5 Facts, 3 Lessons, and 2 Rules that doing ethnography of ICT in rural China taught me

Authors


Abstract

In a year-long ethnography of mobile phones and computer use in the Chinese countryside I saw unexpected uses and unexpected users of technology, I learned valuable lessons on conducting research in alien yet familiar environments, and I realized what are the two most important rules of fieldwork. In this talk, I summarize the facts (ICT devices are often gifted, not bought; ICT is for entertainment, and that's a good thing; people go online without knowing it; farmers enjoy playing Farmville; old people know a lot about the Internet even if they never used it), share the lessons (trust grandmothers, enjoy discrepant versions people give of the same facts, and do manual labor), and propose the rules (stay still, but never procrastinate interviews) from my rural Chinese year.

Ancillary