Author: Saowanee Chinnalong PhD. Candidate, University of Leeds
Pantip.com is one of the oldest online forums in Thailand. Established in 1996, it remains popular today with one million members and seven million page views per day. Using digital technology has clearly made it easy for the Thai middle class to join in discussions on Pantip.com. This study analyses Pantip.com’s role as a platform specifically for science discussion in Thai culture. I focus on the discussion of Einstein in particular, since my preliminary survey drawing on the print media shows that the middle class expresses an extraordinarily high level of interest in Einstein. My presentation explores popular depictions of Einstein in terms of indigenous Thai appropriations of Einstein as a Buddhist thinker. From this I develop an understanding of his broader symbolic role in the Thai public view of science as a mode of passive contemplation rather than economically productive investigation.