Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ryan Pyle Blog: The Day I Was Blocked

This is my 8th blog, and I've marked it down in my calendar, November 12, 2006.

This is both my 8th blog, and the day the Chinese government blocked my blog. Now, if you choose to scroll down and read the rest of this blog you'll notice some very obvious things, there is really nothing critical written in this blog at all about China; and I am not a writer. So it boggles my mind why someone would want to block a blog about a photographer who works in China. What is the point? What is there motive?

Essentially, there no real reason why an English language blog like mine would be blocked. Only a small proportion of Chinese people inside China can even read my blog, who out there makes these decisions?

An interesting thing to point out is that the person who actually blocked this blog is most likely just a poorly educated University student in Shanghai. A colleague of mine, Howard W. French, wrote a great piece a few months back about Net Nannies combing the internet looking for anti Chinese or disturbing writings of any kind. These Net Nannies are University students who volunteer after hours to surf the internet and pick out the evil and devious minds that blog. So essentially what has happened is some 19 year old, never traveled outside of Shanghai, University student has deemed my blog inappropriate based on the fact that the title of my blog says: China Photographer. By this "net nanny" making a note in her activities log someone above her basically blocked the site without looking at, or reading, this blog.

Another point to make people aware of is that my blog contains my real name and my real contact information. How much harm can an honest person speaking objectively cause a government? This may seem like a trick question, and it is where the Chinese state and I seem to differ.

I am not a writer, I am a photographer, and yet the Chinese government has not blocked my personal website or my photography archive (both of which are listed at the bottom of each blog), they have just blocked my poor blog.

It's not even much of a blog anyways - I barely write in it and when I do it's hardly coherent and rarely has a point.

So this is my life, subject to the approval of the Chinese government (aka. the paranoid state).

Ryan Pyle
Photographer
China
ryan@ryanpyle.com
www.ryanpyle.com
Skype: ryanpyle

5 comments:

  1. Aaaah, would this be the same government which recently went on record and quoted in Athens, Greece: "we don't have any restrictions?. Some people say that there are journalists in China that have been arrested. We have hundreds of journalists in China, and some of them have legal problems. It has nothing to do with freedom of expression."

    It amazes me they still try and push this rather weird excuse outside of mainland China. The whole world knows they are the most restrictive on information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. james wasserman01:46

    Hi Ryan, Is getting bw film difficult as well. I assume so but I'm hoping.... How did you resolve the blocking of your blog? Thats kind of scarry. I guess its par for the course though. I'm coming to Beijing for at least the year ,hopefully more, and would love to meet for a beer in Shanghai. I'll get in touch after I arrive in January and see if you have some free time. Good luck avoiding the censors. Thanks Jim

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jim,
    Actually there is a great supply of black and white film available in China, go figure. Mostly Kodak TriX and Ilford.

    I guess with so many photographers in China using digital cameras Fuji is cutting back on its delivery of some of its more rare brands like the Fuji Press 800ISO which I really like using.

    It's a bit sad too, because I called the Fuji offices in Shanghai and the Sales Director for China basically kept asking me why am I still using film, don't I have the money for a digital camera. Needless to say Fuji has been completely useless on this.

    Sorry for the tangent. Jim, black and white film is readily available in Shanghai and Beijing.

    Ryan Pyle
    Photographer
    China
    ryan@ryanpyle.com
    www.ryanpyle.com
    Skype: ryanpyle

    ReplyDelete
  4. james wasserman13:54

    Well at least the bw is still around. In relation to the problems your fixer had, are you able to cover sensitive subjects because you have a journalist's visa or are you just trying to keep a low profile? I'm not sure if this is a good place to answer this question but if you think its better, my email is jbw@jameswasserman.com. Thanks for getting back to me the first time. Looking forward to the next blog entry. Jim

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jim,

    I don't mind replying to the posts here, so that people who visit the blog and see what's going on, and in which direction the dialog is flowing. If you want to write me personally you can always reach me at ryan@ryanpyle.com.

    As to your questions. Most journalists (writers) visit China with a short term mentality, whereby their newspaper or magazine gives them a 4-5 year term and then moves them on to another country. (ie. NYTimes, Washington Post, Guardian, London Times..etc.)

    Photographers on the other hand usually stay here for a longer period. I intend to stay for a very long time to continue my documenting the country. While I do approach sensitive subjects, there are certain topics to stay away from (government corruption/mass protests/riots). Most of the time a white face will get turned around, but several local Chinese photographers have been able to document these incidents. For us foreign folks most social, environmental and economic stories are fair game.

    I would say, if you want to do a story on AIDS or prostitution or industrial waste then go for it. You'll attract attention and you may have difficulty with local officials but, it's been my experience, that they won't kick you out of the country. They'll just ask you to leave the province. Then you can just go back later and finish the project.

    But that's just my two cents. Everyone has their own opinion and their own experiences. If anyone else has had an experience and would like to add to this thread that would be great.

    Cheers,

    Ryan Pyle
    Photographer
    China
    ryan@ryanpyle.com
    www.ryanpyle.com
    Skype: ryanpyle

    ReplyDelete

Hi,

This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle
ryan@ryanpyle.com
www.ryanpyle.com