This paper explores technology from an ethnographic point of view based on two years of research in Beijing.
|Keywords:||Technology, Company, Market, Anthropology, Ethnography, China, Silicon Valley, Zhongguancun|
I am fundamentally interested in science and technology. Before my conversion to anthropology and social science, I was a physicist for several years. Physics fascinated me because it tries to understand the very essence of all things. During my senior year as an undergraduate, I was forced to take a social science class — I chose anthropology. This was a fortuitous choice, it would turn out, since I discovered that some anthropology tries to understand the essence of science. My two years at Wisconsin were spent moving from graduate physics into graduate anthropology, a process which produced an ethnographic study of physics professors on their views of quantum mechanics, a somewhat problematic area of contemporary physics. This study was turned into a paper. When I was told that I had to choose a country to study as an anthropologist, my first choice was China. The reason was that my physics classes at Wisconsin had many Chinese classmates in it. When I went to China, I discovered not only that my hopes of studying quantum mechanics ethnographically were unrealistic but also that China had a Silicon Valley, called Zhongguancun, and that it was a vibrant place. I have spent two and a half years there over the past four years. This experience and what I have learned has influenced me profoundly.
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