Microblogs and Smoldering Change

“No other year,” a December 2010 article in the Yangtse Evening News said, “has as much as 2010 driven us to find hope in the idea that ‘there is power in encompassing attention.’” The term, wei guan de liliang (围观的力量), refers to the impact on social and political issues that comes as hundreds of thousands or millions of Chinese gather in support or opposition through the medium of the mobile Internet — through such tools, for example, as the microblog. Some in China have dubbed 2010 the “Birthyear of the Microblog,” citing the power the medium has to gather attention around issues and news events. In this cartoon, posted by artist Xu Jun (徐骏) to his QQ blog, a landscape of burning fires (symbolizing public opinion flash points) are mediated by mobile handsets that mirror the events themselves and are labeled “microblog.”

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