I've recently been given the opportunity to visit China as part of an Alibaba event. When I first received the invitation, I had a conflict that prevented me from going. But they recently asked again and, as luck would have it, the conflict no longer existed.
So I said I'd be interested in going. I'm often up for visiting a foreign land, experiencing a new culture, seeing the sights, and meeting like-minded technology people. In recent years I've been to Korea, Japan, India, Taiwan, and so on.
But then I got to thinking about it a bit. There's been a lot of controversy about Yahoo's involvement in China and I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I probably don't have enough information to make a decision based solely on the facts (and it'd be hard to get said information). That convenient excuse has allowed me to somewhat ignore the issues until now.
I'm a little uneasy about it.
I was talking to my parents last night and my dad mentioned you can hit a web site to find out if your site is blocked in China. So a quick search revealed greatfirewallofchina.org, which will "test any website and see real-time if it's censored in China."
Guess what... My site appears to be blocked.
So a part of me now wonders why I'd travel half way around the world to visit a country in which my web site has been blocked by the government, assuming the testing methodology is reliable, of course. Even if it's not accurate, the fact that I'd even have to think about this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. They have a long and well documented history of censorship.
And, on top of that, it turns out that I have another conflict for the dates they'd like me to visit. Granted, it's a smaller conflict. But still.
What would you do?
Update: Thanks for all the feedback (public and private). That's exactly why I ask questions like this on-line. Like Mike Arrington recently said "What you get if you blog for a while is a sense of how valuable your readers are, and not because they view and click on ads." I get great feedback and a variety of things to consider. I'm off the fence now and planning to go. But don't let that stop you from voicing your opinion if you have one.
Posted by jzawodn at March 26, 2007 07:55 AM