How do new technologies affect how we sustain relationships, especially in relation to migrations, diasporas and community formation?
Thoughts on Reading and Subsequent Discussion
I was interested how the Tamil diaspora and people on the ground (particularly in the country where the war was happening) coordinated to become a credible source of information on the war by using Western journalism tools, training people on the ground and the convenience of being so many hours behind that they were first for news.
Without writing down all of my notes here, in summary I do believe in the power of the internet as the sum of what we make it. I don’t believe people miraculously shed their socially constructed identities in this space for a utopian ideal.. How can one lose their own subjectivity, when as easily they can assume new ones? And the internet is clearly not a world without borders, (again, how can we lose our subjectivities) what about natural and social human divisions like language (what are Francophone and Latin, even other European language African diasporics discussing?) , age (i’m less likely to be seen on old ugly forum threads) and class (practically as access to internet)?
Technology, like any other machine in human history, is a medium first and foremost; they are used to make our lives easier. They are not the sum of their parts so people who hate it now probably would have hated the printing press to start with.
Some of My Usage of the Internet – Mostly as a diasporic connecting with others
As someone who creates websites, and uses the internet and social media for business, with particular interest the African diaspora in the UK and US I am a firm believer in it. In terms of business, most people assume I am from the US, isn’t that interesting – how regardless of location and roots, I am “one of the in-group”? I’m There.
In personal use, I keep up with African, Afro-Latino and African-American news, philosophy, politics and history via facebook and twitter. I can’t bash it, only the people behind it but we’re having a discussion and what’s wrong with that? Learning together? Sharing our experiences, lives, habits and histories. I can however bash the owners of sites like facebook where certain things are deemed offensive and others not which reflect a status quo. Otherwise I have family on Skype and facebook in the Caribbean, US, other parts of the UK, the city and indeed the house ;).
I used to blog (for personal use and work), I sell online, I watch documentaries I’ve discovered and what’s recommended by others including My Nappy Roots: A Journey Through Black Hair-itage, Kickin’ it with the Kinks (black hair docs, very hot. I’ll also be featuring in one soon!), Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and Negro: A Docu-series About Latino Identity.
It’s real and it’s a powerful force particularly in black America where 26% of African Americans who use the internet use Twitter, and moreso than their online white and Hispanic counterparts according to a Pew Research Centre Study (2013).
Let’s take black twitter (I’m sure i’ve seen some sort of black twitter in the UK too). According to wikipedia, it’s
a cultural identity on the Twitter social network focused on issues of interest to the black community, particularly in the United States. Feminista Jones described it in Salon as “a collective of active, primarily African-American Twitter users who have created a virtual community … [and are] proving adept at bringing about a wide range of sociopolitical changes.” A similar Black Twitter community is growing in South Africa.
As I mentioned, a medium is what we make it – “particularly for people of color, Twitter has become one of the most important tools of modern sociopolitical activism, a powerful force in the Zimmerman trial aftermath and beyond.” Black twitter has been described as a “movement” and compared to the underground railroad in terms of fuelling black activism.
This has spawned studies from the outside that have tried to work out how black people use twitter – and missing the point painting black people as a monolith. The image above, which went viral, is a reaction to this showing the diversity of black twitter users.
That’s all for now.