The technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social entanglements of technology in rural China. Their discoveries force them to challenge the standard idea that rural culture and people are backward, conservative, and intolerant. Instead, they find that rural China has not only adapted to rapid globalization but has actually innovated the technology we all use today.
...fascinating ... It’s a weird, delightful and unsettling tableau. In Blockchain Chicken Farm Wang introduces us to dozens of such quixotic figures, hopscotching across the country on a mission: to document how technology is transforming the lives of China’s rural poor ... Wang has a keen eye for the steampunk-like details of ancient rural areas now shot through with internet opportunity ... Wang has written a nuanced and thought-provoking account.
The combination of the surreal, faintly humorous and possibly momentous typifies this eminently readable foray into some of the farther reaches of technology’s tentacles ... significantly, Blockchain Chicken Farm isn’t really a 'China book' at all: Wang is peering into the future of tech and society and finds—convincingly—the most important signposts in China rather the United States ... a fascinating (and fun) discussion of how technology development plays out differently in China, but more importantly, it provides a mirror, largely unfogged by priors, of how the push and pull between technology and society may well play out not just in China but possibly everywhere else.
Each chapter provides a view into not just how we use technology but why and to what end. Emphasizing the often-hidden human engine that powers our app-driven economy, Wang exposes the flaw in our tendency to conflate societal and cultural aspirations with the promises of technology and challenges us to honestly measure what value technology delivers ... Most of Wang’s vignettes relate to Chinese agriculture. This decision, which roots the narrative in the visceral language of human sustenance, grounds the heady subject matter ... they largely succeed in their goal of reframing our understanding of technology as neither the cause of nor the solution to our problems but rather as a force reshaping the human experience in fundamental ways.