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The Canary's Dead
Jamais Cascio, 14 Jun 04

On June 8, I posted an article about the Chinese-language version of Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia. I finished the article by suggesting that its continued availability in mainland China could be due to the Beijing government not yet being aware of it, and that "The Chinese Wikipedia could well be a 'canary in the coal mine' for Chinese online freedom." Little did I know that the canary was already dead.

According to IT, Chinese censors shut down all access to the Chinese language version of Wikipedia on June 3, and cut access to all forms of Wikipedia (regardless of language) yesterday. A Chinese contributor to Wikipedia quoted in the article says that it was probably the combination of the Tiananmen Square anniversary on June 4 and the uptick in press attention to that led the censors to crack down.

This isn't entirely surprising. The first comment about our Chinese Wikipedia article came from WorldChanging ally David Bowers, who lives in China, indicating that he couldn't access Wikipedia, and speculating that access had already been cut. Looks like you were right, David. Do let us know, if you can, if the censors get around to cutting WorldChanging access, too...

Update: This is precisely the situation for which Peek-a-booty is the solution. And while the project isn't yet in operation, I am pleased to say that, contrary to my earlier supposition, it's not dead.

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It strikes me that even if access is currently blocked, Chinese Wikipedia it is still extremely important. I imagine it's welcome to millions of Taiwanese and to expat Chinese worldwide; plus, there it will sit, gaining heft and breadth, a resource just waiting for that crack in the PRC's digital armor.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 14 Jun 04

I am a regular Worldchanging reader in Shanghai, and there's no problem with access to Worldchanging. I am surprised that lj is accessible in China since Blogspot isn't, but I think that has to do with the number of Hong Kong bloggers on blogspot. Most free webhosting services such as geocities, tripod, and angelfire are also not accessible.

Posted by: eveninghawk on 14 Jun 04



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