Friday, July 22, 2005


Anne Applebaum is on Washington Journal this morning talking about a column she wrote recently about how search engine filters and other technologies are adapted for the Chinese market. The goal of the Chinese government is to tap into the economic power associated with Internet use, but not allow Chinese netizens to use words like "democracy." Yahoo, Microsoft, and Cisco are among their co-conspirators. As Buckley and I opined a while ago, words exist to meet a felt need among their users. So, my prediction is that Chinese bloggers will develop a bunch of alternate words (D3m0cr@cy?) for those banned by their government, and that we will see a bunch of smaller indie search engines slip through the techno-censors. Disclaimer: I am not entirely clear on how Chinese characters are used as a means to search, but I think the felt-need principle is the same -- English can't be the only language with euphemisms. Here is a helpful article from the Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association on how Google works in Chinese.

I am optimistic that China will move away from communism in my lifetime (not anytime soon, of course), in part due to the spillage of ideas through the Internet. The Chinese government has no realistic choice but to encourage the growth of the phenomenon that IMHO will eventually aid in their downfall. (I know, I say "phenomenon" a lot. I haven't had a felt need for an alternative phrase.)


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