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Nan Yang - freelance writer, translator and teacher, China

Page history last edited by ym@... 13 years, 2 months ago

 Email from Nan Yang - freelance writer, translator and teacher, China 24.11.07 (Extract). Nan also blogs at Virtual-China.org



# How effective has blogging been in empowering the ordinary people in China and giving them a voice? Is it being used for campaigning for change - if so, how effective has that been?

 In my opinion, Chinese blogging is not so powerful as it should be, due to the sensorship of Chinese government, GFW, even though there were small group of people who were trying their best to make the internetmosphere more powerful and free, they were losing. I think most of the bloggers and audience are having blogging as a fun, for entertainment, for learning new things around the world, not for politics.

# China is in the news a lot for censoring bloggers. What typical actions do they take to silence bloggers? How successful are their tactics in stopping critics online? Have bloggers been arrested? (You can see my article on the impact of political bloggers in Malaysia via my blog http://www.zenguide.co.uk/2007/11/blogging-thrives-in-malaysia/)

Well I used to know Isaac Mao a lot, he wasn't arrested although he is a very sensitive person in Chinese internet, but he told me that he was run after by the spies from the government twice. What they wanted to know was what he was doing actually with foreigners online and so on. So he gave them an answer and they left him free. As for another blogger in China, Zuola, who reported the nail house news in ChongQing, his situation is even worse, though I haven't heard of that he was arrested, but I heard once Isaac told him to be careful of the people around, so Zuola has to keep moving from Shanghai and Sichuan and then Beijing... Zuola is very special character on internet, most of the bloggers in China now are not so aggressive and passionate to the social phenomenon, but Zuola is very sensitive and addicted to playing on that. I, as a blogger, sometimes I put something on Virtual-China.org, but all of these things are positive or not sensitive at all, sometimes I  talk with friends about things happening but still prefer to be confidential instead of publishing online. 

# For ordinary people who engage on the internet in a non-political way, how do they use social media? Is there a preference for blogs or video? What do they blog about/ discuss - is it personal issues, technology, fan sites?

Well I think there are two groups of people who are the major users of internet in a non-political way, one is the university students, or even middle school students, the other one is office working people and Geekers.  As for how they use the social media, one friend told that for the female students, normally when they get online, they turn on QQ and then, read Sina or other popular website news about fashion and pop stars, and MySpace blogs, or SNS websites, and many of them like video sharing websites, like YouTube and YouKu , 6 Rooms, Tudou and so on. And in my opinion, the more practical and useful for daily life, the more entertain the content of blogs is, the more people visit, which means, for ordinary people like relaxing news about pop stars and movies and music and so on, for Geekers, whose English is not so good, they need to read news from bloggers who is also a Geeker and can speak good English and write in Chinese. Meanwhile, quite a few students users use blogs to connect each other, which means they just use blogs personally, only for personal friends to read to know how life is going over there.

# Do many people use social networks for fun and/ or for business eg MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn equivalents? Or is there still a preference for face to face networking for business and personal relationships?

Well as far as I know, I don't think people are really addicted to the SNS nowadays in China, since one of my best friends, who is now working in Linkist.com, a Chinese SNS startup, told me that they just have to maintain the 2,000 current active users, and feel quite frustrated and depressed, for they've tried very hard in off-line activities to encourage users and sending gifts, but it seems that people don't really enjoy the SNS or they don't know how to use it very well. Similar situation could be found in Wealink.com and Many other websites, but  recently a foreign websites, Geni.com came into China, with fresh ideas, though I think it will face a tough pass to success, it is different from most of Chinese SNS. I think the hinge on it is that most of Chinese internet users are not good at understanding and exploring new usages, or they are not experienced in using internet so that they are not so creative when they are using a website. I have an example, Anothr.com, which now is called inezha.com, they used to be facing western users at the beginning, and Jim, the CTO told me that their wetsern users were very creative and they were creating new ways using this online robot, comparing to Chinese users. Chinese users are intend to be passive reading and receiving instead of exploring and interacting with other members online.However I think this situation will be changed sooner or later.

# How are businesses in China using blogging and other social media to market their products / services?

 I don't know much about real business networks online, but I do know that quite a lot of people use Skype directly to communicate with foreigners and to find clients directly. And it seems that there a quite a lot of websites for trading and im/export business such as, Alibaba.com.

# What are the current trends/ hot issues around social media in China?

I have no idea...Donews is getting worse, blogging is quite normal, maybe the video websites...I think at present, Chinese users are quite interested in Tudou and 6 Rooms, and similar websites, these websites are developing very well. If you need the people who is working in these websites to get further information, I would like to introduce you to them.

# Are there any social media issues that you think is important for communicators in business to be aware of, especially if they or their clients are considering doing business China?

Well yes, I think personal recommendation is very important online issue, which means  people get to know new people through a reliable network instead of just checking the public information. The same as dating websites I think. I don't really like the way they are doing around the world...If you could find out a person is both of your and his friend, that would be great, then the relationship seems to be tightened.

Nan Yang is a freelancer in Shanghai whose many projects include part-time Mandarin teacher at MandarinShanghai.com, assistant for Eric Eldred from Creative Commons, translating manager for gOFFICE, translator for MeMedia, member of Social Brain Foundation, and author of 1idea1day.com. She is also passionate to take part in small and innovative seminars in Shanghai.

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