Over the past week, we were introduced to several text analysis tools and it was interesting to learn that there are so many ways we can look at a text. Even the concept of close and distant reading is new to me, and it showed me the value of both being aware of the big picture and also delving into some of the details. We also spent some time working on our individual project charters, and below is a summary of mine:

Internet use in China over the past few years has increased tremendously and its growth shows no sign of slowing down. In just the first 6 months of the year 2016, there had been an increase of 21.32 million Internet users in the country, and Internet penetration continues to climb at a steady rate. As a result, the areas in which business opportunities lie have drastically changed and people are becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet in their everyday lives. My project will explore the social and economic impacts of China’s internet wave on different regions in the country by mapping out the significant milestones between the year 2005 (when Internet usage in China really took off) and 2016 (using the latest data I could find). After analyzing the data of Internet development in China, I will then focus on case studies in the areas of online shopping, meal-ordering, car transportation services and also instant messaging. There are several case studies I am hoping to look further into, including Alibaba(阿里巴巴), Taobao(淘宝), WeChat(微信) and Dianping (大众点评). If possible, I hope to create interactive timelines for the each of these companies, illustrating their growth over the past decade or so and incorporate these timelines into StoryMap. I also hope to ultimately formulate a clear picture of where in the country are the effects of these advancements most felt and whether the urban-rural gap in China is widening.

There are several available reports on the Internet development in China, with one of the most comprehensive being the statistical report created by CNNIC which was last published in July 2016. One of the most recent reports is Acquisdata’s report on China Information Technology published on 31 May 2017. These reports provide very useful statistics and numbers with regards to my research questions. However, they only very briefly touch upon the specific developments that the big players in the market are making and hardly provide in-depth qualitative analyses of the trends mentioned. On the other hand, there are also many books and articles written about specific companies – their stories and their progress, without putting them in the context of the other developments that have been introduced to the country. I hope to be able to combine both qualitative and quantitative analyses of the topic while at the same time looking at the bigger picture and mapping out where the important changes are taking place and further exploring the implications of my findings.

I am excited to be spending more time looking at individual case studies of the individual companies next week and perhaps (hopefully) stumbling upon new questions related to my project I have never thought about!