Merlyna Lim just gets another publication out. Titled “Dis/Connection: The Co-Evolution of Sociocultural and Material Infrastructures of the Internet in Indonesia“, her latest article is part of the special issue #105 of Indonesia (published by Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Program) on “Infrastructures”.
About this article:
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.
Through this piece, Lim contributes to the study of infrastructure, the history of technology, communication studies, as well as Indonesian studies.
About this piece, here is Lim’s 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!”