Friday, July 4, 2014

Baidu works for me

BAIDU VS GOOGLE - Advantages and Disadvantages

BEIJING – Baidu (百度), the Chinese 'Search Engine', is virtually unknown in the West; and it is certainly less technologically advanced and thorough than the US rival and global monopoly: Google (some of Baidu's functions are legal imitations of Google’s).

Still, from an individual point of view (your author writes a lot about China-related topics and also under a Chinese name裴德思), Google can be very limited, almost annoyingly so with so many US junk-sites floating on top of most search inquiries, and it is universally biased against Chinese (and other foreign) content. That makes sense. Google is after all a US enterprise and defends US interests. Consequently, if you search, say, for a China news item on Google, it will always offer you US media and websites in the top 10 results.

United States, Empire, Google

US pages, brands, names, and individuals are all privileged on Google's search results, and so are Google’s subsidies such as Wikipedia and Youtube. As they say, if it looks like a syndicate, it probably is one. On top of this, Google is naturally favoring its US peers, internet monopolies in their own right, in particular US social networks and platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Academia, Ebay, Linkedin, Flickr, Big Think, Huffington Post, Tumblr, Vimeo, Instagram, and many more. The result is that other cultures and foreign views are marginalized or even ruthlessly suppressed (or at least delegated to the bottom of your search results anyway).
People just don’t realize how biased and pro-USA Google often is. Even Google Germany will always offer you non-German results for German search terms –by default, because the US feels it is universal and owns the internet.

Access to China Knowledge

Therefore, it is refreshing to (at least) have this option of using an alternative Chinese Search engine that may be limited and biased in its own rights, alright, but still spares you most US junk-sites. This feels especially privileged since other nations such as France, Germany, or the UK have already been colonized by Google & Co., and thus offer little or no originality. Worse, it has now become apparent that the US government in fact abuses its (subsidized) internet monopolies and illegally collects the data of all users who apply to US internet services -even if those countries are close allies like Germany.

Anyway, if you don't already know, you will be surprised to see how different some of the search results on Baidu and Google are; in fact, I would always recommend anyone working with China to regularly use Baidu –especially if searching for Chinese people, brands, information, and news.

That said, Baidu is successful mostly because the Chinese government banned or restricted Google and most of the above-mentioned US internet monopolies in China. The Chinese have good reasons for this. The authorities hope to limit US influence on world knowledge and how it is presented.

One search engine to fit all nations

Here’s the point. Imagine you are Chinese person in China trying to find information and the top 10 search results are all from US-sponsored corporations (again: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Wikipedia, Wikihow, IMD, Academia, BooksGoogle, Answers, Amazon, Ebay... you name it). In effect, Google is helping all US conglomerates and corporate media pushing and spamming their electronic presence into Asia, even if it’s not in the local language, because Google and its partners (including the US government) all profit immensely from this form of digital patronage and de facto cultural imperialism.

On the other hand, a quick search on Baidu thankfully omits (most of) the US-spam and shows Chinese websites that are (sadly) mostly completely unheard of in the West -sites like Baike, Wenku, Douban, Zhidao, 163, Wenwen, Docin, Sina, Aisixiang and many others. It feels liberating to look at a world not yet perverted by stars and stripes. [Example: 杜维明]

The Chinese fear of a US world monopoly on knowledge is understandable and very real, and China and Baidu are trying to dodge a fierce stand-off with Google that for now they couldn't possibly win.