Archive for the 'Culture' Category

Human Flesh Search Engines in 中国

Illustration by Leo Jung

Fascinating article “Chinese Cyberposse” in New York Times Magazine about Chinese “human flesh search engine” (人肉搜索引擎 rénròusōusuǒyǐnqíng) phenomenon accompanied by wonderful calligraphic illustrations by Leo Jung.

Feng decided to get revenge on the human-flesh searchers. He and a few other users started a human-flesh search of their own, patiently matching back the anonymous ID’s of the people who organized against Diebao to similar-sounding names on school bulletin boards, auction sites and help-wanted ads. Eventually he assembled a list of the real identities of Diebao’s persecutors. “When we got the information, we had to think about what we should do with it,” Feng says. “Should we use it to attack the group?”

Feng stopped and thought about what he was about to do. “When we tried to fight evil, we found ourselves becoming evil,” he says. He abandoned the human-flesh search and destroyed all the information he had uncovered.

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Chinese Social Networks Online

China Lets a Hundred Social Networks Bloom (Sort of). Interesting update on social networks online in China and what’s happening demographically.

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Chinese broadband users above the age of 13 number 286 million, nearly double that of the U.S. broadband population, says a new report from market analysts Netpop Research. In five years, Netpop forecasts, that number will double. While 35 percent of American users are under age 35, in China younger users make up 73 percent of the online population.

Facebook lookalike RenRen 人人, is visited by 23% of Chinese broadband users. 51.com (19%), and Kaixin001 开心网 (12%) are the other most popular social sites.

Fanfou 饭否, a Twitteresque site has been offline for weeks, joining a list of Twitteresque sites that seem to have been simply shut down by the government soon after access to the real Twitter from China was blocked following the murderous racial riots in Xinjiang province on July 5th. TaoTao 网页 and Zuosa 做啥, have been untouched.

New Zealand to launch first Chinese digital communities website

Excited to see new New Zealand Chinese Community online (http://chinesecommunity.org.nz), launching at the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas International conference July 18th.

From Xinhuanet:

“This partnership between Auckland City Libraries and the New Zealand Chinese Association has been a great opportunity to develop this tool and provide the Chinese community with platform to share stories for future generations, said Group Manager Libraries Allison Dobbie on Friday.

“New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Inc (NZCA) is delighted to be partnering with Auckland City Libraries to launch and produce the Chinese Digital Community,” said Kai Luey, Chairman of New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Inc.

“Chinese Digital Community is replete with rich, everyday stories which will resonate with people from all walks of life. It is a landmark project for our Association and one which will ensure Chinese New Zealand stories are kept alive forever,” he added.

NZ Chinese Journals 先驅者之聲

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Delighted to discover NZ Chinese Journals 先驅者之聲 project containing over 16,000 pages from three publications: 民聲旬報 Man Sing Times (1921-22), 僑農月刊 New Zealand Chinese Growers Monthly Journal (1949-72) and 中國大事週報 New Zealand Chinese Weekly News (1937-46) that span 50 years of Chinese New Zealand history.

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Wonderful interface makes it a joy to view and search these fascinating historical sources in English and Chinese. Kezia Singleton (project manager) and David Adams addressed some of the challenges creating this complex project in this presentation at the New Zealand Digital Forum conference 2008.

More info on Chinese print culture in Aotearoa from New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.

觉 Jue Music and Art Festival

(覺) [Jué] to feel, wake up, come to one’s senses.
音乐 [yīnyuè] music
艺术 [yìshù] art

Lots of good links to current bands, artists, cafes, clubs, galleries and other groovy locales in both 北京 and 上海 from the 觉 Jue Festival celebration of “alternative, creative and progressive arts in Shanghai and Beijing. With no branding, no restrictions and no agenda, Jue is an excuse to leave your hidey-hole and experience a punk show, an art installation, and everything in between.” (Thanks PSFK.)

The Fun of a Naughty Pun: 草泥马 Cao Ni Ma

UPDATE 16 March 2009: The original 草泥马 “Grass Mud Horse” children’s chorus video below was removed from YouTube, but reposted here by Rebecca Mackinnon. Also of interest: 12 March NYT article “A Dirty Pun Tweaks China’s Online Censors.”

This adorable video features Chinese children singing on top of an English Oxfam/Mastercard ad. The word for alpacas, cǎonímǎ, 草泥马, literally “grass mud horse” when sung, sounds just like  càonǐmā, 操你媽, “f*ck your mother.”

From a Singapore Angle points out how respect for elders and ancestor worship colors Chinese swearings:

The Chinese believe that to directly insult a person’s character (the Anglo-American way) or belittle his abilities (the Japanese way) are not the best methods; rather only by abusing the person’s elders and ancestors can the biggest insults be achieved. For this reason the “national swears” of the Chinese: ta ma de (他媽的; lit. “his mother’s…”), cao ni ma (操你媽; lit. “—- your mother”), etc., all do not directly abuse the person being swore at, but abuse the person’s mother; cao ni nainai (操你奶奶; lit. “—- your grandmother”), cao ni zuzong (操你祖宗; lit. “—- your ancestor”), etc., on the other hand, are intensified versions of cao ni ma.

But we’re not just talking about curses here. The video, which is becoming increasingly popular, is basically a commentary on the frustration of political censorship. (via Ethan Zuckerman writing up a talk by Rebecca MacKinnon onWorldchanging.) China Digital Times has an in-depth write up of the lyrics, which offer a coded song of struggle with internet censors, represented by “river crabs” 河蟹 héxiè, a homophone for 和谐   héxié “harmonious.”

If you want more, Ten Legendary Beasts of Baidu offers up other species whose names map to juvenile puns for curse words or genitalia.

It’s all Greek to Me

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When an English speaker doesn’t understand a word, one says “it’s all Greek to me.” Hebrew speakers say it “sounds like Chinese.” Apparently Korean speakers say it “sounds like Hebrew,” according to Language Log. Strange Maps illustrates the relationships between languages that seem alien. Chinese definitely wins, being the reference language for Greek, Polish, Rusian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, Dutch, Hungarian, Latvian, and Lithuanian Speakers.


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