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Skypecast: Isaac Mao on China's crackdown

Categories: East Asia, China

I spoke to Isaac Mao [1] in Shanghai via Skype [2] to get some clarification and detail about how the latest regulations [3] requiring bloggers to register [4] in China are actually being implemented – and interpreted.

The conversation was exremely interesting. As usual, the situation on the ground is complicated and full of ambiguity.

You can listen to the 32-minute (15MB) interview with Isaac Mao here [5].

The major takeaways:

Adoptablog [14]
How can people outside of China help Chinese bloggers who want to retain their ability to speak more freely? Adopt a Chinese blog [15] on your server. In order to do this, you need to have a blog on your own server space, not one hosted on Typepad, Blogger, or similar. Interestingly, rather than having a centralized website that will broker and match up interested volunteers with Chinese bloggers in need of help, they're doing the matching through Technorati tagging. So Isaac says: if you're interested in helping Chinese bloggers, write a post on your blog expressing your willingness to help and tag it as “adoptablog [16]” with this code:

<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/adoptablog" rel="tag">adoptablog</a>

That will automatically enable Chinese bloggers to find you through this page [16].

Technical note: I called Isaac using Skypeout, which enables me to call a regular phone number via Skype. (We tried doing it Skype-to-skype but there was serious breakup and delay, probably due to a busy network at mid-day in China.) The whole half-hour conversation set me back about one whopping Euro in my Skypeout account.

The conversation was recorded directly onto the hard drive of my IBM Thinkpad using Hotrecorder [17]. A $15 premium version enabled me to convert the audio file to “.wav” format. Did little trimming and normalizing in the free program, Audacity [18], then exported it to MP3, then uploaded it onto the blog.

The quality was not perfect – Skype emits a high-pitched buzz that I couldn't eliminate and Isaac's voice on the phone had a bit of an echo, but it's perfectly audible, especially if you listen through headphones.

TECHNICAL APOLOGIES: Sorry to those of you who had to click over from the original link. We're still sorting things out technically. I failed to format the enclosures properly in my original post, then the software wouldn't let me fix the situation once the post was published.