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A Note on the distinctions and overlaps between “human rights” and “weiquan”

Based on reliable sources listed in English and Chinese Wikipedia articles on “Human Rights movement“, “Human Rights Defender” and “Weiquan movement“. It is clear that Chinese Wikipedia administrator wulaquark User:乌拉跨氪 (aka Quark Zhang) has overstepped by protecting un-sourced versions with administrative power while participating in the editing processes. Here I provide a few infographics to show the distinctions and overlaps between “human rights” and “weiquan”.

In a nutshell, in the Chinese context, the concept of weiquan is more extensive in scope, covering concerns for not only human rights but also legal rights, as shown in the infographic below. For instance, consumer rights was the main concern of “weiquan” in Chinese context, but did not normally belong to the specific specialization of human rights. In contrast, the concept of human rights is more extensive in terms of time and space, while the term of weiquan is limited to China (PRC) in the 2000s.

File source: Wei_Quan_Human_Rights_PRC_summary.svg

The above infographic is derived from the infographics below.

First, the two tables below clearly present the time (the first half of the table) and place (the second half of the table) for the three terms of “Human Rights movement“, “Human Rights Defender” and “Weiquan movement“. It clearly shows that human rights movement and human rights defender are the universal concepts that have longer history than the more limited concept of Weiquan, which is limited to the PRC Chinese context after the 2000s.

File source: Wei_Quan_Human_Rights_time_space_summary.svg

Second, as the academic concept of “modern China”(現代中国) consists not only the history of PRC since 1949, but also (1) the Republican China before 1949 and (2) Hong Kong and Taiwan after 1949, it is also important to include the human rights development and history in those contexts when we try to summarize the knowledge on the topic of “human rights in modern China”. The table below shows the basic distinctions and overlaps, for the three terms in question, according to their respective temporal (1989-1949, 1984-1998, 2000s) and spatial dimensions (International community, Modern China and China PRC).

File source: Wei_Quan_Human_Rights_time_space.svg

The human condition facing big data

On 11 September 2013, I gave this following talk in a “Big Data, Small Data” YouTube Cinema that I co-organized with other three summer fellows at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. By showing videos that we pick individually (e.g. Julian Ausserhofer’s pick documented in his blog post here “Metaphors of Data”), we started a conversations on how data, big and small, has interfered with our lives and our research.   My talk is the last of the four summer fellows, and I reconstruct my talk in a conversational tone as below.

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Repurposing filter bubbles: my presentation at Hong Kong University Education Faculty

Thanks to Dr. Angel Lin‘s invitation, I had an interesting exchange with professors and students at the Faculty of Education Hong Kong University. Dr. Lin in particular welcomes this new critical perspective for using information and communication technologies in educating settings. The “Repurposing filter bubbles” slides can be downloadable here.


There seems to be a widening gap between perceiving and using the Internet and digital technologies: we feel as if we are connected to the rest of the world but the actual information and media consumption is rather parochial. We face the issues of “Imaginary Cosmopolitanism” (Zuckerman, 2010) and information “Filter Bubbles” (Pariser, 2011). Anecdotally, I was also told by several Hong Kong educators that despite the fact that Hong Kong is a well-connected global city, many Hong Kong students suffer from narrow parochial views of their life world. As my research has been focusing on analysing geographic and linguistic factors for Internet and digital social research, I see some of the theoretical and methodological tools can be repurposed for building new (cross-cultural) literacies by helping both teachers and students first to recognize the existence of information filter bubbles, then to understand the underlying mechanism, and finally to repurpose these information sorting and summarizing devices, which together can contribute to the “new literacies” practices. These devices include search engine results, keyword suggestions (e.g. Google autocomplete), user-generated encyclopedias, popularity metrics in social media websites, etc. I will demonstrate viable and tangible options for better cosmopolitan learning and thinking so as to make “think global, act local” more than just a slogan or a dream.

Governing a polyglot Internet

Professor Thomas Petzold and I co-authored a short article “Governing a polyglot Internet“, for the latest issue of WZB-Mitteilungen. In this article, we use the term “five-percent gamble” to describe how decisions taken by the digital technology industry are made on language support, and why we need and can do better than this. I mentioned the Wikimedia as one of the innovative alternative for the future:

… handling user proposals to open or close a language project, the Wikimedia Foundation Language Committee demonstrates an alternative language governance model beyond cost-benefit market strategies: a do-it-yourself model that requires active user contribution.

Governing a polyglot Internet

Governing a polyglot Internet

Full text can be downloaded here at the WZB website.

General or special favouritism? Wikipedia-Google relationship reexamined with Chinese Web data.

The most recent Wikipedia Signpost mentioned my research findings presented in Wikisym 2013 on Chinese search engine result pages (SERPs) on a particular question that is beyond Chinese Internet research: Does Google secretly favour Wikipedia? Or it is simply that general search engines have the tendency to favour the successful user-generated encyclopedias (UGEs)? In other words, is the SERPs-UGEs favouritism a particular Google thing or a general feature of the search engines?  

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Berlin protest against NSA Spying in the context of German Sepetmber election

I went to the protest against NSA spying in Berlin to observe the diversity of political parties involved in Germany, ranging form the traditional left to progressive Green (Green Party) and digital libertarian (Pirate Party). It is also interesting the event also got some (rather brief) coverage by the Chinese media. It is briefly described by Chinese media as a protest against the US spying activities in Europe (more about the US versus Europe, less about the surveillance state). What is interesting is the presence and absence of German political parties, in the context of German September election. On this, even the Russian government-funded media RT provided much more background information than the Chinese one did in covering a previous similar protest. I shared some of the interesting photos below from the protest.
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Public service media providers in the Internet age: A visit at the Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)

HBI Logo © Hans-Bredow-Institut. Source: HBI Official Website

On September 3, 2013, along with other visiting summer fellows at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (Alexander von Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft, or HIIG) and I visited the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research (Hans- Bredow-Institut, or HBI). The HBI was established in the Anglo-American occupied zone of Germany after the Second World War, with a mission to conduct independent and interdisciplinary research regarding the governing of broadcasting media. Continue reading

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