We do our part, but if you’re looking for even more coverage of weird, dark, strange or interesting corners of the Chinese internet, we want to point you to a recently launched project that’ll deliver this to your inbox on a weekly basis: The Magpie Digest. Launched last month by New York-based researcher and writer Christina Xu, the project is a weekly roundup of just such stories, created largely out of Xu’s own desire to subscribe to such a service, but finding none close at hand. Speaking with Radii for our B-side China podcast the other week, she said:
To me, the thing that separates the Chinese internet from the US internet is partially this technical barrier, but a lot of it is actually a cultural barrier, a linguistic barrier, and the time difference… I would really love a service that keeps paying attention to things I want to pay attention to for me, and after it didn’t materialize out of thin air, I decided I have to build this thing.
Xu teamed up with Pheona Chen (“an internet fandom culture genius”) and “global tech ethnographer” Tricia Wang, and the trio has been “taking a look at the Chinese internet every week and picking a topic and writing about it” since mid-November.
From Magpie Digest #1
Their first issue is all about Singles’ Day (a topic we also covered in some depth), issue two is about massive multiplayer online free-for-all PUBG, and their latest issue, released last Thursday, covers Information, Surveillance, and the RYB Incident. Xu plans to keep the flow going on a weekly basis for the time being, so we’re checking our inboxes as we speak for round four of this team’s insightful and incisive commentary on the China-internet happenings of the week.
Subscribe here, and click play on the podcast below to learn more about Christina Xu’s work and net-mediated culture in today’s China: