virtual barrios


I saw in today's reading a lot of what we've been talking about so far; problems of big business re-asserting itself online from the perspective of the wide eyed and optimistic internet community member, and then problems of equal access limiting the internet's ability to offer representation to the entire world community. I suppose in a way these are linked issues, since money is still very much power in our society. Thus marginalized groups tend thus not to have much of it, and a re-assertion of the current economic system of distributing power would put ethnic or social groups who are already kind of disenfranchised. It's interesting that Rheingold ends by saying he's been "colonized" by his virtual communications; that's sort of a loaded word in the kind of things we read and I don't entirely see how it fits, except just meaning that the separation between real and virtual life isn't so drastic.
It's cool to hear someone who feels to be from a marginalized group sort of (I want to say write in, since I kind of feel that between the blog and the class we've got this ongoing dialogue and the writers are almost like calling in like a radio show even though obviously we don't) weigh in on their relationship with telecommunications technology. I was surprised that Gomez-Pena was "constantly told" that he was "culturally handicapped or somehow unfit to handle high technology"; it strikes me as pretty straight-out discriminatory thing to be told. Definitely an attitude that would discourage you from trying to get online if you already were having a lot of trouble with it; I'm disappointed that people are communicating that. Anyway, Gomez-Pena is taking the "critical cultural assertion" standpoint, and a lot of his art stems from that I kind of felt. I thought his "ultimate goals" to help "Latino youth exchange their guns for computers and video cameras" sounded pretty good and I think he highlighted the issues to this nicely: access and something we haven't talked about as much: language. Google translate I guess would be a pretty empowering thing to someone who hasn't had much of a chance to learn English, but as a user who knows a little Spanish, I can testify that it's often very spotty.

Something else I was really interested by was his assertion of a different Mexican cultural ideology and aesthetic. While he admits that such things, especially in a world so wired with global communication, are mixed up and tangled, there's still something there. Not really engaging as much with people he only knows online, for instance; I read it as a refusal to accept the fetish of abstracting things like communication and identity and I thought it would be interesting to have a suffusion of different cultural values like this in the internet; how might this change how the internet is structured? How might it feel different with influences like this?