On Saturday I was a speaker at a blogging conference in Huashan Culture Park in Taipei (pics below). Here is the section from the conference on the foreign blog world here. Scott Sommers and I had a long talk on the issues after the conference, and I hope he can find the time to put up his insights and comments so I can repost them here. Ive added a few comments of my own.

It was Scott’s blog that inspired mine. I had seen Poagao’s excellent blog as well.

Here I’m making the point that basically few blog. There are two million Chinese language blogs in Taiwan, enough for 1 for every 10 people or so. Not so with foreigners. Most foreigners who blog in Taiwan don’t blog on Taiwan; they blog on their own lives, which happen to be here. Note that it is not a bad thing to not be a blogger; my first advice to would-be bloggers is invariably “don’t.”

Here I think is one of the key points I wanted to make. Taiwanese blogging on Taiwan are blogging on something that they live and breathe. Americans blogging on Taiwan are blogging on something they have to learn. It requires specialized knowledge — you have to study some aspect of the island, and some knowledge of Chinese is a good idea. The amount of study required acts as both a deterrent to blogging on the island, and an incentive to go on and actually do something with the knowledge — like publish real papers instead of blog posts.

Here I divide the English blog world into three parts for ease of discussion.

From the perspective of communication with the outside world, representing Taiwan abroad, the missionary blogs are the least useful. They are by far the most me-centered, being adherents of a totally me-centered religion, they don’t know very much about Taiwan (or anything else), and they only talk to each other. The most heavily-linked blogger on Taiwan, by a huge margin, is Amanda’s Following an Unknown Path, well-intentioned, no doubt, but terminally ignorant of the basics of science. I have long since gotten over the idea that people are Christian because they are stupid, but you couldn’t prove that from the missionary blogs. Sadly, it seems knowledgeable long-term missionaries don’t blog. Johnny Neihu hilariously ripped some missionaries heading to Taiwan on Saturday.

The short-termers here blog mostly on their own lives, which is as it should be. The news stories they tend to focus on are flashy ones, like the exploding whale story.

It’s important to note that long-term expats largely don’t blog. The group that does blog is pretty small and not really very diverse. Few of them blog on Taiwan, most are like other bloggers anywhere else, focusing on whatever interests them.

It’s always hardest to see what’s not there, and what’s not present in Taiwan’s English blogosphere are businessmen and academic experts, to name only a few. Nobody blogs on history or art or music or literature with any regularity. Nobody blogs on law or business. No credentialed academic experts blog on Taiwan, with the exception of Mark Harrison. Only one local foreign journalist blogs, but only tangentially on Taiwan. The “Taiwan” English blogosphere is not a very well-rounded one.