I am living in China, a country very well known for its ability to build the biggest walls in this world. One remarkable example can even be seen from the moon. The other one is not that obvious and quite immaterial.
As computer scientist I am depending a lot on the informations I get over the internet. My whole daily work actually cannot be done without the actual documentations of tools and components I am using.
Living behind the biggest firewall in the world has a big disadvantage for my profession and I believe that this must also have an impact on the chinese software industry. There are many strictly professional sites which are unreachable without additional measures, like www.jruby.org. All blogs which are hosted at www.wordpress.com are unreachable even though I have access to the main page. These pages should be easily reachable for you if you are living in Europe or America.
The normal behaviour is a timeout of the network connection or that the address cannot be found at all. But also some websites are unnaturally slow, actually so slow that you cannot really navigate on them. Many sites can only be reached after several attempts.
Actually it is getting worse in China again. A friend of me even complained about rejected mails to me which were filtered out by there IP address.
On one hand I can understand the discomfort with which most governments see the internet as an anarchical, uncontrollable zone which they are trying to get under constitutional legality but the internet is nothing else than real life. When you want to find a way around the laws you will find it. You don’t need the internet for this. And when you want to get informations you will get them.
Think about the saying: The word is more powerful than the sword!