After successfully defending my PhD/DPhil and submitting revisions, I am “on the market” for academic or corporate opportunities that have substantial research components. Meanwhile, I will be finishing some publication work (including DPhil thesis and new/old collaboration work) within two or three months and continuing some academic duties using my spare time including this one for the special issue of Policy and Internet.
In response to the “Uneven Geographies of User-Generated Information“, I argue that researchers and analysts must be explicit and transparent about the parameters of ideal “eveness”. Ideal evenness could be as simple as a sense of proportionality to the number of speakers, the number of Internet users, or the number of offline publications. Such sense of “evenness” provides essential and concrete baselines for online/offline, cross-country, and/or cross-language comparison. In a poster for the upcoming Opensym 2014, my coauthor and I propose one such possibility of using the number of language speakers across different countries (e.g. Arabic speaking population in Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, etc.) to showcase how the viewing and editing traffic is unevenly distributed.
In a nutshell, it is not surprising that Egypt and Saudi Arabia as major contributing country for reading and editing Arabic Wikipedia, but it is interesting to see, *per capita*(as defined here as per the number of Arabic language speakers for each region), smaller and yet more Internet-ready countries such as Israel, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, etc., contribute significantly more.
It is particularly interesting that Israel contribute the most *per-capita* viewing traffic to Arabic Wikipedia. The pilot findings however relies on the accuracy of the data on the number of speakers listed in “Language-Territory Information” compiled by the Unicode Consortium in CLDR version 25. Regardless, the proposed *per capita* metrics opens the doors not only for better and more detailed understanding of the “unevenness” of analytics of user-generated content, but also for more tangible baselines for our assumptions of “evenness”.
It is sad to have this academic and public scandal associated with Taiwan, but it is not unexpected given the ways in which the publication citation indexes have been instrumental in distributing research funds in Taiwan.
I am about to face the greatest challenge to be faced by all doctoral students: a viva voce.
It is officially printed by the Oxford University Gazette, “the authorised journal of record of the University of Oxford” since 1870.
Han-Teng Liao, Keble: ‘Cultural politics of
user-generated encyclopaedias: comparing
Chinese Wikipedia and Baidu Baike‘
Oxford Internet Institute, 24 July, 11am
Examiners: W H Dutton, M Thelwall
What is the status of Chinese-language literature on Wikipedia research? To answer this, Zhang Bin and I have conducted an exploratory study of meta-search analysis based on 3464 data points produced by CNKI scholar and Google Scholar (including versions for Hong Kong and Taiwan). This short paper is also accepted by the Opensym 2014. Continue reading
China is a vast country with its internal and external geopolitical complexity. As China has the largest internet population under Beijing’s governance, the historical process of the Internet diffusion in China, i.e. the growing proportions of Internet population, holds the key to our understanding of the progression of both the Internet development and control in the region.
The Economist’s Special Report on China and the Internet on April 6th, 2013 did use a choropleth map (see page 2) to tell a story of “a giant cage”. Although it managed to show the internal differences across different provinces for the Internet penetration rates in 2011-2012, it failed to show and describe the historical shifts across Chinese provinces. Although it managed to compare China’s Internet population against that of (a)the United States, (a)the European Union and (c)the rest of the world, with a bar chart showing the 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2012 data points, it failed to contextualize China’s Internet development in East Asian context.
To amend the situation, I gathered a set of more complete data points that cover the time period from 1997 to 2012, not just for Chinese individual provinces but also for all other East Asian countries/regions, including Hong Kong and Taiwan over which China claims sovereignty. It should be noted that both Hong Kong and Taiwan are outside Beijing’s filtering and censorship regime, and they played important historical roles in reconnecting (mainland China) to the world’s global capitalist system.
By doing so, not only did I break China up (not politically of course, but analytically) so as to compare between Chinese regions (i.e. provinces), but also I put China in the context of East Asia, including countries that are more *Internet advanced of developed* such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan and those that are less so.
As one can see from the series of infographics below, we gain more insights into the China’s development this way:
For individual images with higher resolution, please click on this link.
List of Figures
Each choropleth map shows regions with lowest to highest penetration of Internet in different colors. When the color shifts from purple to green, it means the internet penetration rates are growing from 0% to near 100%
The histogram at the lower-left corner also shows how the population moves from mostly internet non users (in purple color) to internet users (in green color).
Thus, the infographics show how Chinese Internet population grows across time and space, and also in relation to other neighboring regions such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and of course Taiwan, where I come from.
These infographics helped me to develop several observations and hypotheses for the historical development of the China’s filtering regime and the maritime aspect of the Internet diffusion in East Asia. They include:
- Block-then-Diffusion hypothesis. Note the critical “growth” years of 2006-2008 for mainland Chinese regions
- “Maritime” Internet hypothesis and “Maritime” Chinese hypothesis. Note the “maritime” nature of the Internet development in East Asia and how China pushes the internet diffusion from the coastal regions inwards.
Thus, I would prefer a story of “recentering” Chinese Internet to the Economist’s story of “a giant cage”. The Chinese regime wants its Internet population has its cultural and political center (of sources and focus) within mainland China (particularly Beijing), and thus the cultural and political effects of China’s filtering and censorship regime are not so much about keeping its users isolated from the world, but rather about disciplining them using the “recentered” information sources and Internet services hosted behind the Great Firewall.
The story of “recentering” can thus better explain and contextualize why the Internet penetration rates were indeed depressed before 2005, mostly because of the initial set up of the filtering and censorship regime did have negative impacts on the adoption of Internet. However, after 2005, especially during the time period of late 2005-2008, not only the filtering and censorship regime became more *established* as everyday practice by censors and users alike, but also the domestic services and sources (mainland Chinese ones of course) began to marginalize the *foreign* ones.
The English word “to analyze” has its Latin/Greek origin, meaning “breaking up”. Thus, the infographics here demonstrate the analytical power to break up data points. It is up to analysts to tell a story by synthesizing data points that have been broken down first. As the Web increasingly allow both researchers and users to design and use infographics, it may help us to think outside the box. Let us keep breaking things up for better understanding.
I have won the OxTALENT Awards this year 2014) in the category of Interactive Infographics. Part of the University Teaching Awards Scheme, the annual OxTALENT Awards recognise and reward excellence in teaching and learning supported by ICT at Oxford. Although I cannot attend the award ceremony held in Oxford as I was in Hong Kong for the Chinese Internet Research Conference, I like to thank the people/community that have helped directly and indirectly.
First, I have to thank the Oxford Internet Institute for exposing me to various new ideas and helping me to get the advice I need, including Ralph Schroeder (my supervisor, for shaping the research idea), Mark Graham and Scott Hale (for GIS mapping suggestions).
Second, I thank the Chinese Internet Research conference/community for providing the intellectual background on the topics of Internet diffusion in China and the impact of Chinese filtering/censorship regime.
Third, my gratitude to Adrian Herzog in Switzerland for his Java applet cartography tool called “MAPresso”. He took the time answering my questions so that I can fix some of the issues encountered.
Also, my thanks to Lin-ting Hsia, a Taiwanese colleague in Oxford who took the time to attend the ceremony on my behalfPhoto courtesy of Lin-ting Hsia ).
Although I did not manage to present my infographics at the ceremony, I will write a blog post on the infographics for general audience.
What do Chinese-language microblog users do with Baidu Baike and Chinese Wikipedia? To answer this, I have conducted a case study of information engagement based on more than 40,000 microblog posts provided by the WeiboScope (University of Hong Kong) and the DiscoverText-Weibo dataset (Texifter.com). If I manage to secure travel funding for the Opensym 2014, I will present the findings this year in Berlin. Continue reading