Home / Blogs

An Ethnographic Study - What are Cubans Doing Online?

Aida Zeki?, a student at the University of Uppsala, Sweden has published her master’s thesis, “Internet in Public: an ethnographic account of the Internet in authoritarian Cuba.”

The thesis reports on interviews of 50 Cuban Internet users at nine WiFi hotspots in Havana during September and October 2016. She asked pre-planed, but mostly open-ended questions of 25 men and 25 women. She tried to identify people between 25 and 50 years old, but a few were a little older.

She found that nearly all of the interviewees use the Internet for communication (long-distance calls and social media), over 40% use it for information seeking (for school and work, foreign and domestic news and visiting domestic Web sites) and fewer than 20% for entertainment (including sports):

(The gray areas in the figures attempt to show the precision of the estimate given by the green bars. I assume that they represent something like a 95% confidence interval for the mean, but the nature of the sample cannot support an exact inference.)

The percent of people using the Internet for entertainment—a luxury—would surely rise if connectivity were faster and cheaper, while communication and information seeking would rise, but to a lesser extent.

The following chart shows a somewhat finer breakdown of use cases:

This quote sums up a lot of what she observed:

Even if the Cuban Internet has grown significantly during these times of change, no vibrant online society has marched forward. A well-known group of dissidents continues to provide the international community with critical opinions from the inside, but the average netizen is busy calling their family, downloading pictures from Facebook onto their phones, or struggling to open Wikipedia in preparation for their next term paper.

This is a quick summary of the findings—the table of contents of the full thesis is:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review: Internet in Authoritarian Regimes
  3. Background: Information and Communications in Cuba
  4. Theoretical Framework
  5. Methods of Study
  6. Findings
  7. Conclusion
  8. Discussion

The appendices include her questionnaire, responses and respondent’s age and sex.

By Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

He has been on the faculties of the University of Lund, Sweden and the University of Southern California, and worked for IBM and the System Development Corporation. Larry maintains a blog on Internet applications and implications at cis471.blogspot.com and follows Cuban Internet development at laredcubana.blogspot.com.

Visit Page

Filed Under

CircleID Newsletter The Weekly Wrap

More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

VINTON CERF
Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet

Comments

Cuba has more freedom than US Federal Agencies Anthony Rutkowski  –  Jan 25, 2017 1:08 AM

It seems ironic.  One of the first things that Tyrant Trump institutes is a shut down Internet communications of Federal agencies and employees - calling it a “pause on public communication.”  Pretty soon Cuba will be offering refuge for U.S. citizens being persecuted for disseminating facts rather than Trump’s “alt facts.”  Maybe you can see if Cuba will host a U.S. Freedom site!

Comment Title:

  Notify me of follow-up comments

We encourage you to post comments and engage in discussions that advance this post through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can report it using the link at the end of each comment. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of CircleID. For more information on our comment policy, see Codes of Conduct.

Related

Topics

Domain Management

Sponsored byMarkMonitor

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

Cybersecurity

Sponsored byVerisign

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPXO

Brand Protection

Sponsored byAppdetex

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API