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Web 25

Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web


Edited By Niels Brügger

Web 25: Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Web. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the Web has played an important role in the development of the Internet as well as in the development of most societies at large, from its early grey and blue webpages introducing the hyperlink for a wider public, to today’s multifacted uses of the Web as an integrated part of our daily lives.

This is the first book to look back at 25 years of Web evolution, and it tells some of the histories about how the Web was born and has developed. It takes the reader on an exciting time travel journey to learn more about the prehistory of the hyperlink, the birth of the Web, the spread of the early Web, and the Web’s introduction to the general public in mainstream media. Furthermore, case studies of blogs, literature, and traditional media going online are presented alongside methodological reflections on how the past Web can be studied, as well as accounts of how one of the most important source types of our time is provided, namely the archived Web.

Web 25: Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web is a must-read
for anyone interested in how our online present has been shaped by the past.

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Chapter Five: Inside the great firewall: The web in China (Michel Hockx)


chapter five

Inside the great firewall

The web in China

Michel Hockx


The People’s Republic of China was fully connected to the internet in 1994 (Yang, 2009, p. 29). Soon after this the first WWW sites started to appear, first at universities, later with commercial content providers. By the late 1990s access to computers and to the WWW started to become more common, mainly in the big cities. Following the widespread adoption of Unicode (UTF-8) and improvements in Chinese character input methods, the Chinese WWW space began to grow exponentially. According to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) there were 3.57 million websites registered with China-based registrants in June 2015, roughly half of them in the .cn domain. The nationwide internet penetration rate was nearly 50%. Mobile phones were by far the most popular means of accessing the internet, with a utilization rate of 90%, as opposed to 68% for desktops, 42% for laptops, 33% for tablets, and 16% for TVs (China Internet Network Information Center, 2015).

State control and scholarly bias

As is well known, online space in China is subject to strict state regulation. The physical infrastructure of the internet in China is all state-owned or state-controlled. The Chinese government “starts from a position of control over and ownership of Chinese cyberspace” (Herold, 2011, p. 1). On that basis it grants WWW users a←79 | 80→ certain amount of freedom,...

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