Filtering language

Hats by Edward Mann

I felt this image applied to the darker side of nets. I felt it was a good metaphor for filtering language. An exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum explored how fashion was shaped by the Cold War. The technological preoccupation of the period perhaps continues today with the use of firewalls.

I did have trouble putting this image up that I had scanned but after helping Wendy at the Sunday workshop realised I had saved it as a Word document rather than a jpeg.

SLIPPING THROUGH CRACKS – SATIRE

According to the report on the implementation of ‘Green Dam’ by the Open Net Initiative at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies:

“If implemented as proposed, the effect would be to increase the reach of Internet censorship to the edges of the network, adding a new and powerful control mechanism to the existing filtering system.”

Language tricks can get around censors and mock them at the same time. Chinese activists have become masters of satire and symbolism. This drawing by a Chinese blogger uses the visual language of Japanese anime.

Green Dam Girl is an internet avatar figure. She’s holding a rabbit, which is the software’s logo, and carrying a bucket of paint. On her cap is an image of the river crab, a homonym for the word “harmony” in Chinese (the Chinese government calls censorship ‘harmonization’).

‘GREEN DAMS’ – A NEW GREAT WALL?


China’s authorities currently block overseas-based sites they disapprove of, such as those relating to Tibetan independence, or the Falun Gong spiritual movement, with a mesh of filters and keyword restrictions, widely known as the ‘Great Firewall’. Control over domestic servers is applied through instructions to content providers and search engines, which must self-censor to stay in business.

Computer makers in China have now been instructed to pre-install blocking software on every PC hard drive from next month, under a government push to control access to the internet. A new software – called ‘Green Dam Youth Escort’ – potentially adds a powerful new tool at the level of the individual computer. It updates a list of forbidden sites from an online database, much as network security programs automatically download the latest defences against new worms, trojans and viruses.

The related software developing companies have long-term working relationships with the Public Security Bureau and the People’s Liberation Army.

For more, see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/08/web-blocking-software-china


My ‘Nets’ project work includes control and prevention of the flow of information by various surveillance systems – including the above. More generally, I’m intrigued with
metaphors and analogies that derive from connections between all types of working nets.

‘Nets’ web-site:

http://web.me.com/zoo_veneer/NETS