Launching our Newsletter

Greetings from Hong Kong!

We’re very excited to launch the Digital Asia Hub newsletter as a way to share content from and about the region, and showcase interesting people and projects within the digital space. This first issue is very much a work in progress: we’re fizzing with ideas, but we’d love to hear from our readers and co-create a product that is timely, relevant and original. We invite you to join us in this journey, starting with naming us. 

Yes, that’s right: throw out your suggestions for a snappy and creative name for our newsletter. Something that reflects our role as a regional hub, a platform that bridges different disciplines related to internet and society, and spans the geographic and cultural diversity of Asia. Something that - to the extent one word or phrase can nod to so many things - reflects our mission to do networked research, grow a community and build capacity. Or just send us a name that captures your own sense of what we’re all about. Send in your ideas by 17 October to, and we’ll publish our next issue wearing a new hat!

Each issue will feature pieces from invited experts, as well as a round-up of news and events. If you’d like to write an original piece for us, have us re-plug a piece recently published elsewhere, or include a conference or event you’re organising, let us know. We’ll push the newsletter out twice a month, and we’ll do our best to feature your news.

This launch issue includes a feature on the hardware memes of Shenzen, an alternate view on the recently concluded IANA transition, and a reminder about why the Internet matters. It also carries pieces on Chinese app-makers’ approach to the Indian smartphone market, and the legal hurdles arising out of WhatsApp’s recent turnaround on privacy. Our next issue will have a thematic focus: we’ll zero in on artificial intelligence, in the run-up to our flagship series, “AI in Asia”. We’ll be hosting workshops across the region, and announcing a Call for Papers for an edited volume.

Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter at @digitalasiahub, and feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. We hope you enjoy this issue, and we look forward to convening a rich dialogue between Asia and the rest of the world. 


Best regards,

Malavika Jayaram
Executive Director, Digital Asia Hub

Insights and Provocations from A Guest Expert
Digital Shanzai: Connected Manufacturing,
Memes and Our Hardware Future
By An Xiao Mina
I’ve become fascinated as of late by the manufacturing culture in Shenzhen and, having studied different aspects of Chinese internet meme culture, I was interested specifically in the role of the internet in the context of manufacturing. This interest is both academic and pragmatic—as a software product manager myself, I was also interested in what product teams more generally can learn from the work being done in Shenzhen. After some time in the Pearl River Delta and even more time reviewing literature and interviewing folks who’ve spent a much longer time looking at these questions, I got a better understanding of this.

An Xiao Mina is a technologist and researcher. She leads the product team at Meedan and is working on a book about internet memes and social movements. She is also a 2016-17 Berkman Klein Fellow.
Continue reading here
Think Again
A Contrary or Alternate View of a Mainstream Issue

IANA Transition: a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes?
By Vidushi Marda 

Amidst claims that the US government was “giving away the Internet”, the much talked about “IANA transition” survived a last-minute legal challenge to come into effect. On 1 October 2016, the contract between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the United States Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to perform the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, officially expired. The historic transfer of stewardship was hailed by most as the Internet being ‘democratised’ and ‘privatised’; others, like Vidushi Marda, believe that  issues of accountability and jurisdictional resilience still remain.

Vidushi Marda is a Programme Officer on the Internet Governance team at the Centre for Internet and Society, India, working primarily in the areas of internet governance, freedom of expression, privacy and openness.
Continue reading here 
Community Buzz
Highlights from the Internet & Society Community
Why the internet matters: a talk by Jonathan Zittrain

By Amy Aixi Zhang, Project Coordinator, Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society
WhatsApp Backtracks on Privacy, Faces Legal Hurdles

By Parul Sharma, Analyst, Centre for Communication Governance, New Delhi 
Chinese Apps Find Familiar Market in India

By Dev Lewis, Research and Communications Associate, Digital Asia Hub, and Li Xueqing, reporter, Sixthtone 
News Hub
A Round-up of Think Pieces, Reports, Podcasts and Documentaries About All Things Digital
Governance and Infrastructure
Digital Rights
The Internet Society put together a handy timeline with commentary tracing the history of IANA.

The ITU's annual State of Broadband Report 2016 is now out. 46% of households in the Asia-Pacific have a broadband connection. 
Kashmir has had no internet access for over two months and business is struggling to adapt to an analog market. 

Watch Internet freedom activist Rebecca Mackinnon explain how terror can be fought without sacrificing digital and human rights.
Trending Technologies
Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Trade
Shanghai recently played host to the International Blockchain Week at a time when Chinese mom-and-pop investors are flocking to bitcoin

Google Translate (English-Chinese) is now AI powered, and it needs to learn more Chinese.
documentary on Shenzhen's open source culture, and why the city may be leading a paradigm shift in global attitudes to IP. 

Listen to this podcast on China's infamous
Shanzhai and how they have come to be associated with innovation.


Access, Education and Connectivity

Tech for Participation, Engagement and Development

In India, a skewed gender ratio is mirrored online.

Myanmar, one of the most digitally unconnected countries in Asia, is using tablets to revolutionise education, with a focus on girls and STEM.

The Indian government's auction for 2355 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum has just ended. Bids worth nearly $10 billion were made, but there were no takers for the priciest bands of 700 and 900 MHz 
What do translation tools, like Google or Baidu Translate, have to do with cyber activism and nationalism in China? An expert explains

Meedan's crowd translation app was used by academics to translate censored Weibo posts.  
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On Our Radar
Updates and Upcoming Events Across Our Network

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society released ‘Translating Research for Action: Ideas and Examples for Informing Digital Policy’, This series of four papers aims to build a bridge between academic research and policymaking in the networked world.

Berkman Klein Faculty Directors John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's book Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age, an expanded and updated version of their 2008 book, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives is now out.

The Centre for Communication and Governance, New Delhi, released Multistakeholderism in Action, a report analysing Indian engagement at global Internet Governance Institutions.

Coming Up 

The University of Hong Kong’s Law & Technology Centre will host the the Symposium on Big Data & Data Governance on October 14-15, in conjunction with the Hans-Bredow Institut, University of Hamburg. DAH’s ED Malavika Jayaram, and DAH Steering Committee Members Wolfgang Schultz and Lokman Tsui, will all be presenting.

The Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (AIRI) in South Korea is convening the inaugural ‘AIRI International Conference on AI’ on October 11 in Gyeonggi-do, near Seoul.

The Journalism & Media Studies Centre and the Centre for Comparative and Public Law will hold a 4-day Workshop on Media Law and Policy in Asia from 17- 20 October 2016 at the University of Hong Kong. Berkman Klein Fellow, Nani Jansen Reventlow, is a speaker at this event.

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