Arts Online: Wang Zhi Hong

With Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc., people are trying to persuade me that there are no longer needs to buy paperbacks, let along those heavy hardcovers. I wonder, Is it going to change the profession as cover design? In the future, do book covers need to be interactive with hyperlinks and url popping out everything? I don’t know.

So far, I have been resisting those e-books and digital devices, as paperback book covers are still very attractive to me. In the past few years, many books published in Taiwan have more and more beautiful covers. Publishing houses obviously realize that good covers may not influence sales, but bad covers certainly do. Many of them come from the same person, later I notice, Wang Zhi Hong (王志弘).

When buying books in Japan, bookstore staffs will cover your books with their wrapping paper in a proficient way, like the photo besides. I am not sure if it is for book protection (so book edges will not be damaged), for privacy reason (so people don’t know what you are reading), for promotion (so people know where you buy books), or for aesthetic reason (because cover design is too ugly to represent my tastes?). I think it’s a waste, though, if books have greatly-designed covers but get covered.

Sometimes you don’t need to understand the language to appreciate the beauty of a book cover. Wang has a website to showcase his works, though it’s not Chrome-friendly. His Flickr album also has a good collection, but I like the slideshow presentation the best (it takes a while to load).

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Arts Online: Thirsty Pixels

Thanks to Jillian York‘s message on Facebook today, I learn about a new site Thirsty Pixels by Emily Henochowicz. This is what Jillian said on Facebook:

21 year-old Emily Henochowitz was shot in the face on Monday by Israeli soldiers at Qalandiya checkpoint with a teargas canister. She lost an eye. Please check out her stunning artwork on her website.

Contemporary artworks are always more attractive to me. With the power of internet, we can now receive information about exhibitions around the world, such as via New Emissary blog by Ulara Nakagawa. We don’t get to visit them physically, however. Fortunately, many people nowadays display their artworks online, so we get to visit virtual galleries.

Hopefully this pleasant discovery will continue.

The Unspoken Undercurrent in Global Voices

For many times, we have been elaborating how wonderful to see Global Voices growing. During our Santiago Summit in early May, we have once again witnessed the dynamics of contributors, authors and translators alike, in person. These people, coming from all over the world, fly as long as 42-hour flight+layover to Chile not just because of, thanks to donors and sponsors, free tickets and accommodations. It’s not just because they happen to be available during that week. It must be something more about those monetary elements. It could be love, some say.

As many people may know, vast majority of our contributors are volunteers. A small number of editors, managers and directors receive compensations, but almost definitely not enough to cover their monthly expenses. Global Voices Online, no matter in English or in other languages, is still working until now, mostly due to continuous enthusiasm and active participations of volunteers/contributors. At least I am grateful to them EVERY SINGLE DAY. It may sound cheesy or cliché to some people, but I am always delighted to see new articles on the site for me, as a reader, to understand more about the world. I am always inspired to see new translations on our Lingua sites, so other people can benefit from these information in their own ways (and their languages).

Afterwards, some people, within or outside GV, ask me, what the difference is between Budapest Summit 2008 and Santiago Summit 2010. The obvious answer is bigger. The number of GV people is bigger, the venue is bigger, and even people are bigger (both age and size). But, there is actually an undercurrent before, during and after the summit this time, that I didn’t notice in Hungary.

Some (long-term) contibutors are leaving, or at least considering to leave Global Voices.

Several editors are very curious, during the summit, in learning how other teams/editors recruit more contributors. It’s of course a good news seeing more people joining in the community. This time in Santiago, however, when I talk to people in private, leaving Global Voices seem to be like a popular topic not on the agenda.

Global Voices now almost has a standard welcome rituals for new members in the community. First the designated editor will send out a notice to our (by far) biggest Google group mailing list to welcome new people. Then, people will receive dozens of emails from all over the world, saying welcome in different ways (and often in different languages).

Isn’t that warm and sweet?

But when people decide to leave, they disappear quietly.

They leave the community by stopping receiving emails from mailing lists, by not participating discussions within groups, and by not writing or translating articles in Global Voices. Sometimes it’s a sudden end; often it’s a gradual ebb.

I am not saying that no people left GV after Budapest Summit in 2008. There were, and quiet a few of them, but at that time, their major reasons were different. Some people started a new job, some people started a new stage of life (e.g. marriage or having a baby), and others moved to an new industry not related to internet anymore.

This time in Santiago, however, many people are leaving, or thinking about leaving, because of some frustrations.

Maybe the community has grown so big and complicated. Maybe the information within the community is longer transparent enough. Maybe they feel insufficient communications between teams. Maybe their suggestions are never recognized or adopted.

The topic becomes so common in the venue and in the hotel, that makes me even start to wonder if I am just too complacent with the status quo in GV.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I never feel frustrated with current situations in Global Voices, which I believe some people have heard from me before in private, but I am still here, not intended to leave yet.

This topic makes me think about what happens, though. These people join the community, sometimes long time ago, with wholehearted passion, ideas and insights. What happens that make them feel disorientated, disillusioned, disappointed, disconnected and disenchanted enough to leave Global Voices? Where is the downpour from to put out the inner fire to write/translate/contribute to Global Voices?

I assume there must be a reason. Why do they, if as authors, no longer feel excited when seeing their articles are translated into more than half a dozen of languages? Why do they, if as translators, no longer feel eager to translate new articles into their languages for local readers? Whey do they, authors and translators alike, no longer feel overjoyed when their contributions are read and spread by thousands and thousands of readers, directly or indirectly, around the world?

So far, I don’t have a short and clear answer, but as a middle director of this growing community, I believe it’s part of my faults. Honestly, it’s never easy to manage an online community, especially like this one with so many different cultures and backgrounds involved. Clearly, I am never a good-enough director. I am still learning and thinking of new ways to serve these contributors, and hopefully my learning curve will be able catch up with growing curve within the community. Otherwise then, it may be my time to say goodbye.

Here in Dallas, again

Yes, I am in Dallas again, waiting this time 4 hours to Tokyo, Japan. It’s early morning here, so every process is faster due to less people. The customs official “welcomes” me is having a Monster energy drink. Really?! Having that at six in the morning?!

Welcome to the United States of America.

Flying Back to Asia

I’ll be flying back to Asia (Japan) today. Before heading towards Santiago airport, I fortunately still have a few hours to look around, maybe some last minute shopping.

Next blog post will be in Dallas, USA again, if I get to use the public computer.

Last Night in Santiago

Busy and chaotic, I haven’t got the chance to sit down for a long time with my laptop to think about how the past ten days go, partly because internet connection in the Summit hotel is less than impressive, and it’s already my last night in Santiago. So many things accumulated, I don’t even know where to start. This trip, location and people, provides a lot of blog materials. It’s like a ball of yarn, lots of storyline in one, but I haven’t found the lint.

Lots of inspiring stories are spread around in GV Santiago Summit, as the last time in Budapest. I’m sitting here, in the TV room in Che Lagarto hostel, listening to Catalina from Colombia about her stories. She mentions how much she has gained since joining Global Voices, getting to know more people, travelling to more places, understanding more cultures, and how her friends are envious of her experiences and opportunities. I believe she represents lots of people in GV, including myself. Thanks to GV, we travel of some unexpected places in the location. If not the Summit, I have no ideas when I will cross the equator to the other side of the world. She is now even learning Mandarin Chinese in Colombia, after she is exposed to the multilingual environment in GV, and her teacher is from Taiwan. Another surprising development to me.

Most attendees have left Chile and back to their home sweet home. Everyone has brought back various objects for memory. Pictures, postcards, paintings, presents, and pisco sour. I am lucky enough to have all of them in my luggage, but most important of all to me, it is people that makes this experience so precious.

Tomorrow I’ll as well leave on a jet plane, and don’t know when I’ll be back again. The summit, for sure, is another memorable incident in my life. I’ll try to retrospect later to all those faces and stories.

Waiting in Dallas

I’ve flied Taipei – Tokyo – Dallas, and now it’s four hours away from my 9-hour flight to Santiago, Chile. Thanks Dallas airport for providing free internet access. It’s so good to be connected online again.

So far I am not too tired, although I am not impressed that I don’t have electricity access for my laptop on American Airlines flight. That stops me from doing translation. lol