Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

Posts Tagged ‘Tibet

China’s turning off the (You)Tube again

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China has blocked access to YouTube, again – coincident to a denunciation of this video that appears to show the death of a Tibetan protester after a beating by Chinese police last year. This comes a year after a similar shutdown, again related to footage of Tibetan protests.

Given that the video in question has proliferated across multiple sites – and the probable un-blocking that’ll happen soon – there’s the question of why the Chinese government bothers to block YouTube at all. The footage, while brutal, won’t have the strategic consequences of, say, the Abu Ghraib photos:  I’d wager that international hearts-and-minds are resigned to the fact that the occupation of Tibet has been and will likely will continue to be marked by some measure of brutality. 

An article from The Register, dated from last year’s shutdown, offers a better answer:  this may be a means of keeping the lid on internal nationalist sentiment, or at least a means of taking away the tinder. In a year of economic disruption – disruption with profound global interdependencies – there’s danger in letting nationalism run rampant, especially over the echo chambers of the Internet.

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Written by Mark

March 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Technology

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Search in Tibet, before the Internet

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Overheard on NPR yesterday:  this interview with Robert Barnett of Columbia University, discussing Tuesday’s anniversary of 1959’s failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. Among the interesting highlights, Barnett mentions China’s current shutdown of text-messaging in Tibet, due to “maintenance.”

He also talks about China’s past efforts to distribute satellite dishes to nomads, as a means to channel Chinese media into Tibet. Tibetans, in turn, tuned their dishes to Voice of America broadcasts instead. There’s an interesting lesson there, and an optimistic one for those who fear government attempts to push propaganda into cyberspace, like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ efforts to recruit “10,000 bloggers.” I’d guess that when it comes to media technology, even the old-school stuff, individuals are often far more active and directed in their consumption than most people credit. Search didn’t begin with Google, and it’s something that seems difficult to control – easy to misdirect, maybe, but control, unlikely.

Written by Mark

March 11, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Technology

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