Greetings From Within the Great Firewall of China

Howdy from Beijing, where I’m on a whirlwind of a visit (48 hours!) and just spent the day attending a journalism conference called APSP. I had a good time meeting journalists from China, Japan, Korea, Australia, the UK, and other places, and gave a presentation about the bumpy, fascinating shift from print-first publishing to the Web among U.S. computer magazines over the past decade. (I didn’t plan for it to take place days after PC Magazine stopped being a magazine, but the timing kind of made sense.)

It’s always useful to get a real-world reality check on assumptions you make about the universality of tech products and services. Ristin, my interpreter here, is studying science communications at a Chinese university. She’d never heard of YouTube and was only vaguely familiar with the iPhone–but she loves The Devil Wears Prada.

There’s only one significant hitch with this visit so far: It’s impossible to get to Technologizer from here, let alone post content to it. The site shows up fine on my iPhone, but I can’t get to it on the hotel’s Internet connection–it just times out eventually.

Assuming that the Great Firewall of China is at work here, I don’t think it has anything against me personally. (At least I hope not.) Blogs hosted by WordPress.com, I’ve heard, are all blocked. And indeed, I’ve tried a few others, and they’re refusing to pop up as well. That’s several million blogs, most of which contain nothing that would irk even the most censorious Chinese censor. (Most of the other sites I’ve tried, such as Gmail and Twitter, work without hitches; TIME.com takes forever to load, and I’m not sure if that’s due to a glitch or intentional blocking.)

Um, if I can’t get to Technologizer to post content, how did I post this? I’m using a proxy service, and it looks like it’ll let me post this. If it doesn’t I’ll e-mail this back to one of my cohorts.

Assuming I figure out how to get text on the site, I may post once or twice more before I take off. Tomorrow evening, I return to the Bay Area. There are many things I’ll miss about Beijing, but I’ll be very happy to return to the full-blown Web. And I’ll be happier still when the fine folks in China get it, too–although I suspect some of them have discovered the power of proxy browsing, too…


3 comments

  1. zaozi November 24, 2008 at 10:15 am #

    Your interpreter never heard of Youtube; but she for sure knows Tudou.

  2. Ristin November 25, 2008 at 8:37 am #

    Yes, I know Tudou. It is China’s Youtobe,I think.

  3. Host Intruder January 1, 2009 at 11:47 pm #

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