoverboards, but there are lots of other things that their riders call them). The important thing is that we never put ourselves in danger of a dreaded DUI or worse, put others in danger too. If you want to follow in their footsteps, you best whip out those Lucky Eggs and keep throwing down those lures at your local Pokestops. In the absence of a control-freak company with the power of the state behind it, variation flourished, a mini-Galapagos of Ipod-ish gadgets in every color and shape.



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