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胡泳,北京大学新闻与传播学院副教授,博士。价值中国网(www.chinavalue.net)总编辑。中国传播学会常务理事。著有《网络为王》、《众声喧哗》等,译有《数字化生存》、《未来是湿的》等。

北京大学新闻与传播学院副教授,博士。价值中国网(www.chinavalue.net)总编辑。中国传播学会常务理事。著有《网络为王》、《众声喧哗》等,译有《数字化生存》、《未来是湿的》等。

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weibo vs twitter   

2011-05-19 17:55:19|  分类: expect |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Both weibo and Twitter have a 140-character limit. But Sina weibo allows users to post pictures, videos and audio directly and to even start a vote; while Twitter is text only.    

Perhaps the most innovative option on Chinese micorblogs is the ability to publicly comment directly to another person's post. "The comment function suits Chinese Web users who like to chat in groups," said professor Hu Yong

 

http://special.globaltimes.cn/2011-05/656525.html

Weibo vs Twitter

  • Source: Global Times
  • [18:27 May 18 2011]


By Xuyang Jingjing

Before he gets out of bed, Zhang Kaihong grabs his phone, logs on to his microblog and checks out the early morning buzz.

Throughout the day, Zhang will spend two to three hours reading and replying to a myriad of Chinese microblogs.

"I find microblogs provide much more information and they're a great place to learn," said the 36-year-old, who runs an online store.

"I like to listen to what different people think about different issues. There's just so much happening out there."

Zhang is one of hundreds of millions of tech-savvy, educated Chinese who are using their mobile phones and computers to stay in constant touch with friends, instantly report and read news and participate in a broad range of discussions. 

Called "weibo"in Chinese, microblogging started as a copycat of Twitter, which is not accessible in China, and is catching on at an even more phenomenal rate.

While it took Twitter four years to reach 195 million users, the number of subscribers to China's top two weibo service providers alone have already skyrocketed past the 200 million mark after just two years in operation. 

Tens of millions of weibo posts are created and reposted each day in China.

Many celebrities, media professionals and athletes have taken up microblogging and registered huge numbers of followers. 

While international pop singer Lady Gaga leads all worldwide Twitter posters with just over 10 million followers, China's top six microbloggers each have more than 15 million followers on Tencent. 

China's, and likely the world's, most followed micorblogger is Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang, with 16 million followers by May. There are 17 celebrity weibo writers in China who have more than 10 million followers each on Tencent weibo. 

"Sina promotes its microblogs the same way it did its Web blogs, with celebrity appeal," said Hu Yong, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Peking University and an expert on new media.

When microblogging first began in China, service providers invited celebrities to open accounts and that seems to have ignited the wildfire. A former Web portal executive told the Global Times that celebrities were signed to exclusive contracts and paid either by the character or the posting. "You likely won't find out how much they were paid, unless you ask them directly," she said. 

Weibo shares the 140-character limitation with Twitter, but this is much less restrictive in the Chinese language, as most words require only two characters. Chinese weibo has also developed innovative multimedia features that allow users to send pictures and videos directly to their followers, while Twitter only allows users to provide links to pictures or videos that are posted online. 

Perhaps the most innovative option on Chinese micorblogs is the ability to publicly comment directly to another person's post. "The comment function suits Chinese Web users who like to chat in groups," said professor Hu. 

"That's why you see a lot of bickering and fighting on weibo," he said.

Speaking at a forum of entrepreneurs in February, CEO of Sina, Charles Chao, said Twitter is more like a one-way broadcast tool while the Chinese weibo is more interactive.


News to the minute

China's weibo writers are not only posting the mundane and trivial celebrity gossip. Tens of millions of people are also getting breaking news on their weibo account and then reposting it to their own followers. 

Weibo postings spread news faster than any other media, said Deng Fei, a reporter with Phoenix Weekly. He has more than 230,000 followers on his Sina weibo and more than 2.5 million on his Tecent weibo.

"As people repost, new information is added," said Deng, who spends around four hours a day on his weibo. "It's a great platform to generate and disseminate information," he said. 

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) reports that over 70 percent of microbloggers use their weibo account as their primary source of news and some 60 percent say it's trustworthy. 

By contrast only about 9 percent of Americans say they get their news mainly from social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, according to a Pew Center report. 

Research by CASS found that most weibo users are college-educated professionals. Younger users prefer entertainment news and celebrity gossip, while older users are more likely to follow social and political news, notes the science academy. 

About 71 percent of those who responded to a recent online Global Times poll attribute their growing interest in politics to their use of microblogs. Nearly 60 percent of the 1,285 respondents said they are more likely to express their political views on microblogs.

Weibo subscribers are not only reading news, they're also reporting on it. Many have also become very inventive with their use of language, spawning new words such as "Weiguan" which loosely translates as "surround and surveillance."


Breaking taboos

Wu Gan, 38, made his weibo name as an advocate for victims of social injustice. The Fujian Province resident opened a weibo account last year and in his latest crusade he defends a convicted murderer who was sentenced to death last week. Wu believes vendor Xia Junfeng from Liaoning Province, was acting in self-defense when he killed two chengguan, urban management officials, and injured another.

"I believe we should use this new tool to promote civil society, and enhance social morals," Wu said.

"Using online posting to draw attention to some cases is certainly a good thing but it won't necessarily change the result," said Wu.

"It's more important that online attention turns into action offline, that's where a real change happens," he said.

Weibo showed its power to fight injustice last September when millions of users followed the story of a Jiangxi Province family, who set themselves on fire to protest the forcible demolition of their home. 

When local officials tried to stop the family from going to Beijing for petitions, journalists broadcast the incident as it was happening on their weibo. Many believe that those weibo postings caused the county government to change its stance and sit down to talk with the family.

Since then, intellectuals and media professionals have used microblogs for other good causes such as rescuing kidnapped children by taking pictures of beggar kids and instantly posting them on their weibo. 

In another case of a rapid response initiated by weibo postings, a Beijing motorist stopped a truckload of 500 dogs destined for the meat market in Jilin Province last month. He spotted the truck on the highway and sent out texts and weibo alerts to other animal activists. Hundreds of people arrived and after some hours of negotiations the dogs were purchased and taken to a Beijing animal shelter.  

Weibo is also going official. Thousands of government agencies and officials have weibo accounts.

Jin Zhongyi, director of the Haining Justice Bureau in Zhejiang Province, opened his weibo account in October 2009. "It's fast and transparent, but more importantly it allows us to interact with the public, supervisors and experts."

He has asked all departments in the bureau to set up an official weibo account and encourages his colleagues to use weibo. "I believe it's the only way we can truly hear the voice of the people," he said.

Social activist Wu isn't so sanguine. He said his weibo has been shut down at least twice by someone in authority who didn't approve of what he was writing. "A weibo is just a place where people can express themselves, it doesn't mean we can speak randomly."

Professor Hu believes that for a very long time, weibo or any sort of social networking sites in China will not become the tools for revolution. "It's more like a facilitator of transformation," he said.

Others believe that despite supervision, microblogging is the most open platform for expression available in China. "It's breaking taboos," said reporter Deng, who is organizing a charity campaign on his weibo to provide free lunches for poor children in western China. "When there are many people discussing sensitive issues, they're no longer taboo."


Who's following who

Tencent (all numbers updated as of 5 pm Wednesday)

Name                                                    followers

1 Liu Xiang (athlete)                       16,018,982

2 Ma Yili (mainland actress)                15,809,472

3 Karen Mok (Hong Kong singer)               15,800,570

4 Kai-Fu Lee (former chief of Google China)  15,445,111

5 Kevin Tsai (writer, Taiwan TV show host)   15,269,866

Sina

Name                                                   followers

1 Yao Chen (actress)                       8,181,620

2 Hsu Hsi Ti (Taiwan TV show host)          7,313,605

3 Kevin Tsai (writer, Taiwan TV show host)    6,651,791

4. Zhao Wei (actress)                      6,475,431

5. He Jiong (TV show host)                 5,998,381

Twitter

Name                                   followers

1 Lady Gaga                     10,126,188

2 Justin Bieber                 9,708,306

3 Barack Obama                  8,063,640

4 Britney Spears                7,868,485

5 Kim kardashian                7,505,308

 

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