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Digital Journalism Review
PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 5:10pm

A story of hallucinatory realism: new tool gives you an uncensored Weibo, just for a while


Ivan Zhai is the Social Media Editor at the South China Morning Post. Prior to his current position, Ivan spent 10 years working for the Guangzhou-based 21st Century World Herald and in the Post's Guangzhou bureau, covering Chinese politics, macroeconomics and online communities. In 2008, Ivan won an Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship. He shares his findings and thoughts on digital media, cognitive neuroscience and China on Twitter and Chinese microblogs as @ivanzhai.

A China-related news story made worldwide headlines last night after the Swedish Academy awarded Chinese author Mo Yan  as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature – a first for China in the Nobels’ century-long history. 

A smaller China-related news piece also caught my attention this morning. A group of programmers have released a new online tool that "offers uncensored and anonymous Sina Weibo search". (Sina Weibo is China's most popular microblogging service and is closely monitored by the authorities, who block thousands of key words and make them unsearchable.)

I shared the news on Twitter and was retweeted by a Chinese follower, who said the site would be blocked by the Great Firewall in just couple of hours.

According to today's SCMP report, Mo Yan was hailed by the academy for his "hallucinatory realism" which merged "folk tales, history and the contemporary".

For me, the fate of the new tool is exactly a kind of "hallucinatory realism": a site that helps Chinese netizens search censored words on a social media site that is doomed to be blocked by China’s censors  because its name and the function: "FreeWeibo".


-- Free Weibo Gives You Totally Uncensored Sina Weibo Search via @Techinasia 

-- 12 Tips for Success in Chinese Social Media via TechInAsia 

-- Kings of long form: New Yorker, The Atlantic and … BuzzFeed? via paidContent.org 
-- Lessons in how to crowdsource journalism from ProPublica via GigaOM.com 

-- The digital media revolution has only just begun via Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism 


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