Friday, May 20, 2011

The story after GFW-professor Fang got hit by a shoe

An arch between two student accommodation buil...Wuhan University via Wikipedia
A fascinating discour is developing after a Wuhan student Mr. Han Junyi (twitter alias @hanunyi), threw eggs and a shoe at the inventor of the Chinese internet filtering system, sometimes called the Great FireWall (GFW), Fang Binxing, professor and president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

Initially I thought it was just a funny incident, although IMD professor Bill Fischer thought already at twitter more of it:
Is a generational fault-line forming in #China over access to information? RT @fonstuinstra @niubi #IMDNL11
I was not yet that far: professor Fang is a very easy target, although the current career of the student could well be at jeopardy. Not many would follow him, how much they might be against the nuisance of the internet filters. But since then the fallout has been tremendous. Not only among foreign media (an overview at the tail of this), but also on the Chinese internet.

Seagull Reference gives a nice overview with some telling details from the room at the Wuhan university, after the incident:
Fang was obviously furious after having dodged the egg but being hit by the shoe. Fang asked the host in Wuhan University why they didn't prepare for such event since there had been public discussions on the Internet, particularly on Twitter. Some online community had posted varies rewards (including hugs from hot girls, new shoes and iPad2, etc.) for anyone to hit shoe at Fang. Professors of Wuhan University replied the campus was blocked from accessing the Twitter, so they could not have known.
The new-born internet hero got himself a nice list of gifts from a cheering online community in China, enough to distract him from an academic career. (A summery at the Seagull Reference).

Nice humor too:
Fang's seminar today was arranged in Room 404, a page user often see when the website is blocked by Fang's GFW.
Hard to say how deep the sentiment goes and whether it will persist. Enough to have some fun today.

(First published at Fons Tuinstra's home)
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