New: Book Report: Cyber China (part one)

This book is a collection of papers about the intersection of society and computers in present-day China.

Karsten Giese; Speaker's Corner or Virtual Panopticon: Discursive Construction of Chinese Identities Online

Between the rough translation and the academic mumbo-jumbo, I did not understand much of this paper. As near as I can tell it says that in China, as in other places, computer users created personae for their internet interactions. Maybe he says that this contributed to a rise of individualism opposed to Chinese Communist Party collectivism? He says some vague things about how the government monitors the network. To evade government censorship, people on BBSs and forums will split a single message up amongst several posting. I guess the idea is that no one posting will contain too many dangerous keywords.

David A. Palmer; Cyberspace and the Emerging Chinese Religious Landscape--Preliminary Observations

This paper presents two interesting cases.

The first of these is about Daoism online. A Daoist temple in Hong Kong, the Feng Ying Seen Koon, produced a web site about Daoism. Other Daoist temples did not produce web sites. Now the Feng Ying Seen Koon temple is rising in authority--because people looking for information on Daoism online find their information first. Now other temples want to create web sites.

The other case is that of the Falun Gong. This was interesting to me because I knew almost nothing of the Falun Gong. The few times I got literature from them, it was always pretty vague, which I took as a bad sign of cultishness. Learning more about them from this paper did nothing to change this impression. Their leader disseminates exercise regimes and orders to his followers over the internet. The CCP doesn't like them.

(This is getting pretty long for a blog post. I'll write about other papers in this book later.)

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Posted 2005-03-21