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The 5th Chinese blogger conference: micro power and a broader world

The 5th Chinese blogger conference took place last weekend in a rural county Lianzhou in northern part of Guangdong province. Despite the inconvenient traffic, there were around 150 participants from China and overseas attended the conference.

The conference slogan this year is “Micro power and a boarder world”, the organizing committee explained:

今年年会的口号是“微动力,广天地”,旨在展望越来越微观的信息分享手段和管道,促进社会进步与协作,并带来直接效应的生活方式。一段媒母,一张照片,或者一枚明信片,都可能带来积极的社会改变,更不用说有千千万万的可能性正在孕育中,带给我们一篇广阔的思想天地。

This year the slogan of the annual conference is “Micro power and a broader world”. We want to look into various tools and channels of micro information sharing and its implication towards social progress, cooperation and people's life. No matter whether it is a meme, a photo or a postcard, they have the potential in changing our society. Not to mention the fact that the space generated by the tools opens up millions of possibilities open up our horizon.

hu yong

Hu Yong, the keynote speaker of this year's conference, further elaborated the idea of “micro power” in his talk:

每个人承担责任,不是别的,就是微动力。微,就是每一个普通的中国公民,我在上面称之为“大人物”的人。动力,指的不是别的,而是说,不论言语有前条万条,改变世界的其实还是行动。

Every single person has to bear one's responsibility and such sense of responsibility is micro power. The meaning of micro refers to every single Chinese citizen, I have called them “big people” in the previous section. The meaning of power refers to action that brings change to the world.

微, 也可以指日常化的微观政治。政治可以分为宏观政治和微观政治,宏观政治是结构性的,微观政治是日常化的。匈牙利作家康诺德1982年写过一本书叫做《反政 治》,其中包含了许多被后来的人们追踪的议题。哈维尔经常用的概念有“反政治的政治”和“无权者的权力”、“公民的首创精神”等。既然极权的权力是无所不 在、无所不能的,它全面扑灭来自生活的任何自发性和自主性,是对于广大丰富的生活领域的全面攻击和扼杀,那么,从生活的任何一个面向、起点、领域开始,都 可能造成对于极权制度的抵制和反抗。哈维尔的翻译者崔卫平老师认为,“反政治的政治”不去追逐政治权力,不制定一种纲领反对另外一种纲领,不试图以政治手 段(更替领导人乃至改朝换代)解决问题。相反,“反政治”提倡在日常生活的领域中随时随地展开工作。其实,这也说的就是如何从身边的治理做起。所以,在以 上我说到的互联网激发的中国民众的公共精神之中,我们必须大力强调“公民的首创精神”,即任何人可以从任何地方开始。这就是我所理解的微动力。

The word micro can also refer to daily micro politics. We have macro and micro politics. Macro is structural while micro is daily politics. Hungarian writer Gyorgy Konrad wrote a book titled as “Antipolitics” in 1982. The book has many ideas that elaborated by others. Ideas such as “politics of anti-politics”, “power of the powerless”, “originality of citizen” are Václav Havel's favorite terms. When the power of authoritarianism is omnipresent, its termination has to come from the realization of people's autonomy and initiation in daily life. When the authoritarian system invades people's living domain, people's daily act can also resist against such control. Cui Weiping, the Chinese translator of Vaclav Havel's writings, pointed out that “the politics of antipolitics” is not to struggle for political power, it is not to produce a set of agenda to replace another set of agenda, and it does not attempt to solve the problem via political means (replacing leaders or power bloc). On the other hand, “antipolitics” operates in the level of daily life. In other words, the self-governance of an individual. That's why, when we address the issue of the development of Internet public sphere, we have to emphasize the “originality of citizen”. Every individual can take initiation where ever they want. This is how I understand micro power.

微 动力为什么重要?在过去,少数几个动力十足的人和几乎没有动力的大众一起行动,通常导致令人沮丧的结果。那些激情四射的人不明白为什么大众没有更多的关 心,大众则不明白这些痴迷者为什么不能闭嘴。而今天,有高度积极性的那些人应致力于降低行动的门槛,让那些只介意一点的人能参与一点,而所有的努力汇总起 来则将十分有力。比如,一封小小的明信片,也能汇成强大的呐喊。

Why micro power is so important? In the past, whenever a few action oriented people acted with the passive masses, the results were depressing. The passionate activists could not understand why the masses did not show enough concern and enthusiasm while the masses could not understand why the fanatic activists could not just shut up. Today, activists should facilitate action and allow people who are not deeply involved in campaign and movement to participate. Their acts will be very powerful once they are aggregated together. For example, a piece of postcard can turn into a powerful scream when hundreds and thousands of them are mailed to the same destination.

Blogger Guangyao, reflected upon Hu Yong's talk and pointed out that the precondition to the practice of micro power is the ability to think independently:

然而微动力之前必需是独立思考,因为在这个社会哺育了畸形的价值观。在这个国家对成功的普遍定义是你是否成为一个能比别人赚更多钱的财主,这个社会不断容 忍对于社会良知和道德的底线,当然最畸形的是太多人对于独立思考的不自知。这个国家无疑比60年前有更大物质自由又更高的学历,然而这个国家在60年前后 一样没有独立思考精神。50年或者100年的未来赋予了今天重要的社会及历史的责任,作为每个具体的个体,应当以微动力之势前行。用艾未未的一句话,“每 个人承担责任,可能是这个社会将来变化的一个最基本的可能。如果没有这种可能,这个社会不会发生变化。”

It requires independent thinking for realizing micro power. This society has distorted our value. In this country, the definition of being success is to get as much money as possible and become wealthy. As a result, the society has kept lowering its baseline of social conscience and morality. Too many people are unaware of the need to think independently. Of course, our material well being and education are much better when compared to 60 years ago, but our ability to think independently remains more or less the same. Hence, our responsibility to our society and history in the future 50 or 100 years is to act as an individual and create a trend by practicing our micro power. Here I would like to quote Ai Weiwei's words: “The possibility for this world to change relies on every individual's commitment to undertake their responsibility, or else the world will never be changed.”

Media studies student from Let's blog together interviewed Isaac Mao during the Asia blogfest and associated the concept of micro power with “cloud intelligence”:

“微动力,广天地”体现的思想,与毛向辉的“Cloud Intelligence”理论一脉相承。
在网络时代,人们有更多的机会随时随地分享。当人们在不断分享自己、分享自己认同的别人的观点时,慢慢地形成了一种现象,毛向辉称之为“Cloud Intelligence”。

The idea of “Micro power and a boarder world” is similar to Isaac Mao's theory.
In the Internet era, people have more opportunities to share whenever they want. “Cloud Intelligence” happens when people continuously share their ideas and opinions that they agree with.

一个人分享了一个观点,其他人看到之后又分享了这个观点,更多人看到之后继续分享给其他人。通过这样不断地分享,就可以实现一群人做决定。这跟水滴 聚集形成云的过程相似——毛向辉把个体比作水滴,而当个体因为认同某个观点而不断分享时,他们就聚集起来,形成一股力量,一股甚至可以改变国家政策、社会 秩序的力量。

When a person shares an idea with others, other people will pick that up and continue to forward that idea to others, so on and so forth. Such kind of continuous sharing would eventually realize the will of these people. The process is like water drops coming together to form cloud. Isaac Mao compares individual to a drop of water and when individual keeps sharing the ideas that they agree with, these people would come together and turn into a power that can change government policy and social order.

今年6月,厦门网友郭宝锋因传播严晓玲案被福州警方扣留,网友发动一人一张明信片的行动,给狱中的郭宝锋寄明信片,写着:“妈妈喊你回家吃饭。”从全国各地蜂拥而至的明信片,最后真的促进了郭的释放。

In June this year, netizen Guo Baofeng was detained by Fuzhou police because he spread information regarding Yan Xiaoling's unnatural death. Other netizens took action by sending postcards to the detention center where Guo Baofeng was held. Each postcard was marked with a sentence: “mother is calling you home for dinner”. These postcards were sent from all across the country and eventually Guo was released.

小小的明信片能把人从看守所解救出来,体现了“微动力”所创造的“天地”,这就是“Cloud Intelligence”的力量。

A piece of postcard has eventually led to the release of Guo from the detention center. It is an example of “micro-power” creating a new “world”. It also manifests the power of “cloud intelligence”.

Blogger Kissfree spelled out explicitly that “micro power” is to call upon citizen's awareness:

促进社会改变不一定要刀枪,微动力的力量不可忽视,我觉得微动力的本质就是呼唤公民意识,让人们多了一份责任,不再茫然然过日子。微动力通过汇集众人力量 来促进社会进步,虽然公民社会在天朝起步不易,但人心所向,不是一两个人物或是某个集团能阻止的,相反“他们”应当顺应潮流甚至加入我们,微动力–人民的 力量!

We don't need swords and guns to transform our society. We should not under estimate micro power. The essence of micro power is to call upon citizen's awareness so that they would take up their responsibility and fill up their lives with meaning. Through aggregation of people's will, micro power can bring progress to the society. Although there is a lot of obstacles for the development of civil society in China, when people's will is pointing towards the same direction, neither the power bloc nor powerful individuals could stop the momentum. On the contrary, they have to follow the trend and join us. Micro power is people's power!
  • http://cnreviews.com Elliott Ng

    Nice post Oiwan. Thanks!

  • http://joyceyland.blogspot.com Joyce Lau

    Thanks for posting this. I wanted to go, but couldn’t get the time off. And it takes extra time for me to get visas from Hong Kong. (Shhhhh. I’m a journalist.)

    The postcard story was nice — short, simple, but symbolic.

    It’s interesting how people are using mobile phones, blogs or other means to organize ways to express discontent. While most Chinese wouldn’t do anything big, like challenge the Party, new technology is a great way to spread news about local issues, whether it’s a polluting factory or a bad school.

    I just blogged on the sad case of a baby who died after his doctor was too busy playing video games to treat him. The hospital authorities reportedly only acted after the story spread on the Internet.

    A question: Did these bloggers talk about the Great Firewall of China? Censorship? All that fuss of using proxy servers, etc? Banned terms or blogs? (I know my blog is supposedly banned).

  • Linda

    That is great! democracy from netizen

  • http://oiwan.wordpress.com/ Oiwan Lam

    Hi Joyce,

    yes, there is a session about twitter and how to get access to twitter via vpn. and actually the T-shirt of the conference has a tor logo :)

    • http://joyceyland.blogspot.com Joyce Lau

      Hi Oiwan,
      Thanks for getting back to me! Sorry for the delayed reply. I forgot to click the little message box thingie, or check back on this page. :(
      Nice post.
      Joyce

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