Welcome to Sinobyte. Coming to you from Beijing, I'm Graham Webster, and I'll be bringing you news and commentary on technology and society in China.
Why China? Because China is home to one-fifth of humanity (and millions of bloggers). Because even with government controls, the internet is connecting millions of Chinese to the outside world. Because mobile phones and social networking are coming alive here as quickly as anywhere. Because my laptop was shipped directly from Suzhou to my old office in the United States. And because chances are good that if this computer gets thrown out in the United States, it'll end up being dismantled in China.
Why this blog? There are dozens of China tech blogs. Many of them are quite good, and I plan to profile some of the best of them here. But I am coming at Chinese technology from an unusual (but not unique) perspective. While many bloggers are in the business of technology or media, I write from a socio-political perspective. That's because my background is as a student of journalism and global affairs, a journalist about media, and an editor at a D.C. think tank. I'm also interested in China's international relations; for more than a year, I've published Transpacifica, a website on East Asia's relations with the Americas. There, I've written occasionally about technology; that work will be published here from now on, and of course there will be much more.
What will we see in this space? The most honest answer to this question is that I don't fully know, but here are some questions I will be bearing in mind as this blog gets going: What technologies are most affecting Chinese society, and how? How does China's technological development, from the internet to the military, play into global politics? How is China's government dealing with free speech online? And what role does new technology play in improving, worsening, or learning about the environment in China and elsewhere?
My work here will draw on a combination of blogging styles, with responses and links to interesting discussions elsewhere, with first-hand reports from events here, and with original arguments and ideas as they come. I'll also make an effort to show visitors outside China what some of the most interesting places for technology in China look like; I'll share what I see at the expansive electronics markets at Beijing's Zhongguancun and anywhere else that seems interesting. Finally, I'll be doing occasional podcast interviews with smart people. Please keep in touch! You can reach me at sinobyte at gwbstr dot com.