My post seemed unremarkable, but it solicited a comment:
kaikaiisagirl said...It's nice to receive affirmation, but is someone in Harbin really reading Gordon's Notes? "Kaikaiisagirl's" blogger profile tells us s/he joined in August of 2005, but the profile has no other information. I suppose this could be a machine generated post, but I don't see why. On balance, it's most likely someone in Harbin did read that post. Someone who reads and writes English fluently.
I agree with you. Seriously the NYT reporters don't know enough about China. I go to college in Harbin, it is like the 8th or 9th biggest city in China.
Gordon's Notes is a hobby blog. It exists because I'm compelled both to write and to rage against the fall of America. It does not have the practical utility of either Gordon's Tech or Be the Best You Can Be; they have value for me as convenient place to keep my own notes. I have long assumed its readership consists of me, my wife, and, on occasion, a few friends. (My own mother gave up on it a while back.) My limited brushes with fame have been links from Brad DeLong and David Brin. I'm also syndicated in .... medlogs, a project of the ever inventive Dr. Jacob Reider. My guess is that my Harbin readership came via the last.
Not coincidentally, I read recently the blog reading and writing is increasing exponentially in China (I almost wrote 'exploding in China', but that phrase has become a cliche nowadays). At the moment the authorities are not too aggressive, though raging against the communist party, or discussing life in Harbin, would be substantially riskier than my rants against the Vice-President for Torture.
One curious side-effect of the Chinese blogging scene is that bloggers who read English also translate what they read into Chinese. Years ago Cisco helped the Chinese government erect powerful blocks to forbidden sites; and later to defeat proxy servers that reached those sites. These blocks are perhaps less effective against millions of blogs, each of which excerpts fractions of the forbidden material -- effectively acting as millions of proxy servers.
This is an interesting example of natural selection in action. The role of personal blog as a low profile proxy server is an accident of nature, but blogs that crave readership will adapt to it. They will become more reliable "proxy servers", the better to serve their Chinese readership.
Incidentally, if anyone wants to send me comments on what life has been like in Harbin, I'll post them anonymously here. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll also experiment with turning off the 'members only' filter on my Blogger comments, and see how well using the moderation filter alone will work.