Being an Active Part of the International Conference on China and the Changing Geopolitics of Global Communication in London
Call it a perfect transition from London to Beijing as I prepare to head back to China — taking part in an academic conference organised both by the University of Westminster in London, and the Communication University of China in Beijing.
This time, I was both Chair and Speaker in the same event, and also had an opportunity to ask an academic colleague about his presentation which would ring bells all over China’s younger generation born in the 1990s. ▶
It never mattered that the talk ran just a tiny bit overtime: the audience, made up of nearly everyone, including key scholars and ordinary students, were very much interested in the Chinese social media world. Today’s talk I gave, however, answered some existing issues whilst leaving lot of new ideas and insights to be discovered and discussed upon, ending with a very open-ended question: What’s next?
The talk sometimes extended beyond the “purely technological” and, as you might have expected for China, went a little political. But it also went cultural. “Mr Sci and Mr Dem”, as science and democracy were first referred to around the founding of Sun Yat-sen’s Republic of China, were mentioned, but also talked about was the fact that the Chinese had in essence not ever elected by direct popular vote a leader at the national level. Differences also existed in what priorities the average Chinese in the street had; but comparisons were also drawn between “indirectness”, complaints to the authorities in both China and the UK, but just how vocal citizens got online on social media, especially in the face of controversial issues.
The approximately 2-hour long talk-and-Q&A session was a mere briefer into the Chinese social media world, as the room was filled with both Western veterans but also Chinese natives who were both familiar with the world of Chinese social media, as well as others who had come in to listen to the talk. Many thanks to everyone who came, for the sharp and challenging questions, for the at times very lively debate, but also to learn and share more knowledge, facts, and views. Many thanks also to Dr Paul Dwyer for chairing this talk, and for the China Media Centre of the University of Westminster for making today’s event possible. ▶
In 1995, Joseph Schorr and others authored one of my more favourite tech books — Macworld Mac Secrets, where he introduced a number of Web links — including CRAYON (Create Your Own Newspaper). I’ve never been able to really use that back in the day, but I did know that in 1999, I was happy with My Yahoo!, which, as a Swiss Wetterfrosch, allowed me to put the weather report where it mattered — top left hand of the customised news page. (It also allowed me to set a pale-ish grey as the background colour, which was easier on the eyes.)
We’re now about 20 years away from when I first got introduced to CRAYON. Whilst that never really worked, it is working when it comes to customised news on my smartphone. There are three ways, in fact, I got this working my end:
- following all the news sources I want on Twitter (easier said than done, really; I had to follow credible / verified accounts over “just about any old account”)
- downloading news apps to my iPhone (again, I was never a fan of the “unofficial aggregates”, which I found hard to really trust)
- following accounts on WeChat (here again, I had the tendency to trust verified accounts more) ▶
I was just featured a few days ago on the Southern Weekly (in Chinese), after having taken part in Foursquare Day in Beijing, which incidentally took place on “4 squared” day (“4 squared” would mean the 16th day of April 2010). The usual hideout would, of course, be at Sanlitun Village.
I’m one of the more active users of Foursquare, and am usually the second most active in terms of mayorships. I’ve a lot of railway and Beijing Subway stations under my “mayorship” for the simple reason that driving simply makes no more sense these days (especially after they opened up Line 4 to the Beijing South Railway Station). I also own a few toll gates on Beijing expressways, just for when I make a more distant trip. ▶
Fact of life is that Facebook has now been firewalled in China.
Ah, life in China. A blessing and a curse. Sole curse comes from the Firewall. Everything else are blessings… ▶
When seven Mac revolutionaries started this thing called the Beijing Macintosh User Group about six years ago, one of the first thing we were dying for: an Apple Store. The US was getting them by the boatload, and one of those stores hit home pretty close — in Japan, that is.
This thing called the East China Sea was all that separated the People’s Republic from an Apple Store. (And, of course, Supreme Command it seemed — from 1 Infinite Loop.)
Back in the day, an Apple Store seemed a remote paradise. Then came the iPod. The iPhone. The whole Mac-shebang. BootCamp. YouNameIt.
Suddenly, the Mac became “something”.
It became a very big “something” on July 19, 2008, when the Apple Store was about to open in Sanlitun. Oh my God. The crowds. The overnight waiting. I was number six, but that meant nothing not being number one. What made the whole thing really worthwhile was not the mass tweeting, but to be part of Beijing Mac history with the Mac community. ▶