This is just a great article from a great journalist on a great site.
The technical information in the piece is really interesting of course, but it is the cultural aspect that I find most fascinating. My strong impression, gleaned both by direct questioning (not too useful) and by round about probing, is that most Chinese are only vaguely aware of the extent of their golden shield; are completely unaware that it is the reason the internet is so painfully slow in China; and most intriguingly, seem to feel this to be a perfectly understandable and appropriate government function.
This goes to a fundamental difference in the Western vs. Chinese understanding as to the underlying purpose of government. I have the feeling that this type of internet control is not so much a function of autocracy, or communism/Leninism, or even fascism, as it is of underlying culture. It would be interesting to know if historical Western historical autocracies (say Louis XIV France or even Nazi Germany), would have been able to erect something such as the Golden Shield without significant popular dissent. I suspect not.