Just back from a recent trip around China, where I discovered many wonderful things. Accessing academic information via publicly available websites, however, was not among them. My sense is that the Chinese filters create a major obstacle for
academic research, certainly from the Chinese side but perhaps from
outside of China as well. A few data points don’t make a theory, but a few data points are what I have so that’s what I’m reporting.
when discussing with a humanities graduate student the difficulty of obtaining affordable academic books in English, I mentioned MIT’s Open Courseware, which offers syllabi, lecture notes, and detailed reading bibliographies in dozens of fields. It’d be a great help to Chinese grad students…if they could access it. The students I was with could get to the MIT home page only with a proxy, and once there could not access Open Courseware.
How crazy is it that China’s most advanced students cannot access online information and knowledge that would assist them in their learning? Or that foreign academics cannot access scholarly discussions in Chinese on Chinese servers? It’s one thing when sites are inaccessible because of language problems, and I understand that the Chinese government has its own reasons for filtering what it considers to be particularly sensitive political issues–but I don’t see the logic of making scholarly exchange so difficult.