No, It Will NOT look like Xintiandi

In the Hutong, ushering in the drywall guys, the electricians, and the painters.
1839 hrs.

As many of you know, I have struggled mightily over the last several years to find a personality and a voice for this blog. Well, I found it, all right.

And that’s the problem.

My original goal with this space was to help identify and correct some of the mistaken thinking about doing business in the media and technology sector in China, something I wind up doing with many of my clients. And I think by identifying some of that misguided thinking, I helped a little bit.

But in the couple of weeks, last weeks, I’ve been increasingly troubled by my own tone, and I spent the past several days rereading the 150-odd posts from the past two years, and really listening to myself talk through this blog.

Apart from discovering I am still far from the kind of writer I want to be, I discovered that my writing persona has become someone I don’t like very much.

The final straw was last Saturday. My rabbi, a Great Soul if there ever was one, came up to me, patted me on his shoulder, and told me he was reading my blog. I froze. And I realized that what was bothering me is that what I have been writing – certainly the way I’ve been writing it – has not been in keeping with the person I’ve been trying to become over the last four years.

Okay, you can stop gagging. I’m finished with the confessional.

Seriously, though, I’ve come to realize that while being Mr. Schadenfreunde here at my desk has been a lot of fun, it’s been more like the fun you have when you’re eating something you’re not supposed to – it’s a guilty pleasure at best, and you know you’re going to pay for it somehow.

This morning, I woke up at 5:30am and realized that while my motives may be good ones, my methods need improvement. As an old chief petty officer once told me “Do you steer a ship by telling the helmsman the 359 courses he shouldn’t take? Of course not. You steer a ship by telling the helm the one direction he should take.”

The sites I find I want to read constantly are the ones that truly serve a need, that offer solutions, that answer a question, consolidate information. That point people in a direction.

The guys at ChinaLawBlog, for example, setting the planet straight on how China’s legal system, such that it is, actually works. Ethan and his partners at ChinaStockBlog, helping punters play China from the safety and comfort of their homes and offices. Jeremy, Dror, and the gang at Danwei, who have provided an unparalleled eye on the media business in China. Danny and his team at ChinaTechNews, still the best single repository of free tech news in China. (Pacific Epoch is very good as well, but they charge and they don’t take my editorials.)

And even sites not focused on China – Tom Barnett , Guy Kawasaki, and Tom Peters, and Merlin Mann at 43 Folders.

And my BlogMentor, Will, over at ImageThief, who provides superbly-written comic relief about China and manages to be funny without being gratuitously caustic.

Taking these people as a general guide, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. It’s time to stop telling people what they shouldn’t do, and catching people making mistakes, and it’s time to start pointing people in the right direction, and catching people and companies doing smart stuff.

So here’s what’s happening.

With the completion of this post, we’re going to shift gears a bit. On Sunday, 7 May, a new site, The Peking Review , will go live. The Peking Review will focus on something I am frequently asked to do (and something I find myself doing even when not asked): recommending resources (books, websites, articles, posts, blogs, movies, television programs, people, services) that will genuinely HELP people figure out how to do business here in China. My role will be to act as a filter, not slamming the “bad” resources, but identifying the good ones and isolating the good that can be pulled out of the others.

Silicon Hutong will continue as an adjunct site to The Peking Review that focuses totally on resources for the technology, media, communications, and entertainment industries.

We’re open for contributors, and if you’re interested, please let me know. I can be reached at siliconhutong(at)mac.com.

I’m grateful to all of you who have been reading this blog. I welcome your comments, and hope you find it’s new form even more worthy of your time and attention.

Best regards,

David