Blog Archives

Chinese Engineering – That Will Save Us

I’m sure you’ve heard of the building in Shanghai that collapsed, as well as a bridge that partially collapsed. Today on the radio they said that the building developer’s license had been expired since 2004. This obviously does nothing to bolster the peoples’ confidence after last year’s Sichuan earthquakes where several schools collapsed (while other buildings still stood) and thousands of children were killed. This tragedy was linked to corruption in the construction and approval processes.

Also from the recent news, the Chinese government wanted special censorship software installed on all computers in their country. Called Green Dam-Youth Escort, the government eventually backed down after its citizens and PC manufacturers protested and after several vulnerabilities were discovered. But it turns out that the company hired by the government the software stole much of the code from a US software developer’s freeware version. Now that US developer is being attacked with custom written malicious code and phishing attacks, tenuously linked to Chinese sources.

When we were in China, Brian and I joked that “Chinese engineering will save us!” But that’s clearly not the case as this past week has shown us. No doubt that these are exceptions to the rule, but they are very public embarrassments for a government which tries to avoid them at all costs.

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Loss Of Hierarchy In The Media

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf
Clay Shirky has put together an excellent presentation about the way that our media has become the opposite of hierarchycholarchy or heterarchy. Or what I have defined as “mass conversation“. And it occurred to me that five years ago I got all my information from either conversation or mass communication. But now it nearly all comes from mass conversation. Blogrolls, RSS feeds, forums and such. Especially for work.

Strange how only a few years can change so much about how you interact with the world. I thought it was especially interesting in Shirky’s talk about how China has changed its interaction. During the Sichuan earthquake last year, there was a massive explosion of this mass conversation. It was nearly uncontrollable until the government had to clamp down because of so many images, stories, videos blaming corrupt officials for the collapse of the schools. Whereas during the last major earthquake, the government refused to admit that one had occurred for nearly three months!