Weblogs as Online Diaries

See the previous post Hong Kong Blogosphere Up In Arms for background.  I was perfectly happy to let this go, because I had no intention of letting one lousy television program to get my blood pressure up.  It was not worth it.

Except it is more than one television program.  In the May 4 print edition of Sing Tao, three-quarters of page A21 (Daily Magazine) was devoted to online diaries (網上日記), and the translation of the Chinese term (網上日記) in English was not "online diariy."  It was "blog."  Uggghhh!

         [Detailed scans at the bottom of this page]

As public relations specialists are apt to tell me, there is no such thing as 'bad publicity.'  All publicity is good, and it is only a matter of how to manage public perception.

But this article is keying on the more lurid aspects of this thing called the "online diary."

The article recalls the experience of a university student using the nickname of Nicam.  Once upon a time, she got into online diaries because a boy that she liked was in the habit of writing an online diary.  In order to know him better, she applied to become an online diarist six months ago.  "The website requires one to apply to become a member before one is allowed to publish an online diary."  Slowly, Nicam started to write her own online diary.

Her diary was linked to the boy's diary.  The boy's ex-girlfriend was able to follow the link to reach her online diary and read her in-depth self-analysis.  Then ex-girlfriend made fun of the boy by citing Nicam's online diary.  Nicam said, "When she told the boy, 'You are doing well because some girl likes you,' I felt very uncomfortable inside.  I never thought that a diary written for good friends could became a weapon of attack against others."  Currently, Nicam has restricted her readers to only those whom she personally grants permission to.  "Luckily, this capability exists or else I would not be writing an online diary.  I would have probably deleted all my past diary entries."

Next, the reporter went into a random online diary at Yahoo!, and found that that this was a Form 5 schoolgirl named Yanyan.  The reporter deduced a lot of personal information from the online diary, including details of her family members and photos of her room, her neighborhood and her school.  Names of her schoolmates were posted, along with their photos and records of their activities.

A certain Ms. Chan (note: a pseudonym) who teaches at a famous girls' school said, "Some silly girls are like that.  They have no sense of self-protection."  Some girls have actually listed their detailed movements every day, including when they go from one place to another.  "If they just write about their thoughts, it is harmless.  But if some devious person should get hold of this type of information, they can easily do something bad.  It is difficult for teachers to monitor websites outside of the school."  The principal of Queen's College said, "I don't how many students write online diaries.  The school will monitor what students post on the school website.  If the student writes an online diary on an external website, we won't know unless the student tells us."

So the safety rules are:

All of that is fine to teach young kids to be alert about potentially dangerous strangers.  Young kids are too na´ve amd trusting when the world out there is far too cynical and manipulative.

But here is the damning paragraph:

Online diary (網上日記) ("blog" in English) is the abbreviated term for "web log."  In recent years, this is hot among young people.  The users are referred to as "bloggers."  The contents are more or less similar to ordinary diaries in that they both record daily trivia.  The only difference is that the traditional diaries were private, but the blog culture reveals those private secrets to interested others.

Well, if only one television program screws this up, it is a reflection on the stupidity and incompetence of its producers and hosts.  I would not give it another thought.  But if this is the beginning of mis-representation in all of mainstream media, I am ready to sign any petition or join any protest.  I don't care what you think, but the EastSouthWestNorth blogger is not running an online diary that is attracting sexual predators!

[See also 阿藹 at InMediaHK for partial Chinese-language transcriptions]