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Clouds Above China

March 24, 2011

访问. fǎngwèn. access

I have a cousin who is a brother to me.  He is a young and extremely talented software developer who just recently moved to Ljubljana, Slovenia.  And he despises the Microsoft ‘Cloud Commercial Campaign’ for their missrepresentation of what “the cloud” really is.  Its truly amusing to watch him cringe and sigh with frustration as the general public becomes misinformed.

So what does all this have to do with the content of this current post?  Not much really, I just think it’s touching.  I digress.  Yesterday there was a great thread on China Law Blog regarding some of the most recent restrictions to internet access in the republic.  Particularly, the post briefly covers a recent article in the NYT regarding shaky access to google mail.  But the most interesting were the thread of comments that followed the article.  Here are a few excerpts:

—-

G.E. Anderson: “That being said, the internet has now become so embedded in the lives of everyone and so essential to business, that we cannot afford to be without it. Unfortunately, with the direction China is headed, there could someday be two internets, one to be used inside China and another for everywhere else. (I hope it doesn’t come to that!)

“When we foreigners complain about China internet, some people delight in pointing out that China doesn’t need Google and Twitter; it has Baidu and Weibo. This is very true, but increasingly, the Chinese are only having conversations with themselves while the rest of the world gets to know each other. In the long term, this will not serve China’s development very well.”

re: Two Fish – “I don’t think that internet censorship is the main cause of this. It’s mostly a language issues. The important conversations in China take place in Chinese, just like the important conversations in the Middle East take place in Arabic, and the important conversations in Iran take place in Farsi. Language already balkanizes the internet.”

——

Chris: “Chinese internet users are already aware they live in a Balkanized Web environment where so much is inaccessible. They are not impressed. They can accept blocks on porn, or super-sensitive political issues. However, when it’s bread and butter day-to-day services, it rams home the super paranoid state of affairs. It has a deeper impact on Chinese web users judgement of their own environment than you suggest. Within the Great Firewall, services like Sina.com employ over 500 censors in a warehouse in Wuhan to satisise user-generated content (ie Chinese internet user’s Blogs and Micro-Blogs). Weibo messages, SMS messages, Blog postings etc are all subject to random happy, happy cleanups.

“While the Chinese Web inside the Firewall does have some interesting & dynamic content, the lack of clarity on what is permissible stifles so much more potential interesting content. As a result, the Chinese Web is almost overwhelmingly commercially driven and the quality and sophistication of those commercial messages is pretty dreadful.”

“The absense of a robust civil society (even in non-political areas) or robust non-profit sector where non-commercial ‘conversations’ might take place is exaccerbated online. Permissible user-generated content is restricted to happy harmonized areas such as discussions on babies or brands.”

“The effort required to set up a BBS forum is a non-controversial area such as astronomy is so great that enthusiasts have given up.”

—–

Joyce: “The average Chinese is not thinking about political issues. Most people don’t care about the foreign media or broad ideas like censorship or democracy.”

—–

JG: “It’s a recipe that will expedite what they are most afraid of: social instability. They are doing their panicky best to root out and kill the next Mao. It’s their twisted take on the Grand Inquisitor thing all over again. Their security goonishness makes them look quite like their psycho-neighbor, the DPRK, only this time they’re the DPRK w/cash. It is such the wrong road for them to take, but anyone who tells them that ends up in jail. Fear can do crazy things to those who are already quite crazy.”

Dali, Yunnan

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:29 am

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