Monday, July 24, 2006

Blogging behind a firewall

So I am now coming to you from Islamabad. This is a very beautiful city with exceptionally nice open spaces, and some interesting grand architecture that towers above the greenery (we are in the middle of the monsoon season). This is one of those “designed” capitals, so everything is in an ordered grid, which does not detract from the astounding natural surroundings. There are mountains Gandalf, mountains!

One thing I have discovered is that for the first time in my life (that I know of) I find myself behind a country firewall. The most publicised one is of course the Great Firewall of China, but many other countries are adopting the gateway filtering approach. I have discovered to my horror that Blogger is blocked in Pakistan (as is the case in China, apparently). I have of course managed to circumvent the block by connecting to my VPN in Edinburgh, so as far as the Internet is concerned I could still be sitting in my office at the University. However, the circumvention is more difficult for those who do not have the benefit of virtual private networks and such, so I am left to wonder about the efficient manner in which this regulates content. As far as Pakistan and China are concerned, Technollama does not exist.

This of course is a well-explored area of regulation, and it does speak well about Code model of regulation. The Pakistani architecture regulates Blogger (and undoubtedly it also regulates huge amounts of other data). However, architectural regulation does not work that well with the super-users, those who can easily circumvent the architectural restrictions imposed on the network. Those same super-users tend to be at the forefront of any revolt against the technological restrictions.

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