Archive for March, 2010
On March 10 (2009) Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying “something will happen soon” with respect to their presence in China. China today warned that Google must operate within their laws.
—the U.S. Internet company “will have to bear the consequences” if it follows through on its pledge to stop censoring its Chinese search site. [WSJ article]
Why is it that we in the “West” hear this statement so differently from the Chinese?
—You are free to say anything you want (in China) as long as it’s legal. [Sky paraphrases what they’ve said]
To give you a benchmark, in China it is illegal to have a photo of the Dalai Lama because he is called a subversive (splittist). In Costa Rica it has been illegal to propose changing the constitution. In the US (and many other countries) it is legal to propose changing the constitution, but illegal to attempt to change it by force or violence. In other words, in some countries it’s illegal to even talk about certain kinds of change…and therefore real and full free speech is impossible. There’s always a limit—it’s just quite variable and we have to work to make or keep it reasonable.
Throw away the image of an “army of Chinese hackers” goose-stepping in straight ranks and hell-bent on hacking anyone who stands in their way. Instead, substitute an image more like the wild, wild West with gunslingers taking the law into their own hands, bullying, competing, winning and defending their territories. And the Sheriff is nowhere in sight. This isn’t something that anybody’s going to get under control any time soon.
The loose end this article, China’s Hacker Army, in Foreign Policy (March 3, 2009) leaves open is that since the Chinese government isn’t really controlling and coordinating the hacking, there’s something else going on that we don’t understand yet. Is someone paying for the spoils the hackers bring back from their quests? Are they doing this for fame, not fortune? Is it perhaps free-enterprise with the goods being sold to the highest bidder?
”There are many actors, some directed by the government and others tolerated by it…”
“But the fact that these hackers’ interests overlap with Chinese policy does not mean they are working on behalf of Beijing, and indeed many of their activities suggest no government interference at all.” … “An unwritten rule holds that freelance hackers are left alone as long as they target foreign sites and companies. Once they go after information inside China, the government cracks down. For a hacker interested in self-preservation, the choice is clear.”
“Ultimately, a loose connection between Beijing intelligence operatives and patriotic hackers is more troubling than a strong one. Governments operate under constraints. Gangs of young men — as the United States has learned the hard way — don’t.”
Howard Rheingold has a series of videos describing how journalists (particularly) can use online tools to create their own radars (seek out information), filters (remove the crap), and dashboards (display the information). You can see lots of other video on his video blog.
I have thought recently about writing an online book (downloadable) or even a printable book about the “plumbing” that allows bloggers to integrate lots of sources into their blogs—because most bloggers are not really technologists and it’s hard to make some of these software tools work correctly. My thought was to connect the dots and come up with a Give your blog a shot of steroids “book” that would be really useful to non-tech-savvy bloggers. When am I going to do that?