After much discussion, research and deliberation I have finally nutted out what I’m going to focus on for my autoethnography, and how I’m actually going to make Chinese social media autoethnographic. Autoethnography is explained as an approach to research that describes and analyses personal experience in order to understand cultural experience (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011), and in order to have a personal experience of the cultural experience of Chinese social media, I have created a Sina Weibo account. I have decided to use this account to investigate Chinese social media first hand and create a research report that aims to teach an Australian audience about social media in China, and more particularly about the platform Sina Weibo. Over the next few weeks I will be documenting my experience of the site, any challenges that occur and how the site and my interactions with it differ from my own Australian experience of social media.
I chose to create an account on Sina Weibo as it has 559million subscribed users worldwide, and 129m in China, making one of the most popular (wearesocial 2014). Also there is an English version of the app, which will allow me to have a more realistic experience of China’s social media landscape with 73% of Weibo users accessing the site through mobile devices (wearesocial 2014). The app itself is just an English interface, meaning it doesn’t actually translate the posts, so to actually read posts on the site I need to use Google chrome and its translation feature on my laptop. The signup process was relatively similar to that of Twitter, however I found the verification code harder to crack than normal. Also due to the emphasis placed on the use of mobile devices, I was required to enter my mobile number to gain another verification code via text. The extra emphasis placed on security I assumed could be attributed to the level of internet security China exhibits due to its extreme censorship, or it could just suggest that our social media sites are not so secure.
My name on Sina Weibo is Melissa精彩 , this was suggested and I translated the characters and they mean wonderful, so for the next five weeks I will be known to Sina Weibo users as this. Language and my location became a barrier to my sign up experience as not all writing translated and often Australia was not listed as an option. I had to put an area code in front my phone number, Google the characters for gender, translate my name to Chinese characters for the site to recognise it as a ‘real name’ and put my school as ‘other’ due to no Australian schools being listed, despite it being an option on the initial sign up page, which suggests that there is very few Australian users of the site. However, I made it through and my profile can be viewed here. Feel free to check up on account and give me some feedback on my progress, or even better create an account and join me for the journey.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
wearesocial, 2014, Social, Digital & Mobile in China 2014′, wearesocial, viewed 4/9/14 <http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/social-digital-mobile-in-china-2014>