Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Baidu knows that Google doesn't know what Google doesn't know in China

Here is an interesting Google vs. Baidu (View or Download) video that has been making the WOM of rounds on Chinese BBS, blogs and mail forwards. We first saw this 2-3 months ago. Altough Baidu doesn't mention Google in the vid, it seems pretty obvious that Google is represented by the foreigner. It is made in the comedic style of Zhou Xing Chi(周星驰) (and isn't as racist as it seems, say my Chinese friends).



The most interesting thing to me about this is that it is NOT a TV commercial as far as we know. It is longer than a typical TVC in China and no one we know has seen it on TV. If this is the case, then Baidu is another company that understands that the computer is the central information and entertainment device of its target audience (not the TV).

Here's a translation:

Background: There is a poster challenging anyone to try to make sense of a Chinese text. The text is short, but has no "stops" such as periods, so it is a bit tricky to understand. A foreigner enters into the town claiming "he knows" how to interpret the text.

Foreigner: I know! Heh heh.

Tangbohu (a famous Chinese clever guy): Hahahaha~~ You may not know!

Tangbohu: I know you don’t know. I know you don’t know I know. YOU DON’T KNOW.

Foreigner: I know!

All: Ei? [audience is surprised at Foreigner's seeming agreement with Tangbohu that the foreigner does NOT know (as in does not "get it"]

Foreigner: Ei!I know!

Tangbohu: Not necessarily. I know you don’t know me, I know you don’t know me, haha~ I know you don’t know!

Foreigner: I know!

Tangbohu: I know that you don’t know I know. You don’t know that I know you don’t know!

Humor is always difficult to translate accross cultures and languages, so I won't try to explain in detail. Suffice it to say that it lies in the foreigner's ability to "know" individual words ("I," "you" "know" and "don't"), and not understand the meaning expressed by these words. He misunderstands context, and most importantly, he can't determine where the "stops" (separation of concepts) should occur. For example, the words "I know you don’t know" could have different meanings depending if you say "I know (stop) You don't know (stop)" OR I know you don't know (stop)"

You can see that Tangbohu is lecturing the foreigner by placing red “periods” where the concepts stop. Such understanding of context and "stop words" are essential for any sort of natural language processing and categorization (this is true for our own tools as well). And here, Baidu is making a strong suggestion that Google doesn’t "know” Chinese.

Here is a translation of the final part of the commercial:
If you have any question, just "Baidu it"!
  1. Baidu understands Chinese the best, with custom developed stop word technology, understanding more precisely.
  2. Baidu understands Chinese best. Machine learning understands just as human along with phonetic key words customized for Chinese language.
  3. Baidu respects Chinese language most. Customized Chinese language processing and web page indexing technology.
  4. Baidu focuses on Chinese language most. Worlds best Chinese language technology team. Unbeatable.
  5. Baidu hosts the largest online community in the world with Tieba.

The video clearly tries to establish Baidu as the incumbent in Chinese search (in spite of the fact that Google has been around longer than Baidu). From our interaction with our hundred or so web search contractors, it would seem that there is some truth to this. Baidu seems to be the default choice for many, especially when searching Chinese.


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9 Comments:

At 11:28 AM , Anonymous Julie said...

I saw this commercial before. It's cool.

 
At 11:59 AM , Blogger natdefreitas said...

wow, Sam, thanks for this and the translation. some very interesting insight into Google's more recent moves with Google.cn.

 
At 8:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Ralph Kramden: "I know that you know that I know that you know."

 
At 8:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Tangbohu were in the foreigner's shoes ,I mean ,the foreigner were in Tangbohu's shoes,all chinese would definitely speak out,shouting that it's culturally offensive・・・culturally offensive.
Chinese don't know that they don't know Japanese know.

 
At 3:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...and isn't as racist as it seems, say my Chinese friends."

I'd say it's every bit as racist as it seems.

CCTV 5 sports announcers routinely offer commentary such as "Well, he's black" to explain a certain athlete's style of play. Many Xinhua bookstores have a shelf for "Jews" or "Jewish studies"; the vast majority of the books are self-help manuals with titles like "How to Acquire the Wealth of Jew." Most Chinese don't see anything wrong with such characterizations; most Westerners would. Just because the majority don't have a problem with it doesn't mean it's not racist.

Can anyone explain why the white guy spits up what appears to be blood and ends up on the ground twitching?

 
At 3:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...and isn't as racist as it seems, say my Chinese friends."

I'd say it's every bit as racist as it seems.

CCTV 5 sports announcers routinely offer commentary such as "Well, he's black" to explain a certain athlete's style of play. Many Xinhua bookstores have a shelf for "Jews" or "Jewish studies"; the vast majority of the books are self-help manuals with titles like "How to Acquire the Wealth of Jew." Most Chinese don't see anything wrong with such characterizations; most Westerners would. Just because the majority don't have a problem with it doesn't mean it's not racist.

Can anyone explain why the white guy spits up what appears to be blood and ends up on the ground twitching?

 
At 12:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

China has already butchered 1.5 millions Tibetans. As the Chinese are not, of course, racists, who will be the next ?

Why are we helping them ???

 
At 12:47 PM , Blogger 凯尔 said...

Well, the technology seems to be wasted. Stating that it can recognize a complete thought, and saying it can understand Chinese... that's mutually exclusive, isn't it? (Sorry, I just HAD to do it.)

 
At 4:15 PM , Blogger jrsdhr said...

Can anyone explain why the white guy spits up what appears to be blood and ends up on the ground twitching.

在一部很有名的中文喜剧电影中,两个中国学者互相争论。输掉那个人,吐出的是血,摔倒。这个视频只是模仿了情节,没有任何种族主义。只是为了有趣。

Ok, you can translate above into English by google translate.
Google is better than Baidu, in my opnion. but google also needs a lot to do to improve its search for Chinese language.

 

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