“Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend”: Web Engineering in the Chinese Context
Zhang, Xiaoling and Zheng, Yongnian (eds.)
China's Information and Communications Technology Revolution: Social changes and state responses.
The revolutionary aspect of the World Wide Web is that it is a decentralised information structure. This democratic decentralisation is a key factor in the added value that the Web provides, because it facilitates the serendipitous reuse of information in new and unanticipated contexts. However its basic principle, of free flow of information packets and a very simple set of rules and standards underpinning these complex structures, is being undermined by attempts to restrict information flow. As use of the Web has spread, illiberal regimes feel threatened, but thanks to the hands-off approach of the 1990s, there are no affirmative globally-recognised principles governing the flow of information online. Currently, China is still focusing on a censorship-based approach to information control, using methods in direct opposition to the Web’s essential governing principle of decentralisation. This paper examines some of the questions for engineering and policy of that clash of principles.
Actions (login required)