Corporate Blogging in China – part 1

Where to begin on this topic? The title is intimidating enough, but here goes. I’ve been living the topic this week, so this post will be a multi-part brain dump.
In terms of large numbers, China leads the world in a lot of counts. The landmass is big. The population is big. Growth rates are big. Historical tradition is big. And the number of blogs is reported to be big and getting bigger, but I’ll defer to Sino-net experts on adoption rates and trends.
The big issue is whether any Chinese corporations blog. I’ll duck that issue for now, because I honestly can’t say, but will assume the answer is yes. The question is whether they blog globally, which is going to force me down the rabbit hole of digression to tackle the bigger issue of blog translation, something I’ve been discussing with John Bell at Ogilvy’s Digital Influence Project, and who recently returned from China himself.

I’ll dismiss, right off the top, the notion of machine-translation. Yes, a google on “WordPress Translation” will yield a number of sidebar plug-ins which will accomplish the act, but I will assume they are no better than Babelfish in terms of fluency and accuracy. I’ve tried using machine-translation to read what others are saying about me, in say Italian, and the result is barely understandable.

So, human translation is required and that is easily worked — find someone with the skills and have them monitor the originating blog for updates, perform the translation and post it.

Okay. Where do they post it? In the originating blog, right adjacent or following the originating blog post? In an entirely separate, cloned translation of the originating blog? Now you’re managing two blogs. One owned the originating blogger/bloggers and a second managed by the translator. Do you put a language selector on both so users can self-select the language they want?

Questions. Questions and more questions. What about the comments? Do they get translated? Would I want someone translating my commentary on my behalf, without my permission?

This is the stuff I’m coming out of Beijing wrestling with. My first resolution is to provide global web services from one centrally managed, self-hosted WordPress platform. Where will it be served? Good question — probably in two data centers to provide some mirrored redundancy and content distribution. Where will it be managed? Doesn’t matter. The sysadmin can be anywhere. Is there a Chinese version of WordPress so my China bloggers can easily work the administration dashboard?

This is going to be an interesting challenge over the next few weeks. I need to get one out the door like yesterday so time to write the brief and identify the talent.

Flight is being called, so I need to steel myself for a coma flight to San Fran, then Boston. Weekend in Cotuit decompressing, then off to Raleigh next week.

Stay tuned for more, I’ll try to put something more coherent together on the flight and post from home.

Kurt Vonnegut — 1922-2007

As the man wrote in Slapstick every time someone died: “Hi ho.”

He was the best writer to ever live in Barnstable — my home town. He defined American Literature in the late 60s and early 70s with Slaughterhouse Five. I loved his work and will miss him. He also had a character in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater die in Cotuit Bay in a sailing accident. I like to believe it was by being hit in the head with the boom of a Cotuit Skiff.

“Eunice also wrote an historical novel about a female gladiator, Ramba of Macedon, which was a best-seller in 1936. Eunice died in 1937, in a sailing accident in Cotuit, Massachusetts. She was a wise and amusing person, with very sincere anxieties about the condition of the poor. She was my mother.”