Taking Down China's "Great Firewall"

To many in Silicon Valley, the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who "get it," and those who don't. The people who get it are the ones who understand that the Internet is the biggest thing that has ever happened in the history of the human race, a wave so huge and so powerful that the only way to cope with it is to jump on and hope to make money building a new world once the tsunami has laid waste to the old one.

Those who don't get it are the ones who try to fight the Internet wave, or slow it down. Entire industries fit that description: movies, music, publishing, real estate, cable-TV providers, operators of mobile-phone networks-the list goes on. Now, at the top of the list, goes China.

That is the message Google is sending by saying it will no longer comply with China's demand that its search results be censored. Suddenly China is being called out for its transgressions, depicted not just as evil but also, worse yet, as backward and stupid. This is all kind of incredible, because China is proving itself to be so advanced and sophisticated at next-generation technologies, from solar panels to high-speed trains.

Yet when it comes to the Internet, China does not get it. Hacking into servers so clumsily that you get caught? Throwing up filters? Choking off information? Hobbling search engines so that people get a censored version of reality?

This is idiotic. China is fighting the Internet. And like everyone else who fights the Internet, China will lose.