BBC News has this report “Google ‘sister’ launches in China” which talks about a new search site in China. Apparently the loss of Google in China is not a problem. It turns out they had a complete replacement waiting in the wings which is more in tune with their requirements. The site is available at goojje.com.
I admit, that I don’t read Chinese, so I took the text on the front page and ran it through Google’s translation tool. Here’s what it came back with:
“Gu sister born for peace, the sister network of the world will be because of the emergence of a harmonious valley, there are no longer lonely valley sister buddies.”
“Valley sister of a person’s strength is too small, we need your strength, Love Valley, sister, please introduce me to your friends, Gu Jie Yue whether male or female are introduced”
I’m sure that I’m missing something in the translation there. Of course, the big question is whether or not the Goojje site has the sorts of limitations that Google allegedly refused to do. You can actually check this out yourself. Here’s what you need:
- Here is a page in Wikipedia showing List of words censored by search engines in the People’s Republic of China. This shows you the Chinese words, in Chinese with the English translations. Open this in one tab.
- Next, open goojje.com in one tab and google.com in another.
- Finally, if you don’t read Chinese, open the Google translation page.
Now you can take a search term from the article (in Chinese) and drop it into each search engine, then view a translated version of the hits to see what they say. The translated English is typically pretty rough, but you should be able to get the gist of it. I haven’t done enough comparison to form an opinion as to how one search engine compares to another. Even with comparison, I would expect that a fairly new search site would have less information than one that had been collecting data for years. However, I see something that I’m curious about: I found a site through Google that did not seem to show up as highly ranked on Goojje. I tired putting the URL, then the Chinese title into Goojje to see if it would find it. In each case, Goojje appeared to crash and drop my connection for a number of seconds. That could be a coincidence.
I don’t know what my opinion is on this sort of restriction. I personally like information to be free. However, I’ve made agreements to restrict sharing of information for my job as a condition of my employment. The US puts restrictions on availability of information as well. As you may know, Sourceforge.net was recently required to restrict access to their servers to Iran and other countries on “the list.” Sourceforge was pretty open about the situation and said in their statement that they were responding to legal requirements from the US government. Seems to me that while such action could keep the “bad guys” from downloading files (thus requiring them to get it from a server residing in any other country, it also restricts access to tools which might be used by people who are looking for change.
We certainly live in interesting times.