Comments on: China’s newest export: Internet censorship Fri, 31 Jul 2015 03:37:49 +0000 hourly 1 By: paintcan Tue, 22 Nov 2011 08:34:28 +0000 Here’s something more to the point. The Librarians of any municipal library are the censors and filters of their holdings and there is seldom any complaint from anyone that they exert quality control. They filter out fakes, scams, and garbage. Sometimes they can go too far and start filtering out books they find objectionable of that some patron may find objectionable. And they are very like ODC description of Google in that they will tend to stock the books most in demand. They always have limited shelf space.

Reuters allows users to report abuse, as you know. A few of my early posts were pulled and I never knew why. They weren’t obscene or off topic and didn’t violate their rules as far as I could tell. But someone may not have liked what I had to say. That was a form of petty, vote-of-one censorship, as far as I know.

Another thing Librarians can do – and I know this from personal experience – is to cull valuable or rare books when they notice them. I have seen this happen twice. Once at a university library where an antique copy of a famous French architectural book vanished and the librarian (the same man who was there when I first saw the set (with Louis XV’s imprimatur) swore he had never seen it. It happened again in the small town I live in now where a copy of “Twilight in the Forbidden City” by RF Johnston (the movie had come out) disappeared about a year after I first noticed it. The librarian also didn’t remember seeing it.

The Google search that ODC mentions – not the only search engine but the most aggressive (I am more or less self taught on the computer I have now and the Google search engine found me before I even knew it existed) always seems to find hundreds of thousands of entries. But years ago when I first got my computer, I once tried to see what pages hundreds of entries later actually contained. I found that most of them were repetitive of the first 10 to 20 pages of entries. In a way – it’s a waste of time to bother to list them. I also suspect that paid sites – or rather higher cost sites will get more traffic than less expensive web hosting sites.

When I listed my own website for my small business, I was asked to pay more for more aggressive placement. I declined because I didn’t understand much about the services and didn’t trust that the fee actually bought more exposure. A Google search couldn’t find the title pages of my web site even when I put every key word I had used for it. None of the search engines may be as immune to “bribery” as they seem. The marketing of net access is a black box to most users. The consumer of Internet content receives zero assurances about almost anything on it.

I also resent the way tool bars will attempt to take over my home page and I am not always adept at stopping them. They can be clever and sneaky. The Internet is somewhat hazardous. Pop up ads, spam, etc. can be dealt with and there are free anti-virus programs etc. that seem to work fine. I do everything I can with free-ware and seldom use paid for services or I wouldn’t bother with the machine at all. It could be come a very expensive appliance and so many of the protective services could be scams themselves.

There is a world of difference between quality control and censorship but the discussion is not making that distinction.

By: OneOfTheSheep Mon, 21 Nov 2011 22:03:35 +0000 @odc,

I’m impressed! And I have to agree essentially with all that you say. My admittedly “harsh” response to paintcan arose out of the continuing clash between our fundamentally different perceived “realities”.

He and I have an obligation to remain more “on topic” in each thread and I shall strive to do better. Perhaps the problem is lack of respect. At seventy plus years I have come to see the world as terra firma…not entirely predictable, but mostly so.

Paintcan sees truth itself as having no identity or relevance over any other information. That makes a debate over values like debating jello because his positions seem those of one who cannot “see”, and his thought pattern as if darts thrown by one similarly sightless. I agree that this is quickly clear to the discerning reader, and my arguments are undoubtedly as mysterious to those whose mind and perspective parallel paintcan’s.

Your marvelous description of the “necessary” impersonal censorship by the “organic” algorithms of Google as helping the researcher in this country is obviously quite different from the reality of Google for the researcher in China. A good lesson for those in both countries. Thank you!

I shall endeavor to ignore paintcan henceforth except to such degree as he makes some point worth refuting. We all tend to think that a majority think as WE do, and I admit to a certain apprehension when I contemplate the possibility someday of a majority of “paintcan-mentality voters”. But maybe that’s what we already have…sigh.

I enjoyed and appreciate the clarity and depth of your comments, and hope you will be more active posting as time passes.

By: SinoKat Mon, 21 Nov 2011 13:40:01 +0000 The U.S. should prohibit cyber-technology companies from developing or manufacturing products in China. China is using that technology to suppress its population, and to hack-attack the United States. We should also prohibit the exporting of surveillance technology and training to China and other authoritarian states.

By: forzapista Mon, 21 Nov 2011 12:10:51 +0000 “That’s just not my job to determine who’s a bad country and who’s a good country,” he told the reporter. “We’re a for-profit company. Our business is bringing governments together who want to buy this technology.”

Exactly the argument used by German companies who supplied the NAZI death camps during/after WW II. Was not their “job” to be concerned with how their products were used.

By: tmc Mon, 21 Nov 2011 11:15:43 +0000 Very well put @paintcan. Also a very good description of OOTS. I hope you two work it out though as I like to see his opinion too. I also believe the “truth” is in the eye of the beholder. Five people can stand right next to each other and watch a event happed, then five years later each one of them will have a different “truth” about what they saw and why. But that’s a whole other topic. This piece was on censorship.

By: Haaaaaa Mon, 21 Nov 2011 04:37:09 +0000 Obviously…. As chinese citizens do we’ll simply reroute our IPs to use what we want anyway….

By: mgunn Sun, 20 Nov 2011 07:27:25 +0000 The title is a sensationalistic misnomer and fuels blaming others (china) when others including ourselves are actually spontaneously and even exporting the technology, not the chinese. The chinese aren’t preaching their model to go elsewhere, and aren’t exporting the technique or the technology. Our own censorship is our own doing as is the desire and the technology and there’s no need to title this as china’s newest export.

By: odc Sat, 19 Nov 2011 17:38:16 +0000 Perhaps this is analogizing too far, but the discourse between paintcan and oneofthesheep is interesting in light of the topic of censorship.

While doubtless your philosophies are more expansive and nuanced than my interpretation of them, I have to shrink them down somewhat to make my point.

OOTS seems to advocate only the expression of “truth.” Fully-formed and internally consistent observations are the ones worth sharing, for him.

For paintcan, this seems to be offensive to his decision regarding how he chooses to participate in the internet. Each have relevant objections.

The internet in its current form allows us and prompts us to choose our news sources. By tracking our information and displaying links that fit the algorithm of what we have observed in the past, or by returning to one or two sites where we frequently gather news, we can view one side of a dodecahedron, while in our ignorance we think we are viewing all the sides. I can offer few solutions to this, but OOTS’ approach is surely heavy-handed.

OOTS has a justifiable concern: the viewing of the half-finished ideas of others may lead us astray (sheep metaphor!) But he says paintcan, believes that his/her “own ignorant confusion [is] so worthwhile as to share it even if it is wrong.” If this is true of paintcan, the assertion that this is somehow worthy of social blame is absurd. If what OOTS says is true, what is the point of asking a question in school? What was the point of the first scientist observing phenomena and proclaiming “eureka!” prematurely?

My personal blind-spot that the internet allows me to develop further is a fondness for attempting to solve social problems through economics. One interesting observation is that in densely crowded cities, people are more “productive.” The things we make and do in urban environments have a higher value and we “do” more of them faster.

One hypothesis (OOTS, I apologize) is that this productivity happens because of the stimulation of an environment where artists and financiers (pardon the simplicity) interact, whether purposefully or not. Perhaps, contrary to OOTS’s assertion, half-baked ideas are precisely what encourage and stimulate productive human activity and technological growth.

Asking questions in an environment where the ideas that are closest to “truth” creates pressure to make better ideas. That the best ideas and comments are going to be given better recognition will also stimulate the sort of self-check that OOTS encourages: not asking your question or talking unless what you say has value.

The internet cannot exist without some form of censorship. Hear me out, before knee jerk reactions lead you astray: Google algorithms censor the internet. They lead you to a specific type of page. This is necessary. Otherwise, I would have to try random http entries, in the hope that I would stumble upon something. Google allows me to make an attempt at choosing my way in the internet, but it’s view of the “best” page for my search is still the “Google” view. “Censorship” must exist in some form for the internet to be useful.

But the censorship we largely have in America right now is one governed by “people.” Google’s algorithm doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Last I heard, one factor that determines whether page A is relevant is how many people insert a link to page-A into their webpage. Under these circumstances we have put our trust in the mob of humanity, to insert their hyperlinks to the “best” page.

From an economic analysis, this form of largely organic censorship seems preferable. To impose restrictions on what is currently the most accessible market-place of ideas and creativity will ultimately affect the content, value, and efficiency of the ideas and creativity.

From a personal standpoint, I don’t see how someone expressing a half-baked idea is wrong or harmful to me. I bet the average reader can tell within one to two sentences if a comment is worth reading. My initial interpretation of paintcan was that he was eloquent but fanciful. OOTS wrote well, but on review his forceful, one-sided characterization of paintcan’s post led me to mistrust his judgment.

I am currently in law school. A few of my friends are Chinese, and have completed post-high school education in the US. They are at times amazed and critical that our country is run by a “mob.” At times, I share their concern. But when I do feel concerned, this encourages me to speak my own perspective in the hopes of educating some, not to suppress the views of others.

Ironically, Chinese disrespect of American intellectual property rights is one of many sources of the SOPA/Protect IP legislation that would place the choice for censorship in the hands of the powerful. I prefer democracy, choice, and the “common law,” through which we enforce our rights against each other, when we so choose.

Apologies that I do not have time to prepare a more internally-cohesive observation . . . my time is limited.

By: gruven137 Sat, 19 Nov 2011 16:31:59 +0000 Sorry, but the cat is already out of the bag.

With the advent of peer-to-peer networks, someone trying to censor the whole internet would be like trying to take some pee out of a swimming pool. You have to pull the plug and drain the whole thing.

As OneOfTheSheep said, truth is a constant that never changes, which means it’s timeless, so it doesn’t matter what “vehicle” is used to communicate it.

Thanks to the internet, there are now more people than ever before who are awake, and armed with the truth, and are now taking it to the streets.

So again, the proverbial cat (truth) is already out of the bag.

By: paintcan Sat, 19 Nov 2011 14:55:25 +0000 It’s my hobby – there are no recognizable rules for posting comments. There is no apparent etiquette. There are many repeat offenders.

I consider my comments creative writing exercises and am surprised people read them. I’m also remote from more active population centers. It’s a hobby.

I think it is obvious that I don’t think censorship is acceptable but I also think the information age brings its own curse. It is shocking to me to hear people 30 years younger speaking a patois I can’t understand. Although they are talking in English and saying things with very common words, they are so disconnected with how I’ve been speaking all my life that I have no idea sometimes what they are talking about. They not only have to adjust their vocabulary but the syntax to talk to me. It is part technical and part cultural vocabulary and impossible for me to understand. I imagine their children will be less understandable to me in another decade, and it does not seem to be due to my own decay but the fact that their lives and environment are so different from anything I ever knew. People are so enormously programmed by popular media, they may not recognize how the “facts” of their world are so very different from mine. We actually live in two different informational worlds and theirs is far more electronically connected. I don’t even get normal digital TV and seldom listen to the radio.

I realize this is not a direct comment on censorship but just a glimpse of the potential changes the language itself may undergo in a far shorter time than it ever happened in the past.

Oneofthesheep (definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing) has criticized me before and he doesn’t bother me severely. I know I don’t like the SOB. I think he’s a smug, condescending bastard. He despises “inferiors”. He has said that he thinks most of the developing world is filled with inferior beings. Whatever truth he thinks he holds in self-serving, self-inflating and dangerous. I’m sure his core values are more evident to him than they are to readers and that he is a legend in his own mind. He obviously has a huge sense of entitlement. The most dangerous people in the world are always those who think they know the truth. Defining THE TRUTH is the big hurdle. I tend to default to the few physical or scientific principals I understand. But to be sure, depth of knowledge is better than breadth. Most people in social situations aren’t interested in depth but I am frequently reminded that I am too serious or too “deep”. It has very limited practical application outside the field that wants the depth.

The world is stuffed with people like him. They will kill each other off and take a lot of others with them. He seems to have a huge appetite for war. But I think he’s too old to go himself, if he ever did? And the “truth” he thinks he understands doesn’t get any clearer for all the dust the commotion raises. The last ten years has been the ruthless forcing of core beliefs and the fear of forced conversion on all sides. There is a core religious attitude in my attitude. But it isn’t likely to satisfy the doctrinaire.

Oneofthesheep’s truth’s will take a lot of captives (If he could make a living out of them) and leave a lot of corpses. He knows it’s good for business or seems to want to believe it is. And he’s the kind of man who doesn’t care how many victims he creates as long as his precious hide is intact. Read some of his other comments.

What I also suspect about OOTS is that he is gung how for support for his dreams of aggression or victory but would be very stinting about the rewards for participation. He would certainly want to control the distribution. He would be a USER and most certainly an exploiter.

He says he sold hospital equipment to the Shah of Iran. I have been an Architectural Model maker for the last 30 years and have degrees in architecture. He had bigger customers and made a hell of a lot more money most likely. But it burns my biscuits to think a guy like him thinks someone like me is expendable.

@johnhuetteman – what was the point of your comment? What did it have to do about censorship?