Socializing on the network: pioneering Chinese netizens‘ social network in the New Threads

Shu Wan

Time and Place: Thursday, 01.07., 16:00–17:00, Room 3
Session: Poster Session – Networks and Agency

Keywords: GIS; New Threads; Chinese students; Social Network

Overview: In the dawn of China’s netizens’ proliferation after 2000, Chinese students abroad took pioneering in using the Internet to communicate efficiently. However, this portion of the (recent) history in the trajectory of international students of Chinese origins has rarely been examined in past research. Taking the composition of the contributors to the first sinophonic online literary magazine New Threads as an example, this study explores the internationality of the pioneering Chinese netizens in the mid-1990s.

Methodology and data: The dataset examined in this study is the accumulation of contributors to the New Threads between 1994 and 1996. In its issues in the three years, over 250 authors, whose institutional email addresses are available on the online magazine, contributed their works to the magazine. To investigate those Chinese contributors’ internationality and distribution of institutional affiliations, this study attempts to use GIS technology in analyzing the composition of those authors and their geographic distribution.

Results: This study takes findings on the internationality of the online community among Chinese students and scholars abroad in the Internet’s early history in the sinophonic world. Most authors in the dataset were affiliated with academic and research institutions throughout North America (Canada and the United States) and the remainder of the world (France, Britain, and Switzerland). The proliferation of Chinese Internet websites and communities facilitated their maintenance of the transnational community between them, which was in advance of the Internet’s popularization in China in the 21st century. Between the birth of “overseas student literature” demonstrated in the early 20th century in Chih-ming Wang’s volume Transpacific Articulations: Student Migration and the Remaking of Asian America and the proliferation of the online community in the early 21st century examined in Lisong Liu’s book Chinese Student Migration and Selective Citizenship, there was an in-between online community consisting of Chinese students and scholars across the world.