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View Diary: The Next Big Thing (why "all tech, all the time" fails us) (105 comments)

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  •  It's like this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Generally what is blocked:

    A. Chinese language dissident sites. If hosted in China (few) they can be effectively blocked even if accessed by VPN or from outside as they may be blocked at China ISP side.

    B. Chinese language or popular English dissident sites hosted outside China, easily accessed by VPN, no problem for someone who really wants to access.

    C. Black-listed search keywords after one or several links containing the keywords are accessed, i.e., you would connect the first couple of hits but then blocked from others. Again, a VPN solves this. For example, a wiki page, which naturally contains keywords. Of course, this is like a big foam finger saying "Don't Look Here!", so it's quite helpful to gage official opinion, LOL. Wait 15 minutes and click again!

    D. "Seasonal" blocks of hot topics when there would be spikes, e.g., around the anniversary of an event that could inflame. Search Tiananmen in early June and it would be blocked, search in December, maybe not. VPN solves this.

    E. Hot topic blogs hosted in China with trigger keywords, typically after they gain a few thousand hits in a short period. For that reason, such threads usually fill up quickly and then disappear. These are temporary blocks for a few days, after which the keyword would roll-off the auto-block list. For this reason, Chinese typically use homophones or obvious idioms as code that everyone understands, which is common in Chinese culture anyway. Cat and mouse. These are blocked on server side, VPN will not solve it.

    F. Certain foreign sites that may be blocked temporarily if there is a large cluster of hits on a hot keyword topic. VPN will solve it.

    G. Selected posts of very popular/influential public figure bloggers (some with millions of followers) who are often critical of the government on specific issues and tolerated with free-reign, when they cross a line, but these are always thread blocks and usually temporary.

    What is generally not blocked:

    H. Foreign language news sites, and if you go to some sites popular with Chinese such as The Guardian (I'm a subscriber and blog there), The Economist (ditto), NYT, etc., you will find a lot of Chinese bloggers.

    J. Foreign language political sites not focused on Chinese dissidents, e.g., Daily Kos, even when content does hit hot topics. Again, keywords in the links could trigger multiple hits (see C).

    K. Chinese opposition press sites in Chinese or English that know how to write criticism correctly, i.e., putting the criticism in constructive and ideologically acceptable terms. For example, one such site is Caixin (Chinese and English), which daily takes on the government on hot topics, often with quite clever "patriotic" flips that encapsulate the subject/point in terms that are logically correct and defensible leading to suggestions for reform or moral rectitude any reasonable person would agree with. For example, yesterday this hot topic (in English), which is actually quite sensitive, can pass with no problem; note the headline and summary, which itself signals the criticism contained, points a finger at Party corruption and public manipulation . This class of criticism is quite reveling about the mindset of Chinese leaders to tolerate substantial debate 98% on the mark with 2% wiggle-room. I would like to read more such articles in the American media taking on official corruption, wouldn't you?

    NB - One such clever Chinese writer, Mo Yan, just won the Nobel prize. Mo has the formula; he will pull in for awhile.

    L. General interest and topical sites of any type.

    The degree of censorship Westerners assume is simply not the case, but unless you are literate and current in Chinese you'll have to take my word on it. In fact, Chinese blogs are often quite a bit more open then Western ones since they function as a safety valve for our traditionally inhibited public selves, and also because many Chinese are actually quite out-spoken and plain-spoken.

    And so, unlike Western blogs that have a lot of site or self moderation (that is a form of community censorship, including on Daily Kos), Chinese site tend to be a two-position switch with "anything goes" in the on position, and "thread blocked" in the off position.

    What the government aims to do is regulate what is perceived as explicitly anti-government content and what it perceives as content that would ferment mass civic disobedience that would spin out of control at a specific point.

    What is wants to accomplish with the internet is to allow public discourse (which it actually closely monitors and responds to), to allow information exchange, and perhaps most importantly, to provide a public safety valve - which I believe they correctly understand to be the case, since a negative feature of the internet is for people to blow steam and then do nothing. Useful?

    What I think about the wall is it sufficiently porous that most of what people want is either available or can be had with the use of tricks, that it is sufficiently obvious and inconvenient to make users aware of and disdain it's existence (promoting social/political awareness that otherwise might not exist, rather a positive irritant, if you will), is occasionally actually useful when crappy nut case rumors/nonsense infects public discourse (a negative of the internet everywhere) and is gradually going to fade away as the political process opens-up and Chinese leaders become more accustomed to the fact public criticism is healthy and not the end of the world to their hyper-sesitive selves.

    I very seldom use a VPN because it's unnecessary and slows things down.

    I pretty much know what the government knows, what they don't want me to know, and where it is, because proactive usually trumps reactive.

    BTW, although I am a TU with lots of mojo here, I never HR anything because, um, it's a form of censorship and I think it's ridiculous, counter-productive, self-delusional and entirely unnecessary.

    Based on experience, I come to that conclusion.

    But I wonder, what is more dangerous, the obvious censor who's hand you can see, or the man that quietly sits at the back of the room taking notes? Your thoughts?


    (1) To decode the headline and leader for you:

    The Dark Heart of the Bo Xilai Case

    Scandal must serve as reminder that politicians will manipulate public discontent for their own gain, all the while impeding reform

    Black Heart of Bo/Black Heart of Officialdom

    "Dark Heart" being self-serving/duplicitous, the opposite of "Pure Heart" being altruistic/ honest. In Chinese "Pure Heart/Open Mouth" being the traditional idiom of honest & outspoken to the point of foolishness (no filter) and "Dark Heart" or "Old Ginger" being crafty and self-serving.

    The leader refers not just to Bo's manipulation of the public and Party with his "Red" campaign, but also to the manipulation of his case to sway public opinion and the recent exploitation of the Daiyu Islands case to divert public opinion (something the Party did not start this time, but used).

    A few well-chosen words sometimes say more. And Mr Bo's behavior was so obliging, why waste the opportunity? One may suppose there are reasons he has become a public enemy, shouldn't you, Dear Reader, wonder why?

    Maybe reading slowly gives time for reflection!

    Of course, Americans enjoy more freedom of speech than most people, so enjoy it and use it well, OK?

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 05:40:14 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the extremely (0+ / 0-)

      informative reply.

      I was going to give you my first impression after reading it but deleted several paragraphs. What you've given me is going to take a lot more reflection. It deserves more than a rote 'but what about the dissidents' wall of text.

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