Saturday, 23 January 2010


Identities and Cultures: Methodologies in the 21st Century and Challenges in a Global Research Landscape.

My PhD project is visualising invisible urban Wi-Fi distributions as digital landscapes.
In 21th century, researcher faces a speedy globalization area. Multiple identities and cultures are interwoven closely than the previous decades. Cheaper and faster Internet connection brings people from New York’s Wall Street or Cambodian rural villages to go online. The anonymity of Internet creates a conceptual field where people are present equally so identities are more transparent than before.
Beside hardware, strong and transnational search engines create different organized ways to access knowledge. In these search engines, knowledge is constructed by querying them than searching them. The query is composed of algorithm and logic of search engines and it transmits the particular knowledge structure which globalises the local users’ search cognition and behaviours which are parts of cultures.
Wi-Fi is a wireless Internet connection technology and popular in cities around the world, such as London and New York. These cities organize their Wi-Fi infrastructure according to their social, cultural, political and economic background. Wi-Fi landscapes are global phenomena but also reflect local identities and cultures. In the other words, the cities create their metaphor of identity and cultures through urban Wi-Fi plans.
This project studies Wi-Fi network in London, Taipei, Hong Kong, New York and Chicago. I applied fieldwork in anthropology to collect Wi-Fi information in these cities. Fieldwork and ethnography are applied widely to study cultures in small settlements. To expand their application and keep native's point of view, I played the native as cyborg (cybernetic organs) to walk around these cities to access and record Wi-Fi access points. This way provides new method to study global Wi-Fi landscapes and overcome the territorial restrict of traditional ethnography by connecting different places through one personal life history.