AI

Locating the Internet in the Parks of Havana

Abstract

During the past two years, the public squares of Havana have been transformed from places where people stroll and children play to places where crowds gather to try to connect to the internet at all hours of the day and night. We present a qualitative inquiry of public WiFi hotspots in Havana, Cuba, and the possibilities of internet access these limited and expensive hotspots present to individuals, many of who are experiencing the internet for the first time. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2015-2016, we underscore the reconfigurations that have resulted from this access, as evolving internet users reconfigure their interactions with place, time, and individuals in their efforts to ``locate the internet.'' We also discuss the implications our findings have for the design of internet access interventions in Cuba and in other low-resource environments across the world, as well as the implications for social computing more generally.