Tom McDonald

Tom McDonald

I'm an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong. Member of the UCL Why We Post team. http://twitter.com/AnthroTom | http://sociology.hku.hk/mcdonald

Location Hong Kong

Activity

  • Very clear and useful description of the 3 elements that go into debt repayments. Thanks!

  • Tom McDonald made a comment

    Hi, happy to take part in the course. I have an interest in topics of credit & debt and look forward to learning more about those through this course. Am also interested to learn more about looking at all the different aspects of household finances in a comprehensive way, which is what the course seems to claim to do.

  • Interesting reflections on urbanisation. Thanks for sharing, Matthias!

  • Thanks Teresa. Fascinating to hear how ritual activities, migration and communication technologies are combining in the instance of your hometown. Thanks for sharing!

  • Really interesting reflections, thanks for sharing Sonia. Those interested in issues of parenting online might also want to check out the 'Parenting for a Digital Future' blog http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/parenting4digitalfuture/

  • Interesting reflections! Yes, it's fascinating how communications technologies can even change how we experience major life events such as this

  • Great examples and reflections from your own usage… thanks for sharing Purdie!

  • Great questions!

    In my own fieldsite in rural China, many young people were not allowed smartphones by their parents until they started attending university/college in the city, because of fears that have phones would have an adverse affect on their exams. It will be interesting to see what young people in China will share in the future, I think they are...

  • Great reflections, thanks for sharing Nicole. It's also illuminating to hear how this works in the very particular case of student–teacher relationships, thanks for explaining in such detail!

  • Thanks for sharing Layla. Perhaps it is a reflection of how embedded social media is in many of our lives that some choose not to use it at all. Hope you enjoy the course!

  • Really interesting comments, August. Thanks for sharing! It is interesting how the popularity of platforms changes over time.

  • Interesting reflections, thanks Laura!

  • Yes, QQ's customised design reminded me of MySpace too! Hope you enjoy the course!

  • Amy & Laura – Thanks for the comments. Yes, I also observed concerns around safety and interacting with strangers online in my fieldsite. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks Ana! Great question. Yes, on some of the platforms gender is important when connecting with strangers, and people often want to connect with those of an opposite gender. Hope you enjoy the course!

  • Thanks, it's interesting to here that Russia has it's own popular platform – I'd be interested to know what your thoughts or on the reasons this platform has emerged and become popular? Hope you enjoy the course!

  • Thanks for sharing Amy! It's fascinating to think that you perceived 'social credibility' might be judged through the platforms you are (or are not) using. Hope you enjoy the course!

  • Great details, thanks for sharing Başak! Enjoy the course!

  • Great examples, it is fascination how different platforms seem to map onto your different types of social relations. Thanks for sharing Nicola. Enjoy the course!

  • Thanks for sharing Rob, and your example reminds us that while theories are often useful to 'think through' certain social phenomena, there are always exceptions which we should also remain open to. Enjoy the course!

  • Really great details, thanks for sharing Louise. Interesting to hear the different associations with different platforms.

  • Fascinating details, shows how quickly social media platforms are developing. Enjoy the course!

  • Tom McDonald replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Thanks for sharing your thought Kallisto. Enjoy the course!

  • Interesting comparisons Lucinda, thanks for sharing. I never met anyone saying they were bullied because of the customisation they had use on their profile, although many did value the opportunity for expression and the ownership of the space which they felt it afforded them. Enjoy the course!

  • Glad you found the introduction to the platforms useful. Enjoy the course!

  • Actually, most of my participants found the "Shake" feature to be a lot of fun! Most of the time they used it to connect with strangers when they were bored. Enjoy the course!

  • Hi Rob. Thanks for sharing. Yes you are right: generally speaking there is quite a difference between interior China and the coastal provinces, however even between our two sites there was also differences based on migrant/local populations, and one place still being rural, while the other largely urban. Enjoy the rest of the week!!

  • Really interesting to hear about the Polish platforms and how they relate to Polish society/culture more generally. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for the comments SG. Hope you enjoy this week, and will look forward to hearing if it matches with your own experiences!

  • Hi Susan, great question! Yes inputting Chinese characters can be something of a challenge, especially for older users. This is one of the reasons why sending voice messages instead of typing was developed on Chinese social platforms first, and only later made its way over to non-Chinese platforms. Hope you enjoy the course!

  • Yes, the shake feature is really popular. It is of course, not used by all users every day (like direct messaging which is far more frequently used) but it is nonetheless really captivates users, and many have tried it out.

  • Thanks very much for all of your contributions, it's really great to see the conversation come alive around this point.

    One of the interesting points raised in the comments above is an idea that we just make decisions based purely on "functionality", i.e. our decisions are practical, we use just what we need, etc.

    While this might be true to a point...

  • Great point, Barry, thanks for sharing. Yes, QQ's comparatively long history means that it also has a strongly sentimental aspect for some people in China, and it's important not to ignore this aspect of it. I wonder whether non-Chinese social media users do/will ever feel as strongly about their own SM platforms (i.e. FB, Twitter, etc)?!

  • Great. I'm glad our example has made you think about relevant cases in your own country. Would be fascinated to hear if you can come up with a reason for the decline of Orkut in Brazil!

  • Good points, and my own fieldwork in rural China certainly seems to support this to an extent.

  • Interesting comment Steven. Another, often downplayed aspect, is simply that the social media companies can earn more money by offering everything!

  • Great Maheshwor, really glad you feel that you learnt something from the video! Yes, it's surprising how little is known about what these platforms are actually like outside China!

  • Great comments Victoria! Yes people seem quite willing to 'shake' and chat with strangers, even if they may never meet them. I agree it is interesting because I think it would't really work with Euro-American modes of socialising.

  • Great comments, thanks ivy. Yes this connection between the relatively 'closed' nature of QQ/WeChat, and the closed circles of friends that people had in their home town was definitely a theme in my field site. Enjoy the course!

  • Great comments, thanks Noel! Yes you have bought out a really interesting contrast with the previous lessons. I suppose in China both Xinyuan and I were working with quite 'disadvantaged' populations, so limitations and frustrations when it came to communication technologies were a regular theme.

  • Really interesting comments, thanks Anthony. It must have been fascinating to see China in the 1970s! Yes the transformation in Chinese society is really breathtaking.

  • Interesting, thanks for the comment Dieudonné. Yes this is an interesting question precisely because inequality works on so many different levels in China: within the vast country, in regions and areas, and even down to individual villages. And it can be measured in so many different ways. So there is no simple answer

  • Great explanation and detail, thanks Barry!

  • Great, thanks for the comment Anushree. We'll be talking about censorship later on in this week.

  • Great, thanks for the contribution Mukta. Hope you find this week interesting.

  • Great! Hope you enjoy this week and learn something new!

  • Very interesting. Do you think social media companies have a responsibility to make such voices less visible? For example: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/19/donald-trump-facebook-election-manipulate-behavior

  • Great example Anthony. Thanks for bringing a global perspective to our course!

  • Great comment Barry. I particularly like the second half of your comments, and find it fascinating that what constitutes 'control' might not necessarily be a given, but is equally constituted by one's own perspectives, context and culture. Hope you continue to enjoy the course!

  • Really interesting point Joao, I like how you take the point on speed, but expand it to show how it is not just about the affordances of the technologies, but rather that people are using the increased speed of social media to reconfigure their relations with politicians, and each other.

  • Thanks for the example Rebecca. Really brings to life how finely balanced the issues are.

  • Thanks for contributing Catherine and Dawn. Your real-life examples really bring our discussions alive!

  • Thanks for contributing Raini. I agree that the 'micro-politics' that occurs because of social media is very important. But also, your comment makes me think about whether there can be such a simple split between the 'micro' and the 'macro'. For instance, in my own fieldsite in rural China there seemed to be a clear connection in people's minds between the...

  • Very interesting comments, thanks for contributing Winston. I think these ideas of speed and bridging distance are indeed important aspects of social media.

  • Thanks for the thoughtful posting, Howard. It's interesting to think about analogous types of images that maybe have performed similar social functions in the past, and it certainly helps to make the case that particular images can have certain impacts and power.

    Hope you continue to enjoy the course.

  • Thanks for sharing Erena. Are there any groups in Nigeria who post more of one kind of theme than another, and if so, why?

  • Great comments Emily. It is certainly interesting how social media platforms seem to mix up all these themes. I suppose the question is whether these themes are really reflective of everyday life? Are there other themes that dominate everyday life but for some reason don't make it onto social media?

  • Thanks for your response Enache. It's great that you have such a diverse network on your social media – it almost allows you to do a global comparative yourself! The contrasts you draw out from these different groups are fascinating. Hope you continue to enjoy the course.

  • Interesting, thanks for sharing Zileena. Do you think there is any reason for people's posting preferences changing as they get older?

  • Interesting Marc, thanks for sharing. May I ask whether this reflects mainstream media, or if what people are posting online is quite unique?

  • Interesting example Lucy, thanks for sharing. What strikes me about your case is how posting images online really forces you to think carefully about your own social network and social relationships. So taking and posting images is perhaps not just a shallow practice, but one that is actually all about considering our position in society. Hope you continue to...

  • Interesting how many people share these concerns about privacy. But it seems that in certain places of our study, these concerns are applied to very different things/kinds of images.

  • Great Eliana, glad that the video got you thinking. A big part of anthropology is questioning the things we take for granted, and trying to work out what the importance of them might be.

  • Really interesting points about aspiration and morality here. Thanks to you all for contributing to a great discussion!

  • Interesting, thanks for sharing Mary. I'd love to hear more about any other ways you think posting images in Ghana is different from other places!

  • Haha. Really interesting. Thanks for sharing Umer!

  • Interesting comment Deirdre, thanks for sharing. Yes, online images definitely have a different temporality.

  • Great observation Stephen. You're a natural ethnographer!

  • Hi Sam! Fascinating comments, thanks for sharing. I really like the idea that even the term implies quite different things in different languages, and I wonder whether this affects the ways memes are perceived and used in different cultures?

  • Thanks for sharing Lucy! Really interesting comments. Photography is an interesting practice to think about anthropologically precisely because it forces people to think about who they are and the relationships they have with other people.

    Speaking of kids photos on social media, you may also wish to take a look at this video I made from our Chinese field...

  • Really interesting comments, thanks Theresa. I like the idea of a meme allowing one to have 'reach' with a high profile person, where a standard message doesn't – almost as if it has some kind of extra power!

  • Hi Felix. Yes Appaurai's notion of 'mediascapes' may well be a way to understand the phenomena of memes. Hope you continue to enjoy the course.

  • That's interesting, but one might ask why is it that some kind of memes seem popular across cultures? Thanks for sharing, and hope you enjoy the course.