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Digital Urbanism on the Margins: Chinese Migrants and Intensive Technology
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Digital Urbanism on the Margins: Chinese Migrants and Intensive Technology


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project description of my upcoming year of fieldwork in China. …

project description of my upcoming year of fieldwork in China.
research narrative here:

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  • Migration is taking place in a new technoscape
  • What is the first thing people buy when they migrate? Or arrive in the city?
  • What do they migrate? These migrants want a better life?
  • Chart of economic growth between china and US
  • Chart that says this creation of middle class relies on ICT tools –
  • All coming together in cities - Middle class creation, virtualization of information, re-urbanization – it has to happen somewhere
  • But can the planet support their wants?
  • As the infrastru from the ground to the sky is being laid and erected, My research questions – ICT game changers - subsidizing access vs access to tools
  • Protocol: People can create on common building blocks on open web and programming lanugages
    Nokia didn’t pick a language that was super usable across platforms and they didn’t develop a community in the implementation of it
    Revolutions happen because of failed expectations, not because people are poor
  • This regimes makes digital urbanism common sense – foucault looked at secuality – he eamined religion doctring, political rhetorica, medical theory, justified politicing of faily heterosexualtiy –

  • . It is true that capitalism has retained as a constant the extreme poverty of three-quarters of humanity, too poor for debt, too numerous for confinement: control will not only have to deal with erosions of frontiers but with the explosions within shanty towns or ghettos. …
  • Transcript

    • 1. Digital Urbanism on the Margins: Chinese Migrants and Intensive Technology Tricia Wang |
    • 2. what can we learn from 300 million rural- urban migrants? they can help us answer an important question
    • 3. what the future of the internet will look like how will the next 2 billion users experience everyday digital life?
    • 4. Migration is taking place in a new technoscape
    • 5. the cellphone is the lifeline for every migrant moving to the city
    • 6. migrants come to the city for a better life
    • 7. undergoing massive re-urbanization – laying the infrastructure for the new digitally ubiquitous city cities are the site of this new technoscape
    • 8. decreasing rural population increasing urban population
    • 9. China’s increasing income per capita over last 200 years
    • 10. China has largest internet community 384,000,000 (chart from 2008)
    • 11. Convergence of processes unfolding in cities re-urbanization Digitization of information Creation of largest middle-class Tech infrastructure build out
    • 12. we are digitally networking the consumption desires of millions of people
    • 13. But can the planet support the a networked middle-class from China?
    • 14. Will ICTs be the game changer?
    • 15. do ICTs signal to a paradigm shift for society? someone has theorized about this a lot…
    • 16. Society of Control 1950 - ? Disciplinary Societies 1700-1950 WE ARE IN A PERIOD OF TRANSITION Gilles DeleuzeMichel Foucault
    • 17. Deleuze theorized this in 1992! How are people experiencing these changes today? so what now?
    • 18. I offer some initial thoughts and theories for how I’m thinking about this in terms of China
    • 19. I propose a new urban assemblage digital urbansim
    • 20. an urban assemblage in which the materiality of living in cities and its digital infrastructures are becoming mutually constituted materiality of living in cities digital infrastructures everyday life of digital urbanism sites of tech access become the loci of sociality driven by the virtualization of urban experiences and digitization of information
    • 21. workings of digital urbanism people (subjectivity, identity) product (hardware, content) tech & economic policy (legislation) protocol (code/networks/st andards) software: social media/gaming widespread infrastructure Hardware: low- cost tech tools rural-urban migration digitization of information practice (communication, spatial) state managed growth open web standards and programming languages organization workflow non co-present communication desires dreams
    • 22. DIGITAL URBANISM millions of rural-urban migrants are becoming urbanized through low- cost digital tools on the margins
    • 23. urban life on the margins uneven rights disruptive citizenship widely available digital tools publicly virtual internet cafes- digital “street corners” immobile mobility (Wallis 2008)
    • 24. SOME HYPOTHESES FOR A DIGITAL URBANISM ON THE MARGINS based on the preliminary fieldwork that I’ve conducted over the last 3 years
    • 25. 1 tools/mediums of information matter less than relations of information
    • 26. tools/medium of information vs relations of information • binary framework • digital divide - haves or have- nots, one either has or doesn’t have access • tech determinism • linear reading, based on progress • captures a snapshot of social relation •ICT4D (information communication technologies for development) • relative framework • socio-digital sieves- complex interplay of social structures & processes • avoids tech determinism • de-centered reading, based on ruptures and possibilities • captures change in process I propose this perspective
    • 27. people will experience urban space as a mix of cyberspace and code/space Dodge & Kitchen 2003: code/space is where code dominates the production of space - it mediates socio-spatial processes 2 materiality of living in cities and its digital infrastructures are becoming mutually constituted - produced through one another most prominent in sites of tech access – internet cafes
    • 28. change from the bottom up will take form in disruptive citizenship this happens when people on the margins experience the limits of consumer citizenship3
    • 29. modulationdividualizing disruption self-healing ubiquitous 4 structural characteristics of digital urbanism
    • 30. 5 commercial sites of internet access become the loci of sociality – third places (Oldenburg 1989) necessary spaces to build community not work, not home the new “street corner”
    • 31. several discursive regimes produce the space of digital urbanism we will see increasing tension around information and digital politics, what I call neo-informationalism 6 artificiality is not superficiality ubiquity and seamlessness is desired normalization and stigmatization of debt discursive regimes neo-informationalism
    • 32. • information as site of wealth expansion • information determinism as model of social change (Ames 2008) “INFORMATION • compliments neo-liberal economic policies • internet freedom myth ideology of WANTS TO BE FREE”
    • 33. neo-informationalism Information functions like currency: borderless unregulated mobile
    • 34. in an ideology that information should flow freely between institutions, governments, and people to ensure democracy, free- markets, and equality. neo-informationalism While no entity promoting this mechanism has used this word, it is a concept that I have assigned to the practices of people and corporations who promote the ideology cum theology of free-information.
    • 35. what are the processes that shape people’s everyday experiences in digital urbanism? code/space (interwoven physical and virtual space) governing data, not bodies mediated remembrance through the archive perpetual anxiety in credentials
    • 36. how do we find some answers to these questions?
    • 37. ethnographic imagination & grounded theory
    • 38. living with migrants hanging out in internet cafes working in factoriesgoing to schools I’m starting 1 year of fieldwork in a 2nd tier urban Chinese city watching informal public spaces
    • 39. research methods mental mapping deep ethnography historical research ICT mapping mobile diaries photo elicitation
    • 40. I’ll have some observations to report in 2012! In the meantime, I will be sharing fieldnotes on
    • 41. There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons. Deleuze, Postscript on the Societies of Control