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Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside

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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice "A brilliant and empathetic guide to the far corners of global capitalism." --Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing From FSGO x Logic: stories about rural China, food, and tech that reveal new truths about the globalized world In Blockchain Chicken Farm, the technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice "A brilliant and empathetic guide to the far corners of global capitalism." --Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing From FSGO x Logic: stories about rural China, food, and tech that reveal new truths about the globalized world In Blockchain Chicken Farm, 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. From pork farmers using AI to produce the perfect pig, to disruptive luxury counterfeits and the political intersections of e-commerce villages, Wang unravels the ties between globalization, technology, agriculture, and commerce in unprecedented fashion. Accompanied by humorous “Sinofuturist” recipes that frame meals as they transform under new technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitized rural world. FSG Originals × Logic dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. The titans of Silicon Valley, for all their utopian imaginings, never really had our best interests at heart: recent threats to democracy, truth, privacy, and safety, as a result of tech’s reckless pursuit of progress, have shown as much. We present an alternate story, one that delights in capturing technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and gloom. Our collaboration features four brief but provocative forays into the tech industry’s many worlds, and aspires to incite fresh conversations about technology focused on nuanced and accessible explorations of the emerging tools that reorganize and redefine life today.


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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice "A brilliant and empathetic guide to the far corners of global capitalism." --Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing From FSGO x Logic: stories about rural China, food, and tech that reveal new truths about the globalized world In Blockchain Chicken Farm, the technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice "A brilliant and empathetic guide to the far corners of global capitalism." --Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing From FSGO x Logic: stories about rural China, food, and tech that reveal new truths about the globalized world In Blockchain Chicken Farm, 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. From pork farmers using AI to produce the perfect pig, to disruptive luxury counterfeits and the political intersections of e-commerce villages, Wang unravels the ties between globalization, technology, agriculture, and commerce in unprecedented fashion. Accompanied by humorous “Sinofuturist” recipes that frame meals as they transform under new technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitized rural world. FSG Originals × Logic dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. The titans of Silicon Valley, for all their utopian imaginings, never really had our best interests at heart: recent threats to democracy, truth, privacy, and safety, as a result of tech’s reckless pursuit of progress, have shown as much. We present an alternate story, one that delights in capturing technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and gloom. Our collaboration features four brief but provocative forays into the tech industry’s many worlds, and aspires to incite fresh conversations about technology focused on nuanced and accessible explorations of the emerging tools that reorganize and redefine life today.

30 review for Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside

  1. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    Xiaowei Wang is a Chinese-American artist, researcher and activist working on technology-related issues. In this book, they describe their travels through the Chinese countryside, searching for the sources and consequences of technological innovation. While it's interesting how they dissolve the myth of the conservative countryside, it's even more interesting how they confront non-Chinese readers with their prejudices only to illustrate how stupid these cliches actually are, and how close Wester Xiaowei Wang is a Chinese-American artist, researcher and activist working on technology-related issues. In this book, they describe their travels through the Chinese countryside, searching for the sources and consequences of technological innovation. While it's interesting how they dissolve the myth of the conservative countryside, it's even more interesting how they confront non-Chinese readers with their prejudices only to illustrate how stupid these cliches actually are, and how close Western technological realities are to those in China. In eight essays, Wang talks about the surveillance state and surveillance capitalism, eCommerce and digital multi-level-schemes, social media and influencers, the title-giving chicken farm that uses blockchain to improve food safety, and some other economic and social implications of technology in rural China. I liked how the author puts economic phenomena in perspective with an intersectional approach: They are Han Chinese-American, traveling between big cities and rural areas, talking with tech specialists and workers, young people and old people, always trying to measure both the chances and dangers of digital innovation. And they also open up the big perspective: What kind of world do we want to live in, and what does that mean for the way we build and use technology? What opportunities and threats does technology bring for social justice? Unfortunately, I'm not a tech specialist, but the texts are easily accessible, and the social dimensions are way more important than the details of technological processes. This is an intriguing read for anyone interested in the development of digital technologies and how they can change the face of societies. Plus there are some "Sinofuturist" recipes in the book, so readers can find new ways to engineer their food! ;-)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Nicholas

    I Went to Rural China and All I Got Was This Valuable New Perspective on the Relationship Between Technology and Geopolitics.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    This is a fun and hugely informative book of essays on the state of technology in rural China. The author is very smart Chinese-American woman who seems to combine the skills of a software engineer with those of a journalist and an entrepreneur. There is fairly little that is available on the conduct of technology enterprises in China, much less outside of the major metropolitan areas. While the chapters appear to be only loosely related to each other, they end of being well linked to any overall This is a fun and hugely informative book of essays on the state of technology in rural China. The author is very smart Chinese-American woman who seems to combine the skills of a software engineer with those of a journalist and an entrepreneur. There is fairly little that is available on the conduct of technology enterprises in China, much less outside of the major metropolitan areas. While the chapters appear to be only loosely related to each other, they end of being well linked to any overall economic policy problem for the Chinese governments. The country is strongly organized around an internal passport system, with rights and benefits linked to areas of residence, such that it is not at all easy to pick up and move oneself or one’s family from a rural location to areas like Shanghai or Beijing where so many economic opportunities lie. As a result, each year hundreds of millions of Chinese migrate over 1500 kilometers to find remunerative work and who largely send their pay back home while living in temporary “urban villages” while away from home. To do away with internal passports would greatly exacerbate the population problems in the Chinese mega-cities. To further restrict the movement from rural areas would be politically dangerous as well and require the providing of new opportunities to the migrant workforce that ended up staying home. Many of the chapters are concerned with efforts to consolidate and build large scale economies in rural food businesses, such as chicken raising and pork production. These businesses appear to require large size and capital intensity to generatge sufficient profit. Unfortunately, it does not appear feasible to force large numbers of smaller producers out of business, which requires initiatives such as in the title chapter that seek to innovate around quality assurance for smaller producers. Other chapters focus on the growth of large scale knockoff businesses that sell mostly to a rural customer base that could not patronize regular retail stores. One of the more interesting chapters covered efforts to build entire new retail areas linked to Alibaba and TaoBao, the latter a direct to consumer internet firm that is not dissimilar to eBay. A troubled financing venture that ran into troubles just prior to its IPO is related to this effort. The writing is sharp, clear, and thoughtful. Ms. Wang is skillful at talking to a wide range of people to build her stories and the rich detail is helpful. I look forward to more books in this series and more work from Ms. Wang.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    life really is mr. worldwide 2 quotes i loved: - A once complex relationship to nature has flattened and been diminished to cash cropping, the earth becoming factory, once rich soil becoming dirt. - My last ten purchases on my credit card do not speak to the poetry of my mornings, the slant of Californian sun at 4:00 pm, the moment between dream and waking. In a life with specificity and intention, the power of surveillance and data becomes deflated, the industrial quality of rendering people into life really is mr. worldwide 2 quotes i loved: - A once complex relationship to nature has flattened and been diminished to cash cropping, the earth becoming factory, once rich soil becoming dirt. - My last ten purchases on my credit card do not speak to the poetry of my mornings, the slant of Californian sun at 4:00 pm, the moment between dream and waking. In a life with specificity and intention, the power of surveillance and data becomes deflated, the industrial quality of rendering people into categories vanishes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ula

    A very insightful, beautifully written book about technological advances in rural China. For some time, I am convinced that this country is like Japan in the 80s - they are at least a couple of years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of new technologies, and watching what happens there is like a glimpse into the future. This book confirms my belief. It is like reading some SF novel, you have to repeatedly remind yourself that it is nonfiction. Moreover, it is not a dry account, rather a ki A very insightful, beautifully written book about technological advances in rural China. For some time, I am convinced that this country is like Japan in the 80s - they are at least a couple of years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of new technologies, and watching what happens there is like a glimpse into the future. This book confirms my belief. It is like reading some SF novel, you have to repeatedly remind yourself that it is nonfiction. Moreover, it is not a dry account, rather a kind of personal travelog with many digressions and inspiring reflections. The book is a part of a very interesting series, FSG Original x Logic, which dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. Thanks to the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nuha

    Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for the Reader's Copy! Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bookstore. It is impossible to live in the US today and not hear about the rise of the Chinese economy. Yet, for most people, the impact of rapid technological changes on daily lives of Chinese folk, especially folk in rural areas, remains a mystery. What "Blockchain Chicken Farm" does is clear some of the misconceptions about rural China (ie that it is backwards, less com Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for the Reader's Copy! Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bookstore. It is impossible to live in the US today and not hear about the rise of the Chinese economy. Yet, for most people, the impact of rapid technological changes on daily lives of Chinese folk, especially folk in rural areas, remains a mystery. What "Blockchain Chicken Farm" does is clear some of the misconceptions about rural China (ie that it is backwards, less competitive, laid back) while documenting really fascinating micro industries (blockchain chicken farming, pearl mining, third party buying). What I loved most about this book was the way Wang delved into the personal lives of the Chinese people, whether through interviews or personal explorations. Some of the material seems straight out of science fiction (block chain chicken farms, really???) but as often happens in life, the truth is stranger than fiction. A fascinating read!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Wren

    Two short passages from Blockchain Chicken Farm: * After all, life is defined not by uncertainty itself, but by a commitment to living despite it. * The present moment promises nothing – it only demands. It demands building the communities that shift culture, that allow interbeing to thrive. It demands the work of awareness and care, instead of the tools of efficiency and scale. It demands seeing individual freedom as nothing more than a way for all of us to be oppressed. Most of all, the present de Two short passages from Blockchain Chicken Farm: * After all, life is defined not by uncertainty itself, but by a commitment to living despite it. * The present moment promises nothing – it only demands. It demands building the communities that shift culture, that allow interbeing to thrive. It demands the work of awareness and care, instead of the tools of efficiency and scale. It demands seeing individual freedom as nothing more than a way for all of us to be oppressed. Most of all, the present demands the tender, honest work of attempting to make meaning, instead of looking, waiting, or wanting. Through the present moment I see glimmers of liberation embedded in the work we must do at this time. Because what else can we do?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Punkelevenn

    Only two chapters in and I'm blown away... definitely a high ranking to come. Do you care about globalism? The "city vs country" dichotomy (that shouldn't be thought of as such)? Do you care where your food comes from and how it got from whatever-farm-around-the-world to your plate?? (You should!) A must-read I'll already be recommending. Wang's writing is fantastic, by the way, the perfect blend of personal and informational.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Rodenbaugh

    I came into this book expecting to learn a lot about the tech industry in China outside of tier one cities. you can find that in this book if you’re willing to sort through and deal with the authors heavily anti-capitalist political opinions that are on full display throughout. I would have enjoyed the book more if it focused more on the day to day stories of builders outside of chinas t1 cities and less time on the authors political opinions :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Dean

  11. 4 out of 5

    Allison Lipscomb

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gary Robinson

  13. 4 out of 5

    XD

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott Whittaker

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karina van Schaardenburg

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Yang

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tim McGregor

  19. 5 out of 5

    Annabel

  20. 5 out of 5

    harper Reed

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Roquet

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Nicholson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eugene

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Bennett

  25. 4 out of 5

    Isaac

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Dimoia

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rodney

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

  29. 4 out of 5

    Juha Saastamoinen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tom Thor Buchanan

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