Sensitivity of the Chinese Web: A Techno-Semiotic Perspective into the Scriptural Economy of Chinese Computerised Media

Allan Bahroun

Punctum, 1(1): 124-139, 2015
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2015.0009


This article intends to create a dialogue between ongoing discussions in French techno-semiotics and the contemporary debates about the ‘Chinese Internet’. Resorting to Yves Jeanneret’s interpretation of Michel de Certeau’s scriptural economy, the author demonstrates that a techno-semiotic approach to computerised writing yields conceptual resources to disentangle the research on the Chinese Web from its ideological polarisation. The text articulates three explanatory matrices to address the profound semiotic mutations characteristic of the development of computerised media. The first matrix discusses the applicability of the scriptural economy to the domain of computerised writing; the second produces a critical definition of the popular notion ‘sensitive words’ and more generally elaborates on the construction of ‘web sensitivity’; the third offers a series of documented observations into the political economy of China’s Internet-Service Providers and presents hypotheses on the dynamics of technological surveillance. These three matrices, interwoven around the specific case of China’s computerised media industries, allow the author to make a tentative contribution toward a broader reflection on the semiotics of the Web

KEYWORDS: scriptural economy; techno-semiotics; web sensitivity; computerised devices; Chinese web
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