Google + 退出
You probably already read about it, but it’s hard to keep Google’s very public withdrawal announcement out of any blog that involves foreigners and China. I don’t know if it’s evidence of anything, but to find a news result in Chinese I actually had to go search Baidu this morning instead of Google, even though the subject is clearly on the minds of Google China searchers [highlighted search suggestion: 谷歌退出中国 = “Google withdraws from China”]:
[Also note that, per the announcement, google.cn now resolves into simplified characters at the Hong Kong URL]
That’s sure to change by the time you read this, because I was searching not long after the 3am announcement. But I suppose the fact that Baidu’s results scoop Google’s would be a small feather in the caps of those who maintained that Google’s withdrawal was really all about an inability to dominate the local market.
It never was just that. But I’ll leave the analysis to those who specialize in such and close with a selfishly linguistic point of view. It’s hard not to see the disappearance of google.cn as a bad thing for linguistic research, for everything from quick-and-dirty word counts to the actual discovery of papers and analysis. Even if, miraculously, the mainland doesn’t block the Hong Kong site that google.cn forwards to, Google’s decreased revenues are going to make it hard for the organization to justify investment. The inevitable result: less search, less content. Sure, there’s Baidu, but if we acknowledge that competition is the key to innovation, it’s hard not to see Baidu innovating less in the less competitive environment.
Ah, well, like the smog in Beijing, the new web reality will soon settle over us all and cease to warrant comment.