Pulling the strings on the Web
Fan Meijing/Shanghai Daily news
he's not the first blogger in China, Wang Jianshuo is different from the other
millions of online scribes because of the language he uses in his popular blog
diary - English.
He has never stopped writing since September 11, 2002 - the
day he put out his first English blog - when he set out the steps to follow in
installing the Movable Type Webblog system on Windows XP.
Today, Wang is the
head of Kijiji China - a new venture with eBay - after having worked for
Microsoft China's Shanghai branch for six years. Wang definitely has the
expertise to write about IT-related matters.
The rest of his topics are about
the daily events in Shanghai that affect his life and the lives of others,
ranging from how to get to the airport and taxi fares to bank services,
frequently used phone numbers and famous local tourist attractions. He also
covers good places to shop, restaurants, entertainment venues and community
activities such as athletic events and cycling in Pudong.
He also writes
about his driving courses, moving to new home, his wedding and wedding
anniversaries. He takes down things happened to his friends and his beloved wife
Wendy. He shares with people known and unknown fleeting precious moments of his
happiness, sadness, gratitude, anticipation and determination. His words are
plain, but waves of passion flow out of them.
"Writing blogs only because
others are doing it is stupid. I never talk about my passing moods because
they're useless to my readers. I deal in facts only," says Wang, 29.
of Central China's Henan Province, Wang came to Shanghai 10 years ago. About his
new career he says: "I write in English not to show off but to offer information
about city life to help foreigners who have arrived in Shanghai for the first
Fill the blank
Wang says if someone in 2000 had searched "Pudong
International Airport" on Google, the first link they would have seen would be
an article he had written about the airport and pasted on his personal Webpage.
"It was then that I realized that information in English about Shanghai was very
scanty on the Internet and I decided to fill the blank."
visits to Wang's blog exceed 2 million, 70 percent of which come from overseas.
Sometimes people in the United States call Wang at 2am, asking for help for
their upcoming Shanghai trip.
In the beginning, however, he could count the
number of visitors over a whole month in the dozens. "The first two months were
really confusing. I doubted the worth of writing because where were only one or
two readers a day," he says. "But when I closed my server people were asking why
and asking me to go on. So I went on."
Wang cites a small but interesting
discovery he made at a company Christmas party when he was still at Microsoft to
explain the "spiritual" spur that led him to persist with his online
"We were all sitting around a very long table loaded with food and
drink. There were many floating balloons that were tied at the table. The roof
of the hall we were in was extremely high," he recalls. "Suddenly I fancied that
if I split the plastic rope holding one of the balloons into eight parts and
knotted them together, the balloon would float higher. And if it did that
continuously, undoubtedly the balloon would finally touch the roof."
decided to test his assumption. One hour later and with the help of 10
colleagues, the balloon was floating higher and higher. Then another 20 people
at the Christmas party came to help and four hours later the balloon reached the
"See? The power of accumulation is gigantic. It helps you achieve those
seemingly impossible things," Wang says with a smile. "Knotting ropes together
is similar to spending 15 minutes on a blog each night. In both cases, I expect
the support of others and recognition but I never count on them. The only thing
I'm certain about is that I'm marching in the right direction."
Visits to his blog rose sharply when Wang moved on to his 500th piece.
To ensure he has something interesting every day, he chooses one topic at a time
and saves other ideas for possible slack times. "The volume of visits is not
that important," he says. "Daily blogging is to keep a kind of memory for
myself. I hope that today's Wang Jianshuo will always be better than the person
he was yesterday."
Wang left Microsoft in March 2005 and began working on
establishing Kijiji, which was launched worldwide as a network of online
classified Websites where people advertise jobs, apartments, goods, activities
and all kinds of services and demands for free.
In a farewell e-mail to
Microsoft he wrote: "It is autumn now and the fruit has ripened so that it
doesn't feel pain when it is picked."
He says he chose to leave because he
still has vivid dreams about the potential of the Internet. And he also believes
in Kijiji's potential to change people's lives in China. The new network, while
a Web base for traditional advertising, is also a platform for all kinds of
"There is something in common between Kijiji - which
means 'village' in Swahili - and this blog," Wang wrote on his blog. "Just as I
have built up this community with passion and a willingness to share, so I
believe that Kijiji will be a community which can have a great impact."
says that on Kijiji people may publish "weird" messages such as where to find
good PC games or a partner or a car. They may also look for people with whom to
play chess after work or to invite anyone interested in participating in group
running around Pudong's Century Park every Tuesday night.
traveling and says he has read his favorite book, "The Art of Travel" by Alain
de Botton, some 50 times. He recommends the book fervently to others on the
blog. He takes photos wherever and whenever he travels including even on his way
to and from home.
"To live in your city is somehow the same as traveling as
long as you have a heart to feel things," he says. "I hope to live a simple life
and to do interesting things. Also, I hope that what I'm doing may change my
life and the lives of others a little. Just 'a little' is enough."
information, go to Wang Jianshuo's blog at home.wangjianshuo.com.