Internet or eSludge

Jingshun Road, inbound.
Any bets on the first sandstorm?
1028 hrs.

Living in China one gets so used to long lead times for web pages to load and email to download that when the Internet really slows down you don’t trust your own senses. You sort of think to yourself, you know, the Internet is really slow today. Or maybe I just drank too much coffee.

But when the CTO of one of my clients grabbed my arm the other day and ask me if I’ve noticed that the Internet in China had slowed considerably lately, I had all the confirmation I needed that the issue had nothing to do with caffeine-induced impatience. The net IS slower, and not just with overseas connections.

There could be several explanations for this, some quite sinister, like “they’re upgrading the GFW.” (Part of the joy of living in China is that government conspiracy theorists who would be regarded as crackpots anywhere else tend to start sounding like realists here. It doesn’t mean they’re right about things, just that people actually have to consider what they are saying before discarding it as paranoia.)

But there are a lot of things going on in and around Beijing that could be contributing to this: network upgrades, Olympic-related projects, construction cutting cables.

Or, indeed, more careful and deliberate scrutiny of the Internet in the weeks ahead of the coming opening of the 11th National People’s Congress.

Either way, it’s making surfing more painful than it has been in years.

I want my VPN…


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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