Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Made in Taiwan, censored for China

One of the few legitimate perks in my "day" media job is access to the news wires, which is a good way of keeping up with what is happening and how things are being reported in other parts of the world. On a recent search the other day, I stumbled across a great story on The New York Times news wire about how most of Apple's iPhone was made in Taiwan.

Here's the gist of it: "With little fanfare, Taiwan companies are playing a big role not only in the production of Apple's latest device but in a wide array of other communications equipment, including the broadband modems in homes across the United States and the next generation of high-speed wireless gear."

Great stuff, but as I kept reading it I noticed that there was something odd about the story, with some quite unusual grammar from such a high-calibre paper. Like they'd say manufactured "on Taiwan", where for every other country they mentioned it was made "in" the United States or Japan or wherever. Then they'd write things like "As in many Asian areas . . .", when what they clearly meant was "as in many Asian countries." The fact that they were trying as hard as they could not to refer to Taiwan as a country, or even to allude to it as a country, was just so obvious that it made you hyper-aware of what they were doing.

For what reason? Is The New York Times so afraid that it will be filtered from mainland China that it's willing to follow the PRC line unquestioningly? After all, to the average reader, lumping Taiwan with a bunch of other "countries" would seem quite natural. I can understand governments being a bit sensitive about the diplomatic consequences of their language, but why should The New York Times follow the same wishy-washy, self-censoring, ambiguous path?

It's bad enough that many high-tech companies are prostituting some of their principles in the name of doing business, but lets hope the media doesn't follow suit. Besides which, at least Taiwan lets its citizens vote, not to mention that - as the original article stated - high-tech companies are incredibly reliant on Taiwan when it comes to making most of their gear.

Speaking of companies that suck up to China, Google has just announced a couple of major changes. One is that it will be announcing a paid option for extra storage on Gmail, Picasa and other online services.

Meanwhile, if you've bought any videos from the Google Video store in the past, you might find that they expired on 15 Aug. That's because the Google Video service is closing down, according to a letter sent out by the company and reprinted on Boing Boing.

According to the letter, any videos purchased in the past will no longer be able to be viewed. To compensate, Google is giving purchasers credit at its Google Checkout stores that must be spent within 60 days. As Cory Doctorow commented in the post, "this is a giant, flaming middle finger, sent by Google and the studios to the customers."

It's odd how even when you legitimately buy something, the Big Media players are determined to make it difficult for you to use their content. Yet when it suits them, they're not averse to utilising some of the non-legitimate services for their own ends. According to TorrentFreak, more and more forthcoming television shows are turning up on Bittorrent sites, with many of the leaks appearing to come from the studios themselves.

In fact, that's exactly what's been happening. One Warners Brothers TV executive admitted getting his neighbour's kid to upload episodes of Pushing Daisies, an upcoming TV show, noting that such strategies can help build some buzz and a potential audience when it does go to air. The article pointed to other studios doing similar things.

In other words, if you're big enough - like China, Google and the recording industry - it seems you can do what you like.


Anonymous said...

It is very stupid

Anonymous said...

this is not what ineede so you suck mangina