The Sweet Spot
On software, engineering leadership, and anything shiny.

Taiwan Roundup II

After weeks of being stuck in a really deep rut, I’ve finally stumbled upon something that’s decently interesting with regards to the state of the Taiwanese blogsophere (this is an assignment for my International Media class). I’m finally following up on what I previously discussed with regards to the state of the Taiwanese blogosphere. I’ll be running a textual analysis.on Chinese and English blogs as they cover the controversy over the closing of the Losheng sanitorium.

The Losheng (�֥�) sanitorium, a structure built to house lepers during Japan’s occupation of Taiwan (still housing many today) is a memorial to Taiwan’s history (also serving as a reminder of suppressed human rights). In 1994, a plan was drafted to build a rail yard for the MRT transit system over the sanitorium, effectively demolishing and destroying it. The scheduled demolition date was April 15, 2007, but an extraordinary upswell of protest (largely coordinated and managed online) managed to raise money and awareness of the decision, pleading to preserve the sanitorium out of respect for remaining patients and preservation of a historical location. A day before the 4/15 deadline, the decision was delayed and reconsidered. Two things are significant about this:

  1. It is a testament to the power of the Internet as a new social space (think: Web 2.0). The activists banded together via each other’s blogs, posting Web banners, starting discussions on social bookmarking sites, talking in activist forums, posting online videos and took scads of photos to raise awareness. One dude even wrote up a UrMaps (think Google Maps) mashup that mapped social destinations and places of interest over the Losheng area to generate public interest. The momentum caught the interest of the mainstream media, giving momentum to several protests that were marched.
  2. It demonstrates the divide between the English and Chinese blogger cultures in Taiwan. I covered most of this in the previous post, but most of the significant English-speaking bloggers (mainly expats) gave either cursory coverage or no coverage to the issue, at all (a quick sweep of all Technorati bloggers blogging “losheng” returns hardly any expat blogs.) This isn’t to say that they aren’t sensitive to the issue, but there seems to be a very large divide, particularly due to language and cultural differences.

So that’s the theoretical start to a paper that gets harder to write the longer I do research. Dang, what a week.