I wrote a Note in December that pointed the way towards the some time concoction of slightly more random Notes – this is going to be one of those times.
Picture wise, I will begin with Jinghao Lu’s Blogspot site, China – Africa Relations In My Eyes: Perspective From A Chinese (don’t forget blogspot sites still need a proxy or vpn in China). Jing has translated an article that was first published by NetEase (网易) in 2011, and which included an interesting set of Chinese in Africa centred images. The article, along with Jing’s own contributions, discusses the situation for Chinese workers in Africa today. It also looks at the impact of this wave of immigration on the African communities themselves; particularly, the effect on employment opportunities and the local people’s feelings towards their new neighbours.
The second image incorporates a link to a classic short video from Wimp.com. It comes unambiguously titled: ‘China, China‘. It is a short film that amusingly symbolizes the ubiquity of China in our lives today. It is worth a couple of minutes watching time. It certainly brought a smile to my face. There is also a link here to the You Tube version of the video, c/o Ryan Mclaughlin over at The Hao Hao Report, as the wimp.com one can load quite slowly.
The third image, of a Tibetan nun, comes from Sascha Matuszak’s thought evoking piece: ‘Tibet: A World Apart’, over at Roger Presents. It is a longish piece – so be prepared – but worth the read. Sascha offers a thoughtful and somewhat prescient conclusion. That is certainly not to say, however, – as Sascha well knows – that such foresight, realism, hope, or whatever it is, will actually come to pass. A couple of points that were made in the comments section stimulated some interesting discussion and offered further food for thought.
I will tie this random Note together with three extracts from articles that discuss the increasingly networked nature of Chinese society, while a fourth piece takes the notion of networked communities into a wider domain of existence (the extracts are all listed together below). The first piece comes from Rebecca Mackinnon’s interview (1) with The Wall Street Journal about her new book ‘Consent of the Networked’. In the interview MacKinnon gives a balanced portrayal of the influence of networked groups in China today. Following the Mackinnon piece is an excerpt from a recent article by TeaLeafNation.com (2)- a site that deals specifically with Chinese social media. Tea Leaf Nation is an interesting site to keep an eye on. This particular screen shot highlights a recent article of theirs that discusses the effect of the government’s real name registration policy on the use of social media in China today.
The Tea Leaf Nation article is followed by a short paragraph from Stephen R. Roach’s essay ‘China’s Connectivity Revolution’ (3), published at Project Syndicate. This set of articles concludes with an excerpt from Paul Mason’s essay in The Guardian: ‘How The Revolution Went Viral’(4). Here, Mason opens the door of networked communities wider, offering us a glimpse of the various realities and potentialities of wired-networks today, and their influence on our contemporary social and political environments: environments that do seem somewhat unstable and up for grabs. If only we really knew how or in which way to actually grab them.
(1) Extract taken from the WSJ interview with Rebecca Mackinnon:
WSJ: There’s been a lot talk about microblogging services as a game-changer in China because of how quickly information spreads on them. Do you agree?
RM: “People said that about the Internet more generally when it showed up in China in 1995, when I was based in Beijing with CNN. The widespread assumption among the foreign press corps at the time was that the CCP was unlikely to survive the Internet. But so far it has done a much better job at riding the changes the Internet has wrought – and adapting to them and even taking advantage of some of them – than we ever imagined.
Yes, information spreads faster with Weibo than on earlier forms of social networks and that will certainly lead to various kinds of change. But specifically how will the “game” (whatever that is exactly) be changed? And precisely in what direction? And can we assume that direction will actually be democratic? As the daughter of a professor of Chinese history, I think we should be careful about making assumptions about where things are going, particularly when those assumptions are based in no small part on what we hope will happen.” …continue reading
(2) Snapshot from the Tea Leaf Nation article:
“First of all, many prominent writers, bloggers, journalists, and academics are already tweeting on microblogs on a real name basis. This is why microblogs took off so quickly. Before microblogs, ordinary people did not really have a way to find out what famous people thought in real time. Many of the outspoken ones are already monitored and/or heavily censored; Li Chengpeng being the best example. The new registration requirement probably would not affect what these people write, but it will likely decrease their readership and influence. Not only will ordinary people be limited to one account, if they’re registered with their legal name they will have to think twice about posting or reposting content that might be seen as objectionable.” …continue reading
(3) A couple of paragraphs from Stephen Roach’s essay: ‘China’s Connectivity Revolution‘, at Project Syndicate:
“As the Arab Spring demonstrated, the Internet can quickly transform local incidents into national flashpoints – turning the new connectivity into a potential source of political instability and turmoil. But that has been the case only in countries ruled by highly unpopular autocratic regimes. By contrast, China’s leadership is viewed with a much greater degree of public sympathy. Their quick and direct response to the recent incidents in Sichuan, Xinjiang, and Wenzhou are important cases in point.
Senior Party leaders – especially Premier Wen – were quick to lead an empathetic national response that was largely effective in countering the outpouring of concern expressed on the Internet. None of this is to deny the dark side of the Chinese Internet explosion – namely, widespread censorship and constraints on individual freedom of expression. China’s “SkyNet” team (rumored to be greater than 30,000) is the largest cyber police force in the world.” …continue reading
(4). A brief excerpt from Paul Mason’s article: ‘How The Revolution Went Viral‘:
“[H]ere is the technological fact that underpins the social and political aspects of what has happened – a network can usually defeat a hierarchy. The pioneer of network theory, Walter Powell, summed up the reasons for this as follows: the network is better at adapting to a situation where the quality of information is crucial to success, but where information itself is fluid; a hierarchy is better if you are only transmitting orders and responses, and the surrounding situation is predictable.
Once information networks become social, the implications are massive: truth can now travel faster than lies, and all propaganda becomes instantly flammable. Sure, you can try to insert spin, but the instantly networked consciousness of millions of people will set it right: they act like white blood cells against infection so that ultimately the truth, or something close to it, persists much longer than disinformation.” …continue reading