I prepared as much as I thought wise before I came here, I had considered downloading whole websites that have sources I constantly refer to, but settled with a fat Evernote database and a collection of essential reading. Of course I set up multiple VPN’s including one at home, which has since failed, and purchased a Hong Kong/China voice and data card that connects through Hong Kong. This is in part an effort to be able to perform my work effectively, as China search engines and sources are notoriously bad.
But habits die hard, and I’ve found myself constantly trying to access bits of data at times when most means are slow or fail. Everyone complains about it, it’s ridiculed in the western media, but coming from an always connected society, where you are free to access whatever you want, to constant widespread censorship is jarring and frustrating. The infrastructure is poor too, what good is a VPN if the pipe is small?
Many years ago I was in awe when I first dialled long distance into Delphi in Boston from Toronto. Watching that information flow in via a 9600 or 14.4k Baud modem was like magic. I was able to connect with people all over the world, share information, and learn about their local music scenes. I also started selling brass equipment via email (I was a small shadow to the enormously successful Equipment List in Montreal, that was started around the same time).
Each connection I get to the outside world now is very similar, with only seemingly a slight increase in speed.
On the bright side, perhaps being disconnected from the world, will bring about greater focus on matters at hand, and I can set up some system to slowly download news in the background, similar to what we used to do at work 19 years ago at the University of Prince Edward Island.
Edit (10/03): I can’t understate how short sighted and frustrating this is. I don’t know how knowledge workers have managed to stay in this country and get anything done. I’m not trying to watch videos on Youtube (which is allowed here) or post to Facebook, I’m trying to download ebooks and listen to a lecture, in an effort to do my job. Hours lost.