My blogroll and the slow asphyxiation of China-related blogs

I wanted to note that I’ve culled nearly half of my blogroll under the category, “Pearls of the Orient.” All the blogs I deleted had failed to update for some months and are depressing reminders of just how obsolete blogs have become. Right now the only really good Chinese-focused blogs that update constantly is this one, which is always a lot of fun, and this old warhorse. Even ESWN hardly ever posts nowadays. [Update: forgot to mention this impressive blog, which updates frequently.)

I have almost no interest in blogging anymore, as I now, like everyone else, use social media to offer my links and commentary. At the same time, I don’t want to shut the blog down (yet), as I still get occasional flashes of inspiration. So excuse me while The Peking Duck continues operating on life support.

To those whose blogs were taken off my blogroll: please email me if you plan to update and keep your blogs active, and I’ll add them again. Thanks.

There is a fine post about the current China-blog doldrums over here. It raises the question: “Can you blog about China without being there? Probably – but it will have to be a different kind of blogging.”

It will be a very different kind of blogging. I had far more to say on this site while I was living in China. Living in a desert thousands of miles away makes it difficult to keep the flame going.

______________

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.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

As the former purveyor of China blog I shall not name, I would have to agree with your assessment. The China blog seems to have hit it’s heyday sometime around five or six years ago. Most of them were just proverbial fish out of water tales, and written by students or English teachers who were only here for 1-2 years. After leaving China, it becomes difficult to keep up the blog. Even for those staying on in China, finding new things to write about becomes laborious once really settling in to the surroundings, for nothing seems novel.

My question: is there now less content being published than before? Have people become less inclined to share their experiences with the world? I know twitter, tumblr and the gamut of mobile and web based SNSs have taken on the function of sharing content that blogs once did, but they don’t quite seem the same in terms of quality and thoroughness. What do others think?

July 31, 2013 @ 7:09 am | Comment

Richard,
I suspect that micro-blogging has made news, analysis and commentary on China far more-diffuse than before. I think the chatter, if anything, has increased, and now includes many more Chinese voices than ever before. But the conversations are just taking place in less-formal fora and on more and different (social-media) platforms.

I’ve found, even with my own “virgin” blog, that people are sometimes too busy or too lazy to even click on a link. They’re reading my social media posts like headlines, and treating FB or Twitter like their own, personal newspapers. Anything that diverts or distracts them, anything not going on on that particular platform, is ignored.

That said, I hope you keep blogging, in whatever format, on whatever blogroll, not just for the “old-timers,” but because it’s a much more-permanent record and helps ground issues and cut through the noise. The filter may not be appreciated right now, but I suspect that the eventual winners in the information barrage are those who provide the sane, reasoned analysis of seemingly fleeting news and events, folks who can step back and really explain what’s going on or what something means.

There may be a more clever or engaging way of flagging what you’re doing via social media. Sometimes, I have to seek you out, because I’m not sure what you’ve recently written or what you’re recommending. The vagaries of my FB feed mean I only see a small fraction of what you and other friends and “friends” are up to.

July 31, 2013 @ 9:25 am | Comment

A good post ties the room together. Social media may be good promotional platforms, but I’ve got used to them. Some friends overseas suggested that I should give FB a try, and after trying, I suggested that we should keep sending e-mails. Most of my contacts now are people who are contacts in real life, too.

It makes no sense to deplore the loss of “Kulturtechnik” – besides, my grandparents would have frowned at blogging and the internet in general – three out of four even frowned at television. But it seems to me that no media – except for some 1 on 1 type, like teletypers – have become completely obsolete.

And when reading the European edition of Sing Tao Daily (on paper, obviously), the pen depicted to the right of their main editorials strikes me as shamelessly nostalgic, every time.

Either way, I’d see no reason to take a blog offline, as long as there’s even just a handful of readers of old (or new) posts. While the medium isn’t the message, the medium – the way you write – does shape the way you think. To me, it’s an exercise in coherence.

Either way, while not too many people may be commenting now, the links in your post made my traffic explode. A lot of people seem to be reading your blog, anyway.

July 31, 2013 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

Ronson: is there now less content being published than before? Have people become less inclined to share their experiences with the world? I know twitter, tumblr and the gamut of mobile and web based SNSs have taken on the function of sharing content that blogs once did, but they don’t quite seem the same in terms of quality and thoroughness. What do others think?

People are sharing more than ever, but as Adam said it’s more like they’re sharing headlines, all via SNS. It is NOT the same in terms of quality and thoroughness. A good blog post would sometimes take me more than an hour to write. Now it takes a few lines and a link to get that information to more people than ever, and the impetus to blog is diminished. I get a few hundred readers on any given day (it’s on the low side at the moment because I’ve been ignoring it), while on Twitter I have several thousand followers. Often my attitude is, Why blog for an hour when you can take a minute to tweet?

Adam, and JR, I’m going to keep the blog open for now; I appreciate that you both come to check it out. It’s just hard not to get nostalgic thinking about how things were around here in the mid-2000s. (Go through the archives to see what I mean.)

July 31, 2013 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

I have no affiliation with this guy but I’m pretty impressed with his relatively young China blog:

http://sinopathic.com/

July 31, 2013 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

[...] can visit Richard Burger’s blogroll over at The Peking Duck – Richard has apparently culled the hell out of his blog list due to lack of production, and he also admits to being less than motivated these days when it comes [...]

August 1, 2013 @ 5:20 pm | Pingback

I personally have drifted away from this site and Chinese blogs in general because I rarely read anything I don’t already know and am not interested in debating with a variety of half-witted trolls. I don’t quite get Twitter, it can be good for links, but I don’t think it beats a decent RSS. You cannot order it like feedly, so you really have to dredge through a lot of poo to find a peanut.

August 1, 2013 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

Shameless plug, but I’m an American who has been living in and blogging about China for three years. Though, lately, I haven’t been blogging as much as I like either. I think the fact is that if you are in anyway a good writer, you won’t keep blogging forever, but you should move on to bigger and better things. I also write about China for iPinion, a regional American magazine, do guest posts for Beijing Cream and Balancing Jane, do newspaper columns, write non-China-related articles/columns/blogs, and work on fiction projects. I can’t always keep up with a personal blog, which makes no money, when I have paying or at least bigger audience places to also write for to help get my name out there and build my platform. However, I rarely go a week without at least one blog post. I’ve put a lot of effort into building it and my audience so I do my best to keep up with it.

August 4, 2013 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

[...] for the “disappearance.” We are NOT one of the many China-related blogs that seem to have discontinued. Since Tom returned to the US last summer, I have all but taken over the blog. On June 4th, we [...]

August 5, 2013 @ 6:15 am | Pingback

“… as I now, like everyone else, use social media to offer my links and commentary.”

Commentary? Via a tweet?

Sure, many people are satisfied with the social media experience. It’s quick and is a great platform for catchy one-liners.

But if you’re genuinely looking for insight into what is going on in the Middle Kingdom, the China blog is not easily replaceable.

The message to the China blogger, however, is that your blog needs to: 1) Reveal and discuss items of interest that aren’t on the agenda at agglomerators like Chinadigitaltimes; and 2) Offer personal opinion based on something more solid than what you learned on your last date in Chengdu.

To do 1 above, I’d argue that you have to be able to read Chinese fluently so that you can uncover trends and examples on your own. Otherwise, your commentary will inevitably be based on others’ research or hearsay.

September 8, 2013 @ 12:08 pm | Comment

Furthermore, your original insights should be captured in Classical Chinese, otherwise you a total loser and should therefore remain silent.

Elitist hogwash. Go join the Freemasons, pal.

September 9, 2013 @ 4:46 am | Comment

Yeah, I’ve read some pretty awesome China blogs that did none of the things on Holmes’ list.

September 9, 2013 @ 3:46 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment