Saturday, January 28, 2006

Light on Two Sides

There's a basic architectural principle that says every room should have light on two sides. Quoting Christopher Alexander:
The importance of this pattern lies partly in the social atmosphere it creates in the room. Rooms lit on two sides, with natural light, create less glare around people and objects; this lets us see things more intricately; and most important, it allows us to read in detail the minute expressions that flash across people's faces, the motion of their hands...and thereby understand, more clearly, the meaning they are after. The light on two sides allows people to understand each other.
Plenty has already been written about Google's decision to filter search results inside China. I'm not interested in criticizing Google, and others have articulated the defense for me. But it's not every day that you can see censorship clearly illustrated from both sides; in most cases, something is either censored or it isn't and the best you can do is to imagine the alternative. This time, we can see both clearly.

These are the results from two identical Google searches for a single word — the first as it appears to a person in the US and the second as it appears to a person in China.


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