Events The Early History and Social Imaginaries of the Internet in China

Time: January 3, 2019  13:30-15:30
Location: B207 Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University
Speaker: Yang Guobin, Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania


During the “Early History and Social Imaginaries of the Chinese Internet” lecture, Yang talked about his research and analysis about the early history of the Chinese Internet and how it has developed over the years, showcasing the data he has collected over the years: screenshots and prints of early Chinese webpages.

Being part of the first generation of netizens (net citizen), Pr. Yang observed the evolution of the way people are using the Internet. “In terms of internet timeline, 25 years is a really long time, things change really fast, a lot of the archives have already disappeared” he said. That is one of the challenges, he faces when researching the subject.

He added that “Social imaginary is not about how we think of different things, but it has direct consequences for understanding behaviors.” He noted that the vocabulary people used on Internet had drastically changed. “People imagine the internet to be a virtual place of freedom, a place of belonging, they believe in a web democracy.”

After Pr. Yang gave his lecture, he opened the floor to some questions and remarks from the students. Questions as diversified as the evolution of the web page’s aesthetics in China over the last few decades were discussed.

By Angela Hua