As you may have noticed, my posts have been much fewer and farther between. The main reason? I’m not in China anymore. The posts I enjoy writing and that I feel really make a difference (I hope) for the reader are never about current events, but about my personal experiences in China and the people I meet there.
Obviously, being sentenced to the strip malls of America’s Southwest doesn’t give me much opportunity to write these types of posts. I feel especially irrelevant now that there are so many superb China blogs out there (along with many more mediocre ones), and I know there’s not that much I can add to the conversation, especially when I’m 12,000 miles away from where the conversation’s taking place.
This has been weighing on me a lot lately, and this excellent post by another blogger showed me I’m not the only one who thinks China now has too many blogs, including my own.
Have you ever noticed how many English-language Chinese blogs (say that five times fast!) there are?
Sadly, I believe the time has come to drastically reduce the number of these truly redundant boards, these mostly paltry attempts to reinvent the wheel by reprising what’s already been written countless times online. We must begin to streamline these available offerings into a tight fist of “absolute-must-go-to” sites. Absolute online musts which shouldn’t be missed, in other words, with the rest somehow shunted off to the sidelines, clearly delineated as minor league attempts to achieve the same effect as the A-Listers.
I observed this recently while surfing through the offerings at Hao Hao Report, the creation of Ryan McLaughlin, a fellow “crazy Canuck,” and bionic blogger in his own right. I was astounded by the volume of stuff posted there, with seemingly less regard (not no regard, just less) for post quality or post appropriateness. It had been mentioned to me a few weeks ago by a China-blogging fellow and after devoting a considerable amount of time to Hao Hao during yesterday’s European afternoon, I couldn’t agree with the chap more.
In a situation of decentralized Chinese cities, say, where the wonders of the interwebs were unavailable to geographically-disparate expats in search of relevant information or in order to commiserate or seek out fellow-foreign succor, it made sense to have 20 different expatriate magazines or 35 different expatriate newspapers, each replicating the content of the rest. That made sense from an old world media perspective.
But in a Chinese marketplace where everything is being funneled around at the fingering of a hyper-sensitive touchpad, how many redundancies should the market allow?
Yes, I know what it feels like to be redundant. He then goes on to list what makes a great blog, and names the China blogs he feels meet his criteria. Alas, I’m not there, but I shouldn’t be. I stopped being a China blog nearly 10 months ago (10 months?!).
Man’s search for relevancy. I’m not sure yet where (or if) I’ll find mine, but I also know I don’t want to stop blogging, even if, as in the first couple months of this blog, I’m the only reader, and even if I’m not able to write the ideal blog post like the ones I cited above.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of China blogs out there now, way too many, and if this one isn’t on your daily read list anymore I totally understand.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.