3 minute read

Well, there’s wireless. Sort of. It was there for a second and then it totally died, so this is going to be less liveblogging than intermittent blogging, much like AOIR 4. I’m going to capture what I can here, or rather what happens to catch my attention, but this should all be read with the caveat that what’s here is in great part about my reactions; the speakers are not responsible for weirdness herein; blame instead my exhausted brain.


Because when I showed up at the hotel at noon, exhausted and dirty and peevish, in no small part due to my impromptu walking tour of downtown Chicago (don’t ask), I didn’t even have to ask to check in early, but was instead immediately put right into the system and given my key.

Because they put me on one of the concierge floors, despite the fact that I’m not travelling with my super-elite Marriott hero partner, in a lovely little room in the far corner.

Because that means I get fed breakfast while I’m here.

Because I got to take a shower before checking in at the conference registration desk, for which everyone around me should be quite grateful. (2.03 pm CDT)


Arrived pretty late, post-shower, in the middle of Michele White’s paper on whiteness and representation in web design. It’s actually pretty appropriate; Michele is historically the first person I run into at every conference I attend, so it seems right that she should be talking as I walk in.

Michele presents a historical overview of the uses of whiteness as the standard bodily interface with the web — white pointing hands, and so forth — combined with a reading of the ways avatar-building interfaces privilege whiteness as the norm, from which other skin tones deviate; she ends with a few projects that attempt to problematize that standard…

Andrei Brock, “‘A Belief in Black Men Is a Belief in Humanity’: Using Culture to Span the Digital Divide

Begins with the assertion that the lack of relevant cultural content on the internet may do more to explain the relatively slow rates of African American adoption of the internet than does any supposed failure of technical literacies.

internet as interactive social space; culture as glue that holds spaces together

third dimension of the digital divide: websites will only represent the African American experience if it’s their expressed purpose, or if it’s in their interest to do so

study of whether black cultural content exists on the internet generally; Africana website as control, study of Yahoo

Africana represents blackness as the norm, including images of blackness; Yahoo’s overwhelming textuality prevents such representations of blackness — Yahoo is instead “generic,” i.e., unmarked, white (but not wholly ignorant of ethnic interests; links at bottom of page to national Yahoo sites and Spanish/Chinese US sites)

not intending to say “these websites are racist” — not individual accusation but structural and systemic issue; lack of ethnic diversity in info tech produces lack of personal investment on part of content providers in producing diverse representations

Radhika Gajjala, “Producing Cyber-selves Through Technospatial Praxis: Studying Through Doing”

teaching practice: taking students to LinguaMOO; students expect internet to be non-hierarchical and non-value-laden

studying the production of identity — construction of the cybersubject

utility of using the MOO is that, first, it’s “new” to students (even though old), and second, it makes coding visible again (where the web has made it invisible)

explicitly used as site for class members to conduct a qualitative study using research methods learned in class

racialization of the space happens in the way the context is created (I think the idea was actually more interesting than that sounds; I was moving through mental molasses by the time she wrapped things up, and I’m pretty sure I’d missed the second half of the point by the time I got the first half down.)

Based on the post-session questions and discussion, I’m now super sorry I missed Lisa Nakamura’s paper, which seems to have been on biometric technologies as they’re being used to create networked image databases of criminals (by which I’m not sure if she was referring to felons or to suspected terrorists); the ways of reading the face that are being used in these technologies are distinctly racialized. (2.59 pm CDT)

Tagged: aoir

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