Technology vs. censorship in China:
My son just brought this article to my attention, A Dirty Pun Tweaks China’s Online Censors
To make a long story short, the grass-mud horse, “a mythical creature whose name, in Chinese, sounds very much like an especially vile obscenity,” has thrown the Chinese censors for a loop, particularly since their habitat is a “desert whose name resembles yet another foul word.”
It has also raised real questions about China’s ability to stanch the flow of information over the Internet — a project on which the Chinese government already has expended untold riches, and written countless software algorithms to weed deviant thought from the world’s largest cyber-community.
In true-to-character Orwellian ways, the Chinese Communist regime refers to censorship at “harmony”:
Censored bloggers often say their posts have been “harmonized” — a term directly derived from President Hu Jintao’s regular exhortations for Chinese citizens to create a harmonious society.
While the government may be pondering how to “harmonize” all mentions of the grass-mud horse,
The Shanghai blogger Uln already has an idea. Blogging tongue in cheek — or perhaps not — he recently suggested that online democracy advocates stop referring to Charter 08 by its name, and instead choose a different moniker. “Wang,” perhaps. Wang is a ubiquitous surname, and weeding out the subversive Wangs from the harmless ones might melt circuits in even the censors’ most powerful computer.
Which brings back memories of working in 1980s New York, when the company decided to go on an austerity budget and not replaced anyone who quit; then the secretary – who was the only person in the unit who could operate the Wang – left. But that’s a story for another day.