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Grounding the Internet

May 17, 2008

team-sj1999

In 2002 I took up a Volkswagen Foundation research fellowship at Bremen University (Germany) and joined a team of European anthropologists on a comparative study of local governance and digital technologies in multiethnic areas of six countries. Having chosen as my main field site a middle-class suburb of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) renowned for its thriving community ICT scene, I conducted fieldwork there in 2003-2004. Although the fieldwork went well, on returning home my attempts at placing the various digital projects I had studied along a community-network continuum soon foundered. In hindsight I realised that I had fallen into the community/network trap – a conceptual trap that lies at the very heart of Internet studies.

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