Thursday, June 03, 2010

Bullets and Blood

Midnight, the 4th day of June, 1989, I was almost 6. For months, students from all over China gathered in major cities and protested against their government for basic human rights violation, government corruption, and the dictatorial ruling under one party policy, and that night marked the end of this remarkably brave action, with the bullets and blood authorized by the government and its party behind the curtain.

Being 6, I don't even have the faintest idea of what happened around. Very soon, my uncle disappeared from my life, family members told me he went far far away. Later on, police came to my grandpa's home, they came so frequently and regularly that every time I could identify them so quickly that I ran inside house and cried: “police are here, police are!”, my father told me that even some unknown people from certain authorities went to our home and asked my parents about my uncle. At that time, I didn't understand any of this, so I asked my parents, “my uncle is good people, police are good people, why does good people want to arrest good people?” Apparently, I got no answer, it took almost another 10 years till I found the answer myself.

A few years passed and I had no news from my uncle, I heard from my parents that he was in France or somewhere I could never imagine, and I started to feel the difficulty of picturing him in my mind. It never occurred to me how this affected my relatives, until the eve of the Spring festival came when I was 9 or 10. I was in the bathroom, prepared to wash my feet, all my family were gathered in my parents' house to celebrate the Chinese New Year. She came in and helped me to wash, I felt a bit embarrassed and tried to denied her help. She insisted and started to weep, I found she tried so hard to not make a sound of it. I was curious and deeply saddened, and finally I asked. Her answer ever since changed my life, “I miss you uncle so much”. This was the moment I realized that my uncle was missed by her mother as a beloved son, he's not just an uncle to me, but also the son of my grandparents, the brother of my mother. The second words from her saddened me more, “don't tell you mother that I cried”, she wiped her tears. “Why?” “You mother will feel sad if she knows.”

That is actually the first time I felt the impact of that summer in 1989. At that moment, I didn't even have a single clue of what happened when I was almost 6, I knew there was something happened that year, but no one in the family talked about this. Occasionally, a phone from France will cheered the whole family, especially my mother. However, the truth remain untold till the year of 2003 came.

In 2003, the real power of the Internet reached my small world, and for the first time, I found Wikipedia. From that moment on, my life, my whole opinions of the world around me were changed, I read every word of the entries related to the summer of that year, traced every link, every website about it. I read with tears, with shock, with anger. This was not a country I knew, this was a lie that I was living in for 20 years. From that moment on, I started my days of criticizing, satirizing, joking about this government, this party, this twisted society. I'm not trying to change the society, the whole nation, even the people I know, all I do is for those who fought 21 years ago, those who vanished 21 years ago, and those who are still suffering from the pain for the last 21 years.

This is just a short story of me and my family after 4th of June, 1989. Every time I visit my grandparents' graveyard, the thought that they never had a chance to see their son one last time in the last days of their lives, just kills my heart. I know many families in China suffer much more and deeper than we do, and their story may never be told. If this government and party want us to forget all about that summer, what I can assure them is that I will never forget, and one day, my son, my daughter will never forget, till those brave people's names are remembered and respected all over China, till the stories of that summer, of the last 21 years be told.

Those bullets and blood vanished 21 years ago, but they still haunt this country, unless this government, this “behated” party have the courage to face it, admit it, and start to change, history will return in similar ways, and more ordinary families will suffer what they don't deserve. Regrettably, I don't see it coming any sooner. And we are still facing a tough and even worse path towards the future.

Finally, as a personal petition, please help release Liu XiaoBo, he is the conscience of this nation.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

For what can't be forgotten

In the last two or three years, this has always been the most important post every year to myself. Just try to remind people around me, and people who happen to see this post, that the tragedy happened 20 years ago shall never be forgotten.

And this year, the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square pro-Democratic Protest, once again showed the world that how desperate our government wants to erase this day from people's memory, and at some level, they succeed. More and more youngsters in China have no idea of what 4th June means to this nation, more and more parents choose to hide this history from their children, in the name of protecting children from danger. Danger from whom? From their own country, their ruling government. How sad it is, those people died for the democracy of China, may end up with being forgotten by the new generation.

Fast growth of economy eases everyone's concern of their rights of free speech, voting, and other basic human rights that westerners take for granted. As long as we can have cars, houses, love, TV, Web, who cares what the ruling party did and is now doing. Sure, that is the situation. Swiftly, I become the weirdo among my friends, because like the students twenty years ago, I still care about those rights, not for myself, but for the people in this nation. Because, as far as I know, without the guarantee of these basic right, any one of us can easily become the victim of the machine of the nation. However, the tragedy is, unless one turns into the victim, he or she will never care about those rights, and that is what happening around me.

That is why I support those independent lawyers who are now fighting for the victims of the abusive power of the government, they stepped up to defend the protesters in Tibet, the victims whose houses are torn down without notice by the government, the girl who self-defensed herself when local government officials tried to rape her... the story of victims like this never ends in China. Many of them are never told. And any one of us can end up like them if we don't care about those basic rights. If we don't stand up for them, one day, when we become the victims, who would stand up for us?

The truth is, no friends would listen to me, look at what happened to those who protest 20 years ago, some of them died, some of them went to prison, and the rest of them have been suppressed in every aspect of their life by the government ever since. What good can you get from calling for democracy in China? Probably none. Most of my friends have very good family background, they never need to worry about life, may even have some good connections of people with governmental background, probably. They are the beneficiary of this structure of the society. And if you are the beneficiary, why should change come?

Well, the world is changing. Fatal medical drugs, tainted milk alerted everyone in China that we're not safe, because there are on independent institutes to guarantee the food production, even the most senior officials in the government, in the ruling party can corrupt for the sake of money. The government tolerate no independent organizations or activities, any organizations or activities must cooperate with the government in some form or other, and once independence is lost, corruptions sneak in, for they have the unrestricted power. No one can inspect them, for they are the inspectors themselves. And the tragedy of Sichuan earthquake can't be investigated independently, why? For once the truth is unraveled, massive scale of corruption might emerge from the poor quality of the school buildings that swiftly collapsed and killed thousands of children's lives. Independent lawyers are suppressed recently too in China, for they are defending for the people that government doesn't like, for any deeper investigation might jeopardise they own interests that can't be known to the outsiders. We all are actually the victims of this system, however, most of us just can't see, because our government, our ruling party have the absolute power to disguise all the "nasty" aspects, and show most of us the bright side, now just the current situation, but also the promising future.

I think, maybe Internet is the one thing that can plant the seed of democracy in China. I don't think that kicking the ruling party out of their position can solve thee problem of China. More important and more realistic thing is to cultivate the sense, the conscious of democracy, the value of freedom of speech, of press, of voting to the public. The Great FireWall might be able to reduce the power of the Internet, but with more and more people, especially the younger generation who are comfortable with ever changing technologies being able to access more diverse information from other than the government and ruling party, with more and more tools to break the Great FireWall, this nation will gradually change.

And what I can do, the most humble thing within my capability is, to keep on writing, for the sake of my beloved country, the people I love, and the people who died for their belief, our democratic China; to keep on expressing my support of those who are fight for the human rights in China; and to patiently repeat the value of democracy to the people around me. And one day, I will tell those students and citizens who gave their lives to this country that night, they did not die in vain, they will not be forgotten, their fighting is the spirit, the foundation of a democratic China.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

70码

本不想对杭州的70码事件多 说什么,这几年类似的事情层出不穷,却无一不是不了了之,即使是说破了天,无权无钱在这个社会也就别时时奢望正义与公道。可觉得如果越来越多的选择了沉 默,选择了哀叹一声后就闭眼无视一切的丑恶,那么自己也就无权再针砭时弊,无权抱怨社会的良知何在,无权要求改变与进步,因为已经选择了对它的纵容。

70码事件不过是过去那些民愤事件典型元素的再次组合:无辜的受害者,愤怒的旁观者,权力保护下的施暴者,含糊其词的执法部门,再加上打压舆论的宣传部门。这些不过是不断上演的人间悲剧的统一模式,有些故事我们听说了,淡忘了,更多的故事或许从来没有被讲述过。

70码这件事已经超过了它本身,这已不是当事人、浙大、杭州那么简单。因为受害者是如此的平凡,以至于如果不是他,或许惨死在当晚的便会是你我中的任何一个人;因为施暴者是如此典型,金钱与权力从来就是如影随形。

我并不想谩骂那个富家子弟,我更多的是为他感到悲哀,因为21岁的他不懂得珍惜,不懂得谦卑,也不懂得尊重。对他人生命的尊重本该是起码的社会道德底线,如果深夜飙车我还勉强认同为某种西方地下文化的“渗透”话,要让我相信一个傍晚在市区内飙车的青年懂得尊重他人实在太困难。当然,他不过是一个群体中代表,他的哥们不还在事故现场谈笑风生吗?我们没有权利去管教他们,但当他们的行为危及公众安全时,我们就有权利要求对他们的严厉惩罚。

而 事实上,这些飙车族长期无视公众安全,交管部门难咎其责。这种玩忽职守的政府部门作风才是最需要追究的,因为只要他们有一天是睁一只眼闭一只眼,那么对于 每个公民来说,都意味着对生命的时时威胁。一个政府的失败,是普通公民连基本的日常生活秩序都无法得到基本保障:当你走过斑马线还需要担心是否会有人飙车 (杭州),当你把孩子送进学校还要担心校舍质量(四川),当天上下雨你甚至担心会否在城市某个角落被淹死(济南),那么作为一个公民,还能对这些政府部门 说什么呢?

而 更糟糕的则是,当这所有的失败都需要普通公民来承受时,官方还是一如既往的愚蠢,期望通过施行打压噤声政策平息一切,那么结果只会将民愤推向顶点,只会加 剧普通民众对整个利益集团和其中每个可能的利益链条的不信任感甚至憎恶,积累久了而不让其宣泄,一旦崩溃,最终的结果或许只能是:皮之不存,毛将焉附。愤怒变成了讽刺、调侃,其实是对政府在这些事件上处理的最大“不屑”。

信任,已无从谈起。当越来越多的 地方政府彻底腐烂到孩子失踪没人管,嫖宿幼女没人管,监狱莫名死人没人管时,你还会奇怪一个21岁的少年不懂得尊重他人吗?

在这片土地上,没有金钱,没有权力,难道也就意味着没有“权利”了吗?谁说的?不是给了咱们“活着”的权利,“吃饱不饿肚子”的权利吗?当然不管有无权利,义务总得尽,税收总得交进不了利益圈,哪怕你月薪再高也别梦想着“脱胎换骨,重新做人”,按照标准的说法,咱们不过是那“大国贱民”。

不知为何,突然想说,家比国更重要

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Websites that I find useful

Accidentally came across this blog post: The problem with social media for most people. Nicely stated and quite agree with his point. I think that it would be helpful to list and recommend some Web sites (not just social networks) that I'm finding particularly useful:

  • Twitter. Actually, I rarely visit the Web site, but using Firefox+Twitterfox to get the latest messages from it. Sometimes just too noisy.
  • FriendFeed. More comprehensive than Twitter, it help me filter some "noises" from other blogs, news web site, and of course, social networks.
  • The Guardian. Famous UK newspaper Website, so far, my personal favorite news website. Its sub-section: Comment if Free (cif) is awesome.
  • Yeeyan. Hardly find any particularly 'useful' Chinese ones, but this is an exception, really nice place to visit and spend some time to learn something, to see the world.
  • Twine. If you're not interested in Semantic Web, it may not be that attractive. However, many great articles can be found through it. I love it.
  • Babbel. God, what an interesting place to learn foreign languages, like French, German, Italian, or Spanish.
  • Douban. Another Chinese one, however, my satisfaction to it is declining.
  • Kaixin001(?) A good place to kill your time if you understand Chinese, but...
  • Blogbus(?) It's where my Chinese blog resides, but not quite usable as a blog service. If GFW didn't exist, I would rather stick to my original one on Blogger.com.
  • Geni. If you're a family guy, this is a good place to bind your big family together. Drawing your family tree and tracing your family history, well, fun to me.

Can't think of any more now, web services like Google Reader, GMail, Google Doc, Zoho Office, BBC iPlayer are also great, just not bother to specify the reasons.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thinking from scenario to contextual inquiry

I am reading the book, "Making Use", which is written by the famous Carroll. I just read a little of it, more like a short introduction of the concept of scenario, and that just makes me can't help but compare it with another book I read, "Contextual Design".

I notice that Carroll use the phrase, "use oriented", which makes me think for quite a while. What does it mean? To me, it seems like that he emphasizes on how user use artefacts to do things. However, base on what I learned from the concept of scenario, this should not be the case, because, the reason of introducing scenario, is to better understand the environment in which users use the artefacts. And that is actually what Carroll says in the book, he mentioned the importance of the mutual relationship between information technology and the environment where it is being used, although, not explicitly. So, that to me sounds more like the emphasis of "context" I read in the "Contextual Design".

Due to this suggestion, I start to think about another question, the context I feel in Carroll's book, is it the same as Beyer's book? If it is not, what is the difference?

As stated in "Contextual Design", context includes every element that is related to the users' work, papers, documents, even the little things that could remind the users how to carry on their work. It's a very broad scale, which needs observers, or more precisely, the one who acts as the apprentice in the "Master/Apprentice" model, spend large quantity of time observing, raising questions, and discussing with "Master" while he's working in his own way. Comparing this to what Carroll said in his book, his definition of context seems to be much less detailed. It seems that scenarios focus on the phenomena, leaving the underlying reasons unexplored. It focus on "things the actors do", "things that happen to them", "changes in the circumstances of the setting". So, as a scenrio, it describes the user's environment, user's behaviours, or sequence of actions, the consequences to them, and if any, to the environment around them. While the context inquiry, the core concept in "Contextual Design" probes the details of user's behaviours: why do they do something? Not just describes it.

I think that's what scenario lack of, even though, it does include the consideration of context and describe it, but that, in many cases is not enough. Just as what is mentioned in the book of "Contextual Design", even one single simple behaviour could be interpreted in several different ways. You need to ask and discuss it with the users about it, to validate your interpretation, and finally, to get the right understanding of users' behaviour. Just telling a story is simply not enough, in my opinion. However, this of cause much better than the way that leaves the "context" behind.

Another thing I'm convinced by the book of "Contextual Design" is, though it did not mention it explicitly, the mutual relationship between the designers (who intensely observe users' work) and the users. On one hand, as mentioned above, asking, explaining, discussing could let designers gain a much more comprehensive and solid understanding of the users; on the other hand, the users can structure his own work in his mind by explaining it to the designers, which could bring new thoughts/ideas that might improve his own work, and that's where new ideas of design come from. So, in my opinion, is like a mutually enhancement between the designers and the users, to reach a more confound understanding of the work they both focus on.

But how will they transfer the data from their observation to the design ideas, or before that, how will they present the result of their observation? This is the question I should find out as I read on.

Update: I find that Carroll's book mentioned Beyer's "contextual design" in his last chapter: scenario dilemma. It would be interesting to see what would he say there. I'll check it later on.