A recent post by Adam Daniel Mezei, calling for a culling of “English-language Chinese blogs” has been making me think.
There quite certainly are too many, too personal, non-productive, blogs out there. And not just on China. And not just blogs. Witness (sorry, but the example is too good), online porn. Whether it’s Steve Jobs or the CCP, they will not stop it – there is just too much of an interest.
So, crowd intelligence all too often seems to move towards the least common denominator, the most base of interests. In China affairs, too, I dare say that a post on sex in China is more of a lure than one on perceptions of gender-appropriate behavior; something outrageous is more likely to garner attention than something thoughtful.
And even where it’s deeper issues and insights that are given, if you go by Adam’s idea, you either are a superstar or you just take up space. Even the Peking Duck, not being in China anymore, has taken up Adam’s post and, basically, declared obsolescence, for example.
On the other hand, even if the internet is like a muddy pool, free for all to wallow in, there are also lotus blossoms rising out of the murk.
As an academic, or something along those lines, writing should be second nature. Publish or perish…
I think I am perished, when it comes to that in a normal academic context. Even if I can “only” be lecturer in China, and educator by writing online, I’ll rather be that breed of new Privatgelehrter, getting back to how academic inquiry was done during its early heydays, though: Making a living from doing honest work, and financing my academic inquiries, following my interests in learning in and about the world, through that.
I am also not at the point of being one of those lotus blossoms rising above (- yet). I am, however, in China now, my interest in China is in how modern Chinese identities are shaped, and I’m trying to have some of the work-in-progress portrayed in these pixels.
My major interest is – and I hope to get better at that – in exploring how we make ourselves at home between traditions and modernity, between culture(s) and nature. With that, I will continue whether I am in China or not, whether I find a university job or work something else.
I could just wait until I have everything written up and edited to perfection, seek a publisher, and get it out as a book, provided I gain approval. I’d much rather practice my writing and put ideas out for discussion, however. – After all, if seeds don’t get into the ground, how is there ever supposed to be a blossom?