Thursday, January 14, 2010

Google ceasing censorship due to Chinese hacking attacks

Google has announced they will cease censoring web search results in Chin. I was just interviewed about this by ABC Sunshine Coast Radio. The reason given by Google to review its business operations in China are sophisticated attacks originating from China attempting to access Gmail accounts of human rights activists. While the Google announcement does not so in plain language, Google is clearly accusing the Chinese government of attacking its systems. Google has about one third of Chinese search revenue and this is a significant market to give up. What might be also significant is the effect on China of the loss of access to Google, if the Chinese government decides to block the site. It will be an interesting economic experiment to see how quickly other companies move in to fill the vacuum and if the lack of Google impedes the Chinese economy.

ps: I had top declare my interest in the radio interview, as I have Google AdSense advertising on my web pages and earn money from them.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

China Eco Expo

The Chinese government is running an International green building & Sustainable Cities Exposition ("China Eco Expo"), June 18-20, 2009 in Beijing. This is sponsored by the PRC Ministry of Construction and includes a Trade show and Conference. If anyone would like to fly me over I would be happy to speak on green ICT and building.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

China's War on Terrorism

War on Terrorism: Counter-insurgency, Politics and Security by Martin I. WayneWith the Beijing Olympics about to open, "China's War on Terrorism: Counter-insurgency, Politics and Security" by Martin I. Wayne (Routledge, 2007) is a timely analysis of the Chinese government's response to Islamic terrorism in northwest China (Xinjiang). While not underplaying problems with the Chinese government's human right record, Wayne has respect for their multi-level response to terrorism. In contrast to the approach of the USA which is to go after high profile terrorists, China has tackled the problem at at all levels, with political and policing measures starting at the grass roots community level. This is a book which should be read by all those interested in dealing with insurgency.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Forbidden City

Cover of the book Forbidden City by Geremie R. Barmé
The book Forbidden City (Wonders of the World) by Geremie R. Barmé (from ANU) is due out 15 May 2008. He was reviewed on ABC Radio on 8 March. I guess his travelogue on will be a little more detailed than my Beijing travelogue. ;-)
Book Description

The Forbidden City (Zijin Cheng) lying at the heart of Beijing formed the hub of the Celestial Empire for five centuries. Over the past century it has led a reduced life as the refuge for a deposed emperor, as well as a heritage museum for monarchist, republican, and socialist citizens, and it has been celebrated and excoriated as a symbol of all that was magnificent and terrible in dynastic China’s legacy.

The Forbidden City’s vermilion walls have fueled literary fantasies that have become an intrinsic part of its disputed and documented history. Mao Zedong even considered razing the entire structure to make way for the buildings of a new socialist China. The fictions surrounding the Forbidden City have also had an international reach, and writers like Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Jorge Luis Borges, and Mervyn Peake have all succumbed to its myths. The politics it enshrined have provided the vocabulary of power that is used in China to the present day, though it is now better known as a film set or the background of displays of opera, rock, and fashion.

Geremie Barmé peels away the veneer of power, secrecy, inscrutability, and passions of imperial China, to provide a new and original history of the culture, politics, and architecture of the Forbidden City. Designed to overawe the visitor with the power of imperial China, the Forbidden City remains one of the true wonders of the world.

About the Author
Geremie R. Barmé is Professor of Pacific and Asian History at The Australian National University.

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674027795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674027794

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

China New Media Conference 2007: Money, Art and Governance

QUT Creative Industries PrecinctThese are some thoughts on the China New Media Conference in Brisbane last week. Items from the event are listed under "China".

The essential point seemed to be that you could do online digital media in China for profit, or artistic purposes, and slip in a little political comment in it, as long as you were careful to self censor.

One theme running through the conference was the effect of the Beijing Olympics on new media. I was with the skeptics on that one. The Olympics is not going to see a blossoming of digital video art on 3G phones and the like.

QUT's Kelvin Grove campus, where the event was held, is most impressive. Having part of the ABC on site (relocated from the abandoned Toowong offices) ads to the media atmosphere. The campus is an interesting combination of education, business and real estate development.

The QUT's digital art gallery I was less impressed with: this is essentially a big white empty building (with as much warmth as the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building) . In place of art, it has images projected on the blank walls. It would have helped if they had thought to install some human comforts, such as a toilet.

Thanks to the Online Opinionites for buying me pizza. There is a discussion of China and democracy running in the OO forum.

ps: What was the Wiki conference some people were at in the same venue?

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

iPhone Smartphone problem for Olympics

On the second day of the China East Asia New Media Conference in Brisbane one of the speakers on a panel before me mentioned the Apple iPhone as an innovative product. Departing from my prepared talk, I pointed out that the Open Moko Neo1973 Smartphone may be more significant. The Neo may be seen as a poor man's iPhone, when in some ways it is more capable.

However, given iPhones are getting attention and may well be the first hand held web device most people see, I thought it was worth preparing a short item on how web pages can be adapted to the iPhone.

If such phones become common by 2008, the organizers of the 2008 Olympics could have a problem. The TV rights have been sold by the IOC. But if thousands of people use video phones to transmit coverage of the events, it would be possible to mashup a reasonable Olympic coverage from them. This would likely be illegal and something the TV companies which have paid billions of dollars for would not be happy about, but which BOCOG could do little about.

Even if this is not feasible for 2008, it is certain for the London 2010 Olympics. This is something the researchers from Westminster University, and other institutions researching for the 2012 Olympic Games in London should look into.

As an example of the type of technology which might be used,Microsoft's Photosynth Technology Preview shows how thousands of photos can be automatically combined to create a high resolution three dimensional image:
Our software takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed three-dimensional space.

With Photosynth you can:

* Walk or fly through a scene to see photos from any angle.
* Seamlessly zoom in or out of a photo whether it's megapixels or gigapixels in size.
* See where pictures were taken in relation to one another.
* Find similar photos to the one you're currently viewing.
* Send a collection - or a particular view of one - to a friend.

From: Introducing Photosynth, Microsoft Live Labs, 2006

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Making money from culture online in China

Brand New China: Advertising, Media, and Commercial Culture by Jing Wang Greetings from the second and last day of the China East Asia New Media Conference in Brisbane. Some highlights:
My last panel session is on at 2:3pm: Web Site for the 2008 Beijing Olympics: Integrating Sport, Money, Phones and Politics.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

China and Australia using New Media for Governance

Terry Flew at the launch of his book Understanding Global MediaGreetings from the Creative Industries Precinct in Brisbane, where the China, East Asia, Media, New Media Conference 2007, just started. About one third of the delegates are from China and I am feeling a little out of my depth, not from the overseas visitors, but the media studies emphasis of the conference. To me the Internet and web are for carrying "stuff" and I worry the stuff gets from author to reader; exactly what the stuff is I don't much care. The other speakers at this conference are vitally interested in the content and its effect on society.

I will be on two panels at the conference. As I am last on each panel, I don't expect I will get to say much, but prepared notes and slides anyway:
  1. "Inventing a New Media for China Beyond the Olympics", 11:25am, 5 July 2007. In this I suggest the Internet and web can be used for a blend of education, media and administration to create consultative government of local communities. This can be applied to an apartment block in China or a remote aboriginal community in Australia.
  2. Web Site for the 2008 Beijing Olympics: Integrating Sport, Money, Phones and Politics, 2:30pm, 6 July 2007. I give a quick rundown of the various web sites created for the Olympics. BOCOG invited me to Beijing to give some advice on the web site in 2003. But I point out that the new Beijing 2008 Olympic Web site does not comply with accessibility standards. As a result it will be more difficult to use, particularly for those using mobile wireless devices and those who have trouble reading the languages provided.
Comments and corrections are welcome.

Also Graham Young, Chief Editor, On Line Opinion, has arranged Pizza tonight for the opinionated (I am on the advisory board for the publication). Contact him for details:

Terry Flew's book Understanding Global Mediaps: Photo is of Terry Flew at the launch of his new book "Understanding Global Media" at the conference.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Sport, Money, Phones and Politics in the Chinese New Media

The program is out for the 2007 China Media Centre Conference in Brisbane, 5 to 6 July. Somehow I ended up on two panels. The extra one is Friday, 6 July: Globalisation, Ideology and Theory, with Lian Zhu (University of Bournemouth, UK), Terry Flew (Queensland University of Technology), Xin Xin (University of Westminster).

I will be talking on:

Web Site for the 2008 Beijing Olympics: Integrating Sport, Money, Phones and Politics

Balancing the competing demands for the 2008 Olympic web site are as delicate as that of any gymnast. China needs to meet the requirements set down by the International Olympic Committee, the needs of internal readers, and the international media. The Sydney games made tentative steps towards a web based Olympic experience, which Athens retreated from. Beijing 2008 will be the first games of the new Web 2.0 era. How are issues such as control of content handled, what role will mobile phone based content have? Tom Worthington will discuss the issues from the point of view of someone involved with the early planning. He was an expert witness in the Australian Human Rights and Equality Commission on a case involving the Sydney 2000 Olympics web site design. He was invited to Beijing help in planning for the Beijing Olympic web site, with Chinese and International Olympic officials.

The other is Thursday on Re-Imagining Global Media, with Terry Flew, John Hartley and Michael Keane from Queensland University of Technology, Anne-Marie Brady (University of Canterbury, NZ), Jack Qiu (Chinese University Hong Kong). I am talking on "Inventing a New Media for China Beyond the Olympics".

It occurs to me that systems for community consultation in indigenous communities in Australia could also be applied in China. A village and a high rise apartment block are both forms of community which need day to day decisions to be made about them. Perhaps the same web based systems could be used in an Australian rural community and a Shanghai apartment block.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Inventing a New Media for China Beyond the Olympics

The 2007 China Media Centre Conference is 5 to 6 July in in Brisbane. I will be speaking on "Inventing a New Media for China Beyond the Olympics":
In the past few years the Internet has gone from being a theoretical idea invented by a few western scientists funded by the US Department of Defence, to an essential part of world commerce and culture. Much of the technological infrastructure of the Internet remains the same even with developments such as Web 2.0 However our methods of work and analysis have yet to catch up. The Web created a new wave of grass roots publishing following on from email. The operation of the web for the Beijing Olympics will be the test case both for China, and all organisation structures. Within the Internet has always been the Trojan horse of grass roots participation; with Web 2.0 this will emerge to will challenge traditional power structures world wide.

Cross-disciplinary analysis is needed to understand the interplay of technology, politics and commerce. Media and cultural researchers need to throw off their arms length analysis and embrace the new media in order to understand it.
In 2003 the Beijing 2008 Olympic Committee invited me over to advise on their web site design. Also some of the students I teach web design and e-commerce to are from China. They will be the ones implementing Internet, web and mobile phone based systems which will be the platform for new media in China. One student just completed a special project to modify the Wikimedia to include advertising.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Standards agreement between China and Australia

Standards AustraliaStandards Australia have signed an agreement with their Chinese equivalent, the Standardization Administration of China:
Standards Australia and China's peak standards development organisation have signed a major international covenant ensuring future standards development in each country will not stand in the way of free trade...

Under the agreement, Australia and China
's peak standards development bodies will:
  • Notify each other of the Standards that may cause significant influences on the trade between both countries;
  • Exchange national Standards catalogues, information and experiences on standardisation;
  • Provide advice on technical regulations;
  • Engage in expert visits and academic exchange;
  • Carry out joint Standards research projects; and
  • Collaborate in dealing with international Standards organisations....
From: New agreement to help Australian business trade with China, Standards Australia MEDIA RELEASE March 22, 2007
SA is a non-for-profit Australian company, while SAC is an agency of the Chinese Government. They represent their respective countries at bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC):
Standardization Administration of the People's Republic of China (SAC) is authorized by the State Council and under the control of AQSIQ to exercise the administrative functions and carry out centralized administration for standardization in China. While relevant competent administrative departments of the State Council shall be assigned the responsibility of managing the work of standardization within their respective professional sectors. The competent administrative bureaus of standardization in the provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, cities and counties shall execute unified administration of the work of standardization in their respective administrative regions. The provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, cites and counties are also setting standardization departments in their governments. The SAC execute business administration of those province-level bureaus of technical supervision and execute directive administration in the system of under province-level bureau of technical supervision.

From: Standardization Administration of China, Chinese National Committee of the ISO/IEC
ps: I represent the Australian Computer Society on the SA Council.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Doing Business in China

Tom Worthington presented with a certificate by the Vice President of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic GamesThe book "The Chinese Business Puzzle" by Andrew Williamson has a slightly patronizing title, but is useful. It tries to cover everything from how to design your double sided business card (English one side, Chinese the other) to the importance of interpreters and how to arrange a meeting room.

Some of this sounds silly, such as having red banners with the details of the event on the wall in two languages. Even down to what the cups with little lids on them next to each chair are for. But I would have found it useful to read before my talks to the Chinese government delegations in Canberra and visit to Beijing in 2003. Have a look at the photo of when I was presented a certificate by the Beijing Olympic Committee VP, with a red banner in the background and other photos showing the careful room layout.

I have collected up some books, guides, DVDs and even electronic translators for Doing Business in China.

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