I am in my last semester of coursework and currently working on my prospectus, which allows me more time to think about how my dissertation will take shape. In this project, I am developing codes to scrap data on two Chinese websites, Weibo (a social media platform) and Bilibili (a video-sharing platform). I have been using the application Scrappy to create codes for scraping the pages I need. I have been working on developing codes since last summer when I had the Digital Studio’s Summer Fellowship. Right now, I am able to scrap the basic info (usernames, dates, the numbers of reposts, likes, comments, etc.) on Weibo through any time frame, when I set in the configuration based on the key search terms (such as certain hashtags). I am able to save them to an excel sheet. The next step is creating a database to store the information for easier access. Since Bilibili serves a different function than Weibo, the web scraping data are presented a lot differently than Weibo, so I am working on parsing the data to sort out the correct information. When I collect data on Weibo, I use the keyword search on the platform first to screen out the data I aim to get, but for Bilibili, I search the video first, and collect the data in relation to this specific video, such as the comments and other basic information (the date of publication, how many likes, etc.). I am currently working on developing the scraping codes for Bilibili, and there has been a lot of trial and error and testing. Still, I believe I can get there by the end of the semester based on my experience with developing codes for Weibo. Once I intergrade the database with Weibo, I want to integrate it with the Bilibili script. If everything goes smoothly, I plan to make a local web application with all the data I have collected to access all the info using a web app hosted locally on my computer.
My dissertation and research center on feminist Internet culture and digital activism in China. By working on this project, I hope to build a digital archival of feminist actions on different digital platforms that I can use for my analysis in my dissertation. In addition, feminist content online has been increasingly censored and heavily monitored by the Chinese government. By preserving data on digital feminist activism and actions, I aim to contribute to Chinese feminist activists’ efforts to archive fleeting and scattered but historically significant cultural moments.