Dolls of people in the trees around one section of Lugu Lake. There were actually four of them, but my camera died before I was able to photograph all of them.
In Chinese there is a word, chunyun, it is used to describe the high traffic during the Chinese New Year. Everyone heads back to their family home from the holidays. Knowing this, it wasn’t so surprising then that they were sold out of tickets for the sleeper section of the train when we went to buy them not much more than week before travelling to Lugu Lake.
The area is made up of a number of small villages surrounding a large mountainous lake which crosses the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. It is advertised as “the kingdom of the female,” as the Mosuo ethnic group there continues to live in matriarchal societies. Depending on which section you go you will find either a fairly traditional style of Mosuo life or a lot of hotels and tourist shops. Although the spring and summer months bring in a lot of tourists, the winter is still very quiet. It is in the mountains so it does snow and is quite cold during the morning and night, but generally sunny and warm in the afternoons.
A screenshot of microblogging website Fanfou on my computer.
Please note the search for “microblogging,” the open tabs on websites Youku and Douban, and, in the lower left, the notice from my VPN service saying it cannot connect.
Last week CBC Radio’s program Spark featured an interview with Columbia University law professor Tim Wu discussing his new book The Master Switch. The book examines the rise and fall of information empires in radio, Hollywood and, most recently, the internet. Wu argues that what has happened historically with information empires is that after they pass through an early Golden Age they become more and more monopolized, and if this cycle continues we will see the dominance of fewer and fewer companies on the web.
The take over of particular spheres of the internet certainly seems to be happening today. We use Facebook for social networking, Twitter for microblogging, Youtube for online videos, and so forth. However, in China different local monopolies have developed.
Wu’s discussion of the internet in general deals with the issue of growing global monopolies, however elsewhere in an article for Slate.com his take on internet use in China only focuses on the over emphasized, and fairly limited, debate on the censorship of information related to democracy and other “sensitive issues.”
If we look at China’s internet censorship in relation to global monopolies rather than censorship only as censorship, we can come to different conclusions. I do not want to suggest censorship of internet in China is a positive tool in general, rather that the results of it are more complicated than often suggested.
This is part of a series of apartment blocks next to the foreign student dorms at Sichuan University. Everyone has moved out of the apartments except for one elderly man who lives on the third floor. The building continues to be used by prostitutes from outside of the university's west gate and their clients.