July 24, 2006

Home away from home

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

Before I left China in 1997, I was not a computer user, let alone a web user. Not many people were, Emails, Internet were not even set up in top universities. So you cannot blame me.

I became one after I came here, first a painfully ignorant one, then half-a-geek level Internet user. My favorite sites are every one's favorite: Google and Wikipedia. Then I have a few of my own: CNN, The New Yorker, Time.

(You would think the free and convenient web would save me a few dollars. But no, on the contrary, a year or so of reading The New Yorker online made me finally become a subscriber. Still love the feel and leisure and pleasure of reading it on the couch.)

Anyway.

China is now very remote for me. I do not see Chinese movies, read Chinese books, see Chinese movies, listen to Chinese music, or visit Chinese websites. Not much. Maybe 1%. Even compared to my Chinese peers who are overseas, I am poorly conversant in Chinese matters. The Chinese movies stars I know are international movie stars: Gong li and Zhiyi Zhang. I am equally fascinated by their gossips as well as their breathtaking movies, especially Zhiyi Zhang. Such a beauty. So fragile, vulnerable yet determined. But that is it.

Still, China and all things Chinese have irresistible pull on me. All things Chinese are intriguing, familiar and foreign.

I am most intrigued by Chinese blogs. It is said the blogging population in China has grown into a formidable force. The number one blog listed by Technorati is a blog by a Chinese 30-something actress-director-writer-beauty-in one.

I read her blog, laid back, smooth, self-deprecating, in a I-did-such-and-such style. It is not very special, I decided. But the comments by hundreds and thousands are truly amazing. Disturbing too.

I read another very popular one (it has to be popular, otherwise, it would not be possible for it to stumble into my way), this one is more opinionated, edgy, smart, sarcatic and quite fun. It is distinct of Chinese writing style. It is Chinese cool. Again the pages of comments stunned me.

I wonder about the webscape of China. So emails are commonplace, internet is ubiquitous, and blogging is thriving into a new land.

But ...

Does it have Wikepedia? Yes, how good is it? I have tried Google's equivalent Baidu. Quite powerful, however, comparatively slow. One line one pop up is annoying. I searched for Google/Yahoo Map sort of online mapping and direction tools, all I got was some very clumsy ones ... How is the online business that is of second nature in US going in China? Probably not very good, since credit cards for most people remain something rare and dubious.

What are top Chinese web sites?

What about government censoring?

Though I can read Chinese blogs, no one in China can read mine. Is it because of Chinese censorship? It simply blocks all oversea personal blogs.

Ignorant me. Home away from home.

Monday, July 24, 2006
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