The Wealth of Information

Screen shot 2013-04-02 at 1.24.18 AMEthnographic fieldwork is, admittedly, a new idea to me. However, I’m extremely excited to become immersed in the Chinese culture, observe and record my experiences. Coming up with an aspect within which to do this ethnographic research has been a matter I have been pondering for quite a while now. Unfortunately, I have been unable to completely narrow down my search to a specific location I would like to observe. I am currently taking a class on Comparative Economics which discusses the various institutions that exist across various economies and how it shapes these economies. China is an area of focus in this class. It’s economic structure is unique and interesting. Studying this in some form, if it were in fact possible, would be something I would incredibly be interested in researching.

Another aspect of study that has crossed my mind is the wealth of information in China. Information, in our day and age information is everything. We can no longer exist in complete ignorance. The internet has become a primary source in conveying news and information. It makes information available in an instant, about everything and anything.The good, the bad and the ugly. There are people who argue that this exposure to information may be a little excessive. They may be correct. Our lives are ruled with an overflux of information. Culture loses its simplistic novelty. Information complicates things. The phrase ignorance is bliss is an intriguing one. By not knowing about something tragic, you remain unaffected by it. Yet by not knowing, you can make ill informed decisions.

In China, there are internet restrictions, and the citizens are succumbed to a lot of censorship. Social networking sites such as Facebook are restricted. The aim of restricting such websites and information is in order to prevent any sort of anti-government propaganda. The underlying government’s view should be censored is to prevent any unfound rumors or horrible actions. The question is, are these restrictions beneficial or disadvantageous? How does it affect the public and what do they think of these restrictions?

The fieldwork site would probably be an internet cafe. An interesting aspect would be to observe how long people spend in front of the screen relative to the United States whereby there are no such restrictions. I expect it to be much shorter, perhaps thus much more efficient. Another aspect worth observing would be what kind of websites are accessed and whether that changes along the age demographic. Interviewing people will be necessary to evaluate their opinions of the restrictions, as well as to establish  more detail as to what kind of websites are most popular amongst the locals and the respective functions of these websites across various age groups.

I think observing just one central internet cafe should suffice. It will allow me to garner more in depth information on the website trends and the importance of information in China. Clearly, I have a lot of work to do to frame this properly as a research project but I am excited to see where this idea can go and what it can become.