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  • Thinking About Blogging

    Posted by Ginny on August 15th, 2008 (All posts by )

    To blog is to desire a certain communion with others – an exchange of ideas.  On the other hand, it is a remarkable tool of the free market, the open marketplace of ideas.  Communal and individual are tensions explored by Isaac Mao in a Guardian interview “China’s first blogger.”  Mao’s analysis is a thoughtful self-examination and an optimistic interpretation of both blogging and China’s future, which he sees blogging as playing a part in advancing.  We are from a culture that prizes individualism highly; his analysis comes from a different perspective.  As Mao notes

    China has a long tradition of people trying to fit into the group, moderating their behaviour to avoid standing out conspicuously – a culture reinforced by the man-made collectivism of the past half-century.
    Blogs have leapfrogged this tradition, acting as a catalyst to encourage young people to become more individual. So this and other grassroots media are now emerging strongly to challenge China’s social legacy.

    Not surprisingly, he complains of Chinese censorship and argues that blogs can “enrich people’s perception of the world,” since it is “a medium without the constraints of space and mindset that limit traditional media without being misled by poor few.” 

    And he sees it as improving character:

    Blogging can also help people to become modest and tolerant – at first, I was easily annoyed by readers’ remarks when I thought I was right, but over time I’ve learned a lot from their comments, which has made me more moderate in reacting to them.

    Indeed, he describes his philosophy of “sharism,” in which “[y[ou share one piece of knowledge and then could come a time of returns (maybe not immediately, but with many magic happenings in the future).”

    His blends the individual and the communal in an analogy not unlike the former President Bush’s “thousand points of light“, though of course for Westerners the allusion is older yet: 

    In a more metaphysical view, your blog can act as a halo (to borrow a term from gaming) to shine more lights to the world and coupled with other people’s halo at the same time. This has spawned more imaginations in my mind of future society where everyone can be sharist and all the brains are well connected to form a smarter society like a social brain – though given the controls and obstacles that still confront blogging, it is going to be a long road to reach the social-brain dream.

    The Guardian/Australian Broadcasting Corporation/Chicagoboyz and  Chinese/Australian/English/American – these filters demonstrate his point.