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2009-05-08

 

China: Isaac Mao #twinterviews Hu Yong

from Global Voices Online » China by John Kennedy

 

Those faithfully following the #China Twitter stream late on the working day on Thursday were treated to a surprise when Isaac Mao began twinterviewing Peking University associate professor of new media Hu Yong, author of several books related to Internet theory and culture.

From Mao's blog, Isaac 2.0, here is the transcript:

#1 作為中國最早感知互聯網浪潮的一撮人,當時和現在有什么差別?
当时是亚当和夏娃的简单乐园,现在“失乐园”了,成了丛林。盛行丛林法则。

Q1: As one of the earliest few people in China to sense the Internet wave coming, how do things differ now from back then?
A1: At the time it was Adam and Eve and a simple garden; now, “Paradise Lost” has become a jungle. The law of the jungle prevails.

#2 可是《數字化生存》并沒有考慮到那么多復雜情況,是否還是過于理想?
《数字化生存》的最大价值,是指出了未来社会的基本建构成分是比特而不是原子。这可以解释为什么今日众多产业面临绝境,也可以解释为什么中国政府花费那么大的人力物力修墙。当然,我那时和尼葛洛庞帝一样,是个乐观主义者,相信“闪闪发亮的比特”

Q2: Yet in “Being Digital”, things don't seem so complicated, was it perhaps too idealistic?
A2: The main point in “Being Digital” was to point out that the society of the future would be constructed of bits, and not atoms. This can explain why so many industries today are in such dire straits, and can also explain why the Chinese government spends such vast human and material resources in patching up the wall. Of course, at that time, I was just as much an optimist as Negroponte, still believing in “shiny, happy bits”.

#3 可是我還是有疑問,尤其對中國,比特對傳統的思維催生變化了嗎?
传统思维的变化不是一日之功。比特开启了众声喧哗的进程:我们原来鸦雀无声,一旦有些机会说话,谁都不会好好说话,只会聒噪。但不要小看说话的作用:它是心理疗伤,疗中国千年专制之伤。

Q3: But I'm still skeptical, especially with regards to China; will bits bring about change in traditional thinking?
A3: Changing traditional thinking won't happen overnight. Bits have launched a process of rising cacophony: once we were completely silent, but with the first opportunity to speak, nobody is just talking, they're shouting. But we can't undervalue the role of speaking: it's the cure for a psychological wound, curing the wound inflicted on China by a thousand years of autocracy.

#4 正要問《眾聲喧嘩》這本書,大家是喧嘩了,可是獲取手段多的人似乎更焦慮,那么沒有信息的人似乎反倒很安逸,這是真諦嗎?
好问题!这就是为什么那些获取了更多信息的人要致力于发起更多的对话和讨论。有时候我们用新技术武装至死:我们如此陷入技术的拥抱之中,忘记了社会的基本面。今天中国需要的是对一系列社会的基本问题进行讨论:一个拒绝讨论重大问题的文明,不是导向极权主义,就是通向死亡。

Q4: I want to ask about your book “The Rising Cacophony”. Everybody is making noise, and those with the most access to it seem to be the most worried, while yet those people who lack information seem to be the calmeste, does that sound true to you?
A4: Good question! Which is, why are those with more information the ones having the most dialogue and discussion. Sometimes, we arm ourselves to death with new technology; caught up in the embrace of technology as such, we forget about the fundamentals of society. China today needs to discuss a series of fundamental problems within society; a civilization which refuses to discuss major problems, if it doesn't lead to totalitarianism, then it leads itself to death.

#5 你的電視媒體實踐也產生了很多影響,例如CCTV-2的變化(我叫#CCAV),是否更有相互比較的意味
我反对有人主张的对央视的新闻、宣传节目与网络都采取“不看、不上、不听、不说”的“四不”政策,因为每一寸阵地都值得去争取

Q5: Your experience in television media has had great impact, such as the changes at CCTV-2. Between the two, which has comparatively more significance?
A5: I object to any stance which advocates not watching, visiting, listening to or talking about CCTV news, propaganda programs or websites, because every inch of territory is worth fighting for.

#6 在《草根不盡》報告導讀中,講了媒體和權力的關系,新媒體似乎更激進地改變這種關系,但是也被有效地鉗制在一定強度內,縱觀媒體史,會亘古不破嗎?
福柯尝言:“权力得以稳固,为人们所接受,其原因非常简单,那就是它不只是作为说‘不’的强权施加压力,它贯穿于事物,产生事物,引发乐趣,生成知识,引起话语。”新媒体就是要既反抗“不”的高压,又反抗“是”的贯穿;既牢记奥威尔,更不忘赫胥黎

Q6: In the Info-Rhizome report, you say that within the relationship between media and authority, new media seems to more radically change this kind of relationship, but at the same time are constricted within a certain degree of influence; looking at the history of media, can that ever change?
A6: Foucault once said that, “[w]hat makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that is doesn't only weigh on us as a force that says no; it also traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse.” New media, however, revolts against the high-handedness of “no”, but also revolts against the traversal of “yes”; which is why we must remember Orwell, and definitely mustn't forget Huxley.

#7 在美國,傳統媒體產業已經惶惶不可終日,四處尋找出路,這種先發焦慮是不是更有利于中國媒體軟轉型?
报刊和书籍更容易转型,因为它们的市场化较高;电视很难,因为中国电视有着畸形化的结构,且有意识形态和垄断的双重挡箭牌。无论如何,450亿元的外宣投资不会鼓励转型。

Q7: In America, traditional media are nearing their end of days, searching everywhere for a way out. Does this sort of early anxiety signal well for the soft transition of media in China?
A7: The transition will be much easier for periodicals and books, because they are more highly market-oriented; television will find it more difficult, because of now abnormally television is structured in China, burdened by both ideology and monopoly. Regardless, an investment of forty-five billion RMB for external propaganda will not encourage transformation.

#8 这个外宣媒体让我很困惑的,是不是会解决很多外国人就业的问题?
南加州大学传媒系尼古拉斯•卡尔教授有个精辟之见,他把中国政府通过报纸、电视和文化交流作出的一系列努力称作是“通过对外宣传的对内宣传”。换言之,对中国政府来说,让中国人看到他们在向全世界宣传中国文化更为重要。很多人在质疑外宣的效果,这是树错了靶子

Q8: This external propaganda media leaves me feeling quite confused; is it supposed to create jobs for a lot of foreigners?
A8: Journalism professor at the University of Southern California Nicholas Cull put it very precisely. He said that the Chinese government has relied on newspapers, television and cultural exchanges in a series of attempts at what is called “internal propaganda through external propaganda”. Put another way, the way the Chinese government sees it, letting the Chinese people see that Chinese culture is being promoted to the entire world is the most important. Many people doubt the effects of propaganda, seeing it as barking up the wrong tree.

#9 那么中国教授呢?在教室里,是否也需要時常自我審查?尺度是什么?
尺度?跟媒体的情形一样吧,存在于边界的试探之中。当年关于淫秽物品的界定在美国有个笑话:淫秽物品?它从来不能成功地用浅显易懂的语言界定,但是当我看到它时,我就知道它是。在中国,言论的非法与失当,也是如此吧。

Q9: What about Chinese academics then? In the classroom, do they regularly need to self-censor? And what is the yardstick for that?
A9: Yardstick? No different than that for media, it extends as far as people are willing to probe. Back in the day, there was a joke in America about the definition of obscene material: ‘Obscene material? I know it when I see it.‘ In China, whether speech is inappropriate or illegal, goes about the same.

#10 如果倒退回20年,有互联网,是不是社会看上去比今天更乐观一些?
呵呵,回到未来……80年代是中国60年最好的时光,那时,至少有“两个重大”——重大事情让人民知道,重大问题经人民讨论……想想看,用互联网实现两个重大,是不是更乐观一些?

Q10: If the Internet had been around twenty years ago, do you think society would have been a bit more optimistic than it is today?
A10: Haha, back to the future…..the eighties were the best years of China over the past sixty years. Back then, we at least had the “Two Majors”, the ‘Major Affairs The People Need To Know' and ‘Major Affairs The People Need To Discuss'…if you think about it, using the Internet fulfills both the Two Majors, isn't that a bit more optimistic?

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