I should be arriving in Tampa when it’s this time there. 5:30am Eastern Standard Time, not 5:30am China Time, that is. (Sorry you have to come pick me up so early, dad!)
It’s the 4th of July. Ever since living in China (and especially since having stayed at ZUCC, unofficial random meaningless fireworks capital of Zhejiang), fireworks are about as special to me as chopsticks. They’re really no big deal at all for me. And I’m normally not one to reflect much upon the meaning of “freedom” or independence from colonial rule on this day.
Still, it’s so nice to be back in a country where I can access any website I wish. Right before leaving China, there was a surge in blockings — TypePad blogs were reblocked, Blogsome (which I had recommended to potential China bloggers before) blogs were blocked, and I was having a lot of trouble accessing Micah’s blog. It seems like the shadow of the Great Firewall is getting longer and darker. (I’ll update the CBL to reflect these new blockings soon.)
The good news in these dark times is that the new Adopt a Blog is coming along. So is the new China Blog List. More news on that soon.
Happy Fourth of July.
As you read this, I am already onboard an airplane with my girlfriend bound for the USA. We left Pudong International Airport around 1pm today, flew to Seoul, and are currently bound for L.A.
Now, I’m not blogging from first class or anything so fancy-pants bourgeoise as all that. I’m using WordPress’s scheduled posting feature. It’s pretty cool! I decided I didn’t want to waste precious time at home blogging, so I put up some posts ahead of time so that my site doesn’t go un-updated for all that time.
In L.A. we have a five-hour layover before flying to Tampa, so I’m meeting up for dinner with two friends I know from China who live in L.A. One of them is none other than the infamous “Da Xiangchang.” He posts a lot of over-the-top comments here (and a lot of good ones as well), but before any of that we were friends in China. I haven’t seen him for a while.
While I’m in the States I won’t be working on my website much, but I hopefully will be doing some work on Adopt a Blog. My original page for it is being combined with the work that some other people have contributed this year and it will all soon be online at a new location. I finally found an overseas sponsor! I’ll have to save the official announcement for when it’s actually done, though.
I’ll be back in Shanghai July 18th.
Not long after AP did a story on China which mentioned Adopt a Blog, Italy’s major newspaper Corriere della Sera also picked up the story. That’s likely how Punto Informatico, an Italian site, got word of it. From there, it has spread to the Spanish language blogosphere via Bitacoras.org.
>La iniciativa se llama Adopt a Blog (adopte una bitácora) y persigue crear una ‘red de libre pensamiento’ que permita dar conocer las ideas, las opiniones y el pensamiento de los ciudadanos chinos ‘no alineados’.
Trackbacks show it has spread via at least three other Spanish language blogs (Noticias de Bitacoras.com, SimDalom :: WyP, Arkangel YABlog). It’s pretty exciting to see one’s idea spread and gather support on a global scale (I derive a special pleasure from seeing myself written about in foreign languages, and in this case I can actually read it), but the sad part is Adopt a Blog still isn’t going anywhere. I have not found the sponsor I was looking for.
Of course, Adopt a Blog is not the only hope for free blogging in China, by any means. Others are working hard on a variety of solutions. Adopt a Blog may never really go anywhere, and if that’s the case I’m happy just contributing my ideas, possibly influencing the development in a small way.
Whatever happens, though, I should say to the Spanish blogosphere: Gracias por su apoyo! Estoy contento que el proyecto tenga tanto apoyo en las bitácoras hispanohablantes y espero el día cuando información en China sea libre.
And, for an alternative view (on why Adopt a Blog is a bad name), you can check out an e-mail I received.
Seeing as how the press has called attention to Adopt a Blog once again, I think it’s time to give an update. The program has been going for about a year now. So what is its status?
A lot of people liked the idea of Adopt a Blog. I got a huge response from people offering server space. This is great, because success of the project depends entirely on the generosity of such people. But the success of the project also depends on something else. *People need to come forward and ask for hosting.* That, for the most part, didn’t happen. As a result, the project did not succeed in getting many blogs hosted at all.
But even if there were a large number of “adopters” as well as “adoptees,” there are still a few other problems:
– Currently, e-mail is the medium of communication for matching “adopters” and “adoptees.” That makes a lot of work for one person, and it’s not the most efficient.
– If the program were to be very successful, I might get blocked. Noooooo, I don’t like that.
– If the program were to be very successful, I’d get a lot more traffic, which would give me bandwidth issues.
Therefore, it is my hope that some benevolent company overseas could champion this cause and host Adopt a Blog on their own servers. They would make themselves look good by supporting free speech online, all for a comparatively small investment. It would also be easy for the company to set up a discussion board, which would be a better way to make matches than e-mail. The company could also have the site translated (I’m sure it would be easy to find people to do it for free) without fear of any backlash.
Sooo… any takers out there?
Note to Self: *When you know AP is calling you for an interview at noon, don’t go to bed really, really late, and don’t wake up right before the interview.*
An AP reporter in Beijing called me the other day about a story. It’s not a story I’m covering in this weblog at all; I don’t tend to write about politics. The story has been covered quite well, very early on, by ESWN.
In the AP article I’m quoted as saying, “**I want to move the big eye off me.**” Yeah, I really said that. Leave it up to my groggy mind to make vague references to *Lord of the Rings* with regards to the Chinese government in an AP interview.
The quote seems a little contradictory, though, doesn’t it? If I want less attention, why would I agree to an AP interview?! Well, it’s sort of a calculated risk. I was trying to give Adopt a Blog some publicity in order to get it moved to more devoted hands. And if ESWN doesn’t get blocked for all the things he writes about, I really don’t see why I should worry. Still, I’m paranoid.
So far the AP article has already earned me one new friend. I found this fan mail in my inbox this morning:
> I read about you in the Washington Post today. Tell me, what is wrong with your own culture that you feel it necessary to continue with your obvious European roots to perpetrate your people’s disgusting racist practice of cultural imperialism!?
> I hope that Public Security sends your racist ass right back to Florida! You obviously received a shitty education at Florida and probably spent too much time getting wasted at frat parties.
> Come to NYC’s Chinatown and we will show you how us Chinese here deal with scum like you!
It’s like this guy can see right into my *soul!* Amazing.
When the government blocked another blogging service recently, I became nervous, because it means that the government continues to view blogs as a threat. Regardless, bloggers’ responses to the block reveal that they are not going to admit defeat so easily. As a result, I see two possible eventual outcomes: (1) the government decides to give up the blocking effort, or (2) the government steps up its efforts.
What scares me the most is the possibility that what we have seen so far is only a small taste of what is to come. We know the government is working on more advanced internet filtering technology. Every time I can’t access my site for small periods of time, I wonder if I’ve been blocked. When it comes back online, there’s still a nagging suspicion that I’ve been tested and tagged for a future block should the need arise.
Proxies work well enough for the time being, but these services could easily be blocked as well. And where would we be then?
This thought process led to my idea for the Adopt a Blog project. It could enable bloggers to skirt the current blocks, as well as ready the community defensively against a possible bleaker future with regards to freedom online.
It is my strong hope that this project will be accepted by the blogging community globally, or at the very least contribute to the formation of a lasting solution. Please, if you care at all about freedom of speech, spread the word. Adopt a Blog.