Tag Archives: Internet

Sincerity and Honesty: The Only Ways for China to Win

As of late the Internet in China has been severely throttled, and for China watchers this must be nothing new. The things that happened two-and-a-half decades back in the heart of the Chinese capital weren’t “alien invasions”. They were that were destined to happen in China as the country in essence legalised capitalism, despite daily rehashes from Zhongnanhai about its “political brand” of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, and as more officials got rich and corrupt, without caring too much about others. China has a problem.

And the more China cracks down, both offline and online, the more the outside world will look on in astonishment. Turkey and (earlier) Russia tried implementing content controls lately: they bore the brunt of criticism as a result. Even in nations traditionally considered “democratic” — such as Australia — the threat of a “Great Firewall with Australian characteristics” is very real, and it’s not winning Canberra mates both inside the island and in the wider world.

The only way for China to come clean is to be sincere and honest. It also needs a healthy dose of confidence — self-confidence, even — but never that fatal “E” thing (ego). Thankfully, the new leadership selected in late 2012 appear to be comparatively more open than Hu and clan, but even here, we are not seeing enough in the way of sincerity and honesty.

It’s no state secret that the more a country has something to hide, the more efforts are made in covering things up. China apologists might always default to comparing the country with north Korea, where it is said historical literature over three years are locked away (as if there was a problem with official propaganda in the hermit kingdom already!). The way for China to move forward is to improve where it has failed. We do not expect a Xinhua report all of a sudden full of Chinese admissions of shortcomings, but then again, China has done it before: After the death of Mao, Deng managed to “re-evaluate” the dead autocrat and conclude 30% of Mao had “serious errors” (he also negated the whole of the cultural revolution). We aren’t expecting much in the way of groundbreaking announcements, but China can be honest to itself and the wider world, once again, and admit its shortcomings.

No nation on the surface of our planet is perfect. Many people point to Switzerland as the country closest to paradise, but I also see its shortcomings: the hotly-contested and discriminatory minaret ban, and more lately, the imposition of quotas on aliens intending to take up residence in the country. We all make mistakes. More importantly, we all can do better.

I’m waiting for Switzerland to rethink its politically perverted immigration policy.

I’m waiting for China to come clean on what it (“officially”) terms its “historical errors”.

I’m waiting for more egomaniacs on the planet to come out from the cold, admit their shortcomings, and get on with the business — the business of being a better earthling. To oneself, of course, but also to all.

Entering A New Era of Computing

I think I was still a kid when:—

  • computers were reserved for teachers only;
  • only during computer class were students allowed to use them;
  • students used notebooks (the traditional variant) during class;
  • we looked upon those who brought a laptop into class to take notes on as probably someone even more “special” than maybe Kim Jeong-un (who apparently was educated in Switzerland; it doesn’t show, though, as his threat of nukes doesn’t look like a neutral solution!)

OK. I digress — I went a little off on “Li’l Kim”. But still, even in the early 2000s (remember, this is the 21st century!), we used computers in ways that you had to save a file on one computer. And there was just about no way to finish it off on a second without emailing it to you! (Emailing yourself sure sounds weird, but oh well…!)

But then we had this weird thing called MediaWiki (and also WordPress) appearing. Suddenly, you could write stuff, save it as a draft (or as the real thing), and edit it on another machine without anything out of the blue happening. Then we had Dropbox. And now, cloud services, including Apple’s iCloud. Suddenly, we take the ability to start things on one device and to finish it off on another device — snap, just like that — as granted!

On the one hand, our lives have never been as digitised as today. You see it all in 7 year olds on high speed trains in our part of the world, who get busy with Temple Run whilst cruising at 300+ km/h. You see it in Yours Truly, who finished one tad of this article in Room A, and then gets the other part done on the Metro, before assembling it in another place — with probably another device.

We are living in an era of a completely different computing paradigm. Not only has Twitter fragmented information delivered to us, but we are also fragmenting our works. Are what we’re coming out with of a higher quality? Probably not — it’s hard to do a chef d’oeuvre when your mind isn’t exactly in one centralised place at one fixed time. But maybe it is the case, after all — if you suddenly hit upon the ideal blog post whilst commuting on Line 6, you can now finish it off in the office.

For better or for worse, we as computer-ised (let’s face it) humans have changed the ways in which we think, thanks to both the computer and, in particular, the Internet. We don’t even need to look at how different we’ll be by the 22nd century (God save me if I can still be here for this). We’ll look at ourselves in yet again a different computing-related paradigm by the end of this decade alone.

About 10 years ago, I’d have thought a trip to Changsha, South China, by train, would take maybe two or three days. Now, you do that in just about 5-6 hours on a fast train. About a decade back, I thought the Internet was only here to send emails and to do basic web pages where you tooted your horn. I never thought the era of the Internet became that where we are online by default (instead of being offline). Is the future scary? It’s not going to be the same as the past, that’s a given. It’s scary if you see black — and otherwise if you see any other colour.

Especially if you’re an optimist.

Ideally, a digitised one.