The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Fending off the Fifty Cent Party

According to chinaSMACK‘s amazing glossary of Chinese slang and internet memes, the Fifty Cent Party is

People who are allegedly and secretly paid five mao (50 cents RMB) per post/comment that praises, supports, or defends from criticism/attack the country, government, or Communist Party. Netizens who are very nationalistic are often accused of being part of the “50 cent party” spreading propaganda or “guiding” public opinion.

So, with that context, I really enjoyed this (translated) sharp, satirical post from Chinese writer and blogger Han Han:

Moreover, if [Party members] perform well on microblogs, the authorities may notice and ask them to use their cell phones to guide public opinion moment by moment. To them, this is a disaster: at first it was 10 cents for one post, and that was good, but sending a text message to influence [public opinion] costs ten cents, plus there’s the cost of electricity for charging their phones, anyway they’re losing a little bit of money. Don’t ridicule them, they sell themselves for one mao, for a thousand kuai they would sell a kidney; to them, a little money is still money.

It’s part of this whole tongue-in-cheek riff about Fifty Cent Party members doing their job too well—a fun, strange insight into the Chinese internet.

One of my favorite things about the chinaSMACK approach is that they always translate a bunch of the comments, too. Of course, right? Brilliant! Check it out.

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Life among the ant people

I really love what they’re doing over at chinaSMACK: translating and republishing pieces from the Chinese blogosphere so we non-Chinese speakers can get a peek at them, too. Here’s a good example: a post about life as a university student in Beijing—written by a university student in Beijing. It’s squalid!

See also: Dwelling Narrowness, a popular TV show in China. Man it would be cool to see that with subtitles.

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Simultaneous translation

Slate has a neat piece about simultaneous translation at the United Nations. I’m fascinated by translation, especially in super-high-stakes situations—nuclear treaty negotiations, for instance. It’s these supremely powerful dudes (mostly dudes) bargaining over matters existential, and yet, wow, those translators have a lot of power.

I gave a presentation at an advertising conference in Paris, and not only was I simultaneously translated into French—my translator was a woman! I realize this is totally normal, but it felt like a really low-key kind of cross-dressing. The presentation was—you will not find this surprising—all about the future, and full of invented neologisms. I said hi to my translator afterwards. She laughed and shook her head: “That was hard!”