TED Talk on China, Chinese Youth and the Power of Blogging

Matt | Blogging in China,Chinese Culture | Monday, July 29th, 2013

It has been awhile and I have missed thinking about and writing about China.  My current job is slightly different than teaching in China, but once in a while I come across something interesting about China or Chinese culture and my interest peaks so does my excitement.

My wife introduced this TED talk on China from the “Chinese Oprah” Yang Lan.  I really enjoyed her presentation, but what I kept thinking about was how impressive her English was.  I find it challenging enough to give a great presentation in my native language and I couldn’t imagine how challenging it would be give a talk in another language. Well done Yang Lan.

I Broke My Site

Matt | Blogging in China | Monday, October 17th, 2011

Last Friday, I tried moving my website to another host.  One minute later, I broke my site.  I spent the rest of the weekend scrambling online trying to figure out how to fix the mess.  In the process, I learned a few things, such as,

Plan BEFORE you act

This was one time that I definitely leaped before I looked.  This caused some stress and my site was down for a few days (sorry for the inconvenience), but through the excitement I learned a few things and found a few great posts.  This is a great post I found,



Most of the LEARNING comes when you DO IT

Even though I broke my site for 3 days, I think it was good to jump in.  When I first thought about making the change, I glanced at a few sites that showed how (SQL, FTP, PHP, backing up database, uploading files to new server, changing the domain name) and I felt overwhelmed.  I thought (incorrectly) that I would only have to transfer my domain and everything else would magically move itself (again wrong).

When I broke the site, I felt the need to fix the problem quickly.  I reread those initially daunting emails and this time I slowly understood parts of them.  I tried following them step by step.  But unfortunately the site was still down.  I probably spent too long trying to fix the problem myself.  This leads to my most important learning….

If you don’t know what to do next ASK someone

I tried everything I could and I didn’t know where to turn next.  It was 72 hours later and my site was still broken.  I finally decided to pick up the phone and call for help.  I called Bluehost’s helpline and within 20 minutes Matt had checked everything out, fixed my issue and got my site back up and running (thanks again!).  If you follow the Pareto’s 20/80 principle, where 20% of things impact 80% of the stuff, my brief call was the 1% that impacted 99% of getting my site back up and working.  I never would have discovered my problem without help.

I guess that is one key part in learning.  Ask someone who knows more that you for help and they can show you the way; they can help show you something new that you never knew before and would never have known without their help.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Confucius

Thinking about Moving to China? Blogging and Censorship

Matt | Blogging in China,Censorship | Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Continuing on with questions about moving to China, here are a few more of them you might want to ask or answer before you come.

9. What are the facts about censorship? Facebook? YouTube? Blogger?  I am a blogger myself and I need to blog.

As a writer and user of information in China, the “Great Firewall of China”, can be frustrating and uncomfortable. This discomfort stayed with me during my time in China and it was one of the things that reminded me of where I was living.

Starting with blogging, as this seems close to your heart (and mine), this should be fine. The only trouble I found was that you cannot seem to use the free blog sites such as Blogspot or WordPress to host your site. I discovered this when I first started. The blogs hosted on free sites, such as Blogspot, are unable to open while you are in China. I think this goes for Blogger as well. In order for you to blog in China, you need to pay for hosting, such as DreamHost, and get your own domain name. After that, blogging should not be an issue for you.

There are lots of blogs in and around China that are thriving. In my links section there are some great sites I like to read and they discuss some important issues. Interestingly, the site Peking Duck recently spoke of an example of the censorship and of rewriting history. I thought it was an impressive and timely article for this question.

As for YouTube and Facebook, as far as I know these are blocked. This is quite frustrating. Another site that is blocked in China is Wikipedia. This was a little annoying, but when I came back to Canada the first thing I would do was jump back into these sites. For the most part I wasn’t a big user of these sites, so these limitations did not bother me. The issue of blocking sites gets more intense and personal when my methods of communicating get severed. Reading about sites such as Skype getting blocked would concern me heavily as that is how I call between Canada and China.

Overall, the level of control over information was a little discomforting for me, but one is definitely able to blog in China. Living in a controlled environment was a little awkward at first.  Although in moving and living in a new culture experiencing differences is to be expected and is part of the journey.

Breaking the Internet

admin | Blogging in China | Monday, October 6th, 2008

So I learned that before you try to do something that you don’t know how to do, it’s a good idea to ask somebody who’s done it before. I didn’t.  Sometimes it’s good to act.  Other times it’s good to think.  In this case, and in most cases, I think it’s a good idea to read, or learn, a bit before jumping in.  I didn’t.

The result was I broke my blog. Sorry.

Fortunately, I’ve got it back up, in a slightly different format.  I’m working on improving it and getting it back to “normal” soon. If you have any comments on things you liked or didn’t like please let me know.

An English Teacher in China

Matt | Blogging in China,Living in China,Teach English in China | Thursday, February 14th, 2008


I’ve been living and teaching English in Beijing, China for the past two years. Finally, I’ve got around to writing a blog to capture some of the things I’ve done, seen and learned along the journey. I am still here now and will add what I find out about living and working in China. I hope this site will help others who want to come to China, Zhong Guo or The Middle Country, to travel, to live or to work. I look forward to hearing from you.



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