CCT Highlight: Professor William Vogt

Posted in Announcements

Today CCT is excited to highlight Professor William Vogt’s professional background, academic research, and interests!

Professor Vogt is the recently published author of “Foundations of the Chinese Internet: Calculations, Concepts, Culture.” He is a consultant by trade and has worked with a diverse array of clients ranging from the US government to fortune 500 companies. He has also had engagements abroad as he focuses on emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. Academically, his research has focused on digital authoritarianism and looking at misinformation and propaganda in nondemocratic societies. He mainly focuses his efforts on China, which ties into his class (“De-Blackboxing the Chinese Internet”) and is fascinated with how China created its own internet to meet its social, cultural, political and economic needs. 

Professor Vogt’s interest in this area began with taking language classes in grade school and through his undergraduate studies. Speaking foreign languages led to studies abroad in China and Ecuador. He was always interested in attending graduate school, and began to notice a technology component throughout his academic and professional career that was far less understood than people realized. He had been partaking in different situations where there weren’t the right types of conversations around technology and society when discussing hot topics like China. He found that there was more of an under-emphasis of people not recognizing the importance of something simply because it was taking place outside the United States and/or the Western world. He stressed that China is such a big market that we do need to know about and pay attention. He gave the example of TikTok’s popularity in the West, where the US didn’t discuss it until it became popular and then we were playing catch up to understand it while ByteDance had existed for years beforehand.

Professor Vogt himself is a CCT alum (CCT ’16), and noted some of the most influential classes he took during his time in the program were the Media and Politics course by Professor Diana Owen and the political socialization course by Professor Leticia Bode. He also found CCT-506 very formative and useful, as well as being involved with the Global Media Group He also appreciated Professor Michael Macovski’s former Technology of the Text that had a focus on Asia as well. He explained that he came into CCT with an idea of what he wanted to focus on academically, and was very pleased to receive a lot of encouragement from various CCT professors to move forward in this area. He found the different CCT Methods courses very helpful to learn not only qualitative research, but also how to do statistical analysis. In the China space, he learned a lot about reading data, interpreting and categorizing it, and understanding what data is most relevant to his analysis, which in the case of China can be more of an art than a science. He noted that Professor Owen would help walk him through doing that in the most rigorous way. His CCT thesis “ICT For Dictators“ focused on a comparative analysis between China, Russia, and Venezuela, and looked at the how internet was being used to support three different types of dictatorships.

Professor Vogt recognized that there are not many people focusing on his area of expertise, which is why he wanted to begin teaching his class “DeBlackboxing the Chinese Internet” to fill in the gap. His course focuses on the China portion of his thesis and expands on his original research. After he graduated from CCT in 2016, he began reviewing his thesis and updating it, looking at how new developments come into play. He started teaching this course at CCT in January 2023, but previously taught another class for the Learning, Design & Technology Program (LDT Program) in fall 2022, which was essentially similar to the internet course but with a focus on education.

While Professor Vogt is not teaching in the fall of 2023, he looks forward to returning to teach at CCT for the spring 2024 semester. He appreciates the opportunity to introduce himself to the CCT community and encourages any students interested in this topic area to reach out to him!