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Mahahaha... yay drama! - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-01-30 20:45
  Subject:   Mahahaha... yay drama!
Public
  Mood:DDDRRRRRRAAAAAAAMA!
petit_baiser just banned me from posting in his LJ, because of things I said here. ;]

FTR, Google did make an incorrect moral decision to help China out with censorship of their net feeds. Although it was certainly a profitable business decision, the fact remains that helping a government censor inconvenient or distasteful information away from its citizens is wrong. Rob's attempting to argue "you hate Google, you hate China, and you hate me, therefore you must be wrong" is terribly unconvincing in light of the actual record of human rights abuses by the Chinese goverment.

I do give Google credit for at least telling people they're censoring, but telling someone that you're holding their head under water doesn't make it any more morally correct to do it. And it is nice to see that Rob is morally consistant, censoring voices he doesn't like, just like his heros in the Chinese government. ;]

Edit: Ahahahaha! And now he just friends only'd the entry because (I guess?) he doesn't want people seeing what I wrote! True colors, yes indeed... well Rob, if you do reply here, I won't ban you or lock your words away - I promise. I haven't done it with other people even though I think they're totally wrong and usually disagree violently with just about everything they say.

Edit2: Some more fuel for this fire. The Wikipedia page on "Don't Be Evil", and a Wired article from way back in 2k3.
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Ashfae
  User: ashfae
  Date: 2006-01-30 21:45 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I'm actually pleased with Google. The Chinese government would never have agreed to anything with them without censorship being involved, and granting access to some information is preferable to none at all. But then, I frankly doubt Google's ability to censor things as much as the government would wish. There's simply too much information out there, officially and unofficially. So I'm glad they'll at least have a presence there finally, even if it's not an unfettered one. I think the Chinese government is going to find the internet too big an entity to control. The levels of censorship and abuse that go on there are terrifying, but from what my housemates used to tell me things are beginning to crumble, finally, at least on the censorship front. Things should be very interesting over there for the next few decades.
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Gam E. Ra
  User: mrotakki
  Date: 2006-01-31 00:17 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
It is interesting, at least in so far as an academic question is concerned, that google supposedly follows the "don't be evil" credo that was outline by the founders of the company. In an interview with Playboy, both men agreed that it was without a doubt against company policy to do anything evil.

But isn't capitulation to censorship evil? It's hard to see which is the worst evil: censorship of information and capitulation to a government that is for the most part ass-backwards in many regards, or the failure to tap into the business opportunities that are available in China today.

For what it is worth, China is attempting to change itself, particulary in the eyes of other countries across the world, but the antiquated idea of censorship of the media and only feeding people "approved" information will only truly die when there is a unilateral change in the thinking of the government down to its oldest members.

I personally believe that there will be no change in Chinese media censorship until a lot of old people in the government are dead. It is a sentiment echoed in several friends that live, have lived, or will live in China - not to metioned people that worked in the Chinese media industry (TV, etc). Perhaps things are starting to crumble, but I do no believe that there is change in China yet. I will acknowledge it when the "change" goes beyond "it's starting to happen" and is firmly in the realm of "that was how it was done in the old days."
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Ashfae
  User: ashfae
  Date: 2006-01-31 11:54 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
See my lower note to mackys about feet and doors. I do think censorship is evil and needs to be abolished, but it's unrealistic to think that it will happen all at once in this case. It'll go a step at a time, and this is a step. I do agree that real change won't happen until there's a generational change as well, but it's coming; the young adults of China today are pretty impressively different from those of a generation before.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 04:58 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I'm all for economic engagement of China. I think that's an absolutely great idea. What I'm not for is the kind of engagement that Google just did, e.g. helping the PRC oppress their own people. Good strategic aim, Google, but exactly the wrong tactics to adopt in order to reach it.
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Mike Agney
  User: magney
  Date: 2006-01-31 05:19 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Well, the only other tactic available is "don't do business in China". Or to generalize, "don't do information services businesses in China". China simply won't let Google, or anyone else, do business on any other terms. Maybe not doing business in China is the only moral option, but it is the only option other than what Google (and Microsoft, and Yahoo) is doing there.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 05:42 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I certainly disagree. Google has a whole array of services BESIDES search that they can deploy in China. Are they less profitable and less able to capture market share? Sure! That's the price you pay for "not being evil." As I said, there's no doubt that censoring was the right *business* decision. But anyone with a brain cell or two to rub together knows that "correct business decision" in no way implies "not evil." One need not look farther than our friendly monopoly in Redmond, who are the most successful software company in the history of the world (literally!), for an example.
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Ashfae
  User: ashfae
  Date: 2006-01-31 11:49 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Whereas I see it as getting a foot in the door, which is preferable to letting the door remain completely closed. Of course having the door open would be the ideal option, but since it's not an option, getting a foot in the door for now is a start.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 20:12 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I just think there are better ways to get the foot in the door.
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Ashfae
  User: ashfae
  Date: 2006-01-31 20:27 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Are you sure the ways you have in mind are feasible?
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 21:23 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Hard for me to make that call with any accuracy. But I think so.
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Alex Belits
  User: abelits
  Date: 2006-01-31 06:13 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
While it's bad, it's not as bad as it looks. Censorship is evil, but so is political activism abroad -- if anyone is going to change Chinese government's policy, it should be Chinese people, not an American company.

I remember the time when USSR had asshole censorship laws, and in the end it didn't matter that much -- people who wanted to find things still could do it without much of an effort, and there was no Google to begin with. The problem was on the other side -- people who wanted to publish their anti-government works were attacked, but this is not what Google can help ot harm anyway.

In a way, censorship ended up working against Communists themselves -- say, if "GULAG Archipelago" was widely published and discussed, many numbers that Solzhenitsyn pulled out of his ass would be easily demonstrated to be wrong, and not taken as truth in the West, yet facts mentioned there would mostly harm people that Communists were sick of already in 60's-70's.

I am more concerned about populations of some countries that are so sheepish that their rulers don't even need censorship to control them.
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Alex Belits
  User: abelits
  Date: 2006-01-31 06:34 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Oh, and about Tiananmen square. While it was horrible and stupid, most of the things that Americans "know" about it beyond the basic "government shot at protesting civilians" fact are heavily distorted and spun to mean something that anyone who was there would see as an insulting distortion. No one in his right mind would defend Chinese government's actions, but turning victims of a tragedy in the "enemy" country into unwilling propaganda soldiers is probably the worst what can be done to their memory after they are killed.

Ironically, to get things that differ from the "official version" just google (yes, this is very, very ironic) for 'tiananmen "hu yaoban"'. But how many Americans know, wtf Hu Yaoban is? (Chinese know).
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 06:59 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Coincidentally, it seems that Hu Yaoban was buddies with Deng Xiaoping, one of the few Chinese government officials that I actually like. Deng unfortunately took the fall for capitalism being far from perfect, but the reforms he introduced to the PRC are significant and I think he has a guaranteed place in China's history one way or another.

In any event, as I wrote in Rob's LJ entry, Tiananmen is not the only example, it is just the most spectacular and bloody of the PRC's crackdowns on people who did not seem to be doing anything wrong. This article from Google's cache says that perhaps the students were not protesting for democracy, but rather protesting against government corruption, and had already begun to leave when the army came to Tiananmen square. Even stranger, then, that the army would turn machine guns on them and kill what even government sources admit was 200 people. (The body count given by the Chinese red cross was 2600, and some unofficial government sources claimed as much as 7000.)

One way or another, a whole lotta people got machine gunned to death that night, and there still doesn't seem to have been any reason for it. I consider the completely unjustified and still unprosecuted killings at Kent State to be a similiar event in the USA.
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Alex Belits
  User: abelits
  Date: 2006-01-31 07:24 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I agree that it's a horrible and stupid thing to do. A similar event in 1905 in Russia triggered an uprising and earned Nikolay II a reputation of the worst (and ultimately made him the last) Czar.

It just bothers me that the fact that it's so horrible is used to promote a completely false image of what both sides were supporting. The idea that the only thing people ever demanded in the rest of the world from their government is to become "free just like US" is the cornerstone of US propaganda, that became even more emphasized when neocons took power.

Considering a rather unhealthy codependence of US and China that takes place now (and will inevitably end at some point with China turning its production capabilities toward internal market), it sounds too much like public opinion preparation to the next step of US economic policy -- international armed extortion and robbery under the guise of liberation.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 08:18 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
"Next step"? I thought that was CURRENT US foreign policy! ;]
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2006-01-31 12:56 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
The current policy is less blatant, it's less of robbery and extortion and more of crookery, corruption and enslavement. And despite many instances of idiotic saber-rattling and invasions, military force is still not nearly as efficient as massive messing with markets and finances.

The problem is, those things aren't going to last forever. I am afraid, it's a plausible scenario that at the last moment before otherwise inevitable crash the government will decide that the only way to have any kind of economy would be to go into a war economy mode and produce some enormous military that can threaten large developed countries and the whole continents of undeveloped ones at once.
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Alex Belits
  User: abelits
  Date: 2006-01-31 12:58 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
That was me -- sorry, didn't notice that my login cookie expired.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 19:58 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Please don't use me as a example of your moderation. You enjoy trolling. I let you troll. It's a character weakness on my part. (To be fair, there are some people who I just enjoy trolling way way to much as well).

Okay, I took your name out of the entry.

As far as China goes, what Google is doing is despicable. It proves one of the long held contention of foreign people that American's are willing to sacrifice everything (and by that, I don't mean pointless trvialities like most Democrats get up in arms about, but real rights, like the freedom of speach, the freedom of religon, the freedom to keep and bear arms) in favor of the almightly dollar.

In truth, I also think some of the problem may come from the system we have for stock ownership. It's explicitly written into the law that any shareholder can sue a corporation they hold stock in if the corp didn't do everything possible to maximize profit. And I think that tends to punish executives who take a long view... or even any view that involves anything more than maximizing profit this quarter. In order to be successful, a business sometimes must take the long view. But now we have laws that make it very risky for them to do that. In a more free market, taking the longer view would be very a rational and prudent move. But if you're an executive for a public company, taking the long view can be quite risky. Though I don't mean to discount the truth of the "people are complete morons for money" principle either.

If I had Google Stock, I would sell it. But principles and money are not always congruent in society. It's more then a American problem. Look at how willing the Europeans are to lift the China arms embargo in exchange for Airbus planes.

I absolutely don't mean to single Google out and say they're the only ones who do this kind of thing. Heck no. Not even close. I'm trying to think of a company that I know of who wouldn't do the same thing if they were in Google's shoes... and I can't think of a single one. I am fairly sure that I personally would have done the same thing. But even that does not make it right. "It's convenient for me just now" is the ultimate moral relativism.

As far as China goes, it's massivly revisionist to write out the Democratic movement. In fact, Tianemen was sparked by a law removing what little Democratic protections the people in China had. Until thoose protections are re-established China should be treated with a weary skeptical eye.

I was just trying to say that no matter whose story you believe, there just wasn't any reason for that massacre. I agree completely about keeping an eye on China.

The rhetoric coming from Chinese leaders (and to be fair, the Russian leaders as well) is getting scarier and scarier. Connect the dots, and I think it's easy enough to see Google playing the same role in China as IBM and Chase did for Germany.

Oof, that's just ugly to think about. Despite my calling them out for this recent mis-step, I really do love Google. I was thinking about it, and I believe that Google makes the internet about twenty times more useful to me. Without Google, I wouldn't find the info that I want probably 19 out of 20 times that I searched for it. With Google, I do find it 19 out of 20 times. Without Google, the web dwindles to something even lesser than a fractured hodge-podge of porn sites.
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Nikkou
  User: jumblies
  Date: 2006-01-31 16:35 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)

Hmmmm.. angry young men. ;)

Sweetie, money makes the world go round. Ideals are for brandishing and posturing. Govts like money, but have to pretend to have teeth to give them face. (There is no way censorship of the internet is going to be exhuastive or complete, all that talk is for show.)

But maybe I should have made an anonymous post, my connection might just mysteriously be extremely patchy for the next few months. ;)
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-01-31 20:10 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Sweetie, money makes the world go round. Ideals are for brandishing and posturing.

Profit motive doesn't bug me; hypocrisy does. If Google hadn't tooted their own horns about "We have a core value of "don't be evil."" and then turned right around and done evil, then I wouldn't be up so bugged out about it. This kind of thing happens all the time, and I know it. But the people doing it don't usually brag about how they're so morally superior.

(There is no way censorship of the internet is going to be exhuastive or complete, all that talk is for show.)

Of course not. Wasn't it John Gilmore who said "The 'Net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it"? But don't you think that makes the principled stand all the more attractive? You can cooperate with evil for little while, until they inevitably fall. Or you can not cooperate with evil for a little while... until they inevitably fall. Seems like a fairly obvious choice to me.

But maybe I should have made an anonymous post, my connection might just mysteriously be extremely patchy for the next few months. ;)

I'd think you're too small a fish for even the most fanatical of censors (that'd be the Singaporian government ;]) to bother with. But I could be wrong, considering what an uproar nekkid b00bieZz pics on a blog caused.
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osmium_ocelot: Rayne dress and blades
  User: osmium_ocelot
  Date: 2006-02-03 01:58 (UTC)
  Subject:   What I don't understand...
Keyword:Rayne dress and blades
...is why anyone is surprised by this.

Google became inherintly evil the moment it had an IPO. At that moment, it became a publicly held company and beholden to the stock holders. Almost all public companies display the classic signs of sociopathy (if you consider the company as individual). No single raindrop ever believes itself to be responsible for the flood. No single investor ever believes they are responsible for the utter lack of morals when pursuing the maximal profit margin at all other costs.

"Don't be evil." was a nice idea. A doomed idea, but nice while it lasted.
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