I’m interested in virtuality, experience, and culture; Zafka Zhang is a metaverse researcher, blogger, and evangelist, directs research at China’s virtual world HiPiHi, and according to his Twitterstream, recently started his own youth insights and marketing company, China Youthology青年志; Li Feng is an Instructional Technology Specialist at University of Massachusetts Lowell and Second Lifer. Along with about 20 others, we’re all members (thanks Zafka) of the Association of Virtual Worlds’ Virtual Worlds in China group. It’s new, we’ll see. Join?
Archive for the 'Virtual China' Category
I’m doing some interviews with people who are playing with different reality media, and Justin.TV is a great example. The site recently got its one millionth user. Most are like me, I’m guessing, and just sign up so they can navigate the site better. But some are doing what Justin.TV is set up to do: broadcasting some or all of their lives, in real time, via a fixed or mobile webcam. Many of these “lifecasters” also maintain a running chat with viewers, or have interactive games and contests. Then there are what appear to be streaming TV channels, such as canal rcn colombia.
As of a few days ago, the site can be read in traditional and simplified Chinese characters. A search for “China” reveals 22 hits, and a 中国 search, 0. However, either I am missing the boat on how to get these things to play, or almost all the China channels are inactive, such as this from user “hello china” which as far as I can tell was done 9 months ago and has not been added to since then.
Let’s keep an eye on this and see 1) who the first Chinese lifecasters on Justin.TV will be; and 2) how lifecasting will show up on PRC websites, not on Justin.TV. Probably some people are already doing it and I’m just not aware of it.
The 6th Chinese Internet Research Conference is themed, “China and the Internet: Myths and Realities.”
It takes place on June 13-14 in Hong Kong. Topics are interesting, and registration only costs 300 HKD.
This looks like a very cool undertaking. Collabor8 (C8) is an 8 week project that will run from the 28th of April to the 20th of June, bringing together Chinese and Australian designers in a series of online courses and discussions. It’s being put on by the Omnium Research group at the College of Fine Arts. It’s completely free for participants, who should be studying graphic arts in China or Australia. From the website:
Design students from Australia and China will join forces for eight weeks, with project convenors, teachers and special guests worldwide, to work collaboratively within a fully online learning environment.
The aims of C8 include:
• providing design students in Australia and China with the opportunity to work collaboratively on a graphic design problem thereby emulating new trends toward global team-based networks within industry.
• stimulating new ways for designers to work collaboratively across cultural boundaries.
• the development of environmentally friendly and sustainable graphic design for ceramics, textiles, product and environment design.
A recent photo montage on Tianya, called Smiles of the Past 50 Years. You won’t be able to link to it without registering at Tianya, so I’ll post some more below the jump.
Early spring1957, Hubei province, Macheng County, Xujia Village, 549 Production Brigade: soldier Yang Zhiyi shows off on the bar.
Spring 1975, Hubei Province, Macheng County, Zhongyi Commune, Wangjiyi Production Brigade: practicing high jumping.
Spring 1976, Jiangsu, Hai’an County, Beiling Commune, Fengda Brigade member. Using the natural elements of the rivers, banks, and ditches in the landscape, the brigade holds rope-climbing and other kinds of activities.
July 1978, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous District, Du’an Yao Autonomous County, Gaoling Commune, 5 Bamboo Production Brigade: foot-race.
January 1960, Heilongjiang Province, Longjiang County, Baishan People’s Commune: In the space of one short month the entire commune got together to build 9 ice rinks where over 4000 people participated in ice sport activities. This is a group heading to the rinks with their home-made ice skates and blades.
Summer of 1958, Liaoning Province, Beipiao County, Under Elms Village, Longtan Farming Commune, taking a break from work and “leap-horsing” in the fields.
Dave’s experiment is brilliant. It probably takes this kind of situation to open up new practices across virtual spaces, which even though technically just a click away, tend to seem as far away as Mars.
In a nutshell, he’s got a tutorial for non-Chinese readers to sign up to a Chinese twitter-clone called fanfou, in order to start having a dialogue with Chinese folks who can speak English, regarding the current Tibetan protests. Imagine if conversations get started that will continue into the future.
I’ve signed up for fanfou and got myself a home page, but it’s not intuitive, even for someone who reads Chinese. Dave is now my only fanfou friend, and I used Twifan,
which appears to search across multiple microblogging apps in Chinese, to search for tweets on Tibet and 西藏 (there are a lot more using the Chinese characters, but this will not help those who need to communicate in English). It’s not clear what could happen next. Maybe the problem is that it’s 4:30 in the morning on the mainland. We’ll see.
Dave is translating Tibet-related tweets here.
So microblogging and online videos are being brought squarely into the fray. Roland Soong writes about what’s happening on Youtube:
There is a propaganda war going on
YouTube because this is clearly one of the top video news sites. In a
propaganda, you win the share of voice and then you can win the share of
hearts and minds. Therefore, you want the videos that favor your
narrative to dominate. You also want unfavorable videos to be drowned
out. Therefore, you mobilize your people to post as often and as much as
point here is that using YouTube to track Tibet developments is low-yield,
As an anthropologist, March 15th has always been one of my favorite holidays in China. It’s International Consumer Rights Day/ 国际消费者权益日, the day when there are tables set up in public for consumers to learn more about their rights, the streets are festooned with red banners encouraging citizens to envision themselves as consumers, and the media is full of gruesome, horrific, tragic stories of consumption gone wrong. For one day everyone in China focuses on the widespread effects of the unregulated greed and economic desperation that fuels shoddy manufacturing, counterfeit products, lies in advertising. All in the name of creating a better kind of Chinese consumption and a Chinese consumer class (if you can call it that) that can exercise rights (if you can call them that) and is actually encouraged to demand that its rights be attended to. These rights are the rights that can be expressed, pressed, and propagated. Meanwhile, other rights are seen as unjustified.
Sina BBS is giving prominent position to a Sina blog post now become open BBS thread, called 315: Let’s stick up for our rights together and speak out. Sina BBS front page is also collecting related posts from blogs and BBS around the country with titles like “Netizen eats nail in Tangyuan cookies,” and “These comfortable sanitary pads had flies inside.”
The 315 post opens with the following (rough translation as always):
As 3.15 draws near, the main subject of 2008 3.15 International Consumer Rights Day has already been set, namely, consumption and responsibility. It is the responsibility of our whole society to protect the rights and benefits of consumers, and all concerned parties should together strive to do the work of standing up for consumer rights, improving the consumption environment, and pushing for faster, better economic and social development.
In the past few years the home furnishing market has been hot and there are many impressive signs and billboards with slogans such as “China’s famous brand furnishings,” or “Furniture products exempt from [tax?],” all of which bedazzle consumers. As another Consumer Rights Day arrives, why don’t we all describe our experiences from remodeling and buying furniture in the past year?
Speak out freely, net-friends, use our own strength to protect our rights and interests.
And yet, consumer rights do spill over into other kinds of rights, especially when they are the only rights game in town. One netizen shared the following experience:
It’s another 3.15, and again one thinks of standing up for the rights of the common people. Actually, standing up for commercial rights is relatively easy but there are some kinds of rights that the common people don’t even have anywhere to go to discuss! For instance, Kunshan, Zhou Village officials and the common people have been playing a cat and mouse game. At present our economies are developing quickly and there’s an endless stream of illegal buildings. Zhou Village called for a halt to all private buildings. But if there’s demand there will be illegal building! You would build, they would take it down, and there wasn’t anything more to say about it. But then it turns out that some are out of the ordinary and can’t be taken down! The reason, officials say, is that before a certain date it didn’t count as an illegal building! Then the people build more and they take them down again but there are always those that don’t get taken down and the officials once again say that before such-and-such a date they don’t count as illegal. It’s made it impossible for the local cadres to know what to say to the people. The work can’t be done and there are all these illegal buildings. The officials up above say: get rid of them! The local officials never agreed with the this way of doing things anyhow so they say they’ve got nobody to do it. The officials say: get rid of them! We have money, we’ll call up a truckful of migrant workers and level a couple of small potatos’ buildings.
Those who are in official positions are really disappointing us these days! Those illegal buildings mostly belong to low-income people, and some of the cadres don’t do things in the interest of the people but just according to their own purposes. How can we establish a harmonious society with these kinds of officials?
If you want more, Baidu has a bunch of related videos.
Cute. See more.
Found a neat site recently,
the Dark Visitor: "Tracking the history, organization, exploits and government affiliation of Chinese hackers."
- Mysterious Chinese Hacker Slide Show. A sample slide is shown below.
- Chinese Hackers and the 高考 (National College Entrance Exam)
"Chinese hackers don’t see this as a time for high anxiety, just another way to make bank.
And in another case, a gang of 11 people traveled
around country promising students in 17 provinces places at
universities, according to the public security bureau of Haikou,
capital of the south island province of Hainan.
Three of the 11 suspects were still at large. The suspects forged
the stamps and matriculation certificates of many universities, hired hackers to falsify computer enrollment records and pretended to be recruitment staff, police said.
It isn’t just the colleges that are having trouble with hackers, China’s military academies have also had to tighten controls."
I recently received an email from a young Chinese friend who mentioned being inspired by amateur Welsh opera singer Paul Potts, who won a British idol singing contest last summer. I’d never heard of Potts, but a quick Baidu search turned up a wealth of Paul Potts videos on Baidu video and elsewhere. Apparently the story of the nerdly amateur with a heart captured the imaginations of the British and American press as well as the Chinese (it can’t have hurt that he sells mobile phones!). Here’s an excerpt from a blog post written by a Canadian Eastern European blogger:
with his hobbit-like pudgy figure, his crooked front teeth and his
misty-eyed sadness, he personifies everyman. His talent is not
propelled by surgically-altered, photoshop-ed good looks; his stories
of low self-esteem and being bullied in school ring true to all of us
who have been there. As a true underdog, he is one of us; he represents
the millions of average looking people who go about their mundane days,
secretly harbouring talents that they do not believe would ever take
Everyone loves an underdog, but as with many things from abroad that show up in China, the Paul Potts story lingers on in Virtual China as a cultural reference for Chinese netizens to explore their feelings about their own country. In this case, some of what the story is about is the horror of China’s popular "idol" TV talent contests and some distrust of how "open" a television show can really be in China today. As my friend wrote, "many Chinese expressed their recognition for Paul Potts and meanwhile disappointment toward similar Chinese shows, declaring that Paul can never make it the same way in China." Some online comments:
Now this is the real essence of a talent show. China’s talent shows are all based on background and what goes on behind the scenes.
China’s talent shows are determined by our national conditions. Someone like this could never emerge from them.
…They elect Paul Potts, and we elect Li Yuchun, what a difference!…If British people saw our Li Yuchun the only thing they’d think is that we Chinese have problems with our aesthetic standards and orientation.
Yes! THIS is what you call selection by the people. Because this is not taking place in China…
不仅仅是震撼人心 更重要的是他的那种精神 那种坚持不懈的精神…… 、Paul Potts 厉害！！！！
Who thinks that our Chinese contestants could compete against this "fatty"??? In my opinion, all the Chinese idol shows’ contestants all put together aren’t as good as him, not only in terms of sheer impact, but even more importantly it’s his spirit, that never give up spirit. Long live Paul Potts!!!