Archive for March 25th, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Experts on Google’s Withdrawal

It’s a good thing to study Chinese issues – and to learn the Chinese language can be a good thing, too. But there is no need to become that much of an expert that one starts speaking Beijing Newspeak oneself, possibly without even realizing.

This is sort of how Beijing newspeak, acquired by foreigners, would explain internet censorship in China:
It isn’t really that bad. After all, in many cases, you won’t even realize that there is censorship while surfing the internet.

Cool. And in many cases, you won’t even realize if Google gives up your data to American authorities under whatever kind of “war on terror” procedure. Does that mean that we should take this possibility easy? Most Beijing newspeakers would probably advise us to take that issue very seriously.

Wherever the cyber attacks on Google came from, Chinese dissidents found their Gmail accounts hacked. Google co-founder Sergey Brin found that “quite troubling”. There was at least one official request in the past that should have troubled Yahoo as well, around 2003.

Google is just a company – but maybe it has made its recent decisions because they do actually mind their business?  Isn’t it a search engine’s purpose to provide the search results a user is looking for? When that function becomes seriously compromised, it is right to pull the plug. To do so is both justified and practical.

“Do no Evil” is just a slogan. So is “Impossible is Nothing”. Or “Microsoft Works”. Or “Enjoy Coca-Cola”.

Once in a while, “Do no evil” is referred to rather sarcastically in countries other than China, too – for the company’s alleged, apparently undisputed,  intransparent cooperation with American authorities in a “war on terror” framework for example. Frequently,  Google’s commercial use of data is questioned, too.

But when Western analysts, experts etc. start pointing out that Google is no saint, or that Google’s decision to pull the plug in China was based on whatever kind of dirty agenda – undermining Chinese stability or giving up on a Baidu-dominated market, they are missing the point. A company under criticism already has good reasons to show that it takes its tasks  serious.

And privacy? If you care about privacy, don’t bother to open an account with Google. If you aren’t sure that you fully understand their policy, don’t open one with them, either. I for one don’t fully understand Google’s policy, and I  do care about my privacy.

But to adopt Beijing’s approach and consider the end of a “political attack” on Beijing is blindness in action. A lot is being made of the lack of evidence that Google was attacked by Chinese government proxies.

But no evidence has been shown yet that Google was  minding anything but its actual business. There is no reason to buy into CCP conspiracies without good evidence either.

That said, it’s understandable that Beijing can only interpret Google’s move as  a political one. In the eyes of a totalitarian government, everything is political.


Google in the Mirror of Colonial History, March 22, 2010
Hermit: Google is a Political Scam, March 21, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Child on an Ice Floe

From Gerhard Hauptmann‘s The Abridged Account of my Life (Die abgekürzte Chronik meines Lebens, rough translation):

Someday, the boy finds himself in the poor room of a shoemaker who took measurement on him for (custom) shoes several times. The shoemaker is dressed in black and wears a pair of brandnew shoes himself. He made these shoes with his own hands, but hasn’t put them on by himself. The soles are carefully scraped. Strangely, the master craftsman, pomaded, washed, in a white tie and a black suit, socks and new shoes, lies in state. For the first time, the boy sees a dead person in a coffin.

Whenever after he sees the carefully scraped sole of a new shoe, he has to think of the shoemaker, and therefore of a dead person. But for now, he doesn’t think on from here and comes back into a state of unworried cheerfulness. Occasional physical pain can’t change his happy condition.


What does change his condition?

It is, but only for a few hours a time, or even just for the glimpse of a moment, one thought. It is the thought of his uniqueness, and his loneliness. It feels like if despite these many people around him, and those many more living across the globe, he is deserted. It feels like if the world was a drifting ice floe. How could it be a consolation for the individual that many other creatures – animals and people – are with him on the same ice floe, drifting into disaster? Fearful ideas of this kind are fed by cosmic dreams from time to time, sometimes during healthy times, but more often during his child illnesses. He takes whopping visions of terrestrial and astral events with him into daytime.

There are photos of the moon which make the surface of the earth’s huge satellite traceable. (…..) The senses seem to refuse to think of these huge masses as hovering. In his dreams, the boy sees himself as a lost nothing of smallness, attached to this huge planet, rotatingly rushed to the multiple abyss of space.

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