BBSs and Blogs: The First Participatory Online Spaces (2003–2008)

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This section introduces the first successful experiences of Web 2.0 participatory platforms in China analyzing the arrival of Bulletin Board Systems and weblogs and considering a period that starts in the late 1990s and ends at the end of the 2000s. This chapter also includes three cases studies of successful weblogs, which are thne of Wang Xiaofang focused on a provocative style, Muzi Mei, considered a female testimonial of one for the first Chinese blogging platform, and Han Han, one of the most influential bloggers, especially for younger generations. The conclusion of this section provides some considerations on the role of most prominent bloggers between the end of the late nineties and the beginning of the noughties.

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This book is a critical and ethnographic study of camgirls: women who broadcast themselves over the web for the general public while trying to cultivate a measure of celebrity in the process. The books over-arching question is, What does it mean for feminists to speak about the personal as political in a networked society that encourages women to represent through confession, celebrity, and sexual display, but punishes too much visibility with conservative censure and backlash? The narrative follows that of the camgirl phenomenon, beginning with the earliest experiments in personal homecamming and ending with the newest forms of identity and community being articulated through social networking sites like Live Journal, YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook. It is grounded in interviews, performance analysis of events transpiring between camgirls and their viewers, and the authors own experiences as an ersatz camgirl while conducting the research. Published (author's copy) Peer Reviewed
In the ‘society of the spectacle’, according to Guy Debord, ‘smug acceptance of what exists can also merge with purely spectacular rebellion’ and dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity. Drawing on his reflections on celebrity and the spectacle, this article analyses the highly popular blog of novelist and racing car driver Han Han (born 1982). By doing so, it explores the relation between Han Han’s celebrity and his voice as a social critic. The analysis focuses on how Han Han’s blog thrives on the combination of his celebrity status and Everyman image; how it contrasts ‘anti-intellectualism’ in the tradition of Wang Shuo (born 1958) with elements of literati ideology including moderate loyal criticism and cultural nationalism; and how it negotiates the tension between commercial spectacle and the expression of sociopolitical concerns. The article also argues that unlike citizen journalism, Han Han’s blog relies on editorial commentary on hot topics and acts as a ‘safety valve’ blog. This article aims to contribute to understanding the rise in China’s cybersphere of a celebrity who merges the images of rebel, opinion leader and cultural entrepreneur.
Since its first Internet connection with the global computer network in 1994, China has witnessed explosive Internet development. By the end of 2008, China replaced the United States as the largest Internet user of the world. Although China enjoyed tremendous economic benefits from Internet development, the Chinese government has tried to maintain tight control over the telecommunications industry and the public Internet use, and fight increasing cyber crimes. In this article, we first review historical development of Internet use in China and then focus on China’s Internet censorship and its regulatory control. Next, we explore how the Internet is actively utilized by both the government and the public to serve political and civic functions. Finally, we discuss cyber crimes as an emergent form of crime in China and examine how the Chinese government reacts to these offenses. Lessons from Internet use and regulation in China are also discussed within the context of China’s economic, political, and legal conditions.
The use of terms such as “cyberspace,”“electronic frontier,” and “information superhighway” implies a project for geographers: the attempt to incorporate such innovative views of place within an ontological framework sensitive to geographical concerns. Combinatorial theory and structuration theory provide a basis for this incorporation. Just as places are dialectically related to social processes, so too are communication media. Similar factors related to the patterning of communication flows pertain in both cases. In particular, geographers can identify similar patterns of nodes (communicators) and links (communication paths) in places and in communication media. These patterns, or topologies, provide a set of opportunities and constraints for social interaction. When topologies in computer networks replicate the topologies in familiar places, certain elements of social structuration are shared, as well. This sharing, in turn, lends validity to claims about “virtual place” that can be quantitatively described, through combinatorial methods, to indicate the level of specialization in the topological form that has been replicated, and hence the significance of the replication. In light of such similarities, the political and social implications of computer networking are explored.
This study examines China's current internet media policy in terms of the nature of the policy, the policymaking process, major forces driving the policy and future trends. Through face-to-face, in-depth interviews of 19 high-ranking Chinese policymakers, this study provides unusual insight on these issues from an inside perspective. A ‘push and control’ internet policy suggests that the leadership has relaxed in its ideological claims, yet still wants to control online content. China has also shifted the media policymaking process from the Party to government operation. The Party's road map for economic prosperity has been a key driving force in this shift and ensures that internet policy is heading in a positive direction, though it is not straightforward. Finally, the policymakers’ attitudes toward the new media and value transformation have had a significant influence on policy formation. The study proved premises from both communication and development and media dependency theories with regard to the case of the internet in China. It is the first research project of its kind on the topic.
Recent research shows that journalists read blogs much more than the general public. This paper hypothesizes that journalists with specialized beats use blogs more heavily than general reporters. A survey of foreign correspondents who cover China indicates that blogs are especially useful to this group. This paper analyzes why blogs are so useful to China correspondents and calls for more comparative research so that the relationship between blogs and international news can be better understood.
Despite censorship, Chinese bloggers routinely uncover corruption, help solve social problems, and even pressure state officials to change foreign policy. The power of online opinion is undisputed in individual cases, but the overall effect of blog discourse on the Chinese polity is unclear. Do blogs act as a social “safety valve” forestalling systemic change by allowing troublemakers to vent their frustrations, or do they resemble a “pressure cooker,” inspiring action offline by groups of like-minded activists? Using a large-scale content analysis and small-scale case studies, I argue that blogs can serve as a “safety valve” on issues where newspapers and the mainstream media set the agenda, and a “pressure cooker” on issues where bloggers get ahead of journalists.
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