It’s a well-known truism that the internet in China is lousy. But business has to be done and file transfers have to be made. New media artists in particular, who can work with large complex files, would be at a loss if they relied on Western sites like YouSendIt (blocked), DropBox (blocked) and even Skype (routed through servers outside China). Any file over 50 MB can literally take hours to download from the web, if not longer. What’s a file-heavy new media artist or denizen to do? Enter Tencent QQ, China’s top instant messaging system.
Is it time for the Western art world to join Chinese social media? That depends on your goals. “I don’t see any reason for anyone not directly involved in the Beijing/Shanghai art world to be on Weibo,” argued Robin Peckham. “It’s more about back-and-forth in-scene and doesn’t have much application in terms of PR and such, at least on the small scale of galleries and organizations.” Indeed, Chinese sites like Weibo and Douban, even as they gain more attention from the West, remain predominantly Chinese in both language and user base.