Workshop — The Netware of the New Asian Economy under the Industrial Revolution 4.0

WORKSHOP DIRECTORS:

Salvatore Babones
Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Sydney
sbabones@sydney.edu.au

Vinh Duc Nguyen
Vice-Director, Institute of Sociology, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences
nguyenducvinh@ios.org.vn

CALL FOR WORKSHOP PAPERS:

Social networks, the sharing economy, and the internet of things are all forms of netware: networks in which value is generated by bringing people and things together (consumers, providers, cars, bicycles, payment systems, etc.). These digital networks are driving forward a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” or “Industrial Revolution 4.0.” The fourth industrial revolution builds on the electronics revolution (IR3.0) to connect people and things in digital networks. The electronics and computer hardware value chains of IR3.0 were central to the economic development of East Asia, though the region largely missed out on the computer software boom that represented the maturity of this wave of innovation. Now we are seeing the emergence of a new kind of technology value chain for what might be called “netware” — platforms that bring people and things together to create value through integration. Netware is at the heart of IR4.0 and is ripe for sociological, political, and political-economic study. It has the potential to change not just business practice, but the structure of society itself.

The new netware economy is even more focused on the Asia-Pacific region than was the hardware economy of IR3.0, with major value chains seemingly concentrated either on the west coast of the United States or on the east coast of China. The position of China in the netware economy is particularly interesting because it is home both to a large, semi-closed internet and to a large, very open maker hub. Both of these Chinese networks are focal points for pan-Pacific production networks, but neither is exclusively Chinese. The firewalled Chinese internet may be to some extent a walled garden, but mobile access to it is dominated by Android and Apple operating systems and app stores. The world’s maker hub may be concentrated in southeastern China, but it uses components from across Asia and attracts participants from around the world. Thus although China and California loom large in the netware economy, the tentacles of the netware economy are especially thick in advanced technology hubs like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and they are increasingly reaching out to new assembly sites like Vietnam, Indonesia, and India. Success in netware is likely to be crucial for any of these countries (Chine included) if they hope to climb Asia-Pacific value chains like the Japan, the Asian tigers, or indeed China itself.

We invite contributions on all aspects of the Asia-Pacific netware economy: value chains, production networks, social networks, creative commons, open source software, open source hardware, maker culture, hardware accelerators, hackathons, venture capital, digital entrepreneurship, blockchain, fintech, the sharing economy, the internet of things, and similar topics that we may not have heard of (yet). Given the emerging nature of this topic, we welcome conceptual contributions as well as papers based on empirical data. We are especially interested in contributions from scholars who are at an early stage in their research processes.