This is an interesting, and I think fairly perceptive overview of China’s possible media future, from journalist and media observer Charles Mabbett:
When China’s most popular blogger Han Han had his recent post about a spate of violent attacks in Chinese schools taken down, it wasn’t the first time that he had courted controversy and it is unlikely to be the last.
The post entitled “Children, you’re depressing grandpa” was critical of a media ban on reporting the latest attack in Taizhou, Jiangsu Province, at a time when the Shanghai World Expo was due to get underway. Evidently, Sina.com, the website that hosts many of China’s most popular blogs determined it was too sensitive to keep online.
Han Han represents a relatively recent phenomenon in China, one that commands millions of readers and is highly influential as both social commentary and barometer of public sentiment. As of April 2010, his blog had attracted 350 million hits, making him by far and away, the king of China’s blogosphere.
The underlying fact that should never be ignored is that China is only 30 years into the post Mao era, and the massive social momentum that Charles saw in-country is hard to describe unless you see it first hand. And never underestimate the Chinese pragmatism.
This fairly radical revision of the boundaries of twitter, which I didn’t know, fascinates:
While Chinese Twitter can accommodate up to 400 characters, it is more common for users to post messages up to about 120 characters. Compared with English, Chinese characters allows between two to eight times more information to be packed into the same number of characters.
Which makes it vastly more powerful as a social networking and news dispersal medium. Twitter has played a huge part in the bloody political head-butting that hopefully reached some resolution yesterday here, and I’m keen to find out the Thai script limitations.
Update: Shorty after I posted this, I found this post on the Bangkok protests and the rise of Moblogging:
About the same time as my first tweet, I also posted my first “moblog”. This is an abbreviation of “mobile blogging”, which, as the name suggests, is blogging from your mobile phone. This was the most exciting development for me. For the first time I was able to post blogs while I was still on location and my thoughts were still fresh. If you visit www.mythailandblog.com you will be able to see some examples of my moblogs. The main difference between the blogs here at www.thai-blogs.com and those moblogs are obviously the number of words. However, if you compare my earlier moblogs to the ones I do these days, you can see that I am now typing longer moblogs on my iPhone. Sometimes, I post about the same event on both blogs, but the moblog is definitely more laid back and relaxed and has more of my daily life that I don’t write about at www.thai-blogs.com. Even if the events are the same, the pictures are always different. This is because I use my big DSLR for this blog and my iPhone camera for the moblog. As I carry my iPhone around with me all the time, unlike the heavy DSLR, you will find the I write moblogs more frequently. And I also now find it easier to process pictures and video in my iPhone and then use a Word Press application to write my moblog. These are then uploaded up onto the Internet. Whenever possible, I try to post while I am still at the event.
Although I didn’t for a moment feel threatened going about my daily business in the city, and I think the same goes for just about every expat here, there being absolutely no outflow of resident non-Thai and an ongoing daily arrival of 20,000 tourists (down from the normal 30,000 a day) which is still an incredible number, the live twitter stream on google, which in my office I kept open on my second monitor, was pretty much the live news stream I needed to carry on in a fairly normal way.
The world, how we approach it and how we draw information from it has changed just that little bit more in the past few weeks.