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Blogs & Censorship

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

There is a kerfuffle in Blogsville over censorship in the MSN Spaces available to residents of China.

Let’s make the assumption that without censorship, there would be no MSN Spaces available in China. The assumption seems safe to make, in which case Microsoft is taking the right approach.

I’d like to think that if I was Chinese, and I wrote a blog entry containing the word ‘freedom’, and the site rejected my post for containing ‘forbidden speech’, that my thought process would be the following:

1. The government sucks …
2. … but I’m sure this is easy to work around …
3. … so let me get all my friends blogging, and we can exchange more ideas, and they can get their friends blogging, too….

Having censorship smack you across the fingers with an obvious error message is highly provoking when compared to reading a censored version of the newspaper, and never knowing what lines quietly disappeared. Provocation precipitates change.

Having blogs with censorship is better than having no blogs at all. Blogs facilitate the exchange of ideas. Ideas precipitate change.

One can only hope the Chinese people will one day be able to work outside the confines of censorship, and focus on the important things in life that so consume western culture. You know, like live coverage of the Michael Jackson trial, 24 hour a day sports TV, and keeping the really dirty words off computer screens.