Tweets
Funding

My research is generously funded though a mix of university grant programs, state initiatives, or industry research.

Read More

RSS Feeds
Recent Updates
« Fun interview about Chinese migrants and internet cafes with Benjamen Walker's radio show, Too Much Information | Main | Moving to China to do research! Will be blogging my year on BytesofChina.com! »
Monday
Mar212011

Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW 

 

Had great feedback from my sxsw panel #300MM! It's over!

En route to China, I stopped in Austin to give a talk at my first SXSW. Attendees were at 20,000 plus for interactive - 5,000 more than last year - a sign that this conference is growing in quality content or a sign that the economy is about to burst.

So what did I over hear the most at SXSW? 

The internet is really important! Web 3.0 is here!  The reign of the virtual! Networked ensors take over the world! This is all so new! Singularity transhumanism! Social media for good! Gaming to save the world!

These statements reflect the general level of techno-utopianism that I find at conferences on anything related to the internet. There usually is little room for critical analysis or social historicizing.

As Roy Christopher points out, we live in an age of information abundance but at times it seems like our abilities to historically contextualize current events is scarce. He's right and this is particularly true for the SXSW audience who is so focused on the "new" that the "old" seems irrelevant. I have lots of qualms with technological utopianism, but I think what's make it worse is historical amnesia. Many of the talks seem to think that the technology itself - or this year the focus was on social media or games themselves - will solve our reality and make us "better."  An example of this is Simon Mainwaring's We First: How Social Media can Remake Capitalism and Build a Better World and Jane McDonigal's Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better.  The ideas promoted in these books aren't necessarily wrong, but I find the analysis in these books resting more on future talk than on grounded research.

So for my first SXSW, I decided to give a talk that would not only illustrate my analysis and research on internet users in China, but also provide historical context for what we're seeing in China.  I explored the idea of telling a story that would be an old one - a story that would historicize the internet so that we could see how human emotions can create powerful reactions that repeat itself in different mediums, processes, and outcomes. I did this by paralleling the contemporary panic around rural-urban migrants in Chinese internet cafes to the 20th century panic around Italian and Irish immigrant in American saloons.  

I also argued that internet cafes, like saloons, are important sites of social interaction. They are places of security, safety, and stability.

Internet cafes are important because they are new third places in cities. Privately owned spaces of technology access, such as internet cafes, are the new "third places" in cities because these are the places where poor people are actively reprogramming urban space to work for them. Third places like pubs, saloons, and public spaces are important for healthy diverse cities - they allow for new forms of community to develop because they allow a greater diversity of people to gather in informal settings outside of home and work.

 

Here are the slides and notes for my talk.  Since I wrote this talk with visuals, I suggest that you read this pdf where I put the notes below each slide; it'll probably make more sense this way!

 

SXSW filmed a video that will be up on youtube later, but for now, thanks so Elisha Miranda's flipcam, here's a video of the talk below. The sound isn't that great on the video, so I suggest you listen to the audio recording below.

I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below or tweet about it with the #300MM hashtag. And thank you SXSW community for all the feedback after my talk!

I really appreciated all the comments on twitter so far post-talk! Some said that my talk was among their favorites and one of the best panels at SXSW! I heart twitter for connecting me to all these people who have interest in this topic. I'm really excited to now be in touch with other people who are researching similar stuff!

A few tweets from my talk:

@narrowd: Learned more about Chinese culture in the last 15 mins than the last 30 years #300MM

@cqwang: 下面翻译一个关于中国网吧的SXSW演讲,作者 @ 是一坨文化研究者,研究中美墨低收入社群使用技术的文化背景。该讲座名为“睡在网吧(原文即为中文,也是唯一的中文)——中国的下三亿用户”,发生于3月12日SXSW。

@norabousteit: Loved @'s talk on migration and technology comparing Chinese Internet cafes with saloons before prohibition

@pandemia: Seguo la presentazione di Tricia Wang sugli internet café in Cina, cool!

@lucaconti: @ great presentation about cybercafé in China, I'll follow You here and on Bytes of China

@mbelinsky: @ fascinatingly juxtaposes American saloons & Chinese Internet cafes as bases if info exchange & public sanitation

@kenyatta: Culture survives precisely b/c it is distributed /by @

Thank you to friends who listened and gave me advice: Kristen Taylor, Kevin Slavin, Kenyatta Cheese, and Morgan Ames.

I also did an interview with the lovely Benjamin Walker for his WFMU radio show Too Much Information. Here's the link to the show. Thanks Benjamin!

Too Much Internet by Benjamen Walker


______________________________
Below are some random thoughts about my first SXSW experience  SXSW!

I've written a separate post of my Austin food review and my favorite personal moments. Here are all my pictures!

Thanks to Glenda Bautista who has an eye on making SXSW topics more diverse, I was invited this year to be on the Future 15 series that addressed diversity on the internet.  I'm not sure if I will give a talk next year at SXSW again because I felt that the conference was really US-centric. It was only after I arrived that I found out about the Technology Summitt with topic areas in China, India and more. But this was scheduled 2 days AFTER SXSW and there were no speaker names attached to any of the events.  The sad thing about the size of SXSW this year was that there were TOO many panels scheduled at the same time. And the program book, online schedule, and iphone app all had different information or updated info about the panels. Most people me that my panel was undiscoverable.

Some panel highlights:

Bad hashtags: I saw so many instances of bad twitter hashtags. But this one below from Nokia had to be the best. Come on nokia at least get your hashtags right!


IMG_3606

change it up!  It was disappointing to see that all 4 of the keynote speakers were white males.  Even though there was more diversity in the keynote speaker set though still it was overwhelmingly white and male. I thought that the Future 15 panels   had more diversity, but SXSW didn't make a big enough effort to promote these panels. You can't even find a list of all the Future 15 speakers.  It's really disappointing when a conference becomes this big and they still are unable to find people of color to promote. There are plenty of people I would love to recommend for next years line up - and I think SXSW could open it up and take suggestions to increase the diversity of its speakers. For starters, I'll nominate a few friends -  Baratunde Thurston, Nora Abousteit, Jay Smooth, and Kenyatta Cheese.

tacky, sexist, and hetero-normative messages in the green room: I loved the green room for its calming pre-panel energy. But one thing that threw me off with the sexist shit that Ink Public Relations put on the tables. These cards were scattered all over each table in the green room. The last piece of advice was completely offensive.


"A speech should be like a women's skirt: Long enough to cover the topic, yet short enough to be interesting."

sexist  marketing material at SXSW - Ink Public Relations

After seeing this, Anetv writes on twitter "tech-centric venues wonder why they've trouble recruiting women? & ppl wonder why young girls feel that tech isn't "for them?"

Violet Blue also noted the same thing and wrote a wonderful blog post about Ink Publiciy's tip cards. I also reblogged this on my personal blog.

Lovely Film! I didn't get to see the screening of Surrogate Valentine, but according to my friend Elisha Miranda who saw it - it was amazing. Thanks Gary Chou for bringing the world another great film and giving us more Lynn Chen!

Yah new peeps! It was so lovely to finally meet people in person! And most importantly, SXSW is a time to bond with close friends.

I'll be landing in CHina in a few days and blogging more actively on BytesofChina.com. See you there!

 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

References (12)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Very good Website, Stick to the beneficial work. Thanks.
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Response: webgurus.com.br
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    Response: la mejor tablet
    Slides/Notes for my SXSW talk on my research in China & some reflections about SXSW - Updates - Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer transforming research, specializes in China & emerging markets
  • Response
    http://www.salarmyftlauderdale.org/

Reader Comments (7)

Tricia - I apologize for the delay in responding as I am just now reading this post. I have been surprised by the reaction to the cards as they were intended to be lighthearted and helpful (who can argue that there is a balance to be found in terms of how long one speaks), but regardless of intent, we obviously missed the boat and apologize for any offense taken. None at all was intended and it is unfortunate that the one "tip" on the card has now overshadowed what we believed to be (and it sounded like you agreed) a fairly zen green room (we were also responsible for the knitted art installment). Lots of lessons learned with this one.

Thanks,
Starr Million Baker
Owner, president, INK Public Relations
www.ink-pr.com

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStarr Million Baker

Hi Starr, I just read the thoughtful apology above this comment.

I, however, felt that your apology on my blog post sounded much more genuine than the apology you have made here on Violet Blue's blogpost on ZDNet. Why is that?

I have to question whether you truly understand why people are offended when I read about your initial reply to Violet where you responded to her with a blogpost titled, "Here's A Tip: Lighten Up." Wow, now that's pretty bad form considering that you are a PR firm - exacerbating publicity faux pas by sending passive aggressive responses to someone who privately reached out to you for dialogue?

I also just finished reading your own blogpost, "Lessons Learned," where you outline things that your firm could've done better. One thing that is missing is the attempt to understand historical and cultural contexts.

This phrase as it is used in this context is an old one - it has its roots in the early days of the golden age of public relations.
As intriquing as we all find the world of Mad Men, none of want to go back to that era.

Understanding context is critical. People often hear, "I got gypped." But if you don't understand the context from where it came from, who it is addressing, the group of people that "gypped" refers to, then it might not seem offensive.


I'm not saying that you should be down with every "female" conciousness agenda, but as an all female PR firm you should not be as you say "surprised" that so many women and men consider the tip cards to be a solid problem. And then in a reply to Violet you say again that "you remain surprised at the response" - well if you remain surprised then that to me doesn't sound like you actually understand how your tip cards were offensive still.

Sadly, there still seems to be a disconnect on your end in understanding why people were upset by this and your original intent.

tricia

March 25, 2011 | Registered Commentertricia wang

"We thought it was funny and a bit edgy. We realize it was also in incredibly poor taste, especially in a field (the web; the internet; technology) that is a pretty marginalizing place for women as a whole. We were trying to be catchy and we wound up insulting ... well, actually women make up a tiny portion of the speakers at SXSW so we didn't wind up insulting half the speakers, but that's part of the problem here. Anyway, we erred, and we're sorry." I can haz job in PR?

March 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramanda

To bring the comments back to Tricia's work, I'm sorry I missed your presentations at SXSW, so thanks for giving a recap! I graduated from undergrad last year and my bachelor's thesis was titled "Beyond the Firewall: The Internet's Impact on State-Society Relations in China", so the topic is near and dear to me.

I am currently working in gamification, or using game mechanics outside of entertainment and within business, health, and government. Jane McGonigal's TED talk last year was actually what first got me involved in the space. I completely agree that gamification depends more on "future talk than on grounded research". I would be very interested in hearing some of your thoughts on how to improve the research.

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Lopez

Before I read this, I always think the Internet Café is a crazy place. My mom always tells me that it is a place I should never go to. She said it is full of evil people, bad kids (who escape form school). But now, I know that Internet Café is not like what I think, it is not a place that is full of criminal, but it is a place for people to connect with each other. Yes, there are a lot of bad things happens there, but there are a lot of bad things happen in other places too. Internet Café should be a pretty important thing for emigrant workers who do not have a cellphone or computer, so the Internet Café is the only place they can go to. Some of them spend their night there, because they can’t pay for staying at other places (even though they know that is really not a safe place to stay).
It is sad to know this, I really feel sorry for them. I have never think about to sleep at such place, but those poor people have to. I can't really believe there are people just so poor that they need to sleep at this kind of place.

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDemi Chang

Before I have seen this presentation, I have heard a lot of rumors about internet cafes, on TVs, on news papers, all of the articles are telling us to keep away from internet cafes. Because of all of these rumors, in my mind, internet café is a place full of drugs, messy, crowded, a place only criminals, poor people or hobos go.
But this presentation completely overthrew my impression to internet cafes. From this presentation, I learned that Internet café is absolutely not what we see from the outside. There are more in the inside for migrants, it is like their home, a place where they spend their night, where they keep their kids, where they contact with family and friends where they relax and where they look for jobs. It is their third place, where they have their social life. Most of them really rely on internet cafes. It is the only place they can go other than the place they work.
I found this topic really interesting, there are lot more inside than it is seen from the outside, it is much deeper. For us, outsider, internet café is like a black hole, we don’t know anything about the inside. This presentation had revealed the part of the black hole for us, and dispelled our misunderstanding to internet cafes.

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Wang

Actually to be honest, when i first learned about the internet cafe, i believed that it is sort of like an isolated paradise. When you are tired of the world's cruelty you can go to this fantasy place where there is nothing to worry about, where you can do whatever you want and nobody is going to stop you. But due to the fact that this place is too good, many people get addicted and wish to stay here forever and run away from all the responsibility and pressure given in the true world which is why people call this place evil.
After I saw this presentation, i relealized that i was wrong. The internet cafe is actually more of like a place where different people from different social groups meet. In this place no matter you are a poor immigrant from the countryside or your maybe a boss that has got a broken interenet at home, you are all allowed in and have the same chair, same computer, same table and same amount of money deducted form your pocket (fee). But even though, just like what Christina Wang (author of the post above me) said, the internet cafe has a very complicated social relationship which we can describe as a black hole and that we have only revealed a corner of it.

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Chi

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>