Back in 2008 I added a new feature to Lost Laowai called the “China Blog Network”, with the simple premise of creating a Webring for China blogs.
Membership consistently grew over the next year and a half, but the script that was handling the CBN was beginning to buckle under the pressure. Wanting a more stable environment, as well as a more expansive and expandable set of features, I began work in my free time on migrating the CBN to its own Web site.
And while I am still flattening a few kinks and shooing a couple assiduous gremlins out of the system, I’d like to officially announce the launch of The China Blog Network (dot com).
The focus of the site comes in two parts: the first is to interconnect the plethora of blogs and sites about China, and the second is to aid in the discovery of these blogs.
So, what’s new exactly?
The new CBN features a fully redesigned “widget” for members to embed on their site or blog. Unlike the old fixed-width layout, the new CBN widget is highly-flexible and easily fits into a wide-variety of conditions — from narrow sidebars to larger footer areas.
Here’s Lost Laowai’s widget:
You can see in our sidebar that once placed in a smaller container, the widget resizes automatically.
This was one of the largest reasons I wanted to release the site from the confines of Lost Laowai and the script that was powering it. The old system didn’t really allow for much information to be stored about the sites in the network. The new setup has allowed site profiles to be greatly expanded, and they now include:
- Site name & Description
- Categories and tagging for classifying the site
- Auto-generated Thumbnail
- Plenty of links to get people to the actual site
- Auto-updated most recent posts feed
- A “like” button for users to show their love for the site
- Map-based location information of the site
- Similar sites to help discovering like-topic’d blogs
As with site profiles, user profiles have also greatly been expanded so that users can both share their site(s) with visitors, as well as other information about themselves, links to their social networks, etc.
China Blog Network Interactive Map
Now you can quickly find blogs/sites from a certain area (of China, or anywhere in the world) from the China Blog Network interactive map. Simply click any of the pins on the map to get a brief description of the site and links to its CBN page and the site itself.
CBN China Bloggers Forum
The new CBN also features its own dedicated forum. While it’s pretty quiet at the moment (we are just getting started after all), but the plan is to provide a resource and sounding board for bloggers and site builders focused on China to come together and discuss things. Topics will vary, but should largely deal with everything from the technical side of creating a Web site or setting up a blog to the ever-frustrating task of skirting the GFW.
Frankly, getting the site to this point has been pretty exhausting (in no small part to me now having an adorable additional responsibility) but I do have some additional features planned for the future. What’s more, I’ll be listening intently to the feedback of all CBN users and working hard at implementing all of your suggestions (and fixing the bugs that are sure to be uncovered).