As an American, of course, I think the whole attempt to squelch people is entirely lunatic, but the Chinese are missing something even more here that is painfully obvious to all of us: the rise of social media tools will make it nigh impossible for China to keep people who want to express themselves down on the rice paddy.
The first image that sprang to mind as I thought about this was Bugs Bunny. Remember all those cartoons where Yosemite Sam sticks a gun down the rabbit hole he dove into, only to see him pop up from another one, before there is time to react? Even though you could almost call it progressive that the Chinese have allegedly shutdown Microsoft's Bing, which launched only last week, Chinese blogger Michael Anti points out: "Twitter is a new thing in China. The censors need time to figure out what it is. So enjoy the last happy days of twittering before the fate of YouTube descends on it one day." (YouTube was shut down by China in March, possibly because it had a clip of Chinese police allegedly beating up Tibetan protesters.)
But, proving out my rabbit hole theory, Friendfeed so far, appears to have escaped China's watchful eye - there seems to be a modest movement, which I noticed on a Twitter search by typing in the hashtag "#gfw" (Great Firewall) and "Friendfeed", of people affected by the Twitter ban now using Friendfeed or ping.fm. Other people will probably gravitate to those places as well, with the censors trailing too far behind. Just as it was with the Berlin Wall, technology is playing a role in disassembling communism. Sweet.
But, as much as I'm optimistic about the long-term failure of China's trying to squelch its citizenship, I still expect that Twitter, Facebook and some of the other more well-known social media tools China has blocked will only come back briefly after the Tiananmen anniversary is over, if they come back at all. It's obvious that if the Chinese censors decide to bring Twitter and Facebook back up in a few days, those who wanted to protest will use those tools to do so. It's not very different from when you try to make a cell phone call and finds you're out of range; you keep trying until they can make the phone call happen.
Therefore, in the near-term, Twitter and Facebook are probably toast in China, but as for trying to censor all of social media? Won't happen. Or to put it as Porky Pig would: "That's all, folks."
(Editor's note: Speaking of Twitter, look out for the panel "Meet the Corporate Twitterers" at OMMA Social. Click here to see the agenda.)