Presentation of the new CHINAYOUREN 2.0

Written by Julen Madariaga on March 7th, 2010

gravatar This weekend I have taken a break from my exhausting research into the the sex of Chinese conservatives, to update old parts of the site and finish implementing some new features I had been trying lately.

The changes in version 2.0 are not related to design, so they may not be immediately apparent to the eye. But they are rich in content and they will have important implications in the way I blog from now on. See the following points for what’s new:

Switch to Real Identity

Ever since I started blogging, and especially since I started using the Google sharing tools with my real ID, I have suffered from split personality on the net. Those who have been following from the beginning might remember the big fuss about this last year, as I was never completely comfortable with my internet persona.

I quite liked Uln in a way, it was amusing the way it naturally took a surname as Mr.Dice, and it was even cooler to see how some journalists used it freely to create their own heroins. I am not going to kill it completely, I will continue to use the avatar on the internet, but I will sign the posts as Julen. I guess the main reason for this decision is that I put a lot of work in my posts, I care about what I write, and I was growing jealous of that Uln guy who was taking all the credit.

I started using Uln in the first place to avoid problems with the Chinese authorities. Not that they were going to throw me in jail for this, but my life is in China, and if I can’t renew my visa for some part of me it will be like a death sentence. I have learnt a lot since I started this blog, I have spoken to many other bloggers, had my own site blocked and unblocked, and finally come to a point where I feel comfortable with the Chinese internet. I don’t think the risk is zero, but  today it makes sense for me to assume it so that I can be myself.

Following this change of philosophy, I have updated my Introduction and the Instructions Page. They were the first pages I created two years ago, and they were seriously in need of a rewrite. I hope now they give a more fair picture of who I am and why I write.

More New Features

Today I am also presenting a series of new features that I have been playing with lately and are now ready to be released. More detailed descriptions can be found in Instructions. Here is the list:

The MiniYouren: This is the weird midget that lives on the top part of my sidebar, a sort of mini-me. It is a mini-blogging platform that I use to write quick posts and connect it with Google Reader and Google Buzz.

The Roadmap: This is a sort of to-do list with the plans for new posts to come that can be also used for off-topic comments or for proposing new subjects you would like to see me write about, or write them yourself.

Links to the Future: This is a revolutionary new technology that I have invented in this blog. It is an internet time machine that allows me to link to a post that exists only in my mind. These links are green and they all point to the Roadmap page described above.

Gitmo and Laogai: These are my two latest children and let me tell you I am proud of them. I see them as a breakthrough in China blogging, where not only you can enjoy and communicate with other people, but also improve and reform yourself. I am almost tempted to call this Web 2.5. I just hope I don’t have to send many readers there this year.

The Top Tab bar: Embarrassingly enough, this feature is broken, and I haven’t been unable to fix it in time for the presentation. I will see to it as soon as possible. The idea is to add dropdown menus on the Top Tab so that all permanent information can be accessed directly without scrolling.

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Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar
    Julen Madariaga

    BTW, @Kai, if you read this, don’t throw your 24″ monitor at my head … I was still not ready at the time :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Mar

    LoL, no worries. I like Gitmo and Laogai. ;) Will be curious to see when you use them.

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Mar
    Julen Madariaga

    I don’t think I will be using them much, most of the comments I get here are pretty reasonable. I remember before when I used to write more in the FM forum, I had some pretty crazy fenqings and rednecks showing up. I look forward to them coming back and getting a:

    “Sir, you have been sentenced to life in Guantanamo.”

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Mar


    I just had an utter brain aneurysm at china/divide over this topic to which Kai rather hastily and summarily banned me from the site and sadly deprives me of the sunshine of his wisdom and wit throughout the internet wherever our paths may cross. Be that as it may, since your blog isn’t put forward as an unctuous celebration of “true China knowledge” and is simply and more honestly presented as “Julen’s ideas” on China, I’m succumbing to the urge to “go on the offensive” so to speak, partially in the hope that you’ll be more receptive and less banhammer happy!

    Here’s my beef:

    Something really bothers me about this idea, which is rapidly gaining currency, that there are two “extremes” when it comes to understanding China and that there is a coalescing community of thinkers, bloggers, and scholars who stand in the middle and “get it.” I’ve had some friendly banter with the esteemed Kaiser Kuo, an overall great guy and thinker I sometimes disagree with, over this philosophy which he, imo, has given the best name, that is “Rednecks vs. Red Guards.”

    I want to stress again and again that I totally, totally get the whole “Gitmo” and “Laogai” thing is tongue and cheek, and done in fun. And we all can get a good chuckle when you “send” some frothing at the mouth commenter to one of these communities. Nevertheless, I think, first of all, it’s already been amply demonstrated on china/divide that at the whim of the “owner” of the blog (that’s you in this case!) can sometimes miss the distinction between a zombie troller someone that he (or she or you) don’t like. I say this, in total honesty, from personal experience - there have been several occasions where I’m listening to a legitimate argument that I don’t want to hear and my brain starts to weave together a rationale that “oh, this person is a Sinophile - I can just plug my ears and go la la la” and what not (since I’m readily willing to admit that I tend to be on what people call the “Western” human rights side of issues, usually). I think we all have this classifying tendency, and I wonder if you’d be willing to share your thoughts on your self-evaluation of your ability to use your Gitmo and Laogai sentencing wisely - even if it’s tongue and cheek.

    Secondly, and simply enough, I think, the whole idea is a little suspect for this reason: if we are faulting and relegating to irrelevance these red guards and red necks precisely because they’re all to ready to caricature and deliberately misunderstand the “other side,” aren’t your (again, I know, tongue-in-cheek) descriptions of the red necks and red guards at Gitmo and Laogai also caricatures and deliberate misunderstandings? If “China” is a side that should be understood, then maybe “red necks” and “red guards” should be understood (as opposed to exiled or ignored) as well.

    Finally, I see a structural problem with this kind of thinking - I acknowledge that, in fact, there ARE true red necks and red guards. But my contention is that in the case of these true and rare specimens, they already at the point where their minds can’t be changed. That being said, I think most everyone else are reasonable people with strong opinions - and though they may be convinced, they probably will simply be turned off and self-validated if they’re consigned with the other loons to “gitmo” or “laogai” - and thus they are forcefully exiled from or deliberately remove themselves from at least the discourse being held here.

    One more thing before I shut up - my perspective tends to be a little oddball (but not necessarily *right*) because my China views tend to be colored heavily by my experience in and concerning Xinjiang and the Uyghurs. It took a process, but eventually I came to the conclusion that I’m actually *on*, not *above*, the “redneck-red guard” gradient. Basically I think it’s really hard to remove oneself from the many (and often invisible) ideological influence one is immersed in, and practically speaking, blogs like Fool’s Mountain, China Divide, Peking Duck, and even Chinayouren actually *can* be placed somewhere ON the “redneck - red guard” spectrum, rather than somewhere “beyond” it or “above” it. Some parts red neck, some parts red guard, if you will. Frequently more one than the other. I worry when otherwise intelligent people lose sight of the ideologies that are feeding into their opinions.

    Well, that was a mouthful. Or an eyeful. Would like to hear your thoughts.

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Mar
    Julen Madariaga

    Porfiry, I am sorry to hear about the China divide thing, I followed the discussion in the beginning but I have to admit it got too long so I didn’t see the end. I hope you guys get it all sorted out nicely.

    Re the gitmo and laogai: I am not planning to use it against people like you, because whether you make sense or not, you are obviously trying to reason and prove your point.

    Those pages are designed only for commentators that do not try to use reason and peaceful discussion. As you say, it is very possible that some of them are in fact intelligent people and they have good reasons to adopt that stance, BUT, I am not concerned with judging their whole lives and ideologies. I only judge the comments they left on this site. And comments like “get out of China, traitor” or even “shut up, you don’t understand this country” clearly need to serve some time in reformation camp.

    Regarding my positioning ON or ABOVE the scale: sure, none of us is above the scale. I see this especially when I go back to Europe and suddenly realize that, for many of my friends there, I have become a bit of a “Red Guard” myself, defending China in the Xinjiang and Taiwan case, etc. I am not sure what your problem is here. From what I have spoken with Kai, Kaiser and the other people you mention, I didn’t get the impression that they acted like they are ABOVE us all. They just do their best to analyze through direct knowledge and observation of the subject. This is already more than many international gurus do, unfortunately.

    In spite of all this, I do believe that on a certain level I am above, or at least outside, the Redneck-Redguard scale. That is because this scale tends to be more and more polarized between Americans and Chinese. The very names R-R refer to American and Chinese topics, and I am sure you have already observed that the English speaking China blog scene is almost 100% American. As I try to reflect in my new “ULN” page, I do my best to give a different perspective coming from a completely different background to both sides.

    To finish with this, I would say no single blogger, guru or media outlet writing opinion pieces is perfectly objective and balanced. I don’t even think we should realistically require them to be so, “objective” and “opinion” are not compatible to begin with. I am afraid many people are confused about what we should ask from public commentators. It is not pure impartiality, but rather independence that should be the key word. As long as there are many different opinions and they are independent from each other, then readers who care can obtain a reasonably balanced view. That is precisely the advantage of freedom of speech.

    Now, the practical application of this, and the real degree of independence that exists today in the press and the blogosphere is a different question… But I will leave that for the next time.

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. Mar

    Which plugin do you use for your Mini Youren ?
    - Woods

    [Reply to this comment]

    Julen Madariaga Reply:

    @Woods: It is called “Google Reader Widget”. There are a few others available out there, and I think Google also has one done with java that you can get from the Google Reader Page. But I tried a few options and in the end I decided for this one because it was the easiest to customize. You can add you CSS directly into the widget in the wordpress “widgets” menu.

    On the other hand, note that MiniYouren is not really a widget, but rather a midget.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Woods Reply:

    @Julen Madariaga,
    Thanks, i’ll have a try.
    - Woods

    [Reply to this comment]

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