Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lessons from Google's China experience (and China's Google experience)

In information censorship, success may be worse than failure.

Opinion is divided as to whether Google's exit from the China internet search market is brilliant strategy (because it wins huge mindshare, particularly among young Chinese) or disastrous (as it vacates the world's largest internet market to entrenched rival Baidu).

That's a question that only time will answer. Meanwhile, Google's action brings into stark view two sobering lessons for all aspiring internet censors. Read those lessons in my post on the Fast Company blog: In a hubless world, there's little room for hubris.

So, muzzling information seekers by erecting walls is a no-win game. When such a wall fails, it creates obvious problems. And when it succeeds, it often creates bigger problems. The great firewall of China carries huge pitfalls either way.