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Searching Guangzhou 
Regionalizing China’s Weibo 
Prepared for IR15 2014 
Wilfred Yang Wang 
wilfred.wang@hdr.qut.edu.au 
...
2 
The study 
•A study about the formation of geo-identity on the 
Internet 
•Ask: 
How geography intersects with new medi...
10/28/14 
Sina Weibo 
• Launch by Sina Corporation in 2009 
• 280 million users by the end of 2013 
• 140 Chinese characte...
Sina Weibo 
• Launch by Sina Corporation in 2009 
• 280 million users by the end of 2013 
• 140 Chinese characters input p...
Why ‘geography’? 
• The myth of a borderless cyberspace 
• Recent scholarships shows otherwise 
• Sub-national region is a...
Place as a historical logic 
‘That which is long divided must unify; that which is 
long unified must divide.’ 
10/28/14
A CCP’s paradox 
• The Chinese Dream as a unified Chinese ethnicity--- Xi 
Jinping (2012); 
• Linguistic law: tuipu (promo...
Place as an Internet logic 
10/28/14 
Baidu Index
BBS 
10/28/14 
Regional 
Forums
Guangzhou – the place
Guangzhou (Canton) 
• Capital city of the Guangdong Province 
• Population: 14 million (2014) 
• Dialect: Cantonese 
• Cli...
‘How we think of China’ 
Northern 
People
Pro-Cantonese Protest in 2010 
•A proposal to abolish Cantonese broadcasting at local 
TV station’s news and current affai...
A linguistic war 
Type in Cantonese instead of Mandarin 
For example: 
蚊 = mosquito (Mandarin) 
= Dollar (Cantonese) 
You ...
Visualise dissents
GZ-HK Cultural Identity 
• Woai Feisinai (18:48, 25/07/2013): ‘pro- 
Cantonese is a common course for 
Guangzhouers and Ho...
Why geography? 
• The interaction between the shared virtual and 
geographic spaces; 
• Place defines online practices and...
Geo-identity framework 
10/28/14
10/28/14 
A note on Methodology 
• Case study approach 
• Three case-studies: 
1. The pro-Cantonese protest in 2012 (key w...
10/28/14 
Data 
• Maually collected, no free API 
• None of the 'big data' software work 
• Locative based instead of even...
10/28/14
Categories 
Label/Code Counts 
Information 
Protest Information 149 
Personal plan on protest day 55 
Future actions (seco...
THANK YOU! 
QUESTIONS?
Searching Guangzhou
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Searching Guangzhou

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Presentation slides for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) 15th Annual Meeting on 23-25 October 2014, @ Daegu, Korea

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Searching Guangzhou

  1. 1. Searching Guangzhou Regionalizing China’s Weibo Prepared for IR15 2014 Wilfred Yang Wang wilfred.wang@hdr.qut.edu.au Queensland University of Technology
  2. 2. 2 The study •A study about the formation of geo-identity on the Internet •Ask: How geography intersects with new media technologies; - How do we learn about a place (nature and humanity) from digital information and data -How do we understand new media practices through the lens of human/cultural geography * Today: why geographic places
  3. 3. 10/28/14 Sina Weibo • Launch by Sina Corporation in 2009 • 280 million users by the end of 2013 • 140 Chinese characters input per post • Basic functions include: follow, post, repost, LIKE, comment, favour, IM, inbox; upload image, video, URLs …
  4. 4. Sina Weibo • Launch by Sina Corporation in 2009 • 280 million users by the end of 2013 • 140 Chinese characters input per post • Basic functions include: follow, post, repost, LIKE, comment, favour, IM, inbox; upload image, video, URLs … 10/28/14 4
  5. 5. Why ‘geography’? • The myth of a borderless cyberspace • Recent scholarships shows otherwise • Sub-national region is always part of China’s Internet • Local-central is historical • Weibo is located within China’s asymmetric spatial structure between local places and the central state. 10/28/14
  6. 6. Place as a historical logic ‘That which is long divided must unify; that which is long unified must divide.’ 10/28/14
  7. 7. A CCP’s paradox • The Chinese Dream as a unified Chinese ethnicity--- Xi Jinping (2012); • Linguistic law: tuipu (promoting Mandarin); • Standardised text books; • Historical genre film and TV productions (collective memories). BUT… • Household registration system (Hukou) since Mao; • Regional economy and development; • Decentralised administration; • Sub-national region as the container of identity. 10/28/14
  8. 8. Place as an Internet logic 10/28/14 Baidu Index
  9. 9. BBS 10/28/14 Regional Forums
  10. 10. Guangzhou – the place
  11. 11. Guangzhou (Canton) • Capital city of the Guangdong Province • Population: 14 million (2014) • Dialect: Cantonese • Climate: humid subtropical (68% humidity) • Economy: first to reform; hospitality and trade-driven: ‘China’s southern gate’. One of the wealthiest regions in China (GDP) • Geographic: close to HK and Macau • Media: outspoken (Nanfang Media Group) • Recent Histories: Opium Wars; Taiping Revolution; the Nationalist Revolution and the Communist Revolution (nationalism) • Social changes: rapid population growth rate since 2000s due to migrants (workers, new settlers, investors) ... But very mobile population … a rapid shifting sense of cultural identity • Some issues: social inequalities, cheap labor, unemployment, inflation (if not hyper-inflation)
  12. 12. ‘How we think of China’ Northern People
  13. 13. Pro-Cantonese Protest in 2010 •A proposal to abolish Cantonese broadcasting at local TV station’s news and current affairs programs in July 2010; change to Mandarin •Public uproar and anger •A street protest on 25 July, with more than thousands participants; another protest on 1 August at HK. •The provincial governmet withdrawn the proposal
  14. 14. A linguistic war Type in Cantonese instead of Mandarin For example: 蚊 = mosquito (Mandarin) = Dollar (Cantonese) You first go (Mandarin) 你先走 You go first (Cantonese) 你行先 政府 (government) = zf, 天朝(the heaven Dynasty)/ 正虎 (square tiger) 公安部 (police department) = gong an bu / gung on bou
  15. 15. Visualise dissents
  16. 16. GZ-HK Cultural Identity • Woai Feisinai (18:48, 25/07/2013): ‘pro- Cantonese is a common course for Guangzhouers and Hong Kongers!’.
  17. 17. Why geography? • The interaction between the shared virtual and geographic spaces; • Place defines online practices and culture, and is being reproduced by the online contents; • Allow for interregional perspective of the Internet; • Historical and social continuity • The formation of a local subjectivity, hence, sense of right (of ownership) and responsibility (to defend) to the local place. 10/28/14
  18. 18. Geo-identity framework 10/28/14
  19. 19. 10/28/14 A note on Methodology • Case study approach • Three case-studies: 1. The pro-Cantonese protest in 2012 (key word) 2. Guangzhou's Weibo group (Weibo group) 3. The anti-Japan protest in 2012 (opinion leader) Geo-identity as the central concern
  20. 20. 10/28/14 Data • Maually collected, no free API • None of the 'big data' software work • Locative based instead of event based • Time specific • Key words not #tag • Embedded search function not API • Opinion leaders (individual and online groups) • Approached with framing analysis
  21. 21. 10/28/14
  22. 22. Categories Label/Code Counts Information Protest Information 149 Personal plan on protest day 55 Future actions (second protest in HK) 7 Information about censorship 16 Rationale Cultural and historical uniqueness of Cantonese 38 Linguistic and identity right 22 Seeking external supports 19 Alternative actions 21 Slogan 66 N=393
  23. 23. THANK YOU! QUESTIONS?

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