Why are Chinese Blawgs Like law Journals

Why are Chinese Blawgs Like law Journals

Title: Why do Chinese Blawgs Represent themselves as Law Reviews and even Academic Libraries – A Historical Observation
Ver.:  1.1
Date: 20060624
By: Donnie H. DONG (http://blawgdog.com)
Licence: CC: by-nc-sa
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I have mentioned in last lawg that Chines blawgs are mostly like formal journals but not classical blogs. I am trying to analysis its reason in this post. Heh, follow the formal style of Chinese blawgs, I may name this essay as "An Empiristic Research form the Perspective of Sociology of Knowledge"…

Let’s recall the history of the personal legal website in China.

Around and/or after 1995, touched by the Internet, some pioneers established the first generation of Chinese personal pages conerning legal issues. The earliest and most famous one is "China Judge", found by Yau Zheng-hui, a judge in Fujian Province (I myself has one also, see its remains here). These websites had a common character: like a self-edited magazine as well as a personal book shelf which included articles, books and other things that did or did not created by the site owner. 

In the very beginning, contents created other than the founder of the sites often came directly from the authors. At that time, most legal researchers and practicers were not very familiar with the Internet. Normally being friends of the legal sites owners, they agree to publish their works in cyberspace freely after a rough consideration in that the publication in cyberspace would not affect their interstes.

However,  even obtainning some "donations", the amateurish webmasters can not afford enough time and energy to keep their websites updated like traditional journals. Until now, most people don’t want to publish their articles in good qualities firstly in web since it’s not a "publishment" in costumary law among China intellectuals, which means the author will not get any benifits from it – it’s difficult to be illustrated, let me try – in China, only when you publish your work in a paper-based journal which permitted by some administrative authorities, you might be recognised as an "author" and got the scholarship, credit, honor, bonus and etc.

Another reason caused the difficulty of the pioneering sites was: lawyers could hardly follow the thechnical development of the Internet. Nevertheless, some sites survived themselves. We may name them as "the second generation" of personal legal websites. These sites have used programs with ".asp", ".php" techonologies, which made them more dynamic than before. However, the new programs met the old problem: webmasters could not get enough new copyrightable contents to update their website, but this time, they decided to solve the problem with "Ctrl+C" and "Ctrl+V" works. In fact, not only law sites, but also all kinds of websites were doing the same thing before 2000 in China. Some webmasters comfort themselves with the "unprofit" statement in their web pages – though this excuse could not absolutely find the fair use defendence.

At the same time, the facts of lacking contents provided new opportunities to youngers who whish to be known. As a landmark, in 1999, Dr. Zhang Chu (one of the most prestigious cyberlaw scholar in China) laid full text of his doctorial dissertation on the internet before its printing. After that, famous scholars became understanding the power of the Internet, more and more researchers plugged themselves in the web. These were the "third generation" of Chinese personal legal sites. Before the emergence of blogs, these "famous professor’s sites" prevailed other personal sites. While in fact,  a great amount of lawyer launched personal sites around 2000, but most of them were eventually combined into their offices’ sites in the next year.

Still, to Chinese legal websites owners, it was their dream to make their websites equal to paper based journals. Since only in that situation, the persons who write for those unprofitable websites would be "recognised" by the "customary law". So, the style of the publications were always the standards of the web pages.

Another dream also stayed there: a convenient application/software that makes webmasters easily post and edit articles without considering the design of pages and the arrangement of HTML codes. Eventually, blog (especially those blogs provided by blawg service providers) realized this hope in 2004. Since then, all lawyers can launch website easily. However, no matter they are aware, it is a fact that before they involve in the blawgsphere, the culture of Chinese blawg has been formed by their predecessors. In another word, new blawggers inherited the modes of the former personal sites involuntarily.

Now, we may conclude the logic of the "publication" feature of Chinese Blawg. Firstly, the restrications of paper-based publication formed a kind of special "customary law" on the concept of "publication", which is that only when you publish your works in admitted paper-based journals, you would be recognized as a "intellectual producer". Secondly, the limitation of admitted paper-based journals can not fufill the demands of the authors. Thirdly, the Internet give lawyers an opportunity to express themselves, but these expression are cutomarily not as valuable as those in paper-based journals. Fourthly, to make themselves corresponding with the standards of the paper-based journals, contents in personal legal sites turned more and more like those formal paper-based academic publications.