The Chinese Internet outage, Day 2: 'The Great FireWall' was just the beginning.

"China" in Mandarin translates to "Middle Earth" or, "The Center of the World".  But how often do Chinese businesses rely on external websites for their daily business?  The Internet outtage is a good way of measuring China's reliance on sources outside of China.  This is similar to the way a power outtage gives perspective on our reliance on electricity.

As Frank mentioned, we're connected to the outside world here at MSRA, but other Chinese companies and home users aren't as lucky.  Observing the grinding halt (or lack thereof) of business in China may be interesting - but keep in mind that intra-China communication is ok.  What does this mean?  This means that at home, I can surf Chinese websites and communicate with Skype users who are in China.  This means that Chinese peers in P2P systems (e.g. BitTorrent, eDonkey) are functioning.  Great example of the resilience of P2P.  If only websites themselves were distributed in a P2P fashion.

China has many locally-branded versions, or copies (depending on your level of cynicism) of external services.  QQ is arguably the most successful IM client on earth (given that Chinese youth spend real money to dress up their QQ avatars), it's China-only.  Baidu searches Chinese websites and remains accessible.  And so on.

As the Internet Gods fix the pipes, things will be going off and on over the next few days or weeks.  It's not like the electricity going back on; instead, access grows and shrinks according to the traffic, demand, time of day, and available bandwidth.

At home in the Dongcheng district, the one external service I use that seems to be little-affected is GMail.  Amazing.  I'm not sure how they did it, but Google may be adhering to a more de-centralized storage system of their mail servers and website.  Or perhaps this is a result of Google buying up so-called 'dark fiber' around the world.  Either way, they've done a good job.

-neema