China is closing down access to various internet services as they approach they anniversary of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests in 1989. The early report from TechCrunch says that Twitter, Flickr, Bing, Live, Hotmail, Blogger have all been made hard to access via the “Great Firewall” filters. I did notice when in China last year that there are various programs like ‘Great Ladder” that allow people to bypass these filters, but obviously not many are going to have the combination of nerve and savvy to do this.
I believe that China’s censorship policies are probably counterproductive *even to the Chinese Government’s goals* in the long term, and I’d sure like to find a way for the internet community to make this clear to China’s leaders. Ironically China’s leadership has done a remarkable job transitioning away from the bulky, centralized, bureaucratic economy that had been stifling progress for decades. China’s citizens now enjoy a higher level of prosperity and *economic* freedom than they arguably have ever had in history. Much of this prosperity is the result of producing goods for the US market. What exactly does the government think will happen if they allow more open dialog in China? I’d suggest they’ll find this would tend to reduce the tensions created by unhappy citizens rather than increase them. Suppression of dissent in Tibet routinely brings international scorn to China, where a more open dialog will bring praise, respect, and support.
China needs to realize that the world’s fascination and respect for China’s culture and international influence will be enhanced by free speech, not reduced.
TechCrunch UK is reporting on this and I’m looking for more direct information now.
Google Knol, the Googley competition for Wikipedia, was announced with some fanfare and really seemed like a great idea. The ‘knol’ stands for “Knowledge”, and articles are written by people who verify their identities and presumably have some knowledge of the topic. Community ratings are used to filter good from bad knol posts, presumably leaving the best topical coverage at the top of the knol heap.
However as with many Google innovations outside of pure keyword search knol appears to be making gaining little traction with the internet community. I say this because I rarely see the sited linked to or referenced by blogs or websites and also from my own knol page for “Beijing” which as the top “Beijing” and “Beijing China” listing you’d think would have seen fairly big traffic over the past months which included the Beijing Olympics. Yet in about six months that page has only seen 249 total views – that is less than many of my blog posts would see in just a few days here at Joe Duck.
So what’s up with the decisions people make about using one resource over another? Like Wikipedia Google Knol is an excellent resource. Reading my Beijing page, for example, would give you some quick and helpful insights into “must see” attractions there. It’s no travel guide but it would prove a lot more helpful than many sites that outrank it at Google for the term “Beijing”. Google appears to have relegated their own knol listings to obscure rankings – perhaps because linkage is very low given the low use of knol. Like many Google search innovations knol appears bound to the dustbin of obscurity as Wikipedia continues to dominate the rankings for many terms (as they should – it’s generally the best coverage although generally very weak for travel because they fail to capture commercial info adequately).
My simple explanation would be that we are prisoners of habit and have trouble managing the plethora of information resources that lie – literally – at our fingertips. We all have yet to understand much about how the internet works, and how inadequate a picture one gets if they simply stick to a keyword search and hope for the best.
Jin Mao remains one of the top ten tallest buildings in the world but is still dwarfed by the Shanghai World Trade Center with the massive square opening to stabilize the building in high winds. The opening was originally designed as a huge circle but after initial approval of that spectacular design, Chinese officials decided it looked too much like the symbolism of the flag of Japan and insisted on a new design.
Wen Jiabao is the Premier of China, making him one of the most influential international figures of this generation. Today on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS – one of the best shows on TV, we are hearing from Wen Jiabao on several topics of extreme relevance to the global community.
I can’t compliment Zakaria enough for a journalistic style that does two things I’d argue are necessary to get *access to people* while at the same time getting real rather than canned insights. First, he’s polite, which gets access and creates a relaxed atmosphere where real dialog can take place. Second, he asks the *big* questions in a way that brings us real insights into the thinking patterns of the key political and thought leaders he interviews.
Rather than summarize things here I want to link to CNN’s GPS page where I think they will post the interview, because anybody with an interest in where things are going should be paying very close attention.
Much of the current debate in this country about China (as well as many things) takes a sort of cartoon form, where people are stuck on oversimplifying a handful of complex talking points like China’s economic relationship to the USA and China’s Tibet policy (which in my view could largely be solved by shifting treatment of Tibet to an autonomous region like Hong Kong, a relationship that is working fairly well).
Asked about the prevailing economic philosophy who did Wen Jiabao quote? None other than Adam Smith, suggesting that the free hand of capitalism should be balanced by Government regulations to keep things fair and orderly (FYI he’s right that Smith was an advocate of some regulation and application of “morality” to free markets – a historical point often lost in debates here over free market virtues).
What’s Wen Jiabao reading? Stoic Marcus Aurelius apparently is one of his favorite philosophers, a thoughtful but sometimes ruthless Roman emperor who advocated social responsibility and internal progressive social reforms even as he persecuted wars and treated some dissenters ruthlessly.
I’m really tired of people criticizing the technology behind the Olympics coverage, which has been spectacular on almost all fronts given NBC’s unprecedented “all events online” approach.
Sure it’s unfortunate / frustrating to have some events delayed – especially here on West coast, and I’d guess NBC will change some of this for 2012, but the idea, for example, that CNN should not report results without a “spoiler” note is just asking too much.
Meridian Gate guards the Forbidden City and is directly across from Tianenmen Square in the heard of Beijing. Although the gate offers a great view of the square, I’d recommend you go on in to the Forbidden City since packs are not allowed on the gate and it’ll take you some time to check bag, tour the gate, and uncheck your bag.
OK, so I’ve got Gymnastics on the TV and Table Tennis early rounds on the computer. HUGE kudos to NBC and Microsoft for providing such a superb streaming and downloadable video environment – this is definitely NOT your father’s technological Oldsmobile Olympics.
Effective with Beijing we are seeing how powerfully technology can cover major events. In this case the coverage was very expensive, but as these technologies mature and bloggers become more adept at webcasting we can expect a lot of visibility where there was little before.
Erick at TechCrunch has a problem with the coverage and is calling NBC lame, but he’s very wrong about compatibility and lameness. Bob Kostas’ deadpan nonsense notwithstanding, NBC rules.
Wow, when I first read this I thought it was a conspiracy theory but the UK Register report appears true. Some 55 seconds of fireworks during the opening ceremony were computer generated. The fireworks *really did happen* and presumably looked very similar to the clip, but fearing they could not film this in all it’s spectacle NBC spent about a year creating the fake clip.
Of course this would be crazy if the fireworks did NOT happen, but given that they did it clouds the issue of misrepresentation. ie they didn’t do this to “fake us out”, rather to better represent a reality that would have been hard to capture in real time. Still, I don’t like it. When you fake something like this it is incumbent to present it as a simulation or animation. Not doing so raises a lot of credibility questions, which are particularly unsavory for the main reporting agency in the world’s top sporting event.
Sheesh – I was prepared to be very complimentary of NBC ever since I heard their great presentation at CES Las Vegas where they talked about Beijing coverage. C’mon NBC – let’s provide transparency in coverage and distribution and everybody can be happy!