During my time living and working in Vietnam, I had the great fortune to be exposed to a cross border project that looked into the life of how people incorporated the digital footprint in their lives. My colleague, Christophe, a seasoned researcher and anthropologist, was travelling throughout Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lampur, Bangkok, Mumbai (to name a few), to explore how people embraced and infused technology into the way they live, work and play. One particularly memorable excursion, we started out early on a Saturday morning on the back of motorbikes, wheezing in and out of densely chaotic Saigon traffic. We arrived at a high-rise of intense cement blocks, tucked away deep in the density of urban sprawl. As in the other cities, we visited middle-income households. We were invited into a home of a young couple who had a young, recently school-aged daughter. The professional husband was noticeably absent on that weekend morning, generally reserved for congregating with family and social outings. The two bedroom apartment had a small balcony for plants, which exuded light into a particularly somber ambience. The focus in the master bedroom was a life-size wedding photo, which itself served as an accent wall. The woman was born in Hanoi and she carried with her a traditional flair of enigmatism and matriarchal strength. She made a little extra money for herself by selling and buying a hodge-podge of wares. Most of this income she spent on supplemental education for her daughter, in hopes that her daughter's future would have more choices than her own. These hopes centered deeply around foreign travel, working overseas and hopes of a more enriching life. Her daughter was playing with an ipad, gifted by her father, along with other gifts that her mother felt was spoiling their daughter too much. The girl launched an interactive audio ebook on her ipad. It served as a placeholder and a reminder to her father's absence. Her family wasnt unique, it stretched and was weighed down by the pressures of a fastly changing culture and technological environment. New opportunities for business strained families and digital devices allowed families to maintain their connections, virtually and symbolically.
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