Searching for ‘Digital Asia’ in its Networks: Where the Spatial Turn Meets the Digital Turn

in Asiascape: Digital Asia
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This article examines how digital methods can provide a way to search for ‘Digital Asia’ in its networks, interfaces, and media contents. Using the example of higher education institutions in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei, the paper explores how search engines, institutional homepages, and hyperlink networks provide access into the workings and representations of academia online. The article finds that even a seemingly cosmopolitan endeavour such as academia exists in rather parochial spheres, and that users that enter those spheres do so in highly biased ways. Further reviewing the digital tools that lead to these findings, the article also argues that while digital methods promise to bring together the ‘digital turn’ and the ‘spatial turn’ in the humanities and social sciences, they also pose new challenges. These include theoretical concerns, like the risk of implicitly reproducing views of neoliberal modernity, but also practical concerns related to digital literacy.

Searching for ‘Digital Asia’ in its Networks: Where the Spatial Turn Meets the Digital Turn

in Asiascape: Digital Asia

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Figures

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    Local Google search results in the three language scripts English (en), simplified Chinese (sp), and traditional Chinese (tr), for universities in Beijing.
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    Local Google search results in the three language scripts English (en), simplified Chinese (sp), and traditional Chinese (tr), for universities in Hong Kong.
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    Local Google search results in the three language scripts English (en), simplified Chinese (sp), and traditional Chinese (tr), for universities in Taipei.
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    Search results in popular Chinese search engines, conducted in the three language scripts English (en), simplified Chinese (sp), and traditional Chinese (tr), for universities in Beijing.
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    Search results in popular Chinese search engines, conducted in the three language scripts English (en), simplified Chinese (sp), and traditional Chinese (tr), for universities in Hong Kong.
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    figure 2c Search results in popular Chinese search engines, conducted in the three language scripts English (en), simplified Chinese (sp), and traditional Chinese (tr), for universities in Taipei.
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    The homepage of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (English version), reduced to a template (left) and as it appeared in June 2014 (right).
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    Images from Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s homepage slider bar.
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    The effects of responsive layouts: Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s homepage in two different browser windows.
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    The evolution of Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s homepage over time.
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    What constitutes a ‘network’? Left: single links between six actors, connected through the node at the centre. Right: ‘co-links’ between four networked actors (black).
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    The ‘neighbourhood networks’ (left) and ‘issue networks’ (right) of Hong Kong’s higher education institutions. Colours represent different domain types, thickness of lines represents the number of links (degree), and the size of the nodes and labels represents the centrality of the respective websites.
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    Higher education networks in ‘Greater China’. Colours represent different domain types, thickness of lines represents the number of links (degree), and the size of the nodes and labels represents the centrality of the respective websites.

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