The value of any blog often lies in the comments available at the end of each posting. It is the interaction between blog author and readers in the form of reader comments that amplifies and clarifies the author's ideas expressed in the blog posting.
The posting below on "A Rice Cracker?" is a prime example. Click on the Comments button at the bottom of the posting and you will find 13 comments that offer far more than than the original transfer of ideas I expressed in the posting itself. Many of these commenters have much more developed ideas than I have about this subject, and many of them write much better than I do.
This is why I love writing and reading blogs so much -- I especially respect and enjoy good writing and insightful ideas, even though I struggle at both myself.
For a moment in time here online, I have met some new friends with ideas to compare with mine. Even though we may not meet again online for a long time, they have helped me to clarify my ideas, and I have learned a little bit about them, although it is such a small sampling that there is no way to picture these new friends accurately at all. It helps to point the way, though, to their blogs where a better but still fuzzy picture begins to emerge about a person.
As more and more foreigners (both tourists and expats) flood into and multiply in Viet Nam over the next few years, these topics will become even more important. Many of these new foreigners will be insensitive to the Vietnamese society and people, which will lead to misunderstandings and resentments. Therefore discussions like this might help a little bit in providing resources to tourists and expats as they prepare to travel through or live and work in Viet Nam. Mark just published an article on the Harvard Law School blog Global Voices (Vietnam page) that summarized for us the sensitivity and humility foreigners bloggers should consider in observing and writing about Vietnamese life.
I give thanks to Mark for writing his article and for him and all of the commenters on my posting below for enriching our understanding of these ideas and for the beauty and intelligence of their writing.