Arjan's World: Don't Judge Too Fast
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Don't Judge Too Fast

Just this morning I was explaining to someone one of the things I'm currently working on to improve: my habit of labelling people too fast, thinking I know someone very quickly. This means sometimes I make the mistake to judge a person by their deeds, instead of getting to know him first: we all sometimes do things which seem on the surface pretty stupid or well... just not too smart. But in the end, when you know the circumstances better, you gain insight in the person's situation: maybe it was not too stupid after all, maybe there's good reasoning behind it.

Why am I telling you this personal story, you might ask. Well, it has to do with one of last weeks newsbites: the supposed censorship Google practices in it's China search engine People all over the world end up with the wellknown tanks when they're looking for Tiannamen. But in China, only happy pics of everything related to this place-wit-a-history, except for the 1989 uproar, so bloodily suppressed. You immediately gave the truth behind news the benefit of the doubt. Or didn't you? Well, read this this first and then come back.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Well, as a normal citizen of course I don't know what to make from this all: is it ordinary censorship, is it even reasonable that Google does this, or is it perfectly normal that Chinese people are looking for just completely different things than we do in the same search query, and that Google's algorithm adapts to that situation?

Here's an explanation of a bug in this system, by the way: use a capital as the first letter in your search query and you bypass the censored results, at least if it's not fixed by the time you read this (via Schneier)

At least, some food for thought for the next time you just take something for granted...


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