Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - Page 9 News List

China’s great firewall metaphor needs a new interpretation

By John Naughton  /  The Guardian, LONDON

In a blogpost about this approach, MacKinnon wrote: “If you approach Internet management in this way, the system has two main roles: Managing water flows and distribution so that everybody who needs some gets some, and managing droughts and floods — which if not managed well will endanger the government’s power. It is a huge complex system with many moving parts ... there is no way a government can have total control over water levels. Depending on the season, you allow water levels in your reservoir to be higher or lower ... but you try to prevent levels from getting above a certain point or below a certain point, and if they do you have to take drastic measures to prevent complete chaos.”

Given that almost all of the ruling Chinese elite are engineers, you can see why this approach would make sense to them. It is both rational and feasible and it provides such an instructive comparison with the British Government Communications Headquarters, whose pet project for hoovering the network is codenamed — wait for it! — “Mastering the Internet.” Interesting metaphor that, eh?

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