China Bloggers

The Department of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley hosted China's Digital Future, Advancing the Understanding of China's Digital Future, a two-day conference on the impact of information and communications technologies on Chinese society, yesterday and the day before.

    Over 78 million Chinese now utilize the communication power of the Internet, and over 257 million have wireless phones. How will China’s rapidly expanding high tech industry and market affect global technological development and the world market? How does the Chinese government maintain a balance between control and growth of the Internet? How does the flexibility and pervasiveness of the new media alter the traditional information landscape? And what are the expansion, control and transformative effects of these technologies on China and its future?

78 million net-connected Chinese? That's a big number. For the sake of comparison,
Pew Internet & American Life Project estimates there are 128 million Internet users in America.

Speakers and panelists included Lawrence Lessig, Fons Tuinstra, John Gage, Orville Schell, Fang Xingdong, Jonathan Zittrain, Bill Xia, Hal Varian, Isaac Mao, Liang Lu, Fang Xingdong, Mao Xianghui, and many other notables.

There's a cateogry in the Berkeley Conference on The Well titled "Berkeley and Cambridge: Separated at Birth?" Many of us have lived in both towns, which hold the #1 and #2 spots for the most Nobel Laureates and probably for smoking ganja, too.

In the blogging realm, Birkman and Berkeley are taking different tacks. As you'd expect, the West Coasters feel "We don't need no stinking echo chamber." In that spirit, Patrick Delaney organized a dinner for China bloggers last night in a French restaurant in Berkeley. He made a reservation for a dozen but twice that many showed up, which meant an hour of blog-geek-speak on the sidewalk outside before we were seated. In Cambridge, "international" means listing overseas blogs; in Berkeley, it means Chinese bloggers outnumbering Americans four-to-one.

A few feelings derived from dozens of conversation snippets throughout the evening:

    • Just as free-flowing media raised awareness behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe to the point that the entire Soviet system came crashing down, so now is the Internet raising consciousness in mainland China.

    • While admittedly it will be a wrenching struggle, these Chinese are optmistic that China will change, incrementally and not through revolution.

    • The infectious entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. At the dinner, the leaders of performed the ritual distribution of logo t-shirts.

    • If you thought the Howard Dean bubble was spectacular, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    • Bejing's decision last week to disenfranchise Hong Kong was no surprise to those who know China. Disappointing, yes, but unexpected, no.

    • As in America, some people are blogging true believers while others can't understand what the fuss is about. I'm convinced that the only way to appreciate blogging is to read blogs. Instead of trying to explain what's going on, I now just hand over my business card and encourage people to come here and read.

Photos follow.

Hello to my readers in China and thanks to Isaac Mao for translating the signal!

Posted by Jay Cross at May 2, 2004 01:07 PM | TrackBack

That Berkeley / Cambridge description is sooooo much better put than my own primitive jibe: "In Cambridge, 'international' means listing overseas blogs; in Berkeley, it means Chinese bloggers outnumbering Americans four-to-one." LOL! I'll look for a better photo of your arm. Thanks.

Posted by: patrick D at May 2, 2004 03:04 PM

Nice stuff, Jay, will put up a link!

Posted by: Fons at May 2, 2004 06:53 PM

Thanks, Fons.

If you're interested in this topic, check out Fons's China Herald.

Here's Patrick Delaney and The Educational Bloggers Netowrk .

Also, don't miss Andrea's Living in China.

Posted by: Jay Cross at May 2, 2004 08:30 PM

I think Isaac Mao and Mao Xianghui is the same guy :D

Posted by: number5 at May 8, 2004 08:25 PM

Mao = Mao. Yes, I am certain he's one and the same.

Posted by: Jay Cross at May 9, 2004 03:34 PM

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