China Blog Helps To Trace Kidnapped Children

There’s been recent news of how a microblog set up in China has helped to reunite parents with their long-lost abducted children. Set up on China’s Sina.com by a Chinese professor,Yu Jianrong,  known for “championing the rights of China’s huge underclass”, the microblog gets people to take photos of child beggars and orphans and upload them to the site. One could easily send photos to the campaign’s email address: jiejiuqier@sina.com or use the mobile app for it.

It was just one such photo that led to the happy reunion of a father and his six-year-old boy who had been kindnapped three years earlier. Six other children have apparently been able to have happy reunions with their families, through the help of the microblog.

These have captured the attention of the Chinese government and have sparked renewed efforts by the state police to crack down on such abductions. The sad plight of kidnapped children who are often  forced into a life of slavery and hardship have been documented in various websites and blogs. One example is a project on Kickstarter that features documentary on the issue.

Unfortunately, just as the microblog has been hailed as a success in helping to rescue some of the children from their sad plight, there are others who now say that the online campaign is flawed and has put the children’s lives in greater danger. Because of the sudden interest in taking photos of the child beggars and posting them online, some say that the kidnappers will now resort to more serious ways such as disfiguring the children to prevent them from being recognised by their families.

Thankfully, efforts to rescue kidnapped children will be  more sustained. There will be a special fund set up for long-term help for a nationwide crackdown on child begging. Yang Peng, secretary-general of the One Foundation, announced on his sina.com.cn micro blog on Saturday that a dedicated fund will be established and affiliated to the charitable organisation.

Let’s hope that with sustained and concerted efforts by all, there could be a stop to this ruthless problem and the children can be protected.

The End of Char Kway Teow & Other Hawker Mysteries – alternative form of ieatishootipost

Any true-blue Singaporean would be familiar with the food blog  ieatishootipost.sg. We have no doubt drooled countless times over the amazing food pictures and delectable descriptions of tasty morsels highlighted in the blog.

Now, the founder of the local food blog, Dr Leslie Tay has turned author with the publication of his book “The End of Char Kway Teow & Other Hawker Mysteries”. Dr Leslie Tay is a doctor and also a foodie (very Singaporean!) and he set up the blog in 2006.

His wish is to recommend good hawker fare, based on his motto of “never waste your calories on yucky food”. I totally agree with the philosophy! That’s why it’s wonderful when others can do the tasting and provide us with info on what ‘s worth the calories!

Dr Leslie Tay also believes in giving back to society and proceeds from the sale of his book will go towards www.goducate.org to raise funds for building a school for displaced children in Sandakan. 

What’s also amazing about how far his blog has come! What started out as a blog on a new media platform is now being published into a book!

I’ll be attending a talk this coming Thursday by Dr Tay – looking forward to a yummy session with food for thought, or frankly, I’ll settle for just good food!

State of the Blogosphere

Technorati’s report on the State of the Blogosphere is out!

And according to the report, Technorati states that “the growth of the blogosphere’s influence on subjects ranging from business to politics to the way information travels through communities continues to flourish. In a year when revolutions and elections were organized by blogs, bloggers are blogging more than ever, and the State of the Blogosphere is strong.”

Released over a 5-day period, the report covers the following:

Definitely a must-read for those into blogging and new media! It’s interesting that the report has a section on Twitter – a testimony to the growing popularity of Twitter. In fact, Twitter’s popularity has grown so much that Google and Microsoft have been in competition to seal deals with Twitter for their serach engines to index Tweets!

Paid Bloggers to announce their commercial associations

Bloggers and the law are getting into the news these days.

First, there is news that new disclosure rules may soon be implemented in Singapore. What this means is that bloggers paid to talk about certain products would need to state upfront that they have received payment or perks for blogging about those items.

According to the article Bloggers who get gifts or money may have to own up, MDA feels that “such regulations will protect consumers by enabling them to make an informed assessment about what they read”.

This rule follows upon the recent news from the United States, that from Dec1, “bloggers will have to make ‘clear and conspicuous’ disclosures if, for example, they write a restaurant review after having been treated to a feast there…The penalty for flouting this rule in blogs or postings in Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube: A fine of US$11,000 (S$15,360).”

 With blogs now going very much beyond the personal journal-style blogs found in the days of blog infancy, and taking on a more commercial spin, many companies and individuals are using blogs for marketing and advertising purposes.

Many companies have taken advantage of the more personal appeal of blogs and have approached bloggers to test review their products. While there is nothing wrong with that, things get complicated when the bloggers are paid or presented with gifts for their postings. I mean, it’ll be hard for the bloggers to be objective in their reviews when they were being paid!

Already, a beauty products company in Sinagpore has been suspected of paying a blogger to write highly positive reviews about the products. This is tantamount to fraud as what is ostensibly a personal review is actually a form of paid advertising.

Thus, by making bloggers declare their commercial associations at the start, readers would be more mindful of that when reading the posts and recommendations, and hence make more informed decisions about those products.

Still, I would like to highlight that while there are many paid bloggers out there, and with the disclosure law kicking in, we would know who they are, there are also many passionate bloggers out there who have views and are ready to express them, sans payment from companies.

According to the article Blogger disclosure regulation – who and how to implement it in Singapore?, “the thing now is to draw a clearer line between a paid post and a genuine review or post.”

The next issue makes for interesting irony. Bloggers who give their own personal opinions are getting flak and even threats of legal action for posting their views on their blogs. Recently, some food bloggers have been threatened with law suits for their reviews of certain restaurants that the owners have found to be ‘untasteful’ and ‘unsavoury’. They were asked to take down their posts. This has sparked discussion about the freedom of speech of bloggers and the concept of personal reviews.

As we navigate new areas in cyberspace, laws would need to be adapted or crafted carefully to adapt to the dynamic online public space.

What do you think? To what extent do bloggers or should bloggers have freedom of speech?

Top 10 Blogs for writers

Happy to announce that one of my favourite blogs, Copyblogger, has made it to the top of the list of Top 10 blogs for writers!

Thought I’d reproduce the post here so that you can check out Copyblogger as well as the other useful blogs.

Happy reading!

We’re honored that Copyblogger has been chosen as the top blog for writers for the fourth year in a row. Thanks to Michael Stelzner for the nod, and for holding this terrific competition.

Here are all the winners with Michael’s commentary. If you’re interested in writing online, you’ll get a lot out of adding each of these to your daily reading.

 Copyblogger This site is the heavyweight champion of the world four years running (and one of the top blogs on the planet)! The brain-child of Brian Clark, his blog keeps winning because of its insightful articles.

  1. Men With Pens: James Chartrand and Harry McLeod maintain the number two slot with their inspiring content and rich community discussion.
  2. Write to Done: This blog nearly always delivers a home run with its excellent articles for all writers and is the product of top blogger Leo Babauta.
  3. Editor Unleashed: Inspired by the former Editor-in-Chief of Writer’s Digest, Maria Schneider explores writing, social media and community on her excellent blog.
  4. Freelance Writing Jobs: This site is the first stop for freelance writers seeking new work and great articles (and it remains a top winner since this contest began). Congrats Deb Ng!
  5. Confident Writing: Joanna Young delivers rich and useful articles that will help you take your writing to the next level.
  6. Urban Muse: Susan Johnston covers a wide range of excellent topics that all writers will enjoy.
  7. WordCount: Journalist Michelle Vranizan Rafter explores the challenges freelance writers face on her excellent blog.
  8. Quips & Tips for Successful Writers: A true cornucopia of ideas for writers, Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen provides endless content and freelancing tips.
  9. Fuel Your Writing: This site will certainly fuel you! Michelle Krasniak Oxman and her huge team of contributors provide great content for writers.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

New Media Office Grapevine

Blogs have been used in many ways for many purposes. Blogs are used by individuals or groups for self expression and publishing; they are used by teachers and students in schools for educational purposes; they are used by corporations as part of advertising and social networking.

Many companies and institutions are increasingly turning to blogs as a way of communal sharing and community bonding – as a way of informing staff about what’s new, and what’s up in the company. In a way, the company or office blog serves as a new media way of the office grapevine!

Happenings in IIT!

Bloggers on staff

In the past, I’d written on how blogging and bloggers have gained a certain level of credibililty and recognition. There have been bloggers who have turned politicians, bloggers who have inked book deals, bloggers who became hired as journalists, etc.

Now, blogging is being recognised as a job in itself. Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana launched theoir new webzine, http://www.swide.com/luxury-magazine/ recently last Dec and have hired a team of bloggers to write on topics from food to fashion! 

In yet another example, the team of people from Majolica Majorca picked 9 bloggers to be its local ambassadors  and to create awareness of the brand on cyberspace. The girls, aged 18-25 were selected based on their looks as well as blog popularity, and they blogged about their experiences with the products. They include Beatrice Tan, Chua Huirong, Emileen Lim and Cordelia Low. As ‘payment’, the girls received new products as well as got to select products of their choices from the brand.