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What Happened When 1950s China Dreamed of “Total Information”?

When China rejected random sampling in favor of exhaustive enumeration of individuals, masses of “data” flooded in, but what did it mean?

A historian of modern China recounts the outcome of a momentous decision that China’s new Communist rulers made in the 1950s. They decided to abandon conventional methods of gathering statistics that use probability and adopted the method of exhaustive counting of everybody and everything. Why did their dream of total information became a nightmare? Harvard historian Arunabh Ghosh (right), author of Making It Count: Statistics and Statecraft in the Early People’s Republic of China (2020), explains that in the 1950s, newly communist China faced a choice about how to survey the population accurately while making “a clean break with the past.” For philosophical reasons, debates about how to gather statistics came to the fore: In a speech in 1951, Li…

Chain with lock on computer keyboard. It means laptop banned or internet banned. Symbol of computer addiction, games, social networks and so on

India’s Social Media Content Removal Order Is a Nail in the Coffin of the Internet As We Know it

The High Court of Delhi ordered Facebook, Google, and Twitter to remove content globally if it is considered defamatory locally

In reaching its decision, the Indian court relied on a string of recent decisions from around the world. For example, it drew from the Canadian approach in Equustek, where the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Google to remove content globally. 

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