I have a friend who thinks the internet is “creepy”. The other day she said: "Have you heard
of MySpace?! You can make this page! And have 'friends'! And people are, like, meeting
each other! From their MySpace pages!" And I'm all, "Yes, welcome
to the Internet."
I see her point. And, in all honesty, if the only stuff I saw online were
MySpace pages, I might think the internet was a little creepy too. Instead I
said, gently and with heaps of understanding, “But there’s a lot of really cool stuff too.” I did not say, “LIKE MY BLOG” because this
particular friend refers to this website as “that thing you have on the
internet.” Baby steps, people, baby steps.
She looked at me like “WhatEVER” and changed the subject. I attempted to
mention a few of my favorite websites, super talented bloggers and the amazing service
that is Television Without Pity, but she wasn’t interested and, I have to say, I
might have cried a little bit.
Because, you guys, I heart the internet. Sure, it’s got its creepy parts,
but there is some crazy cool stuff out there and I get to experience it all
with just a few little mouse clicks. THAT is awesome. And I don’t need to
convince YOU, you blog-readers (who are surely super talented yourselves
publishing your OWN blogs and why haven’t you told me about them? Hmm?)
Possibly my favorite thing about the internet, and possibly why I am so
interested in learning HTML lately, is that ANYONE can publish ANYTHING. Just
think- before I started up my Typepad account, the world went without my weekly
rants against the universe and sentimental emo crap and how, HOW, I ask, did
the world manage? Granted, those MySpace pages (as well as this very website)
aren’t going to be honored any great literary awards, but I really think this
self-publishing thing is good. Like, good
good. People are connecting with other people, most of them people they will
never meet, and sharing information and stories and experiences and this is Bringing
The World Together all shiny happy people-like. I LOVE IT. We are all holding
hands via fiberoptics.
What pissed me off to absolutely no end was finding out I couldn’t view my
Typepad site in
I could manage it and upload new posts, but I couldn’t access my site. I couldn’t
give the URL to Blondie, or to our students to give them another way to keep in
touch with me, because they’d only get a little error message that said: “We’re
sorry! The big fat meanies who run our glorious country have decided you
shouldn’t be reading whatever this crazy foreigner is saying about us on her
website! Too bad for you! Let us redirect you to a government-approved column
about how disappointed Yao Ming is in his American teammates!”
So. When I read this, it was upsetting.
"MSN is committed to ensuring that products and services comply with
global and local laws, norms and industry practices. Most countries have laws
and practices that require companies providing online services to make the
Internet safe for local users. Occasionally, as in
China, local laws and practices
require consideration of unique elements," the representative said.
Questions still remain over why a site believed to be hosted in the
has to comply with Chinese law. Microsoft responded to requests for more
information on this issue by stating that "Microsoft is a multinational
business and, as such, needs to manage the reality of operating in countries
around the world."
But it’s no surprise, really. Everyone knows Microsoft wants it’s fingers in
every available pie. And I wasn’t such a Microsoft fan to begin with. (Have you
But now, Google, my beloved Google, maker of the
how-in-the-world-did-I-search-before-you-existed Google Toolbar, is complying
Until now, Google
has held out from doing a deal in China, while rivals Yahoo! and Microsoft,
owner of MSN Search, have shown a willingness to compromise with the
authorities. Last year Yahoo! provided information that helped to jail a
dissident for ten years, after he used a Yahoo! e-mail to relay the contents of
a secret government order. In December, Microsoft closed down a political
blogger’s site, arguing that he had failed to comply with local laws.
Apparently it’s because:
Google is simply the latest internet company to conclude that the world’s
most populous country is too important a market to ignore. It has accepted
local censorship requirements that have already been endorsed by both Yahoo!
I'm not very good at writing about anything that is important to anyone
other than me, which is why I'm sort of reluctant to go all ranty crazy person
(Phillip told me yesterday that my blog has multiple personalities) on this
article. I mean, obviously
China is an important market and yes,
some Google is better than no Google at all. I speak as a devout Google
worshipper- seriously. I cannot function without my Google Toolbar.
But NO. No no no. NOT NECESSARY. I am STEAMED.
HERE is Google’s philosophy, summed up in “Ten Things”. Let us note numbers six:
You can make money without doing evil. Google then proceeds to tell us how they’re
not going to bombard us with advertising and pop up ads and if that’s their
definition of evil, they are seriously misguided.
Let us also note number eight: The need for information crosses all borders.
Then they brag about how many languages Google speaks, but not cool Google, not
cool. What does that eighth thing really mean? And if you don’t mean what it
says, you need to change it. Maybe to something like: Even if you don’t speak
English, our search engine will work for you, but only after we conform it to
your government’s approval.
And this completely and totally misleading statement shows itself in number
six’s description: Our users trust Google's
objectivity and no short-term gain could ever justify breaching that trust.
Well. They must be kidding.
You know, Google could have stood up for something great here, but instead they decided the market share was too large to ignore. They could have told the Chinese government to stuff it, that searching for information on Tibet's or Taiwan's independence shouldn't be a crime. If they could stand next to Google, maybe other search engines and internet companies wouldn't be so eager to comply with this kind of censorship. Google is a GIANT; its executives are very wealthy. They could have done something very brave. But they didn't want to ignore the market share. They didn't want the Chinese population to miss out on the best search engine, even a watered down version.
I hate that. It makes me so angry. It makes me desperately thankful that I don't live in China. I am involved in a hell of a lot of things that could get me thrown in jail if I lived in China; my website is just a little piece of that self-expression. And this is why I don't get the people in my country who are flagellating themselves as I speak, bemoaning the soon and certain day when Dick Cheney starts reading all of their personal email. Perhaps I should be more worried about the doomsday that is nigh upon us, but I'm just not. I can't. I think they have succumbed to hysteria. I think they have no perspective. I think they are nuts. I know my government's no angel, but for goodness' sake, people. You talk to me again when Congress, fearing for our national security, blocks access to my personal all-fluff-no-substance website.