And then there is China....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/01/13 08:31 -05:00, original URI:

Some of you may remember a few year back when a VP over at Adobe commented that perhaps the solution to the problem of rampant software piracy in China that the government there seemed uninterested in combating, or at the very least unable to combat (not to mention other problems), was to simply stop shipping software there.

Now it was very quickly denied as a matter of official Adobe policy, but the point was made - that patience could be exhausted.

I was reminded of all of this after reading David Drummond's (Google Senior VP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer) A New Approach to China on Google's official blog.

Now of course Microsoft has seen both the issues the Adobe VP mentioned and the ones the Google VP mentions, in the case of Google before that company even existed, and despite feeling offended by rampant software piracy in a theoretical sense I have to admit that it makes little real difference to my own personal bottom line. So it bothers me, sure. But I only have so much RAM to devote to issues each day, and it often falls off.

Some of the information issues that Drummond raises feel kind of the same to me, despite the fact that I can recognize I am taking my own morality and using it to judge China's. It makes sense that an Adobe (or a Microsoft) would feel as offended by people stealing their product as Google would feel about the open flow of information being controlled -- in each case the stronger response about China's approach affecting something important to them is obvious.

For me, the China issue has always been most important to me in terms of the issues that directly affected the things in front of me -- their baffling minority language policies toward Uyghur, their Taiwan policies, their policies toward Tibet and Bhutan and even Kashmir, their terrible and inconsistent approach to international encoding and other standards, all sharing the same feel of being a large country that acts small, that acts so worried that it will be small in people's eyes that it will prove it is big even at the expense of language.

I guess you could say that is my biggest issue, and in a way it is the most arbitrary of all of the reasons to try to take issue with China or any of its policies, any of its politics.

My role vis-a-vis support in China, for minority languages whose support is demanded even as expertise is not made available, in the supplementary DLL to assist with GB18030 support to GB18030 work in standards to adding support for more ideographs that China will ever need or use doesn't make me feel proud of the work I do so much as ashamed that I and the company I work for is so easily bullied.

I don't know how much time I can really spend railing on the issues though. Even if I were a VP at Microsoft (and I'm obviously not), these aren't Microsoft's issues exactly. My "test balloon" therefore carries none of the weight of Adobe's or Google's. But in my own way the fact that it is not my business, my money, my bottom line, that is one the line makes it feel like it is less about self-interest, for what it is worth.

Maybe I'll put some thought into what I can talk about, and then talk about it. Because my passions here do run high and it would be nice to be able to put some of my thoughts out there more specifically....

Mihai on 15 Jan 2010 11:15 AM:

Ant sometimes it is not even so much about bullying.

"About 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

Michael S. Kaplan on 16 Jan 2010 1:53 PM:

Very true  the though the support I worked on was more about bullying. :(

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