techno…blah…ti, or the meaninglessness of social networks

A while ago, I ditched a slew of social networking vampires that had ceased to have any relevance to me. Now there is only Technorati remaining, and considering its uselessness I’m fairly sure it’s on the way out too. I like the concept of social networking, and think for a while, up until say earlier this year, the idea was working or at least was throwing up some interesting practical usage on the internet, but like everything, it got subsumed into spam, and the infernal noise of vapid negative-content that seems to overwhelm every good idea.

So, displeasure with Technorati, failure to update when it gets pinged, missing posts, missing links, not listing tagged posts under their tags, tags full of endless volumes of blog-spamorama. Do I use it to search? Only if I’m bored. Against all the MySpace bullshit (and don’t expect me to link to you if that is what constitutes your ‘web presence’), and other assorted blah-i-ness of the increasingly unusable internet, I’ve noticed, for want of a better term, flow of information has an approximate bullshit content equal say, “Great Wall visible from moon“, or “Castrated Imperial eunuch discovered Rhode Island in 1421“.

Mostly stuff comes to me from emails, mailing lists, news feeds (of which I am a preternatural whore for), following links from these, and very infrequently from dry searching, which I suspect from the outset won’t turn up much useful stuff.

So in all of this, when the relevance of Technorati to me is minimal, and its utility to anyone reading this about the same, why am I bothering? Oh, probably laziness, caused by a certain degree of redundancy in that categories already do the job within my blog, and the Technorati Tags were meant to, I guess, like … connect me to the universe … dude …

A possible solution, that would require effort from me would be to recode (:ack: :cough:) the tags so they search supernaut. This would mean I’d have to be a bit more, I dunno, thoughtful in my choice of tags, and I’d hate to dig myself a hole where I felt obliged to go back over almost a thousand entries and keyword them all proper, like. Another solution is to just delete them altogether – quicker than the time it took to expectorate this mess.

Anyway, decision probably by Sunday, and I’m thinking about opening comments back up, though considering I closed them over two years ago, hacked all the code out of Movable Type’s templates, deleted the offending cgi scripts, torched a few churches and sacrificed goats and a lamb for good measure, I dunno how easy it it to extricate myself from this particular situation.

… edit …

A sweaty evening of recoding and I think it works, but y’know, maybe I see something that works and everyone else sees blllarrrrgh! Actually it’s probably the most ill-conceived few lines of code I’ve butchered since the bad days of Flash 5, but wtf? screw you and your standards compliant escaped ampersands. (Funnily enough, I did escape it. Who’da thot?) … (oops, “alt” should be “title”)

my $keywords = "<$MTEntryKeywords$>";

if ($keywords eq "") {

print '<br />No Keywords for this post.';

} else {

my @split_keywords = split(/,/, $keywords);
my $split_keyword;
print '<br /><a href="<$MTCGIPath$><$MTSearchScript$>" title="search supernaut">Search Keywords:</a> ';
foreach $split_keyword (@split_keywords) {
print ' - <a href="<$MTCGIPath$><$MTSearchScript$>?IncludeBlogs=<$MTBlogID$>&search='.$split_keyword.'">'.$split_keyword.'</a> ';

</MTPerlScript><br />

chinese blogger conference 2005

The 中文网志年会 Chinese Blogger Conference 2005 has been going on in Shanghai for the last couple of days. Rebecca McKinnon at RConversation, among other English language bloggers has been there keeping up daily coverage.

The conference in itself has been really cool, for the density of topics covered, and the dissemination of the proceedings on the internet by a swarm of mediums from blogs to IRC, to video-blogs, and running translations from Chinese to English. Rebecca’s last post on the conference encapsulates for me the pervasiveness of the internet in China (and also across Asia).

What always made me happy when I’m in Guangzhou is the casual adoption and use of new technologies, which goes far beyond the standard email-web plus separate mobile combination in most western countries I’ve been. The ease of interconnectedness between various applications, mobile devices, and dominance of other methods of communication besides email-static web is a far smarter use of available tools, and removes the arbitrary distinction between on- and off-line.

Web2.0 is potentially a very Chinese thing. One of the most important words in the Chinese language is “guanxi.”It means “relationship.”Whatever you think about the term “Web2.0”, the point is that social networking and relationship-building are at the core of today’s most exciting web innovations. The Chinese happen to be the most natural and skilled social networkers on earth.

The Chinese economy functions today (to the extent that it does) thanks largely to personal relationship networks: networks that enable people to get stuff done despite bone-headed regulations, politics, logistical obstacles, and everything else. You are nothing in China –and can accomplish very little –without a good “guanxi”network. Expect Chinese internet users to seize upon Web 2.0 tools as a way to expand and deepen their human relationships, enhancing both personal lives and businesses. Expect Chinese users build new tools that suit their own preferred ways of communication. The Chinese are likely to have a growing impact on the evolution of web applications.


supernaut – ecto’s blog of the week

Adriaan, the maker of the best blogging client ecto, has slapped up supernaut as the ecto powered blog of the week. Fully sick. I’m very flattered, especially as traffic has been going up (past the 1 gig a month since I started this category), while blogging has been going … ummm … down. I’m trying though! (I’ve been busy with travelling and it’s grant-writing season [think duck-shooting season for artists] and I have to come up with the bucks to get to Zurich in July … unfunded residencies are like waking up and finding out you gotta pay for it when you thought it was like, vice-versa…).

And while we’re talking about ecto, how fucking cool is the latest release?!?! with excellent Technorati Tag support, swank new interface in time for Tiger, new icons… mmm… I like. So, yay! thanks Adriaan.

I have been too busy with ecto 2.3, so I skipped a week, but here’s the new ecto-powered blog of the week: supernaut. This blog’s written by a dancer/choreographer who gets around a lot, but has been spending an extended period of time in China. The design looks professional and the content ranges from art, politics, travel, to bikes and climbing. Personally, I enjoy the parts on China as it reads like a true travel diary. For more background on the author, zeroballet page offers plenty of detail, including the movie where the blog’s name comes from.

— ecto


I spent about all of five seconds last night adding scriptygoddess show/hide extended field piece of code. I’ve been a big fan of EastSouthWestNorth pretty much since I discovered blogs about 18 months ago, and always thought his inclusion of the whole article copy-pasted into the single-page post was one of the winning ideas out there.

Anyway, so a few days ago I was trying to find some info on an art gallery in Guangzhou, but the website I’d linked to currently doesn’t exist. Bugger. So I ransack my own archives – I’ve been obsessively copy-pasting any article I quote from all along – till I find it. Then I think, “fucking hell, if I had this in the post I’d have saved all of a minute trying to find the article”.

So knowing some mods for blogs can be a real pain in the ass to install and require all sorts of .cgi code hacking, I thought, “ok I’ll give myself 2 hours to get this working, then it can piss off”. Five seconds later… How easy was that? Copy-paste two bits of code and woohoo! Fucking genius.

Enough talking, let’s see it work. A new thing right here:

Continue reading

i don’t understand

Since starting this part of my site almost 7 months ago, after having a very small flash-based news section on main part of my site for a while, I’ve received maybe 25 genuine comments, and several hundred spam including the 100 comment cluster-fuck I discovered today after a couple of days with no internet while in transit. This is despite having MT-Blacklist installed, MT-CloseComments installed, custom names for the mt-comments.cgi etc. All the things you are supposed to do to avoid this kind of network-art.

A while ago I closed comments for a period, but then reopened them. I’m not sure why. So again, I’m closing them. Like trackbacks, blog-rolls, referrers, and all the other stuff that is seen to define what a blog is, comments can be great, especially on a high-traffic site where they serve a the closest thing the web has to an email discussion list. Comments on this site though don’t really have a purpose beyond the occasional tangible proof that more than just spam-bots and search-engine spiders are visiting this.

For me, trackbacks, blog-rolls, comments and all are largely irrelevant. I’m just trying to document what goes on in the arts in the countries I have a personal attachment to, and with various artists I whose work I like, and maybe it’s useful for someone, or when someone says to me, “what’s the scene like in Guangzhou?”, this can give them more useful information than a quick half-thought-out email.

If you want to say something, send me an email, it’s more fun.

the great blogger survey

The fibreculture mailing list for all things net-art and computery had a request from Mathieu O’Neil who is currently Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University’s Center of New Media Arts, to assist him in his survey of blogs. The survey is pretty straight-forward, short answer responses and you can provide as much or as little-information as you like. He needs to have at least 100 responses to give the survey any statistical value, so with 500 000 blogs in China, he should have that many by about 5 seconds after I hit ‘post’.

I’m presently conducting a sociological survey of blogs, focusing on the social dynamics which lead people to blog and on how bloggers determine the value of their and other bloggersí work on the blogging market. My research findings will be presented at a conference at Macquarie University (Sydney), ‘Mobile Boundaries / Rigid Worlds: The Contemporary Paradox’ in late September.

I conducted a similar survey with zine publishers in the mid-nineties, obtained 120 responses, and wrote up the results in an article entitled ‘The Lay of the Land. Portrait of the Zinester as a Social Statistic’ which was published in the ‘zine of zines’, Factsheet 5 (no. 62, 1997). I’m also interested in the possible continuities / discontinuities between blogs and zines.

first posts

Single Planet celebrates one year in Blogistan with a post on the first posts of many of the Chinese blog mafia in chronological order, all the way back to Peking Duck, one of the earlist blogs coming out of China.

The oldest China English language blog has only just celebrated its 2nd birthday a few months back, and most are less than eighteen months old. Around the world, most blogs started in the same period: blogging is still young – they just seem to have been with us for ever.


In China, the blog mafia set stuttered, tiptoed or exploded into business back in late 2002 and early 2003 (when sitting at home in front of a PC was good for your health), with the whole spectrum of opinion on China, the universe and everything now available from your armchair anywhere in the world.

Blog on, and if you haven’t started blogging yet, get started. There is no right or wrong way or style. It’s just about you. Blog on whatever, however…

signal to noise

After receiving 50 beautiful invitations to all kinds of … ummm… interesting group events in my comments this morning, possibly because of the previous entry being a beacon to this kind of spam, I’ve decided to turn comments off.

As much as I love spam, and think it is a truly under-rated art-form which will one day be seen for its avant-garde heart, I would rather spend my time doing things other than de-spamming. Even with MT-Blacklist installed, all it takes is one concentrated couple of seconds of carpet-bombing and my inbox is squealing like a pig.

As i don’t get many comments, and the nature of this site at the moment isn’t really aiming to have lengthy comment discussions, I’d rather not bother with the hassle. So, if you really want to comment on something, email me.

[edit] Well that was pointless. I got spammed just as hard the next day. It’s funny in a post-modern way. So until I have a spare afternoon to follow all the MT Forum suggestions for avoiding spam which involve the coding equivalent of changing an leaky washer… or something… comments are open. Woohoo. Party. what a pointless post.

博客 boke the Chinese blog revolution

Day two of China’s Digital Future covered a huge amount of topics, all of which are again reviewed in brief at China Digital News. One of the standouts was the impact of Blogs, Wikis, and wireless communication (SMS, wifi etc) for instigating social and political change. Blog in Chinese is 博客 boke meaning abundant traveller, and currently there are 300 000 of them active on the mainland. Fons Tuinstra from chinaBiz said

When we hear that the net is changing life, you have to remember that 80 million people use the net, only 20 million have international access, and just 300,000 people blog. It’s an important elite. But an elite.

With the internet 10 years old this year in China, blogs have taken off and the internet and information will never be the same.

China’s Digital Future

UC Berkeley is running a conference at the moment on China’s Digital Future Advancing The Understanding of China’s Information Revolution. The two-day conference and webcast looks at how information and communications technologies are affecting Chinese society.

China is experiencing a digital revolution. ICTs are already altering the course of China’s ongoing social and economic reforms. But the long-term impact of the Internet on the Chinese government, people, society and culture is not yet clear.

Over 78 million Chinese now utilize the communication power of the Internet, and over 257 million have wireless phones. How will China’s rapidly expanding high tech industry and market affect global technological development and the world market? How does the Chinese government maintain a balance between control and growth of the Internet? How does the flexibility and pervasiveness of the new media alter the traditional information landscape? And what are the expansion, control and transformative effects of these technologies on China and its future?

China Digital News is carrying synopses of the presentations, and it makes for invaluable reading into the current and future state of China’s society. Unsurprisingly many of the speakers addressed issues of censorship in China, how the Great Firewall of China works, development, regulation and control of the internet, and the development of e-government including two networks, one internal and one external.

The synopsis of Bill Xia, “How the Great Fire Wall Works” is particularly interesting, especially how he sees a ‘critical mass’ of users which undermines the censorship. He explained that knowledgable web users can circumvent IP blocking in a matter of seconds.

He started with a quick explanation of how the Internet works in China. China has an IP number blacklist – so if your email comes from a black listed IP, it doesn’t get throught. The Chinese government claims it is mainly blocking porn sites, but it doesn’t want people to see uncensored news sites. Websites directed to bogus locations if Chinese users try to access a blocked site. Censorship also exists on the email level, instant message, BBS, chat room, SMS, etc. (words like falun gong, revolution, communist, etc, don’t get through).

To the government, even objectiveness is considered anti-Chinese. There’s a belief that the Internet will destroy traditional culture, replace traditional Chinese characters, and loosen morals (“drink, eat, man, woman”- all is allowed). So the propaganda department works hard to control the minds of public. But the crash of this system is coming.

The internet, BBS, and other new communications technologies including SMS, email, and p2p are becomeing the default methods of rapid, uncensored information disemination. Serious social and political issues including SARS, Hong Kong democracy, are being discussed almost in real-time, ahead of any traditional state-controlled media. This circulating of information in itself creates a demand for a state media response, and forces important issues out into the open, where it becomes less easy or simple to manufacture a denial, or suppress dissent.