free html hit counter The Real Irony Here... | John Battelle's Search Blog

The Real Irony Here…

By - January 28, 2006

Conventional…is that Google is, for the first time, being a content editor. I’ve written extensively about how Google, by its very DNA, does not like to be an editor of content. But in China, it’s doing exactly that. (SEW)

Google’s first big editing job? Deciding which sites to exclude because they might offend the Chinese government. There’s still time to pull out, guys. I’ve read your rationalizations, and Uncle Bill’s as well. I don’t buy them. I don’t buy that this is what, in your heart, you believe is right. Sure, I understand the logic. But, well….in your heart, is this what you wanted to do? No? Then why did you do it?

I was having dinner with some dear friends tonight. They asked me why did Google do this? My answer: I think they convinced themselves it was the right thing to do. They thought themselves into it. And deep down, they aren’t sure they did the right thing. At least, that’s what I want to believe. Sure, Microsoft is going to go in. Yahoo and IBM are going to go in. But Google? We thought…well, we thought you were different.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

37 thoughts on “The Real Irony Here…

  1. Sean Paul Neas says:

    John,

    I, like you, feel duped. I think we are all feeling like Oprah does about James Frey. We, led on by journalist who should have dug deeper (I am sorry to say that includes you), were sold a semi-fictional memoir about about Google and its founders. They have now cashed in, like Frey, on our idealist tendency to believe in the better angels of our souls.

    I think you might be on your way to an Oprah moment; you are being far too kind and diplomatic about your response to people who you might have gotten to close to and comfortable with. Even know, in your post, we can see you grappling with deciphering how people you admire so much could act so Gatesian.

    Good luck and remember: DON’T BE EVIL!

    Be Good,

    Seanster

  2. EnergyGuru says:

    The call of money is hard to ignore. Google is now a public company and they have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders. If you bought the stock for $400 then you sure as heck want to make sure Google does whatever it takes to get Chinese users. The only way you can argue that they should not censor their results is if you feel that by doing this Google will turn off a sufficient number or users to offset the new cash gained in China.

    This will be the first of many such dilemmas for Google. Their is a fundamental conflict between doing what’s best for shareholders and what Google would feel is evil.

  3. Tobias says:

    I would think that there are a number of lawyers salivating over Google’s approach to China. Given the prominance of the “don’t be evil” slogan on Google’s investment documents, there could be a good case for securities fraud. They haven’t bothered to change the slogan to “less evil than some others,” and are thus possibly deceiving investors.

  4. Brian Mingus says:

    I don’t think people realize how many human beings there are in China. Take a look at this population based projection [1]. See that big green thing where Russia used to be? That’s China.

    A hard compromise or an exit of the market on principle? It’s not a black and white issue, and the least partial opinion is probably the one sitting in an armchair in the good ol’ US (That’s you and me) where our rights are protected.

    I see it both ways, which leads me to the feeling Google may have made the right decision. It tugs at the heart strings that queries on “human rights” are blocked voluntarily by Google, but the information isn’t there to access in the first place.

    [1] http://www.odt.org/pictureembed.htm

  5. MikeM says:

    Your thoughts sum up the issue nicely John. You have written on Google and the “trust” factor so many times. One thing I like most about Google is the near total automation. To read now they will have some sort of “paid exclusion” in cooperation with a communist government drops them from their exclusive perch. Just a nice search engine now, nothing special and certainly not helmed by hero’s.

  6. Colin says:

    I’m sorry guys, but your expectations are just too high…

    The only type of organization that will ever be able to meet expectations like yours (which I hold as well) will be a 100%-transparent, non-profit, funded by donations…

    The traditional capitalist, corporate model will only take us so far on the web…

    Unless an organization is 100% open source – ie. open access to technology, open accounting, full access to personal records, etc. – it will run into paradoxical situations that it just cannot bypass in a way that is satisfactory to all stakeholders…

    Google may be less evil than its competitors, but the second they adopted a for-profit, capitalist funding model, they prevented themselves from ever being the type of organization that could save the world, so to speak…

    In my opinion, Google’s legacy will be one of assisting those who do finally elevate our species to the next level and set this world straight…

  7. I agree w/ Colin’s post. As I expected, business and market pressures took precedence.

    At the same time, Google, a company that is doing so well, did they really need to submit to such censorship situation? They are (were?) in the position to lead by example, and change the world. But they have chosen to change the world passively, one day at a time (which may be the only way).

    Business is business. Period. If they don’t do this now, get early into the projected huge chinese market, and do it the way the gov. wants, someone else will do it — being that Y! or MSN, or the local chinese search company, which name is now escaping me.

    Do to the nature of Google’s business, which is information (which is different to let’s say, IBM or Motorola), “Do no evil” only applies to geographical areas where freedom of speech is a truism…

    ceo

  8. Eric Anderson says:

    I understand Google’s search results editing–economically and politically. Economically, China is huge, as everyone above states. Politically, showing results that Google explicitly notes are censored should (I think) increase the rate at which Chinese people demand and acquire more freedom. Page and other Googlers made a solid case. However, Google’s editing its old words in its own cache (http://feeds.feedburner.com/InfectiousGreed?m=2059) sets a dangerous, corrupt precedent.

  9. Most of the commentary I’ve read on Google’s censorship sees this as a battle between a naive, do-gooder ethic and the hard truths of the modern business world.

    But Google’s story is so amazing because they’ve bronke the either-or dichotomy. Google proved that a Don’t Be Evil ethic can win in the marketplace.

    Google owes its $130 billion market cap largely to the values that have made Google into a bulletproof brand. Users trust Google, and that trust will be nearly impossible to win back once it is lost.

    As you say, John, “There’s still time to pull out, guys.”

  10. JG says:

    While I mostly agree with the feeling that Google has sold its soul, let’s go with the presumption for the moment that change comes through compromise, that one has to “give a little” in order to “get a little”. Once on the inside, the rationale goes, Google can work to affect positive change from the inside. I’m not arguing for or against this rationale, but again, let’s say for the moment that the argument is valid.

    Certainly Google could have been even less evil and compromising, given this approach!

    For example, when Google censors a web site, the results page contains the disclaimer notice that pages were blocked/removed. Well, instead of just including the notice, why not build those censored results into the organic results, just blackened out? I.e., imagine the following search, and results:

    Search = “tiananmen square”
    1. XXXXXXXXXXXX
    2. History of Tiananmen Square
    3. XXXXXXXXXXXX
    4. XXXXXXXXXXXX
    5. Dancers to perform on Tiananment Square
    6. XXXXXXXXXXXX
    7. XXXXXXXXXXXX
    8. XXXXXXXXXXXX
    etc.

    This way, the Chinese government gets the censorship it wants, but the citizens get to see not only (1) how many results were actually censored, but (2) where in the algorithmically organic results those censored results actually were found. That is and can be very important information. It gives insights into the information that is missing, without actually providing the missing information. It is a way for Google to communicate to its users. And, one can argue, it is a way for Google to not actually -edit- its organic search results. It might not show you the result, but it at least has not edited the organic list. There is a huge difference between the list I present above, and this list, below:

    Search = “tiananmen square”
    1. History of Tiananmen Square
    2. Dancers to perform on Tiananment Square
    etc.

    This latter list gives you no sense of the gaps, no sense of the volume or amount of information that has gone missing.

    So why can’t/doesn’t/won’t Google approach the problem in this manner? If it’s going to compromise itself anyway, by allowing censorship, it could at least do it in a less evil way.

    It may be true that, for some queries, the first 4 pages of organic results are all blacked out. Maybe that’s why Google isn’t doing it this way. But again, if they only would, that would allow citizens to actually know when/how/how much was being censored, and allow them to put pressure on their own government, from within, without Google actually showing any actual censored links.

  11. Joe Hunkins says:

    JG is right on. I don’t think we can expect Google to leave China off the table while MSN and Yahoo go in. But Google (and Yahoo and MSN) need to stick to technology and let China do the censorship. And Google et al need to make that censorship….as inconvenient and transparent as possibly.

    I’d like to see the search players agree to a “censored search protocol” to be offered to China as take it or leave it.

  12. tom says:

    >why not build those censored results into the organic results, just blackened out?

    because they sold for money and are giving a service to chinese government not showing people what they censor or worse that they are censoring!

  13. Tom Olgin says:

    This is why DO NO EVIL is much different than DO THE RIGHT THING. Maybe someday there will be a powerful company that does good, instead of simply trying not to be evil.

  14. Hashim says:

    Google’s move may speed openness in China. Don’t underestimate the resourcefulness of the Chinese people who want to learn about the free world. You can’t block everything….

  15. atul says:

    Guys welcome to the world of google2.0. One moment they stand up to the US Government and the next moment they are spineless against China. Guess now we know who is the real superpower of the world

  16. Pete Nicely says:

    I’m in agreement with Bill Gates on this. Tech companies have to work with China.

    The brillance of the Net is that it cannot not be censored absolutely . An educated Chinese consumer over the next few years will learn to first bypass, then manipulate and finally demand that Google allow all results or avoid them whatsoever.

  17. Pete Nicely says:

    I’m in agreement with Hashim and Bill Gates on this. Tech companies have to work with China for now.

    The brillance of the Net is that it cannot not be censored absolutely . An educated Chinese consumer over the next few years will learn to first bypass, then manipulate and finally demand that Google allow all results or avoid them whatsoever.

  18. Pete Nicely says:

    I’m in agreement with Hashim and Bill Gates on this. Tech companies have to work with China for now.

    The brillance of the Net is that it cannot not be censored absolutely . An educated Chinese consumer over the next few years will learn to first bypass, then manipulate and finally demand that Google allow all results or avoid them whatsoever.

  19. andrew says:

    Just wanted to add, yahoo isn’t in China it’s in Hong Kong. HK is not subject to Chinese law. Making a google in China proper makes little sense becuase you could just set up in Kowloon with 1/2 of the b.s. (China doesn’t allow foriegn owned companies it only allows foriegn companies which have a chinese owner too). Also when yahoo gave away that Chinese journalists address they didn’t have to A. they were in Hong Kong which is outside of Chinese law (the papers in HK lambasted yahoo for giving in to the chinese ruling) B. from what I understand chinese law states that posting libel is illegal, but media firms aren’t actually required to disclose the writers name. Hence there is no law that actually required yahoo to give away the journalist’s name. Lastly, why not just create and market a Chinese search engine and not actually be in China?

  20. andrew says:

    “The brillance of the Net is that it cannot not be censored absolutely . An educated Chinese consumer over the next few years will learn to first bypass, then manipulate and finally demand that Google allow all results or avoid them whatsoever.”

    most Chinese consumers have already figured out how to get around the Chinese firewall. Take a laptop around Shanghai or Beijing and get on any open wi-fi network. They all circumvent the firewall. The Chinese have also estimated that what somone learns online influences 7 people they know, hence you can see that censorship is a big issue for them. Also, I might add that many Chinese iternet users are communicationg with Westeners over message boards (thorn tree has a fairly regular set up of good Chinese posters for instance).

  21. andrew says:

    finally I’d imagine the google China is going to be more heavy on research on than business. I’d imagine the real reason they’re going in is that so many Chinese engineering students are so interested in the internet.

    examples all articles published recently from univ of beijing

    http://eprints.osti.gov/cgi-bin/genresults?qry1657960620.results

    you’ll find a good amount examinging folksonomy networks etc.

  22. Charbax says:

    I have been in North-Eastern city of Shenyang in China for the last more than 3 months, using the available 1mbit/512kbit broadband connection here everyday. It’s about 12$ per month for this ADSL connection, which they set-up for you in a day with a technician to come within an hour and setup your computer if you have trouble (it’s PPPOE).

    I have access Google.com perfectly! Though Google images sometimes does not work, and gmail.com often does not work, but I have no probvlem receiving all my gmails using POP account and Mozilla Thunderbird. Wikipedia and Blogspot are blocked. But all blocked sites are simply the chinese ISP’s DNS filtering a few sites! Nothing so bad about it! And easilly circumvened anonymously by using a http-port proxy server located outside China!

    BitTorrent works great here. Sometimes the bitrate on single-connection file transfers to users outside China is slow, about 5kb/s, thus I simply have to use multiple connection techniques, like BitTorrent, or like splitting a file up, sending with multiple skype file transfer connections and reassembling the file with WinRar. But that is probably because we are so many people in China using the backbone bandwidth at some certain high peak times, the chinese ISP will probably buy more bandwidth and every connection will be faster, and probably quite soon users will get choices for faster than 1mbit/512kbit internet, at least in this city of Shenyang.

    My opinion about Google.cn filtering a few words and sites is simply that the Chinese government want the search results to filter out results, thus not to display Google’s cache of sites which the Government anyways are filtering out on their DNS servers. This is really I think not a big deal, and just a matter of time before the Chinese government will decide to cancel all those meaningless bans.

    I understand the chinese government is scared of certain Blogs and of chinese people mobillizing for somekind of Democracy. I am not certain if the chinese Government is evil or not, but I have a feeling that they are not necessarilly very evil, since in this city of 7 million people there are no beggars or people living in the street. Though many chinese people have very bad and booring jobs, like cleaning the streets in the cold, but every city in America also have it’s % of people with crappy jobs. I understand the chinese government needs to secure and implement the right new laws that will permit a good kind of Democracy to emerge. I understand people here don’t want some group of people like the Geroge Bush group to take over control of the government too quickly!! USA is certainly not a good example of good Democracy. China needs to embrace and develop together with Google the best possible and Web 2.0 kind of systems that will permit Democracy to exist and that it will be infllible for evil people like Bush to somehow trick the electoral process and take control on the government only for private interests push for control over Oil and War.

    I think those Americans think they have freedom of speech, but it’s useless if when you talk nobody listens to you because a certain group of billionnaires control the media and trick the democratic process every 4 years.

  23. MikeM says:

    Spoken like an agent of the Chinese. A shocking response to the issue really.
    btw- did you hear about the dozens shot in Dongzhou?

    Another thing, I’ll take stepping over a homeless guy or two any day to having my news censored.

    You mention you have no access to Blogger. Blogger is the ultimate expression of freedom. You should be offended that Google is so willing to play ball with your government to keep you from it.

  24. Kiam says:

    I work and live in Beijing. I think censorship in China isn’t as big a deal as what many in other countries are led to believe. My personal experience is that the level of political awareness of people in China’s cities feels roughly the same as in the U.S. (which might not be that great :) This is because web site censorship is far from perfect and thinking people do talk openly amongst themselves about the problems that their country faces. To get to blocked sites, such people simply use proxies. Then there are those who are indifferent, just as there are indifferent people in the U.S. (who remain ignorant about things even in a free press environment). The situation is probably different in the countryside, where the level of education is lower, and which I’m not as familiar with.

  25. Tom says:

    What’s Google got do with IT?

    What is it? It, is our fear of China. A fear like that we had of Russia during the cold war. A fear that a war that would measure on the scale of near total annhilation of civilization would break out through unleashed nuclear weapons and war. It’s not really an economic fear. Americans have always been up for that kind of challenge and have always responded appropriately in these battles.

    America won the cold war because of our economic success and private propety rights. Once given the taste of private property ownership; freedom, the genie is out of the bottle. In the case of the Soviet Union the people became aware of what they were missing through communication with those who had seen how Americans were living; nice homes, always plenty to eat as is displayed by the multitude and abundance of choices and supplies of everything from food and medicine to education and employment opportunity to living in large homes with ammenities that Russians could barely dream of.

    It was that information that was getting back to the citizenry of the Soviet Union that made them first question how good their government was for them It takes some time for this taste to whet the appetites of enough of the citizenry of the oppressed peoples, but eventually thier numbers become too powerful a force for their regimes of oppression to stay in power and they are toppled from within.

    We face the same challneges with China today as we did with the Soviet Union. It is not a war that can be fought and won, by either side, through bombs, tanks and guns. No one will win that war and both sides know it. Hence, both sides fight the war on ideals and principles about which society and its citizenry is in the best condition. The weapon of choice is economics.

    So far, China is not losing, but they’re not winning either.

    “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

    The Soviets and East Germans didn’t simply tear down that wall because President Ronald Reagan stood nearby and decreed it so. Intel had as much to do with it as President Reagan did. The microprocessor vaulted us so far ahead of the Soviet Union that they knew they couldn’t keep up. Though Reagan’s timing was perfect as the seeds of freedom had already begun to blossom from an attitude of disdain from their economic circumstance, it was, nevertheless impeccable in it’s timing and psychologically empowering to those on the other side of that wall.

    Today, we have a new Wall, it is often referred to as the Great Chinese Firewall that is a reference to some 30,000 human chinese censors working with a sophisticated computer infrastructure used to filter and censor information that the Chinese govenrment deems offensive and harmful to its oppressive grip on the citizenry. This wall too, needs to be torn down and Google is eventually going to have its Reagan moment. Or rather, hundreds of millions of them that will culminate in the same psychologically empowering declaration as President Reagan did some 20 years ago.

    Google, in opening its China-based Google.cn web site will be displaying on the pages of search results served through that site, disclosure statements that certain search results were removed in order to comply with the Chinese governments censorship policies.

    In effect, with each and every disclosure statement that will be served to users of the censored Google.cn site, it will, over time, culminate in Google having its own Reagan moment. Effectually, Google is saying to every Chinese citizen with each disclosure statement viewed, “Mr. Jiabao, tear down this wall!”

    It can only be our hope as Americans that Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and every other IT company that has had to come to similar arrangements with Chinese Government regulators in order to do business within the mainland to make every effort to keep this in the faces of the citizens of China. Perhaps even those China-based Chinese companies such as Baidu, Sina, Sohu should do the same.

    Google alone won’t topple the Chinese government in its current form, whether Google operates within China or not. That’s not what this post is about. However, in my opinion Google is the first to operate in this manner; making disclosure statements on the search results pages of information not accessible in order to comply with the Chinese government. Others in a position to operate like this should do so as well as will serve to amplify and hasten the message that “Mr Jiabao shoudl tear down that wall!”

    Google is not allowing China-based e-mail or blogging because that would leave them in a similar vulnerable position as Yahoo and Microsoft found themselves in with Yahoo turning over the e-mails of a reporter who was in violation of Chinese law and Microsoft who was forced to shut down a China-based blog of someone who was publishing a blog on MSN.cn that was in violation of China’s censorship laws. Google’s e-mail and blogging for China’s citizens remains on servers outside of mainalnad China and beyond the grasp of the Chinese government as Yahoo and Microsoft’s were not in those cases. Yahoo, MSN and others should do the same. These are the weapons that we have to fight this war with and I’m not saying that Google’s method is the weapon. It is, however a good first step.

    Google is taking a beating over this with the western press, which shouldn’t be too surprising as it has, to many, come in conflict with the Google motto, “Don’t Be Evil” through weighing this too heavily in the short-term as becoming complicit with the oppressive Chinese regime. To me, this seems a rather selfish attitude, though, again this is coming from the western press which prides itself on freedom of speech and zero tolerance for government censorship and, on the one hand so should we all but dissapointment with Google comes through short-term examination of the situation. However, on the other hand, thinking through this long-term and from the perspective of the Chinese people, which, at the end of the day is the primary perspective we should be considering this from and its long-term implications, this is really a great implementation and first step that I hope many other companies in the information dissemination business build upon; millions of voices taking the opportunity to say to the Chinese Government, “…tear down this wall.”

    Just as the microprocessor was one of the key weapons in defeating the Soviet Union and that Wall coming down, so to is the Internet the key weapon of toppling this new Wall. Companies in the IT business, should look to Google and examine their implementation and see if they do the same and perhaps improve upon it.

    Tom

  26. Tom says:

    As is the usual case with me and posts getting long as was the original to this thread I wanted to add more so I’m doing it in a follow up.

    When considering the current state of relations between the Western World and China, too much economic progress has been made to do otherwise at this point. Perhaps what made the Cold War era even more threatening was the level of economic desperation of the Soviet Union, its citizens and leaders alike, as opposed to that of China today and “unease” we have as opposed to living in fear that we did with the former Soviet Union.

    That we should all castigate Google for entering China under China’s terms, yet, allow other western companies of either the IT industry or manufacturing for that matter, to operate there under those rules is both hypocritical, and, carried through to its logical conclusion that therefor everyone should stop operating in China and pull out, and we enforce trade sanctions like those the US has with Cuba and North Korea would put China on a path to being a nation very much like the former Soviet Union, and North Korea today. Make no mistake about it that if we as a people shame Google and others from operating in this manner of implementing continued small steps forward like this or banning them from operating their it will only be a matter of time before the Human Rights and Civil Liberties organizations find a legal footing and precedent to enforce the withdrawal of other Western-lead industries and businesses to pull out of China and sink that country into a land of poverty ruled by despots.

    Imagine a situation like North Korea on the scale of China

    That’s what you’d wind up with if we hadn’t opted for the course of engaging them economically. We all see the marginal freedoms the Chinese people gain year after year through being elevated economically through trade with the Western World. 5 years ago Chinese people couldn’t own property, not even a car. Now they can.

    Just as the seeds of freedom are beginning to blossom it is the next logically step, both in its timing and psychologically to have western information service companies of all kind, Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL to be putting the “tear down the wall” message in front of these people as often as possible.

    It makes no sense to do otherwise and turn the clock back. Google may not be the perfect model but I do believe it’s a positive continuation of the decades of development in relations with China and if other Western companies can improve on it, Google should follow their lead as well.

    Tom

  27. Charbax says:

    MikeM, I’m not an agent. I’m just saying I don’t think it’s a big deal that the chinese government is a bit stupid thinking it should censor a few words on the internet. Bill Clinton recently said on his tour in China that they should stop filtering the internet.

    But anyways, I think this is changing everyday, though I don’t know how quick the chinese government is working concerning the internet. For example a few months ago Wikipedia was not filtered out, but now it is. Blogger is a Bugger that it’s not available on a chinese-controlled DNS server. But as I said, it is very easy for someone who really wants to read and use Blogger.com and Blogspot.com domain to just use a free Proxy server located outside china that one can easilly find on search engines.

    Thus I am sure it won’t take long until China will stop the filtering, and thus it is a positive thing anyways that some of the western media is doing so much out of this. Cause faster chinese broadband, chinese VOD and chinese WiMax will be good for the chinese people. And trying to filter the internet just on the basis of filtering some page that contain certain words is stupid, so depending on the speed of the chinese government to deal with this matter, I’m sure they will soon abandon filtering words, because it is inefficase and just stupid.

  28. Charbax says:

    So yeah, don’t blame Google.cn but rather blame the chinese government for filtering out some words like the name of their famous Beijing square.. That filtering is really plain useless and stupid. It’s just pain in the **s to ask people to use proxies for accessing certain domain names.

    Just like you should go after the Bush administration for trying to read the current interest of the worlds users of Google and you should go after those search engines which gave Bush our usage logs of Search engines. This is so Bush can read our usage of the internet, thus our current thurst for information, thus to target us with the right propaganda, it’s not about protecting children against pornography.

  29. MikeM says:

    Many differences between China today and the Soviet Union of yesterday. The breakdown of the Soviet Union had more to do with countries re-claiming their independence and the fact the Russian government had people standing in line hours a day to get their supply of bread and vodka.
    Reagan was the catalyst, once East Germany bolted there was no stopping the exodus.
    China is different. Everyone is guaranteed a meal and there are few countries within clamoring to break free. Taiwan is “free” now but in mainland China’s eyes it’s not a done deal.
    Tom, ask yourself why the Chinese government wants Google, Yahoo, MSFT etc. plying their trades in their country.
    One guess, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The internet IS the enemy.
    Embrace the internet, pacify the citizenry, use the B2B aspects of it to fuel the economy but filter news and and opposing views.
    It is naive to suggest the internet will fuel unrest and social change in China. The first MeetUp at a noodle bar of freedom minded bloggers will find those in attendance behind bars and there will be no news of the incident.

  30. I see lots of irony here as well. For example, how many folks who are now very angry/dissappointed/dismayed/etc… at Google have chosen to express that on blogs or comments here using Chinese made products (keyboards, monitors, computers, etc…)? Where do you think that money goes?

  31. Joe Hunkins says:

    Props to Charbax for kicking those on the high horses. I’m not as optimistic as you about the future of censorship in China but I’m also tired of hearing how virtuous our model is here with “all the free speech money can buy”.

    Luckily the internet is a far more powerful distributive mechanism than most reckon and the spread of information will flow past most of the roadblocks very quickly.

  32. Kiam says:

    Tom: “What is it? It, is our fear of China. A fear like that we had of Russia during the cold war.” Tom, thank you for pointing this out. Ask yourself where this fear comes from. Now come and live for a while in China and see if you still have any fear of China. I was similarly misled by western media until coming here several years ago, and I was pleasantly surprised. I can only assume you haven’t lived in China because you say “Mr Jiabao” when it should be “Mr Wen”.

    China today is very different from how western propaganda causes westerners to imagine it. The social climate is far from oppressive, and an American friend tells me that he feels safer in a Chinese city than in an American one. Media censorship is of course not that great, and I hope it goes away, but people here know that the media is government controlled and takes everything in the papers with a grain of salt. Compare that with the U.S., where MOST people do NOT know that the media is government-“managed”… (“If all our papers say this about Subject X, it must be true, right?”) Just look at the reams of stereotypes about China that appear in all the above posts. :)

  33. DanielH says:

    China has a very profound history and complex culture, it is always a challenge to really understand China. It becomes more difficult to know China today.

    Some people complain that western media paint China negatively and give westerners wrong impression. Actually, look into many western media and speech from VIPs nowadays, they are very often say good things about China, that’s why so many investors go there and a lot big guys kowtou to Chinese Gov.

    No doubt China has changed a lot. But how this happen? Imagine, you have tens of millions of people who work so hard and much smarter than most U.S. people but just ask for a very small money, and you have tens of foreign investors come in and pour huge money ($60bn a year) to you, will you be able to get buildings, highways, supermarket, houses, and Internet up? Will you see properous cities very soon? That’s for sure, a piece of cake for you!

    So what’s the real issue with China today? Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ! CCP is the real bottleneck with China. CCP’s interest does not always go with Chinese people’s interest. When CCP’s interest does go with Chinese People’s interest — which means maintaining people’s interest will help CCP keep their own interest — we will China is developing in a “good” shape — just like what we see now. Since the economic development helps CCP to maintain their power, so CCP allows some of economic freedom. All the achievement we see is due to CCP’s release of contorl of people, so the credit goes to CCP’s not-doing-something instead of CCP.

    On the CCP’s official website for Police Department, it has a slogan saying “Maintaing CCP’s power in control is the the purpose of our police” (it lists 3 goals, this is the first one). Obviously, CCP’s existense is to maintain its power, and use all the resources, including media, army, police and law systems, now add one more weapon to CCP’s tool list — Google.

    See the real problem with China? — long story short, it is easy to build a “hardware system”, like buildings, roads, houses, but it is very difficult to build a “software system” such as law, freedom of speech/religions, democracy, respect for human rights, fairly justice system, cares for education, retired, laid-offs, health-care…

    Without the “software system”, China is not real stable, and won’t be good for a long run. It is a very dangerous place indeed.

    What outside people see now is the surface “hardware” (economic reform) which CCP is interested by its own. CCP’s own interest does not care about the “software”–in fact, it is against the “software” (political reform) — since the “software system” will make the CCP collapse.

    As a common sense, economic reform should go with political reform. But CCP distorted this model, and the further it goes with economic reform, the more relunctant to the political reform. Westerm capitalists dreamed that their business would help CCP do the political reform. 20 years passed, what we see? not western changed CCP, but CCP changed the western, including turning the “dont be evil” people to be evil now.

    As we can see, in long run, China may be into big tumor. This thing happened in Chinese history again and again. All the achievement you see today may be ruined in a disaster.

    Any reform comes from a pressure. So does CCP. If we don’t give CCP presure, it won’t change. When GOOGLE kowtou to CCP (not China), it gives energy to CCP not to do political reform at all. Google’s excuse for kowtou won’t be rationalized.

    CCP is the real hinder to solve problems in China. Most peole just don’t see this. The surface,windowized prosper should not fool our eyes.

  34. Varun says:

    I myself had mixed views on Google’s actions till I read this post. I had also thought myself into believing that Google’s actions were OK. Now I think otherwise. Thanks.

  35. mylocator said…
    Search is Dead. Location is Everything. Googles Results layouts look like they are from 1996. Get Real. where is the color, logos, something.

    99 percent will never reach the 4th page on a search. So who really cares about billions of pages indexed. Google is boring.

    Today it is all about Location, Location, Location.

    All those algorithms dont mean a thing. Neilson revealed that 50 percent of users are not loyal and use multiple engines. Top 4 major search engines lose 5%search market in 2005. Every year it will be the same due to strategic niche market vertical search engines. MyLocator.com sets the Standard in Location Based Multi-Channel Strategic Marketing. 300 Strategic Locator domains help consumers find what they want in a simple easy to remember uniform manner. Customization and Personalization you cant find anywhere else.

    A simple niche market search engine can run circles around google results with one hand tied behind there back. Imagine have over 300 of MyLocator Strategic Niche Market Search Engines coming at you at one time. (There Here)

  36. “I’ll take stepping over a homeless guy or two any day to having my news censored.” As long as you’re not the homeless guy, I take it. Look, Google isn’t Enron. It’s not Halliburton or even Hill & Knowlton. So why the enormous outcry? I think it’s so fierce partly because it feels so personal. Journalists and bloggers can’t imagine what it’s like to sit inside a sweatshop sewing name-brand jeans with bleeding fingers. But we use Google services every day of the week.

    And so we gnash our teeth, wax indignant and cite Google’s infamous “do no evil” creed in support of our case. But it’s beyond naive for an adult to take that language at face value and believe that anyone or anything outside of Google might be allowed to define its meaning. Some people are shocked, shocked that Google is participating in legal commerce. But that’s the idea, after all.

    You can read more on my blog, if you like. I respect John but I think Google bashers are wrong on this one.

  37. Sheez… I think I’ll start using Yahoo again (and infact, they return a better search results lately).