Monday, 12 April 2010

It's not every day that you discover a blog that encapsulates several cherished notions. ChinaGeeks does this. Established by Charles Custer, an English teacher from the United States living in Harbin, a north-China province, ChinaGeeks has been around since early 2009.

Custer also makes hip-hop records but, perhaps more importantly, he did East Asian Studies with a focus on China while at university. The idea from the blog came from his plan to sell T-shirts with Chinese characters on them, but Custer

stopped caring about it fairly quickly when I realized that the blog part of the site, originally intended as sort of a sidenote, was a lot more fun than the main part. In fact, it’s a lot more fun than my actual job. So I started posting a bit more frequently and a bit more seriously.

ChinaGeeks now has a number of regular contributors. Custer is no longer producing all the content himself. He seems relieved by this development as it was sometimes a bit of a chore to make stuff work at a high frequency of posting. Clearly, he cares about quality.

But of perhaps more interesting is that the blog has started to publish in Chinese. Custer admits to having reservations about how tolerant the administration will be, as ChinaGeeks regularly publishes on politics as well as culture. He writes: "having a Chinese-language site is probably going to bring down the banhammer sooner or later".

The way to handle this, he thinks, is to invest in a virtual private network (VPN). I'll be watching ChinaGeeks to see how the enterprise fares as its audience broadens. It'll be interesting to see how the project goes. Their desire to enhance cross-cultural communication is laudable.

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