It’s been years since I completely reviewed the blogroll on Transpacifica. Today, I decided to cut it in size and cut out the fat. Before, I had almost fifty links, all of which were at one time important. But many of these sites don’t make the cut anymore, and I thought it would be more useful to pick the 25 best sites I would recommend checking for up-to-date information and smart commentary on East Asia.
Allow me to bid farewell to some of the former blogrollers.
First, there are the sites that just aren’t sites anymore: The China Beat stopped publishing; Julian Wong’s Green Leap Forward is now apparently offline (and it was long dormant); Rebecca MacKinnon’s excellent RConversation is now dormant while she writes at her book’s blog, but rarely about China. Evgeny Morozov’s Net Effect stopped updating some time ago.
Then, there are the sites that have suffered from the writers’ new projects, or that aren’t as frequently updated as others. Jeremiah Jenne’s Granite Studio gave way to his new collaborative project with others, Rectified.name. Jun Okumura’s fiery Son of a Gadfly on the Wall may be getting some love these days, but it’s long been relatively quiet.
Next, I removed links to non-transpacific-focused sites and sites that I run or work for. The exception is 八八吧 :: 88 Bar, which would deserve a place on this list even if I weren’t a new contributor there.
There are others, that need not be listed, that don’t have the same place in my reading diet they used to.
We’re left with a solid list of 25 sites, though I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
For now, a few of the new additions:
- ChinaFile, currently in beta, is a project of Asia Society, and it has both original content and solid aggregation, including a non-paywalled tunnel to New York Review of Books articles up to fairly recently.
- China Real Time and Japan Real Time, from the Wall Street Journal, are category-leading news feeds that follow the news day by day. The China blog especially is about as up-to-date a product as you can get from a mainstream source.
- Sigma1 takes my friend Tobias Harris (Observing Japan)’s spot for detailed tracking through Japan’s ever-swerving political story. [Toby is welcome back if he starts writing again. -ed.]
- And Tea Leaf Nation barges onto the scene with its voluminous China social media monitoring.
So what’s changed?
For one thing, this reader and the cast of writers have changed. When this list was last carefully checked, I was just back to the United States from Beijing, where the hurried China blogging community before the Olympics was full of different faces, many of whom have moved on to various other pursuits. And at the time, I was still writing Sinobyte for CNET, which led me to follow too many tech blogs. Now, I watch U.S.–China relations and technology and politics trends, and this means a greater attention to international relations, military affairs, economics, and elite politics. Finally, I read far less about Japan than when this all began in 2006.
Substantively, though, I think the blogosphere on East Asia has shifted from a public square of mostly male soapboxers to a series of more diverse groups collaborating either informally or through an institution. I think this is great, because (Bill Bishop’s Sinocism notwithstanding) it’s usually better to think, produce, and read in groups than all alone. This also opens bigger online platforms—like Tea Leaf Nation, ChinaFile, and even the WSJ Real Time blogs—to people who don’t have the sickness required to blog constantly.
This blog used to have a lot more readers during the period that I had the blogging bug. Perhaps some will come back through collaborative work here or on various platforms, but for now, click those links at the right.