[Publication] Dis/Connection: Internet infrastructure in Indonesia

Another publication is just out. Titled “Dis/Connection: The Co-Evolution of Sociocultural and Material Infrastructures of the Internet in Indonesia“, my latest article is part of the special issue #105 of Indonesia (published by Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Program) on “Infrastructures”. (The article is also published at JSTOR archive).

About this article, I wrote:

From warnet to mobile social media (social-media platforms accessed through mobile devices), from researchers and hobbyists of the 1990s to Indonesia’s urban youth of the twenty-first century, the Indonesian internet has evolved socially, culturally, and materially. In this article, I tell a story of the Indonesian internet by looking at the historical development of the its infrastructure, especially the internet’s access points. My goals are two-fold. First, by teasing out the technical properties of the Indonesian informational network, I aim to materialize the ephemera of sociocultural practices in relation to internet access points. Second, by focusing my attention on the everyday vocabulary of the internet infrastructure, I intend to reveal how the infrastructure works, in relation to spaces and places, access and uses, and connection and disconnection, among others. Rather than simply being a backdrop of technological and sociocultural practices, the infrastructure is an active dimension that shapes and is shaped by these practices. There are multiple ways to conceptualize the relationship between the internet and society. Studying the infrastructure of the Indonesian internet is one of the new ways to unpack the complexity of this relationship. Furthermore, I also demonstrate the value of investigating and disassembling the elements of internet infrastructure as a method of understanding the internet and society in Indonesia and, possibly, elsewhere.

This is my contribution to the study of infrastructure, the history of technology, communication studies, as well as Indonesian studies.

About this piece, here is my musing:

“I remember that I wrote this piece on 12 March 2016, after going out with my friend for 9 hours (involving lunch, a long walk, dinner, and a party). I started at 10:40pm and finished it in the morning at 6:30am. It was hours in the making (the publication process was long, but that’s beyond my control). This piece, however, was based on multiple field observations, started in 1999 when I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life (so I was just hanging out at cybercafes and writing to myself a lot) and ended in December 2015 when I had chosen what to do in life (yet still didn’t know what life’s all about). Yes, unintentionally, the research was spanning over 16 years! Long life the longue durée!”

If you have MUSE or JSTOR library access, you can also download it from: (1) https://bit.ly/2JjChHp or (2) at Researchgate: http://bit.ly/2CFcCYv

Being Lim

After standing in line for hours, it was finally my turn. I was one of thousands of high schoolers who were queuing to register for the national entrance examination for public universities. I wished to be admitted in the best technical university in Indonesia. My very smart eldest brother, who applied to the same university a decade earlier and wasn’t admitted, already warned me not to keep my hope too high. He said, “I know you’re smart and everything, but remember, we are classified as ‘non-native’ (non-pribumi). While others just need to score around 80 (out of 100) to get in, we need to be near perfect”. It was only later in my life I learned that during the Suharto’s New Order era there was indeed a very narrow quota for those who were classified as “WNI Keturunan Cina” (people of Chinese descent in Indonesia or Chinese Indonesians)  to enter state universities. Having said that, my brother encouraged me to try anyway.

The admission officer checked my documents and asked, “Where is your proof of citizenship? Where is your change of name document?” “I am Indonesian and never changed my name,” I replied. Continue reading “Being Lim”

#Reformasi@20: The Internet and Politics in Indonesia

In preparing an essay for the month of May, where Indonesia marks the 20 years of “Reformasi”, I came across what the-much-younger-me published 16 years ago — my first publication, in my pre-doctoral-program-life, written while I was in nomad. I re-read it for the first time since it was published. Relieved to find out that it’s not embarrassing for my today’s standard 😉 Also, I am surprised to discover that it is still very relevant today. Here is an excerpt from its conclusion. Continue reading “#Reformasi@20: The Internet and Politics in Indonesia”

Podcast: social media, politics and the ‘freedom to hate’

“The Jakarta gubernatorial election, held earlier this year, was perhaps the most divisive and bitterly fought campaign seen in modern Indonesian politics. Social media and the internet played a large role in the campaign, which was characterised by racism and sectarianism. But how much can we blame the internet for the bitterness of the campaign and how much is it explained by Indonesia’s conservative turn more generally? How did technology impact on this election? Are we seeing a new platform for organisation and political activism in Indonesia, based on a freedom to hate?”
Talking Indonesia Podcast host, Dr. Jemma Purdey, exploring these questions in her interview with me. Click the link below to listen.

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Freedom to Hate: Social Media, Algorithmic Enclaves, and the Rise of Tribal Nationalism in Indonesia

Sometimes, when emotion runs high, I take a really long walk, daydream, debate with myself, and then write a lot. Oh well, probably “write a lot” needs to be expanded to: sleep, write, write, write, sleep, sleep, sleep :-D. My latest article article was produced in one of such moments. Of course, this situation is neither an aberration nor a norm.  It is just it is.  Some other times,  I just sulk & watch a lot of Netflix movies or bang mellow songs on the piano & depress my office-mates ;-). Or just sleep a lot. Eh, not true. I do sleep a lot whether emotion runs low, high, or in-between. In sleep I trust, indeed ;-D

So, here is the article. As you can tell from its title, it’s a gloomy article.

Lim, M. (2017). Freedom to Hate: Social Media, Algorithmic Enclaves, and the Rise of Tribal Nationalism in Indonesia. Critical Asian Studies.

Continue reading “Freedom to Hate: Social Media, Algorithmic Enclaves, and the Rise of Tribal Nationalism in Indonesia”