Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.





If I could so much ask, I would like to suggest others who own typepad sites and other blogs to put a note on theirs as a means to spread the word.

So until TypePad blogs are unblocked, you will all have to bear with this ugly black border around my blog.

Pass it on.

Via North Korea zone

UPDATE: I'm removing the black background because it seems to mess up some browsers and loads slowly for some reason. I have begun discussions with people who might be able to help us get unblocked. I will keep you updated if there is any progress.


What is the financial impact of this action on Six Apart?

Lago: Actually, I don't know. I'm acting right now as just another blogger just as I have blogged and protested the blocking of Blogspot (Blogger) and shutdown of Blogbus recently. I hope it's a mistake and they "figure it out" or maybe it's just short term.

I remember when I was visiting Hong Kong at the "Fortune Global Forum" conference sponsored by Hong Kong and Time Magazine with Bill Clinton and President Jiang Zemin as guests, China had banned Time Magazine. ;-) I think that the Chinese ban things much more casually that most of us are used to. Which, I don't think means I shouldn't protest.

Hmm. Maybe we should all send flowers to Beijing with a little note:

"Unclog the Blogs Clod"

Just curious how does your protest help. China is facing some serious human rights issues and blocking typepad isn't one of them.

Michel, without free speech, how do we know about human rights issues?

Maybe for 40 days only? (Until press freedom day) I doubt we would ever get unblocked. :(



How can it help?

Two things: One it raises awareness that this stuff happens. There are a lot of people who never think about China and banning of websites, they don't think about free speech at all. It's not in their daily dose of reality. What this did do (read some of the links) is just made people stop for a second and say, "Okay. This is important."

I am a great believer of putting it in the "passing thought file" even if in reality it doesn't make a difference. China is not going to unban. But it got some people talking, for a day in their lives maybe it made them think about what it is to HAVE freespeech and why it's important. Maybe it percipiates some conversations on human rights too.

The second thing is we do the symbolic. Symbols are all we have to go by.

Three days ago, a handful of people knew about it. 100? Then it got passed on, and now it's a few thousand. I guess we do what we can. I said to myself, maybe I can get 1000 people to take notice, with 70 sites noting this, we got more attention than I thought, and if I didn't ask, we would not have that many.

As I said, we do what we can because sometimes we take that break in the day and care just a little.


I'm told by people in China that they CAN receive the contents of typepad blogs through their RSS readers. Too few people know about RSS as a way to get around censorship. The word needs to be spread.

One more thing people should know: many Western companies have helped China with its internet-blocking technology. They include Cisco, Nortel and Microsoft. For links to an amnesty international report on the subject and info about a new book that also delves into the issue, check out my January blog post here:

Will the Chinese government ever stop thinking that it sits at the center of the universe? Can't say history never tried to teach them.

Although such things are always abhorrent to a sense of free speech based on American values, I think there are good reasons for China to be careful about free speech right now.

Their government must make a slow transition from authoritarian to democratic. It can't be done overnight or they could see worse problems than Russia saw when it threw everything out the window and started fresh. People (I think) have recognized now that the change to democracy doesn't have to be revolutionary and violent, or even instant or fast. In fact, unless it's slow and steady, it could cause more harm than good and prevent broad public adoption of democratic principles because of the attention to basic problems in the legal or legislative systems.

So I think that China needs to open up, but keep a damper on it, to allow time for the government to adjust to these things. Stability is very very important not just to the interests of the Chinese government, but also to the livelihood of the people and businesses in China... Things have to change, but they should change slowly.

In the end, I don't think they can prevent blogs from popping up, but maybe they should prevent a massive revolution in blogging from occurring overnight, by keeping a damper on commercial and easy-to-use blogging tools for a while. It's not "right", but I think it may make sense at the present time. ... Although I know no one here really wants to agree with this argument, and it does suck for Six Apart.

I can't see the black border in Safari, which is okay (I don't like it).

I can understand that the Chinese government wants to limit free speech, but I don't get why they blocked Blogbus and Blogcn, and then unblocked both of them a week later. Also, why are Blogspot blogs unblocked too, (recently, I've had 2 Chinese visitors to my blogspot blog)? This blog-blocking doesn't make any sense if they're just going to unblock the sites anyways. If it's a warning message the government's trying to give its citizens, I don't think it's a very effective one.

Since these major blog services are now unblocked, I think the Typepad blockage is going to be temporary.

Blogspot is still blocked. Trust me. Those two visitors, well I don't know, but I check blogspot every day and always have to go through a proxy.

I just cant get excited about "free speech violations" in China anymore. To the best of my knowledge, citizens of China do not have any legal guarantees of freedom of anything. File this one under business as usual.

Talk to Google... granted they are competitors (Blogger) but they have experience dealing with China blocking them and maybe they have some pointers for you.

I hope they're big enough to put competition behind them and realize that we can't have major countries acting like this.

Kevin, yeah. Good idea. As you know, I was very vocal in trying to get Blogger unbanned. I think we get criticized for being TOO friendly more often than we do for competing.

Anyway, I'm starting to get more information about what's going on. I'll let you know when I can get some facts corroborated.


I think that blogspot is unblocked in some locations. Now I've had 6 visitors from China to my blogspot site. I mentioned this because it's been pretty recent. Some can get in, some can't, I'm not sure what's going on.

A couple of months ago blogspot was unblocked only for Beijing, but now it's blocked again. That caused us china bloggers to wonder wtf was going on, it seems that their blocking features can be fine-tuned ...

Google also gets blocked, especially the google cache feature. al that is a real nuisance, and I'm very grateful for Joi's support :)

To Trevor Hill - China has excellent reasons "to be careful of free speech right now", the main reason being to "prevent broad public adoption of democratic principles".

Why do you say that their government is trying to make a transition from authoritarian to democratic? That's exactly what they're trying not to do. They're flirting with capitalism to see if they can get rich without losing power. They have no intention of making a transition to democracy, on the mainland or even in Hong Kong. If they could stop democratic elections in Taiwan, they would.

I think it's great to publicize this and get people thinking. Americans are too naive about what China is like, and too quick to forget all the limitations that people there face. For instance, we hear that their constitution guarantees freedom of religion and think that people are protected, but a Catholic in China can be imprisoned for believing that the Pope is the head of "the Church", while a Tibetan can be imprisoned merely for having a picture of the Dalai Lama. China is different even from most of Asia, different for example from Singapore, which frequently bans publications such as Time or The Economist, and very different from the US.