imagenative Geographies

Imaginative Geographies

Theoretical Musings

This is an adapted version of a conference presentation I gave at SUNY-Brockport in April 2008. The title of the conference was– “Reconsidering The ‘Orient” and ‘Occident’ in the 21st Century: Observing the 30th Anniversary of Edward Said’s Orientalism”

Imaginative Geographies: Some Theoretical Considerations

“The objective space of a house—its corners, corridors, cellar, rooms—is far less important than what poetically it is endowed with, which is usually a quality with an imaginative or figurative value we can name and feel; thus a house may be haunted or homelike, or prisonlike or magical. So space acquires emotional and even rational sense by a kind of poetic process, whereby the vacant or anonymous reaches of distance are converted into meaning for us here” (Orientalism, 55).


This paper aims to explore the concept of ‘imaginative geographies,’ one that Edward Said memorably introduced in the first part of Orientalism. I will…

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The Sick Man of Asia

In their single-minded pursuit of economic growth, China’s leaders have long overlooked public health — which, by some measures, is now worse than under Mao. Despite recent reforms, China’s citizens keep getting sicker, threatening the country’s health-care system, the economy at large, and even the stability of the regime.

通过The Sick Man of Asia.

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Cancer Villages in China

Dateline investigates the increase in cancer cases in rural China, which is being blamed on toxic industrial waste poisoning the water supply.

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Mass media and Celebrity in the Digital age

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269)

Nick Goudry argued that ordinary citizen and celebrity could only be bridged through the access of mass media (Burgess and Green cited in Nick Goudry, 2009, 22). With the countless celebrities that come out from the YouTube, mass media is under redefinition through the interface of new media, as Burgess and Green added that YouTube is significantly embodied with the feature of “media world” function as a star factory (Burgess and Green, 23). For some instant, it is similar to the TV program Britain got talent, but, with millions more judgers and audiences. The new media platform of YouTube has increasingly blended into the arenas of mass media, not only by promoting the advertisements, but has also officially cooperated with the major mass media companies, such as BBC and CBS (Weber, 2007).

In this blog, Natalie Tyler Tran will be used as a case study to analysis the relationship between the YouTube celebrities and mass media. One of her recent video is embedded as to clarify the argument (YouTube, 2011a).

Tran has begun with Vlogging in YouTube since 2006 in her “community channel”, and win the most subscribed in the region of Australian (YouTube, 2011b) and the 26th most subscribed channel in worldwide (YouTube, 2011c). Her popularity in YouTube soon enhanced her mass media coverage, for instance, she has respectively appeared in Sydney Morning Herald, Western Australia Today and B&T Magazine (Tylertran, 2007).

As a result, her grown statue as a celebrity is remarkably kept within the ordinary system of mass media, which able to obtain a commercial revenue by expose and exploit the popularity of Tran. However, the success has also positioning her in a role for gate-keeping the mechanism of the mass media (Burgess and Green, 24), for instance, the advertisement board displayed in her Channel.

In addition, stressed from the mass media circulation, Tran needs to constantly update with the YouTube videos to maintain the popularity that is the key element to ensure her the media coverage. Thus, “vernacular creative” was utilized as the approach within her video to ensured the popularity (Burgess and Green, 2009, 26), for example, the adaptation of digital techniques in presenting the two Tran’s in-car conversation, and the realistic representation of the Google map. However, it has to point out that the exploitation of new media platforms such as Facebook and twitter that represented in her video has become a tool for her to resistant with the control of the mass media. Thus, if YouTube is the Entertainment Company she assigns to, rather then predominately controlled by one company, she is free to dedicated and cooperate with the others.

Through the Internet platform of YouTube, Tran is able to read the comments or video from her fans, in addition to interact with them, it can be suggested that the social network as a form of new media, has empowered its celebrity with more freedom to communicate with the fans, this kind of close encounter has enhanced the portrayal of “ordinary celebrity”, which Burgess and Green (2009,23) stated as the “demotic turn” adapted by the mass media. However, it is also a “digital turn” for the mass media in the era of Web 2.0, when Internet sharing websites are manifesto the new meanings to for the “mass media”, being the media of the masses.


Burgess, Jean & Green,  Joshua . 2009, “YouTube and The Mainstream Media” in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press. Pp-15-37

Tylertran, Natalie , 2007,”Who is Natalie Tyler Tran?” in Natalie Tylertran’s blog, accessed in 30th of May, from

Weber, Tim. 2007. “BBC strikes Google-YouTube deal” in BBC news, accessed in 30th of May, from

YouTube (2011a) “Googlemaps Breakup” in Community Channel, YouTube, accessed in 30th of May, from

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Luckily he didn’t get run over by a car!

Last year, an incident named the “Li Gang GATE” has bombed the web in China, and everyone online is talking about LiGang, and his son. Despite it not being a worldwide sensation, to some extend, it is similar to the Watergate scandal as it involved a government officer from Beijing.

The incident is regarding LiGang’s son who was involved in a drink and drive accident on the October 19th 2010 which he ran over two student pedestrians of which one of them was killed and causing another injured. Road accidents like this is commonly featured in headlines involving the second-generation rich youngsters and second-generation officer’s kids who get into accidents while driving their girlfriends to school in the case of LiGang’s son. What was so sensational about this event was because LiGang’s son was involved in a hit and run accident, driving off non-chalantly even after having to run over a pedestrian. LiGang’s son was later exposed by the victim’s classmates and threatened to press charges against him. However, LiGang’s son arrogantly replied, “sue me if you dare, my father is Li Gang!”(Key, 2010)( I don’t know if Western readers can fully comprehend the situation but to put it simply, in my opinion, I’m not trying to criticise the officers in my own country but there is so many corrupted officials who use their power to cover up for the illegal practice of their relatives or help to pull strings for their friends to get into a job with high position.) Netizens heard about the LiGang’s son incident, and blogs and new articles sprung up engaged in a “human-flesh” search on this incident. Soon, the ugly act done by LiGang’s son including all his information were exposed on the internet. “My father is LiGang” became the popular online slang for the netzens in China to complain, make fun or to mock the corruption act of government.

Check out the clip about the incident:

This incident is just a little back story to introduce my blog title. However, I would like to narrate a story of another character whom I thought he was lucky that LiGang’s son didn’t try to run him over. ‘Luckily he didn’t get run over by a car!’ The ‘he’ in my title refers to another character named Fang Binxing, nicknamed as “the father of the Great Firewall of China”. Unfortunately, during one of his lecture in the Wuhan University on the 19th of May, a pair of shoes was thrown at him (though he was only hit by one of them) by one of his students (Barnigan, 2011).

If I have never came to Australia or I have made no friends residing overseas, I might not feel the inequality exposure relative to people around the world outside of China. I wouldn’t be ranting about not being able to log into my Facebook account, or I might not even have an account since in China, there’s already the domestic website RenRen, which have the same functions as Facebook though you can’t create a page like “independent Tibet”or write a post like “I hate government”. Apart from not having the freedom to express your dissatisfaction with the Chinese government on Facebook, everything is very harmonious and happy with even more variety and high advancement of functions to choose from.

But since I’m in Australia now, and no one back in China can access my wordpress blog. I can only say: luckily, this Fang Bingxing didn’t get hit by a car driven my Ligang’s son! School term in University is coming to an end so many of my friends are asking for my hotmail address so that we could still keep in touch despite not having to be able to contact me through Facebook. It is quite frustration to have people to tell me “can’t ‘facebook’ you anymore because you can’t use Facebook in China.”

However, things are getting better as more of my foreign friends are picking up Weibo, the most trendy mini-blog (like Twitter) in China. It is quite similar to Twitter, but much more user-friendly. You don’t need to open an extra window to view the picture, you can vote (even vote for people’s representative, recently), you can insert small applications and change the theme of you own webpage, (themes are much more prettier), and all the celebrities seem to have an account in Weibo and some of them don’t even know Chinese. Weibo is gradually changing the lanscape of Chinese social network, and reaching 150 million users, within 18 month .

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Ai Wei Wei

Ai WeiWei is one of the artist who design the Olympic main stadium- Bird nest in China, and his artwork of porcelain sun flower is also made him well know in the world arts circle. However, because he is too keen to find out the truth about the exact death number during the Sichuan earthquake, he has been put into detention. Underneath is his film in TED:

In the short film, he talked about the social issue in current China, that people are not allow to speak what government don’t feels like to hear; Foreign social network like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter are blocked during the fitter of Great Firewall…

It is very brave for him to stand out to talked about the defects of our nation. However, he is quite successes on his international reputation, such as his short film in TED, and his news coverage  in The New York Time, and Xinhua News, as some people just vanished after taken by the police.

It is also very smart for him, as he know how to utilize the power of the internet, which not only has the capability make the whole world available, but able to turn up the “volume” of ordinary, and make the rest of the world to be heard.

Even now, Ai is in detention, his greatest work of social-art is still under constructing, All the people who love art, desire for a freer world, on the strength of social network, they are called upon and gather together, on this unprecedented project: Free Ai

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Fans immediacy

My friend told me that the Lady gaga, the official proved version has followed her on twitter! Jealous, I don’t know why she only added her, is that simply because my profile photo doesn’t looks like monster?

I like twitter, as it provides me with the most instant and considerably reliable information about the people I like. I known this twitter thing for some extent have become a tool for celebrities promote popularity, but because of its interactivity and engagingness, it become not only a tool for communication, but a manifesto to tell you and the celebrities you like are belonging to the same community of a social network.

The intimate practice of follow and leave comments can never be achieve from reading hardcopy magazines or newspaper, even the one you commented will never reply you, it feels like he can see. As a result Magazines and newspapers are gradually losing their dominant position of disseminating the firsthand information, as fans can timely checked the twitter states of their idols through mobile phone. The hard papered medium has defeated by the immediacy that provided by the digitalized platform, which allows fans talk directly to their idols.

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Microsoft is expensive

I bought a new laptop last April, and there is no any Microsoft in it, so I bought a Microsoft office which cost me like 150 dollar, I take home and my roommate call me a idiot because she know a website that can download this Microsoft for free, which definitely annoyed me for the later days, I try to comfort myself by keep telling that the full price one is more safe for my laptop, or maybe the free downloaded one have virus in it, however, I’m still regret I didn’t call my roommate before I bough the Microsoft. If I can download a free one, why should I pay for150 dollar when other people can get it for free? Why pay for a 2010 version of software, when there will be a 2011 version come out soon? As a software consumer and a no income student, I just feel the 150 dollar is too expensive for me, if it is 30 dollar, I think I will just give the money and feel very happy and satisfied. However, the Microsoft just don’t want drop down their price. I have no idea about how to make software or how much money it cost to develop a new software, but if any laptop users need to spend 150 dollar to get their Microsoft office software, the Microsoft totally gained a lot money from us. So, it is not the fault of the people who do the download or the people who uploads the illegal copy, it simply because they asked too much. In addition, why I should pay 150 to get the whole pack of Microsoft office that include power point, word, excel, and entourage which I even don’t know what is it use for. Why can’t I just get Microsoft word only? In addition, what if the people cannot afford the software, when a laptop already cost them a lot? Then, illegal downloading becomes the only way they can access to the software.

microsoft office

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by louisvolant

It is pity for Microsoft, and they are really unhappy for the revenue lost in China.  CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer in his talk at Beijing this Wednesday has complain about the situation in China, he argues that if people can afford a PC in China, they definitely can afford the software.

However, even the sell of PCs in China has the similar number between China (US$63.8million in 2010) and American (US$75million in 2010), the revenue from China is less then it get in Netherlands, which only have 3.5 million PC shipment in 2010, and fewer then 17 million population (Fletcher &Dean, 2011) The revenue in China is only close to US$ 2 million, compare with the $US36.2 million in American (Fletcher &Dean, 2011) . Personally, I think Ballmer didn’t know the situation in China.  Partly from the price, the price for a office (student and family version) is RMB 388 (US$ 58) and RMB48999 ($720)(for professional)

But average income last year in China is only US$4382, compare to the US$47172 in Netherlands, and US$47289(IMF, 2010). Microsoft want have same revenue from China, why they don’t they make the price cheaper for the Chinese consumer? A student in China usually has no income, and US$ 58 is a pretty high price needs to pay on the software. An American in China will see the price for Microsoft office is quite cheap in China, as the price in is US$149 in America, however, his income is about nine times more then an average worker in China.

This picture did much better then some anti-piracy ads

This picture did much better then some anti-piracy ads

Attribution Some rights reserved by jorel314

Some anti-advertisement just failed to outline the consequences, but only limited on the surface, such as telling people: if you buy piracy you infringe the law, and cop will come and find you! or materialize the intellectual property  as a handbag, or a car and hope to pass an idea of “piracy= crime”. They need to meet Manovich, and learn about language of new medias, as they are still stay at the era when things shifted is gone, digital information can be duplicated with cost nothing.I want to say, piracy is even less painful then borrow someone something that you need to concern if the thing might get dirty or destroyed , because piracy is like produce a car with nothing, but you paid millions on the car while others just can get it for free, while the car industy spent millions on the steel, wheel, design, engine, but you just need a simply click, it doesn’t matter if you download the pirated version as no one is actually lost its car, or $$$. However, if pople stop producing the real version, then that is the problem because you never will get the priated version.

When the entire world is facing the glorious industry that generated by Web2.0, none materialized property has embedded with the features of new media, including its modularity, automation, and transcending, which resulted the digitalized ideas are easier and convenient be shifted and duplicated (Manovich, 2001). It is so conflicting for me to think about the spreading of knowledge through commercial trade when knowledge is supposedly to be shared without boundaries. The ambiguity to choose between the free-shared piracy or pay- to – accessed information, has evaluated the knowledge through moral and commercial practices for people to decide which one to  sacrifice.

Thus, the “share to make a better world” theory raised by Mark zuckgurg, and the statement of making a freer world that can be accessed universally  (Nelson& Berners-Lee, 2002) has become a utopia with the commercialized idea, since quilfied knowledge are charged with money. People paid to produce ideas, which then be encapsulated into softwares and demonstrated worldwide, to help improved the knowleage of others.

Isn’t the stuation of piracy projecting the social, technical, finacial conflicting between the hypostatizing concepts of  communism and capitalism?  respectively represent the utopia/ reality, free share/paid access, harmony/unrest, equality/ inequality, universual accessible/limited access, open codes/ close code. When regulations are made to protect to Hollywood motion pictures, serials number are demand unlock the software, where is the place that the culture flow heading to?

Reference that didn’t provide links:

Nelson,T. & Burners-Lee, T (2002), ‘Everything is intertwingled’, in Adam Brate (ed.) Technomanifestos: Visions from the information revolutions, New York and London: Texere, pp214-239.

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Ranking tactics on the formation of online ‘communities’

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favorites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact on the formation online ‘communities’?

You are in the cover of Time magazine

"You" in the cover of Time magazine

Attribution Some rights reserved by David Fraíz

The homepage of YouTube has provided a directly delivered feature which adopted a ranking tactic. Videos are categorized into different blocks and the ones with the most number of views are designed to appear in the homepage of YouTube, just like mini-versions of  Time magazine, the face printed in the cover will most probably be read first by the readers. The ranking tactic thus created a “star-system” that each content provider or co-producer are encouraged to become the one in the top list, because the success of the produced content contributes to a physiological satisfaction (Van Dujck , 2009,52). Furthermore, creators are rewarded economically if they have gained a certain level of popularity. YouTube will contribute a advertisement banner besides the popular clip and shares its revenue with the content creator (Van Dujck, 2009, 52). As a result, the ranking tactic psychologically and economically encourage the creator to generate and upload more contents onto its site.

The “star system”, which is generated by the ranking tactic has created tremendous YouTube celebrities who stood out from the general content providers, and has generated small fan communities by interacting with their fans and subscribers. It created a celebrity-centered system where information is spread from an individual to the surroundings. However, even with the success-driven or commercial-driven phenomenon that generate the tension of competition within the user communities, there is still a large number of video creators who treat the process of work (create video for economic gain) with a sense of play (creating content for fun)(Van Dujck, 2009, 54). As a result, the process of making video has become an activity that mixes play and work to express personal taste, style, hobby etc, to enhance their sense of identity (Stebbins, 1992, 2).

In addition for normal content producer to get into the centre, the required to demonstrate more into the content, which stimulate their demand to improve their computer and film skills, and create a tendency from amateur towards professionals. For instance, use the top-rated clip of today as a case study. The video creator as an amateur, has produce his video by editing different sequences of shoot, inserting animation and subtitles, adding sound effect and credit scene to make his video more visually stimulated and worth viewing, apparently, he had done his research about the recent popular videos.

By encouraging productive activities, content providers increase their commercial value on their business, through the process of consuming behavior tracking, and potentially use the content providers as free laborers ( Van Dujck, 2009). Through collecting personal information and record information of usage, setting and recent viewing, for instance (Van Dujck , 2009, 48), user behaviors are extensively revealed, which could then become a Market research tool used to distribute the advertisement more efficiently. Thus, the power of chosen video that is owned by video consumers are gradually undermined by the platform owner, who targets the market of each online community by tracking the consumer behaviors.

In conclusion, the ranking tactic that is adapted by platform providers has physically and economically encouraged users to continuously create contents and distribute them into the platform that in turn, improve the economic value. Meanwhile, a more competitive environment is generated by this ranking system within the user community and requires armatures to improve their video skills. Users as content provider has combined work and play into the video making, which has enhanced their identity.


Dijck, José van (2009) ‘Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content’, Media, Culture and Society, 31 (2009): 41-58.

Stebbins, R. A. (1992). Amateurs, professionals, and serious leisure. Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press.

YouTube, 2011, most popular in YouTube, accessed in 4th of May, 2011, from

YouTube, 2011,GUY BUG in channel of Ray William Johnson, accessed in 4th of May, 2011, from

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Creative Commons

Explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.’’

By inserting the Creative Common license into the blog, readers are visually informed through the small image of CC above that they are allowed to develop and distribute the works from this blog by sharing the credit, which is still under the protection of copyright law(Creative commons, 2011).

There is two purposes in the insertion of the Creative Commons license into this blog. The first is to contribute to this piece of work through others. An idea or a research that is developed by me could possibly inspire or assist with the works of others. Thus, time and capital that are needed to be spent on the same research that is used to extend a certain piece of work can be reduced and be committed into other areas of work. Secondly, only by making the work available for others then can the original work receives comments and feedback that can enhance future development. As a result, the blog can be enhanced and its meaning and perspectives can be extended or expanded. In other words, the use of Creative Commons licenses can become a communicating tool for property owners to exchange and advance on each other’s creations, which actively and optimistically generate further development of certain contents.

Henry Jenkins argues that the process of information sharing and distribution among the fans’ community has reflected a “collective intelligence“. Each fan does not necessarily need to follow their idols to know the newest information about them. Instead, fans collect information from other fans or fans’ websites to keep their information up-to-date (Jenkins, 2006, 127). The notion of “collective intelligence” can be applied on the use of Creative Common license, in which  Individuals are allow to develop their own works based on the others’ work without spending more time to do the same research again. However, to share a credit is necessary under the condition of copyright law. Metaphorically, the use of Creative Commons license makes a certain property form the “stagnant water” into the water that flows in the sea, where it is able to feed the fishes with more oxygen and nutrients.

We love creative commons!

Attribution Some rights reserved by steren.giannini

The relevance of adding Creative Commons license to the blog and other media texts that are produced by active online scholars and bloggers for instance, are significant. Properties have been re-situated into an overlapped space between the public domain and the privatized ownerships that are protected by the copyright law.  The situation is quite similar to the market economic in contemporary China where market is control by the government for standardization and is partially opened for free trade. The “mixing” between the commons and original property is still under the control of legislation (copyright law), but the Creative Commons license has made the property more open to the other sources and creators, which contributed to its future transcendences (Lessig, 2005, 352). Furthermore, the use of HTML code in the Creative Commons license has opened up the closed architecture of copyright law, and constructed it with more active motivation towards individuals, and generated the participation for further content development(Lessig, 2005, 358). Thus, the properties are available to flow between individuals who obtained the Creative Commons license, which can eventually change the landscape of digital creations (Creative commons, 2011).


Creative commons, (2011), license image creative commons, accessed in 14th May 2011 from

Creative commons, (2011), “about” in Creative commons,accessed in 14th May 2011 from

Giannini,steren. Image of we love creative commons,accessed in 14th May 2011 from

Jenkins, Henry. (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York, NY [u.a.], New York Univ. Press.

Lessig, Lawrence (2005) ‘Open Code and Open Societies’ pp. 349-360 in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam and Karim R. Lakhani (eds) Perspectives on Free ad Open Source Software. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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