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myBlogS 2009 - First Malaysian blog survey results released

[edit 11/09/09: I just realised that the title of this post is a bit misleading - myBlogS 2009 was not the first Malaysian blog survey, what I meant was that these are the first results of the myBlogS 2009 survey.
Previous surveys have been done by Tan Jun-E and syed syahrul zarizi]

Well I've been kind of busy lately, and finally got round to submitting a paper to a journal (my first one! Wish me luck!) - it's based on the paper on Blogwars and Authenticity that I presented at MSC6 last year.

Anyway, I know a lot of people want to know what the results for the survey are, so I've decided to do it like this:
1) Release the full summarised results for anyone who wants to look at them - download them here.
2) Put up more detailed analysis of different portions as and when I complete them.

The reason I'm doing it this way is because I have no idea when I'll have completed the full analysis of the survey (it was quite long, and there are many angles to it), but at least people can have a look at the overall results.

I'll be happy to respond to any questions and requests for analysis on particular angles. For example, looking at the summarised results you can see that 54.2% of the bloggers that responded were female, and that 51.4% of the respondents are trying to make money from their blog; but you may want to know how many females were trying to make money compared to males. You can't tell that from the summary, but if you ask me I'll do my best to do the analysis for you and then put the results online. I'll also be putting different analyses online as I go forward - the first one will be comparing bloggers' and non-bloggers' views on blogs in general (question 10).

Limitations to the results
As with all social research there are limitations to the conclusions that can be drawn, here are the main ones that I can think of now:
• The survey was in English only - this tends to exclude the non-English language bloggers and readers. As such, it cannot claim to represent Malaysian bloggers as a whole, but a particular portion.
• The sample size is not insignificant, but not very large either. This will possibly induce bias in certain directions - in particular, it is more likely to reflect the kind of blogs I am focusing my research on, and who are more likely to have heard of me. That is, personal/lifestyle blogs.
• In addition, the sample is 'self-selected' - i.e. only people interested enough in the subject matter choose to respond to it, so this induces a bias in favour of a particular type of blogger and/or reader.

Some overall results
The survey was conducted online between March 9 and April 10 2009. 686 started the survey, and 561 completed it, giving a completion rate of 81.2%. Of those who completed it, there were 356 bloggers and 197 non-bloggers (i.e. those who read blogs only).

This is a rough portrait of the average blogger who responded:
The average respondent blogger is a young Malaysian female student, between 18-25 years old, living in KL or Selangor, and of Chinese ethnicity. She has had a blog, in English, for more than two years, updates at least once a week, and has less than 100 unique visitors a day. She is likely to use her real name on her blog, or be identifiable via photos or other information. She has a blog mostly because she likes writing; she wants to keep a track of things she wants to remember; and to keep in touch with friends. Her top three preferred blogging topics are friends, events and travel. She allows unmoderated comments - but will censor comments that are offensive, racially sensitive, make personal attacks or refer to her family.

Making money from her blog is not an important reason for having a blog, but nevertheless she is probably taking advantage of opportunities to make money. In practice she is making less than RM100 a month using Nuffnang, and is not likely to be doing paid advertorials; she has not received any free gifts/tickets/food as a result of her blog and is not likely to have a non-commercial ad or announcement on her blog.

She reads blogs every day, and follows up to ten blogs regularly - she may know her top three bloggers personally, but reads the blogs because they are interesting and/or useful. She will have met some of the bloggers in person, but not too many. She is likely to read the comments in blogs - but not always - and leaves a comment when she has something useful or interesting to add, and may respond to other comments for the same reason.


There's more information than that in the results, particularly about attitudes, but I'll get round to that afterwards.

Compared to most studies of blogs - e.g. Technorati's 'State of the Blogosphere', or Tan & Zawawi's 'Blogging and Democratization in Malaysia, this sample is younger and more female (though the 2006 survey by Microsoft had more female bloggers too). The amount of bloggers with paid advertisements is less than those reported for Asian blogs by Technorati (51.4% and 60% respectively).

As usual, I would more than welcome any comments, suggestions and criticisms. Please feel free to use the comments area below, or to send me an email if you like.

Are humans selfish?


People often disagree with me when I say that most humans want to help others, and will help others, and it ends up being a debate about whether people are basically selfish or not.

There’s a difference between being selfish and self-interested: selfish means – for example – not helping another person when there is little or no cost for you (e.g. not giving one ringgit to someone who clearly needs it, and you can easily spare it); self-interested means not sacrificing yourself – it is not selfish to refuse to give your car to someone, when you need it to get to work and support yourself, for example.

One of the reasons I decided that most people are not selfish is that I used to travel quite a lot, and I used to hitchhike often too. I travelled thousands of kilometres in strangers’ cars, and often they would go out of their way to drop me somewhere convenient for me. In all the places I travelled to, I have always been able to count on someone helping me out if I’m lost, or for some other reason.

OK – you may say that it was only a minority that helped me, and that’s true. But think of this – if everyone was really so selfish, how would societies work at all? We all cooperate willingly with other people every day, and think nothing of it. The idea that if there were nobody to force us to cooperate, under pain of punishment, we would turn around and become crazy beasts just flies in the face of all evidence. Wherever people group together, the first thing they will do is try to find some common means of communication and common standards to operate on. The problem, in my opinion, is that so many people are trained to expect others to make decisions for them, so when they are faced with a situation where there are no clear and obvious rules, they turn to someone to lead them – depending on that individual leader, they may or may not end up acting in violent and unsocial ways.

Anyway, all of this is because I was pointed to this interesting experiment - tweenbots. It sounds like some marketing cartoon for kids, but in fact
Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

Check out tweenbots to see what happened when this was tried in Central Park, New York

Dr Mahathir on blogs and the media in Malaysia

This is an account of the speech by Tun Dr Mahathir at the Bloggers Universe Malaysia 2009 blogmeet, and some thoughts about blogs in Malaysia. It's a bit long, but I thought it worthwhile to recount what he said (about blogs) in some detail.

A very brief historical outline
Love him or hate him, most Malaysians would agree that Tun Dr Mahathir is the single most influential person in twentieth century Malaysia, and he still has enormous stature and influence as we near the end of this first decade of the twenty-first. Educated as a medical doctor, and initially working as a civil servant, he won a parliamentary seat for UMNO (the dominant Malaysian party since Merdeka (Independence)) in 1964. He lost the seat in 1969, and afterwards was sacked from the UMNO Supreme Council for openly criticising the then Prime Minister; he went on to write the controversial book 'The Malay Dilemma', which - although it was banned until 1981 - laid the ideological foundation of the 'New Economic Program', a positive discrimination scheme aimed at reducing poverty and redressing the economic balance between the different ethnic groups in Malaysia. He rejoined UMNO in 1972, and eventually rose to being Deputy Prime Minister in 1978, and PM in 1981. From then on until October 2003, he presided over a period of accelerated development that transformed the country (source: Mahathir bin Mohamad).

In terms of blogging, he has significance in three ways. Laws that restricted the action of the mainstream media (MSM) were passed during his time (namely - the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984), and he was also infamous for closing down newspapers in the Ops Lalang in 1987. He established the principle of no censorship on the Internet in the Communications & Multimedia Act in 1998 (however section 233 of this Act that addresses "Improper use of network facilities or network service" (MSC Malaysia) has recently been invoked to charge some internet users - e.g. here or here). Last but not least, in 2008 he started his own blog - Che Det - which rapidly became the most popular blog in Malaysia, attracting one million visitors in the first month, and almost 19 million in one year.

So, at the BUM 2009 gathering last week, it was as a SoPo blogger that he was asked to attend, and although unfortunately the attendance for the event was a bit disappointing, he was clearly the star attraction. The place filled up for his talk, with many media too.
BUM 2009, Bloggers Universe Malaysia blogmeet with Mahathir bin Mohamad

He spoke for about 30 minutes, then answered questions for about 40 minutes. I must say that he was an impressive public speaker, speaking clearly and with little use of notes, and with a disarming charm that kept the audience interested and occasionally amused.

The speech
He was introduced by Ahirudin Attan @ rocky, ex-editor of the Malay Mail, Protem President of All-Blogs, and President of the National Press Club - and of course a leading blogger himself. He explained that Dr Mahathir's engagement with bloggers went back to 2005, when bloggers were invited to the Perdana Leadership Foundation; this was a time when bloggers were at the margins of the political and media scene in Malaysia, which was similar to Dr Mahathir's situation at the time.

Continue reading "Dr Mahathir on blogs and the media in Malaysia"

Woohoo! My page rank increased :)

OK well the title says it all really - now I have to think of how to fill a whole post :-P Maybe I should just have tweeted it - but it does seem more appropriate to blog about this...

Yesterday, I was looking at a blog and noticed that it had a page rank of 4, and I thought - 'Hey how come he has four when I only have three??'. So I checked my Page Rank (had to go to a website to do it PRChecker.info, as the previous button had stopped working - and the result?

PageRank Checking Icon


Woohoo! Actually I remember once it went up to six for a short while, then dropped again. So maybe that will happen again... hopefully not :S

OK - gotta do some real work now...

Heatiness

Ever since I’ve been in Malaysia, I've heard people talking about foods being 'heaty' – e.g. someone will say 'Don't eat [insert type of food here] when you have the flu because it's heaty', or something like that. Recently, I finally discovered what 'heatiness' really is – I was out in the sun for a bit too long one day, and got some sunburn: then, after a few days, I noticed that I kept feeling a bit uncomfortable - overheated, an unpleasant feeling in my stomach, and a bit tired. But even if I turned the aircon on and had a nap, for example, I still felt too much 'internal heat'. Suddenly it dawned on me - I was suffering from 'heatiness'! (Another symptom was an itchy neck. I didn't connect to it at the time, but later someone told me it was typical of heatiness - apparently you can even end up with boils on the neck).

Anyway, so WW got some herbs from the Chinese herbalist - I boiled it all up and drunk a big glass or two every day for a week or so, and felt better.

Some time before that, I had received a free bottle of Cool Rhino which is meant to be a cooling drink (apparently it's rebranded 'Three Legs Cooling Water'). I was curious about the main ingredients Gypsum fibrosum, and 'calcitum', and on what basis they are meant to be 'cooling'.
Cool Rhino cooling drink with Gypsum fibrosum

Gypsum fibrosum, is known as a 'stone drug' - i.e. it is a mineral (it's also used in building!) which has beneficial health properties. Investigation of the use of minerals in medicine was particularly common amongst Taoist alchemists who sought immortality, and knowledge of its use goes as far back as Ge Hong's (281 -341 AD), book Bao Pu Zi's Inner Treatise ("Discovering Chinese Mineral Drugs")
"Raw gypsum (Gypsum Fibrosum) has been shown to have an antipyretic effect, that is, it can be used to reduce fever. However, pure manufactured gypsum does not display this property. This suggests that the antipyretic effect is produced by one or more of the impurities normally associated with gypsum in its raw state (Guo et al, 1958)." ("Discovering Chinese Mineral Drugs")

In its prepared form it is known as Gypsum Fibrosum Preparata or Duan Shi Gao.


I noticed dosages "9-30 grams, up to 90 grams for very high fever", or "10-50 grams"; in the bottle there is 90mg, so I can't imagine there is much chance of overdosing, even if you take 4 times a day as they recommend.

As study on rats shows that it "can accelerate the formation of collagenoblast and micrangium in wounds, and the proliferation of granulation tissues, thus promoting the skin wounds to healing" (Source) (whatever that means :-S)

Calcitum, or Han Shui Shi, is also apparently good for relieving heat. The recommended dosages are also well above the 45mg in each bottle of Cool Rhino ( "9-30 grams" and "3-10 qian" – 1 'qian' is 5 grams). I think 'calcitum' is basically the same as calcium, which is also a mineral.

Basically – it seems that traditional Chinese medicine does support the use of these ingredients for heatiness, but at much higher doses than there is in Cool Rhino. As for me, unfortunately I did not have it at the time I had heatiness, but I had previously got round to testing it one day when I was feeling hot after working in the garden. It was not chilled, but I can’t say I felt any different… My advice is, if you want relief from heatiness – go to a herbalist and chuck down the bitter stuff!

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Here are some resources on Chinese medicine
The Essentials of Chinese Medicine
• A detailed explanation of different “Herbs that clear Heat”
• What looks like an authoritative Introduction to Chinese Herbology
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