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  Daily Column, July 23rd 
  Jul 23, 2001, 05:30pm EDT 
 
By: Sander Sassen

Freedom of speech? Tell that to the people in Afghanistan and China, as both these countries are seriously planning on restricting anyone’s access to the internet. And although in some cases restricting someone’s access to certain material can be a good thing, e.g. we certainly would not want our children to have access to pornography or other adult content. In most other cases I think it is wrong to restrict anyone’s access to information found on the internet. Why would a Muslim be deprived of access to, for example, a Christian website? Why shouldn’t a Chinese be able to read up on the latest trends in Europe or the Western culture?

The only argument I can think of, from a government’s perspective, is that they want to deliberately feed their citizens with ‘filtered’ content, they want to control what the masses read or have access to. From that point of view, it is only a small step towards misinformation and from there on to misinformation with intent to manipulate people. Unfortunately, with all the information available at anyone’s fingertips, it’ll be extremely difficult to restrict anyone’s access to certain online content. In the case of Afghanistan they’re probably talking about just pulling the plug on everybody, so that’s a quick solution, but how would one restrict the Chinese from having access to certain content?

Blocking IPs, deny access to certain pages, sure it can all be done, but I’m afraid most of these government officials could really do with a crash-course on the internet’s architecture. The internet is dynamic an constantly changing, restricting access to certain pages will only work until the webmaster of the ISP decides to move them elsewhere or to change his server’s IP. There will always people re-posting content on their own servers, either domestic or abroad. As soon as these restrictions are being enforced there will always be people creative and bold enough to circumvent them as they do not want to be told what to read or think.

I think it is sad to see governments in the 20th century still trying to dictate their citizens what to do, or feed them with filtered information. It is my belief that the internet has the potential to do away with these practices once and for all and offer anyone access to a wealth of information, any time, any place, anywhere. Misinformation or manipulative governments have wrecked enough havoc, and have caused for enough misery and suffering amongst their citizens.

On a different note, prices for nVidia’s much anticipated nForce chipset seem to be surfacing all around the web. Some reports mentions prices up to $90 for just the DDR capable chipset, which makes an nForce chipset roughly twice as expensive as Intel’s i850, which currently is the most expensive chipset in the desktop market. Surprised? Well, quite frankly we’re not, we were already afraid that nVidia might try to work a similar pricing scheme as with their graphics accelerators.

It is up to the motherboard manufactures and ultimately up to the customer if they’re willing to pay a price premium for such a chipset. At $90 per chipset we probably won’t see any motherboards under $250, which is rather steep. For a all-in-one integrated solution it is priced much too high, Intel’s or Via’s integrated solutions can be had for a lot less, although with less powerfull 3D. For a high-end solution most people won’t be too happy with paying $250 for an integrated motherboard of which they won’t use 50% of the features as they’ll be plugging in add-on cards anyway.

Sander Sassen

 

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