Mark Pesce on Internet filtering

Photograph of Mark Pesce

My new friend Mark Pesce (pictured) has written Blacklisted: Breaking Senator Conroy’s net censorship for the ABC.

The Web is the ultimate “greased pig” for the world’s governments — they can chase it, and perhaps briefly gain a handhold, but they’re always tossed on their posterior a few moments later. You would think that this lesson would have sunk in — after all the Web has been with us, part of our daily lives, for almost fifteen years. But no: there’s always a bureaucrat, somewhere, who claims: “This time, it’ll work. Really!”

Mark also quotes Wang Guoqing, which I hadn’t gotten around to doing yet:

Last May, Wang Guoqing, Vice Minister of the State Council of Information, the man who oversees the Great Firewall of China, was quoted as saying: “It has been repeatedly proved that information blocking is like walking into a dead end.” In essence, Wang was declaring the failure of the Chinese attempts to filter the Internet; the Chinese are now moving toward a policy, which reminds Chinese netizens that the state is watching them — and that they should surf the web appropriately.

Social pressure (with the threat of criminal prosecution) is taking over from a failed technical strategy. So Conroy is quite correct; Australia isn’t going down the Chinese road — because China has already backed out of this dead end.

A superb piece tying together pretty much all of the threads we’ve been discussing, and much more. Read and enjoy.

Distinctly personal reflections on 2007

Photograph of sunset over Enmore, 31 December 2007

As the sun sets on 2007 — literally, as I took the photo just before I sat down to write — it’s time to reflect on an astounding year. The Snarky Platypus will join ’Pong and me later, and (perhaps) help us put together some predictions for 2008.

This was a watershed year for me, for my household and business, and for Australia. Many of the changes happened late in the year, so we haven’t noticed the effects yet. But as 2008 unfolds I think we’ll look back and see that, yes, 2007 marked a change of direction.

Personally, my understanding of how I fit into my world (and yours) became much clearer.

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