Bloggers Republic

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Wu Chong, a young journalist from.China Daily, started enjoying her MSN Space late last year. When her friends log in to MSN, they will find out what Wu is feeling that day in her blog.

I remember the sparkle in her eyes when she recommended her blog to me: “Hey, you should have your own blog. It’s fascinating! You could write whatever you want. It’s totally your own world!”

I’ve been following Wu’s blog everyday since then. I share her delights, her sorrow and get close to her innermost thoughts in her writings-—sometimes a little poem, the occasional sentimental essay, at certain times, her travel logs which I love reading the most.

When asked the reason for her addiction to blog-writing, Wu said: “First, I love pouring my thoughts and ideas through writing. Second, I love sharing them with all my friends. Now, blog-writing has become a part of my life.”

“Blog”, one of the most looked-up words on Merriam-Webster Internet sites in 2004, debuted in the United States in 1993 and was introduced to China in 2002 by Fang Xingdong. It became widespread by 2003. Fang is now the CEO of Bokee, the largest blog website in China which has attracted over 7.4 million registered users by 2005.

“Every morning, before starting my work, I’ll turn on my computer and check news and comments in my blogs,” said Wu Chong.

“Unlike traditional news portal websites, blogs can spread news and information more quickly, usually the first-hand news. Mainstream news websites will have to filter some sensitive or improper news and topics like sex, gossips about politicians, hot tips, etc but blogs are much more open and freer to talk on these issues.”

Besides spreading information, there are other reasons why blogs swept through China in the past three years.

Jin Jianbin, associate professor in School of Journalism & Communication of Tsinghua University and an expert on blog-studying, concluded there were three reasons why blogs were so popular: “First, it does not require any complicated technology and professional information.”

It is easy to register for a blog. A few clicks and one becomes a blogger. Web writing is no longer a privilege enjoyed by a few–not only in China but around the world.

“The second reason,” Jin says, “is that it feeds people’s strong desire to communicate and be recognised by others.”

Blogs made it possible for people to share not only personal thoughts but opinion on varying topics with over 100 million netizens in China.

The third reason, according to Jin, is that the wide application of mature web technology, especially RSS, which is considered the base technology for blogs and popular in blog community.

RSS is a format for syndicate news and the content of news-like sites. It collects information from various websites and provides them to us in a simple form.

There are three types of Chinese blogs: First, personal space—web journals, like MSN Space, where people record their daily life and share them with friends; second, professional blogs—websites containing information like cooking, photography and travelling. Third, portal blog websites-—a platform for bloggers to register and get their blog space

Wu Chong likened blogging to an onion-peeling experience. “It makes people be aware of their hearts and concentrate on meditation.”

She is not alone. Through blog-writing, millions of bloggers have deepened their communication skills, expanded their knowledge and even earned new friends.

“It is any easy way to make friends, and the process of exchanging thoughts with other people can be amusing,” smiled Wu Chong.

But Wu Xiaohong, a journalist from China Radio International Online, is worried about the phenomenal growth of Chinese blogs: “I got to know about blogs from Mu Zimei. Her blog is a shocker. I realised for first time then that one can gain her fame through this way.”

Mu Zimei, a female blogger, publicised her sexual experiences in her blog. It led to a great debate on social morals. “Mu Zimei aroused people’s desire to peep at other people’s privacy. Since then, (a popular portal in China) debuted a blog column for celebrities,” Wu Xiaohong said.

“These blogs spread gossips about celebrities and were a success. The Chinese blog has witnessed a privacy crisis since then.”

Recently, Yang Gongru or commonly known as Kristy Yeung, a former Hong Kong movie star, revealed in her blog that her close girlfriend, movie star Zhou Haimei (Wan Pik-Ha), once had a disease that caused her to quit her career and hide from the public.

Yang’s betrayal angered Zhou and her fans. She has been criticised for seeking self-publicity by divulging her friend’s secret. The case has also highlighted the lack of decorum among bloggers and raised the issue of the need for a regulation.

A sword has two edges, so do blogs. Besides facing a privacy crisis, bloggers are open to problems such as copyright, pornography, violence and explicit language.

Therefore, how can China and its netizen community push for blogs to develop, and yet not to overregulate them?

Efforts must be made now. It is not too late to set a yardstick for the blogging community. Wise bloggers will know the difference between positive or negative actions.

Note: See also Why All The Fuss Over Blogs??!! and Blogs Go To The Dogs.


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