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Pulling the strings on the Web
9/1/2006 7:58

Fan Meijing/Shanghai Daily news

Although 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.
A native 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 time."
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."
Today, monthly 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 mission.
"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."
He 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 roof.
"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."
500th piece
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 information exchanges.
"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."
He 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.
Wang loves 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."
For more information, go to Wang Jianshuo's blog at