China's mondegreen war on net-censorship

Quinn Norton reports from the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference, where Rebecca MacKinnon (one of the smartest people in the world on the questions of technology and democracy in China) discusses the state of China's fight against censorship, and what the rest of the world can learn from it.

Rebecca explains the current viral anti-censorship protest video: The song of the grass mud horse. (In this case an alpaca)

It features videos of alpacas while child sing about the grass mud horse, but the difference in tones between "Grass mud horse" and "Fuck your mother" is just a subtle tonal change. Since song tones override speaking tones in Chinese, it's a sweet choir of children singing "Fuck your mother." They sound very sweet. The alpacas are fluffy, but slightly creepy.

Definitely best misheard lyrics since "wrapped up like a douche bag in the middle of the night"

This video is coming to represent the fight against censorship. If you type in obscene or politically sensitive words often the software or the server will bounce you to an error message, so people use puns and slight changes in language to defeat the software, but everyone knows what you're really talking about. This is very like how people got around filtering in Napster oh so long ago now.

There's another older meme about a rivercrab wearing three watches. (Ethan mentioned this last year.) It's another homonym pun. It's a play on two government mottos: the "harmonious society" and the "three represents." Harmonious becomes rivercrab, and three represents becomes wear three watches. A rivercrab wearing three watches seems to be a bit about going along with the government plans.

Lessons from China for the World, Rebecca MacKinnon (Global Voices)