David Feng to Chair and Speak at China and the Changing Geopolitics of Global Communication Conference on 09 April 2016
Although I’ve made some not-so-invisible changes to my main commitments, moving out of “theory / research-only” academia and being involved only in projects that yield actual, tangible results for the benefit of the general public, I still will be involved in my part of academia which involve speeches and lessons. This is why I’ve decided to be an active part of the upcoming China and the Changing Geopolitics of Global Communication conference. This is a unique event: both universities co-organising this are those I have academic affiliations to. It’s also a good way to transition academically from London to Beijing.
Check out the full schedule for details, and be sure to book yourself in for the event if you’re interested. I will be chairing Parallel Panel 2 (Cultures of communication) from 11:30 through to 13:00, and in the afternoon hour, I’ll have my 15 minute-presentation. ▶
Or at least I do. Happy that the Swiss managed to sneak in a goal that led them to victory in the final minute against Ecuador, I donned on a T-shirt with the Swiss flag the next day, to show that I was proud of “my gang”. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate moment: we were going to be visiting Beijing’s Olympic Green, the National Stadium included!
My role in this: team leader and Foreign Expert. (My non-Chinese passport made me “foreign”.) It’s the latter that is the job of mystery here in China, the stuff that some expats will proudly showcase — until they realise they are all Foreign Experts. ▶
On 24 December 2013, I took part in the rather longly-worded Press Release of Blue Book of Global Media: Annual Report on the Development of Global Media (2013) and New Media Industries Frontiers and Combined Discussion on Worldwide Communications and New Media Development. (What a mouthful!)
I was here as I was part of a new Chinese-language book on the media, and especially social media. Titled New Media Industries Frontiers (2013), my bit, from page 71, takes a look at China’s social media development and trends.
In particular, I mentioned that the rise of new social media tools, such as WeChat, will change the audience of a message. On Weibo and Twitter, for example, unless you have a private account, what you post will be seen by others — even those you don’t follow or are friends with. On WeChat this is different altogether, as it is seen only with your friends, and nobody you don’t know (unless they’ve copied-and-pasted your message as a rather complicated form of a repost). So whereas a message spreads faster on Weibo and Twitter, it has less reach and impact in comparison if posted just on WeChat. On the other hand, the two are different environments: Weibo is much more for the general public, whilst WeChat is much more between friends. ▶
I am academically involved here at the Communication University of China with lessons and research underway — and as part of these commitments, I was asked to give two seminars to International Media students here for their MA. The specific lesson I presented was in Theories of Communication.
We had upwards of around 30 students, and students were basically from all over the world — Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. It was my task to present two lessons to them, which I did with pleasure:
- Special Lecture: Social Media and China: This was easily my trademark lesson, where I told students how social media worked in China — and I could easily pull this off, as I had years of experience.
- Media Matters! The Role of Media in Information Society: This was as “theoretical” as was “practical”, and as my PhD dissertation didn’t stray away too far from this, I could merge experience with theory. ▶
So, September 2012 is here. I’ve just entered China a few days back on a Z visa, or a working visa. I’m going to both be a kind of generic-alised “English teacher in China” and also a little more. I’m going to head to the Communication University of China as a Lecturer so that I can do a little academic research as a side schtick as well. My topics: new media and social media.
But here’s the thing: a teacher is not the smartest thing in the universe. There’s: (a) sure bound to be extraterrestrial life that knows more than we do (I think); (b) people who are not teachers that know more stuff than teachers do. So I’m cutting it short here — yes, I’ll be a teacher, but I’m not gonna outfox anyone. In fact, I’ll be pretty happy when folks outfox me. That’ll also be the case a few years down the line when the baby is due (or babies are due, rather): I’m perfectly OK with these guys being smarter than I am from Day One. ▶
I, David Feng, would like to announce that I have gratefully accepted a teaching job offer from the Communication University of China as foreign education expert (teacher). Lessons will begin September 2012 and I will be teaching mainly undergraduates and MA candidates, as well as other students, English, Western culture, and media, in particular new media. My academic rank is expected to be that of Lecturer (equivalent to Assistant Professor in the United States of America). The language of instruction shall be English.
I am indebted to this University for the chance, its gracefulness and the opportunity to teach and inspire the young minds of tomorrow. I will selflessly educate and inspire young aspiring media talent with the aggregate of my experience and professional knowledge. I shall teach all that is fit to be taught, within the Constitution of China and the principles it may enshrine.
I shall have no goals other than to ensure that the true winners from my educational and academic commitments shall be the students, and that the winners from all my commitments shall be society at large.▶
As of late I’ve graduated in semi-stealth with a PhD (or rather, “Doctor of Arts”) in communications (especially social media) from the Communication University of China. (It’s where, supposedly, people must have been taught how to communicate with one other — although I’ll lay off the “making-fun-of-my-alma-mater” for now…)
Seriously, I’ve kept the PhD thing very low key. That’s because there’s a lot of wild academics in China who are wild — because they’ve that PhD thingy themselves.
For the last three years, I’ve been, instead, travelling by train as much as I can. I wanted to discover, outside classes, the real China. The poor bits. The rich bits. The bits and bobs that are ugly, cruel, crass, but also those that are cool, neat, advanced, “wow”-ish and most importantly, real.
After three years of the whole PhD show, I can say that not only have I come out with an original dissertation on how to tame social media better (whilst not losing out to either anarchy or authoritarianism), but that I’ve also seen the country — China — much better. ▶
For my MA in presenting and linguistics at the Communication University of China, my thesis was on first comparisons between main news shows in China and those in other countries. About three years passed since I got my MA, so I thought it would be a good time to do a return visit to my professor’s class and to give them up an update on how things were doing in recent years.
I had all of my video clips as presented in my original thesis ready, and quite a few of these were rather more updated. Obviously, due to the fact that my thesis compared Chinese news with those from a host of other countries — including Switzerland, Germany, and even North Korea, this from the outset was going to be something completely different. The highlight, interestingly, was from North Korean TV, where the propaganda announcer read the news in a hysterical voice which sounded like totally unlike any other news channel I focused on. Some found it funny; others were just staring trying to figure out what was being said. ▶
Just graduated today from the university… Master of Arts. Wow. These are a few of the greatest shots from my graduation at the China Media University (Communication University of China). I got a Master’s Degree in Arts – and a doctorate is on the drawing board!
Macs, media, and new projects, as well as an eventual doctorate in law… that’s next for me! I’m going to keep the Mac user group afloat, while hoping to get into the media biz, and at the same time, do other “innovative projects”. ▶