Commentary

What Effect Do Bloggers Have In China?

Tech Market WatchBy Perry Wu
I was traveling in the United States last month and was asked "What effect do bloggers have in China?" I think the answer to this question is the same as anywhere in the world: blogging affects blogging, and rarely the real world.

Much of the news we hear worldwide about the blogging phenomenon comes from mass media scared, worried, and awed by bloggers who seem to have the same ability as legit journos to produce reams of daily writing. If mass media ignored blogging, it would still exist as a viable means of communication, but blogging would instead be endlessly looped within its own cliquish world and not see the light of reality.

Yes, there are occasions where a blogger will reveal information about malfeasance at a corporation or bring our attention to faulty consumer products. But it is ridiculous to hear that bloggers have "rebelled" against a Chinese celebrity and then connect that to the real world. Bloggers rebelling against a celebrity do so only unto themselves.

Think of each blog as an individual thread within an Internet forum or BBS. If all those threads were placed within a forum, rarely would we hear about the effect that a web forum had on the real world. But because blogs have identities–they are usually tied to real people–much is made about the seemingly large effects that a blog post has on the bricks-and-mortar world.

I was listening to the radio about how a political fight erupted this week between bloggers in America. This is news?! Bloggers affect bloggers, but not my mother in America who only goes to the websites of legit news organizations and watches network news programs.

It is a misunderstanding of the social life of media and a simplification to believe that blogging, or even the Internet, is a tool for effectual changing of lives. Like most media, blogs preach to the converted, and their lack of diversity does nothing to improve their chances that they will ever raise themselves from their insular world.

Is blogging important in China? Absolutely. But blogging is not (yet) important to China. Most people in China do not blog and do not view blogs. Yes, there are self-serving statistics from web companies showing that up to 25% of Chinese Internet users have blogs, but that is a dubious figure. With syndication features like XML-based RSS, blogs seem to be open to the world, but they are instead insular and cater to people of the same stripe.

I do not think that blogs have much effect in China, except to provide innovative outlets for people to write.

About the author:
Perry Wu is a writer and correspondent for ChinaTechNews.com and can be reached here at the site. Perry Wu does not hold any positions, long or short, on any of the Chinese or American company securities mentioned in this article.

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