What the Chinese want to know

Much has been made of the transformative powers of the Internet in less-than-free societies. But before you get all gooey over Google in China, take a look at Baidu’s lists of the questions most often typed into their search engine in 2006. They’re divided into “how,” “why,” “what,” and “should I” lists. Most of the top ...

604868_google_china_05.png
604868_google_china_05.png

Much has been made of the transformative powers of the Internet in less-than-free societies. But before you get all gooey over Google in China, take a look at Baidu's lists of the questions most often typed into their search engine in 2006. They're divided into "how," "why," "what," and "should I" lists. Most of the top searches are either time-honored snoozers ("What is love?") or predictably materialistic ("How to get plastic surgery?"). We have to remind ourselves who is online in China—the elites. But take a look at these lists and then ask yourself: Do you see the makings of a revolution here?

Top 10 "Why" questions:

Why did they go on the Long March?
Why are we alive?
Why do we need to drink water?
Why can't I open this page/link?
Why does my hair fall out?
Why can't I get online?
Why do we love?
Why study?
Why take part in exams?
Why get married?

Much has been made of the transformative powers of the Internet in less-than-free societies. But before you get all gooey over Google in China, take a look at Baidu’s lists of the questions most often typed into their search engine in 2006. They’re divided into “how,” “why,” “what,” and “should I” lists. Most of the top searches are either time-honored snoozers (“What is love?”) or predictably materialistic (“How to get plastic surgery?”). We have to remind ourselves who is online in China—the elites. But take a look at these lists and then ask yourself: Do you see the makings of a revolution here?

Top 10 “Why” questions:

  1. Why did they go on the Long March?
  2. Why are we alive?
  3. Why do we need to drink water?
  4. Why can’t I open this page/link?
  5. Why does my hair fall out?
  6. Why can’t I get online?
  7. Why do we love?
  8. Why study?
  9. Why take part in exams?
  10. Why get married?

Top Ten “How” questions:

  1. How to lose weight?
  2. How to reset a system?
  3. How to make money?
  4. How to get pregnant?
  5. How to build a harmonious society?
  6. How to start a business?
  7. How to put on make-up?
  8. How to kiss?
  9. How to trade stocks?
  10. How to get plastic surgery?

Top 10 “What Is” questions:

  1. What is love?
  2. What is the Long March spirit?
  3. What is a blog?
  4. What is dual-core?
  5. What is 3G?
  6. What is harmonious society?
  7. What are futures?
  8. What is a trojan horse?
  9. What is happiness?
  10. What is an ecosystem?

Top 10 “Should I” questions:

  1. Should I read the classics?
  2. Should I continue living?
  3. Should people with computers keep writing characters by hand?
  4. Should I take part in exams?
  5. Should I join the Party?
  6. Should I have a child?
  7. Should we abolish the death penalty?
  8. Should I see an Internet friend in person?
  9. Should I get married?
  10. Should I buy a house?

(Hat tip: Richard Spencer)

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