Archive for July 5th, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

The China-Related Blogosphere: a Deserted Playground

It resembles an experience in a summer camp: you wake up at night and everyone seems to be asleep, just as you feel in the mood for a deck of cards.

I have read a number of posts during the past five years of blogging which said that the English-language Chinese blogosphere was dead. Those who have written this in the past may not write it anymore, because they don’t blog anymore – not about China, anyway. This would seem to suggest that the sphere is now dead and that therefore, there’s nobody who can say so now. The dead can’t know that they are dead.

Can you blog about China without being there? Proably - but it will become a different kind of blogging.

Can you blog about China without being there? Proably – but it will have to be a different kind of blogging.

EastSouthWestNorth, the arch bridge blog from Hong Kong, isn’t dead – there are still updates about Chinese sources at its top. But the last entry was in December last year, about Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Mo Yan.

The China Beat came to an end in July last year, and I didn’t even notice. Chinageeks most recent post dates back to February this year.

MyLaowai, once a great blog that pioneered a rather irreverent perspective on China, is only a shadow of its own past. Few posts, fewer comments, and the ones that do appear there keep me from commenting – it’s not my kind of company.

Generally, those who keep posting usually get rather few comments – that even seems to be true for Beijing Cream, kind of a tabloid for big and small news from China. King Tubby, a man with a blog of his own, but not that much about China, revived the idea – or illusion – of an existing sphere in December last year, but it wouldn’t last. (Some of the comments his posts caught may or may not be an indication why it wouldn’t.)

I realized how calm the sphere has become when I looked at the list of bloggers I interviewed and that I wanted to interview in this BoZhu series. Most who I asked had agreed to an interview and saw it through, nobody flatly declined, and in a few cases, it didn’t come to pass.

I don’t think the sphere is dead. But it is hibernating. It will come back to life once in a while, when something “big” happens in China, but it will never be as lively as it was around 2008. One blogger, Foarp, suggested that the sphere lost much of its activity between 2006 and 2008, when China began to comprehensively block the foreign blogs.

And then, there’s Twitter. To quite an extent, it seems to have replaced blogging – when it comes to the sphere, anyway. It is microblogging where the division between the sphere and its topic – China – becomes most apparent.

It wouldn’t need to be so, C. A. Yeung suggested in an interview in 2011. The difference between the two groups of bloggers could be bridged.

I’d happily participate in bridging the gap if this was still a sphere of blogs in the first place. But nothing on Twitter or Sina Weibo seems to last, most of it looks both chaotic and boring, and I doubt that I’ll ever become a microblogger in this life. Next life, something still hipper (and still more boring) will have replaced the microblogs.But I’m wondering: are there still active English-language Chinese blogs?

If so, please drop me a link. My kind of blogging doesn’t depend on “company”, but once in a while, it would be refreshing to read different perspectives, and to have discussions there.

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