I wrote a piece for Beijing Cream about ridiculous accusations, Skype, and how scary it might be:
But this is nothing new. In 2008, activists at Citizen Lab disclosed a similar finding: that TOM, in a joint venture with the then-owner of Skype, eBay, systematically monitors and censors users’ communication. Then, as in 2006, Skype publicly commented that they knew about it, promised that it was only instant messages that were affected, and reassured everyone that Skype-to-Skype (as in, not TOM-Skype) communication was fully encrypted and protected.
A recent piece I wrote for Beijing Cream about jailbreaking and malware on iOS.
While there are certain advantages to jailbreaking, the downsides can be quite severe. And, to be honest, the non-practical advantages of jailbreaking only really count if you want to tweak the system and know what you’re doing
I came round to not jailbreaking my device after I found that I couldn’t (a long story). At first, I was very wary of actually purchasing applications, especially games. But after that first purchase, I have to admit that it feels good to know that I’m helping to support developers who make interesting content. Also, I now no longer have to worry about strange ways around Apple controls when upgrading: every single application on my iPad will follow me version after version with no work on my part.
I just started reading the Dao De Jing again after beginning a class on integrating the wisdom of Chinese medicine and Daoism into your daily life. The last time I read was in university at least 7 years ago.
While reading it last night, the first stanza of Section 3 really caught my attention and got me thinking:
“Do not glorify the achievers
So the people will not squabble
Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain
So the people will not become thieves
Do not show the desired things
So their hearts will not be confused”
This really feels like advice to rulers and those in power. It’s an exhortation to prevent ambition, greed, and desire, (potentially) negative outcomes for any society or group of people. And yet, when I look around at developed and developing countries, the system of capitalism and the myth of infinite growth are designed exactly to reinforce these negative qualities.
In China, it’s pretty easy to see that ambition, greed, and desire are at the root of the country’s deepest problems: extreme and pervasive corruption, poor quality and unsafe consumer products, the growing wealth gap, increasing disparities and inequalities, and confusion as people come to grips with what development has done to their culture and society.
What’s so disappointing (and this not only true for China) is that not only our economic systems are built to reinforce all those values that make us miserable, but also how much our political systems have become part of this delusion, too. Those who are powerful became so as result of ambition, greed, and desire and thus have every reason to make sure these values propagate for as long as possible, if not indefinitely.
Disclaimer: I’m know that I’m not the first to think of this or point it out and make no claim as to its originality.
Update: GitHub now seems to be partially unblocked.
The Golden Shield Project (aka Great Firewall of China) has decided GitHub no longer conforms with Chinese notions of harmony, as first noticed Monday by GreatFire.org and reported on The Next Web.
The block comes on the heels of the Ministry of Railways’s unsuccessful attempt to convince Chinese browser-makers to stop providing a plugin that helps users purchase train tickets off MOR’s website.
A bit of background before we go any further: GitHub acts as a platform for software developers to share, revise, and track changes to code. This means that people who make those cool apps and websites we use every day use GitHub as a means to communicate with other developers, share their work, and generally make their products (and, thus, our lives) better1.