Information is currency. But, just like cash, it can prove elusive for some and plentiful for others. In our increasingly digital era, the ability to access the Internet is the key to greater opportunities. And yet, the digital divide persists, meaning that citizens from different groups are missing out on the Internet revolution.
One glaring example of the information disconnect revolved around Internet access at public libraries. The free service is one of the few ways low-income residents of communities receive access to the Internet. According to “Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at Libraries,” 77 million people use libraries to access the Internet annually, and 44% of people below the federal poverty line relied on public access terminals. In addition, 26 million people used public library terminals for government or legal services. Still, demand vastly outstrips supply.
Unfortunately, wait times for terminals can stretch across hours, and if the computers go down, there is no way to alert people beforehand. This caused patrons endless distress; many used public transportation or scheduled their library usage around their work schedules, which meant a wasted trip.
I discussed with a library staffer creating a simple SMS alert (text message) that people could subscribe to that would notify them of the status of the computers. The idea was well received, but stalled in the implementation phase.
Another moment I kept returning to when conceiving this project was working with local teens – and how they had absolutely no idea that legislation for a nightly curfew and restrictions to public space were being debated. When they heard the news, they were outraged. One boy got out of his chair yelling, “I would like to testify!” But the week before, I had watched a Washington Post reporter try to find teens to comment on a story, and tweet about his inability to find someone to go on record.
Latoya Peterson*, “Making Sure News And Information Gets To All The Public,” JSK: John S. Knight Fellowships at Stanford 2/8/13
*yep, as in the Owner/Editor of Racialicious!
The Federal Communications Commission issued a report on Tuesday announcing a sizeable increase to broadband internet access in homes across the country. But, Latinos, it showed, aren’t keeping pace.
Of note in the post:
”’Many studies have shown that the main barriers to broadband adoption for Latinos is relevance and cost,’ Llorenz said. ‘But as costs come down dramatically what we really have to think about is how to tackle the question of relevance.’
"Paradoxically, perhaps, Hispanics have had no trouble finding the ‘relevance’ of social media and smartphone technology. In fact, recent Pew studies indicate that English-speaking Latinos outpace whites in smartphone adoption and use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Some experts believe that higher smartphone adoption in the Latino community is not a contradiction at all, but rather, an effect of lower broadband access. Smartphones, they say, have become a replacement.”
Visual artist Marilyn Nance has produced exceptional photographs of unique moments in the cultural history of the United States and the African Diaspora, and possesses an archive of images of late 20th century African American life.
A two-time finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Award in Humanistic Photography for her body of work on African American spiritual culture in America, Nance has photographed the Black Indians of New Orleans, an African village in South Carolina, churches in Brooklyn, and the first Black church in America. She is recognized by the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklore Programs & Cultural Studies as a community folklore scholar, an individual who has shown a significant contribution to the collection, preservation and presentation of traditional culture in a community or region. Her work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Library of Congress.
Nance’s photographs have been published in The World History of Photography, History of Women in Photography, and The Black Photographers Annual. Her writing, which often accompanies her photographs, has been published by Aperture, The New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Friends of Photography. She is the recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Photography (2000 and 1989), Nonfiction Literature (1993), and the New York State Council of the Arts Individual Artists Grant (1987).
A graduate of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (Tisch School of the Arts), Nance is an African American digital pioneer; she created her “Soulsista” website in 1994, was one of the Internet’s first radio disc jockeys in 1996, and in 1998 produced an interactive web site based on an African divination system. Nance served as the Curator of Photography for the Digital Schomburg Web Project, selecting for Internet publication, over 500 images of 19th century African Americans, from collections of the research libraries of the New York Public Library. Additionally, Nance holds a B.F.A. in Communications Graphic Design from Pratt Institute, and an M.F.A. in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Nance is a technology evangelist who encourages people of all ages to see themselves as designers, producers, and owners of information. She is currently sharing her experiences with other artists, organizing and protecting her archive, and exploring digital assets management. She is part of the intergenerational, interdisciplinary art collective, The Santana Group that creates and exhibits lenticular images from Nance’s archive.
Please join the Racialicious team in congratulating our Editrix, Latoya Peterson, who was just selected for a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. Latoya will join 12 other Fellows from around the nation and eight international Fellows in pursuing their own proposals for improving the field of journalism, while also taking part in special seminar and independent courses.
Latoya’s studies will cover how to democratize communication and societal participation through the multimedia and text capabilities of mobile technology. She joins colleagues from outlets including NPR, Al Jazeera English (where she has also appeared as a commentator), National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal Americas, among others. The program, which began in 1966, has hosted almost 800 journalists, and has produced 26 Pulitzer Prize winners.
The big news kicks off a heck of a week for our boss: you can catch her on a panel at ROFLCon this weekend in Cambridge, MA, and she also appears in the latest episode of Mark Anthony Neal’s webseries Left Of Black, discussing the legacy and the lessons of the anger that overtook Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King verdict 20 years ago.
My trusty netbook died, so I invested in a Samsung tablet. Now, I just have to figure out how to do things like creating links in the texts and other simple functions that you’ve come to expect in your reading experience. In the meantime, I’ll hip ya to what’s happening on the R…linklessly.