Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Blogosphere Extends Into China

The blogging revolution is spreading to China, according to the New Scientist (The 'blog' revolution sweeps across China" , 24 November 2004). From a start barely over two years ago, the blogosphere in China has grown to include at least 45 large blog-hosting services and two million blogs, or bo ke.

This growth has taken place under the watchful eye of a government that tries to maintain a high degree of control over online information. The most important component of this governmental control is the “Great Firewall”, which "protects the nine gateways connecting China to the global internet" to "prevent surfers in China from accessing 'undesirable' web content." In January 2003, the Chinese government abruptly blocked access, within China, to blogspot.com, ostensibly in response to a the publication of proxy server addresses that could permit users to bypass the Great Firewall. In response to the crackdown, Chinese bloggers started their own blog-hosting services, and Blogcn.com, Blogdriver.com and Blogbus.com were among the first sites to host blogs within the Great Firewall.

Last September, an influential bulletin board, Yitahutu, was closed down by the Chinese net police. The site had more than 300,000 registered users and 700 discussion forums for exchanging opinion and information on politically sensitive topics. After the closure, major university bulletin boards were told to delete any discussion of the event. Nonetheless, the discussion of the shutting down of Yitahutu continued within the blogosphere.

Despite the vigilant efforts of even the most restrictive regimes to contain and control the exchange of ideas, the blogosphere is emerging as a samizdat for the twenty-first century.

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|| headland, 2:54 AM

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