Welcome to the weekend, readers!
Your primary focus at this very moment might be your Friday night drink-ups, but we've got a new feature to help you maintain your mental clarity and conversational arsenal throughout the weekend - all while keeping you at a safe distance from your computer and allowing you to roam freely through the real world.
We're happy to present the Friday Podcast Parade! Load up your iPod with this curation of experts on audio, and give these chats a listen while walking your dogs, working out or running errands. You'll be smarter for it, we promise!
This week's topic was, next to the Haitian earthquake, the biggest story in tech news since Google made its controversial announcement on Tuesday afternoon.
Put briefly, the search giant has threatened to pull out of China entirely, shuttering its Google.cn portal and closing its offices due to a string of attacks carried out on Gmail accounts from what are presumed to be agents of the Chinese government - not to mention China's longstanding censorship of search keywords and websites, which Google stated has long made the company uncomfortable.
First up, we have commentary from NPR's All Things Considered. Although NPR's reporter Laura Sydell said the attacks couldn't be pinned directly on the Chinese government just yet, she did get to speak directly to Google's SVP David Drummond, who makes an appearance in this podcast. Sydell also spoke to Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology and Jonathan Zittrain of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, who discuss the involvement of authoritarian governments in online activities.
In our second offering, Adam Segal, Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and National Security Studies for the Council for Foreign Relations, is interviewed about the situation and makes several interesting points.
As we're all likely aware, this move on Google's part comes at a tense moment in the U.S.-China relationship. "The Google decision also feeds into a broader sense of China as spoiler... I would suspect the next six months is going to be very bumpy," he said.
Segal also sees the move as an indicator that the "world-wide" Web is breaking apart. With various tools widely used in some parts of the world and abandoned in others (e.g., Orkut in Brazil or Friendster in Southeast Asia), can we really argue with him? But Segal sees further fragmentation of the Internet into almost entirely separate entities, one based in the Western world and one in the East.
Finally, from The World, we have this double-whammy tech podcast, the first half of which is a discussion of affairs in Haiti and the second half of which focuses on the topic of this week's parade. If you skip to the 10:33 mark, you'll hear Clark Boyd recapping the news and an in-depth report from veteran East Asia correspondent Mary Kay Magistad, who has covered news in this region for almost six years. She states that surfing the web right now in Beijing is like being in a different world now that Google has unblocked search terms and content, leaving China's censors scrambling to keep up. The rest of her report is a fascinating mosaic of interviews and insight - a must-listen for those who would be informed and sound intelligent on the Google-China debacle.
To subscribe to the Podcast Parade, check out our Huffduffer page and feed, or just use this link to subscribe through iTunes. You can also check out other podcasts on this topic from our friends at CNET's Buzz Out Loud and The Next Web, who told us their audio commentary will be published shortly on their blog.
We hope you'll enjoy this new weekly feature! Please let us know what you think of our Podcast Parade in the comments, and if you have a recommendation for future installments, send us an email.