"The power of digital traces – how the context matters?"

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The Snowden movie has enticed us with such vivid imaginaries of the state power on using digital traces. Unsurprisingly, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who acts as Edward Snowden in the movie, has become an advocate for PRIVACY issues and donated his 'Snowden' acting fee to American Civil Liberties Union. On contrary, this paper intends to usher readers into the scene in China where the digital traces have been used to empower grassroots businesses and combating corruptions.
This paper looks at two cases in China – 1) the financial mechanism operated by Alibaba supporting 5 million small and micro-enterprises (SMicroEs) with a total of 640 billion USD since its inception in June 2015 (Zhejiang E-Commerce Bank, 2017). Its mechanism operates hand-in-hand with Alibaba’s Sesame Credit system, which is fed with historical and live data collected constantly from cross-platform online service infrastructures. 2) the initiatives at county and municipal levels experimenting big data-assisted anti-corruption actions.
Like almost all developing countries, China has been suffering from two major problems in its economic and social development. One is the financial support for SMEs in need, and the other the rampant corruptions in government and other powerful organisations. The paper provides the explanatory how these big data based technologies have been utilised to empower people and combat the powerful ones. It interprets how most people in China support these technologies, given the contexts.
Period9 Sep 201910 Sep 2019
Event titleScience, Technology and Innovation Studies: Critical Inquiries in Theory and Practice: Assist-UK 2019 Conference
Event typeConference
LocationManchester, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • data trace
  • digital technology
  • contextuality
  • social construction
  • China