March 24, 2010

Google's China Arc: Short Video Clip from the Epoch

Greetings. I've been taking considerable flak from some quarters, in reaction to my unabashed approval of Google's shutdown of their censored service in China, and my continuing condemnation of Microsoft's apparently enthusiastic willingness to continue censoring for China.

Some readers are questioning my belief that this decision on Google's part was ethically based, not some sort of underhanded attempt to extract itself from its status as a runner-up to Baidu. This despite the fact that various Google execs, including co-founder Sergey Brin, have been making it clear for quite some time that they were not comfortable with the China situation vis-a-vis Google, and that the attempt out outreach via might ultimately prove to be unsuccessful given increasingly heavy-handed actions by Chinese officials.

I've had a very similar perspective on the Google in China situation since day one. I was admittedly quite uncomfortable with the establishment of the censored, but I did understand both sides of the issues involved and how simplistic analysis of the situation was inappropriate -- and I've been saying that all along.

As I was noting this in correspondence, I remembered that I'd discussed this topic briefly in my talk at Google's Santa Monica facility back in January of 2006. In fact -- purely coincidentally -- that presentation took place literally hours after I learned of the launch of -- so the issue was fresh in my mind. I thought it might be interesting to review that talk relative to current events now. I was pleased to find that I can still comfortably stand by what I said at Google that day.

Since I had the video of the talk "in hand" this morning anyway (thanks again to Google for providing it originally) I extracted a very short (four minute) clip where I talked about China and other issues related to technology's impact in the real world. The date was January 24, 2006, in the midst of President George W. Bush's administration, during a seemingly endless series of revelations regarding prisoner abuses, unjustified warrentless wiretaps, and all manner of other controversies.

I've bumped the video up to 720p and added info overlays -- so blame me for any visual artifacts, not Google.

The brief clip is at YouTube as Thoughts on Google and China, etc. from 2006 Talk at Google Santa Monica.

The original video of the entire talk is also available, if you really, seriously have an hour or so to kill.

China has always been an enigma. Relationships between China and the rest of the world have never been simple. I believe that Google's actions to establish -- even though I personally wouldn't have made that choice -- were at least understandable, and arguably justifiable at the time.

And I feel that Google's shuttering of the censored -- a decision with which I wholeheartedly agree -- is an appropriate ending to an experiment that if nothing else, taught us and perhaps the Chinese people as well, a bit more not only about Google per se, but especially about the reality of China's government itself.


Posted by Lauren at March 24, 2010 10:45 PM | Permalink
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