In the project, Naomi and I were interested in modernizing, summarizing, and getting contemporary opinions about the Nakamura reading that we did this semester. We searched for modern examples of some of Nakamura’s observations, and we wanted to talk to computer users to see if Nakamura’s concerns were still relevant to the Pomona student body. In many ways, we found echoes of Nakamura’s messages — one interviewee gave a succinct explanation of race tourism and described it as emblematic of our digital culture as a whole. In other ways, however, we had to dig deeper to find analogies to Nakamura’s observations. Many users described their interactions with race, gender, and similar characteristics online as being cursory or non-existent, and we thought it was interesting that many users do not consider these issues when going online. While we initially thought that this might lend credence to the idea of the Internet being a “neutral” space for race, gender, and other characteristics, we then realized that this failure to observe diversity in digital culture might be an indication of how thoroughly cyberculture now embodies a monoculture, providing users with a constant stream of websites with writers from similar backgrounds and circumstances. We tried to redefine Nakamura’s examples of exclusion and inclusion in the digital age in order to make her concept of “cosmetic cosmopolitanism” more relevant to a modern audience.
We were also inspired by Nakamura’s point at the end of Cybertypes, in which she describes how something as simple as a menu can present choices that have radical cultural consequences. We then looked at popular sites like Digg, Huffington Post, and that ubiquitous home page Yahoo. We tried to look at how each site’s content or user base might lead to discrimination that we might not initially see, and we found a surprising amount of evidence for each site’s biases. We chose Digg after reading this article about sexism on Digg. After browsing the site for a while, we encountered our own personal examples of this sexism on the site and decided to include it in our audio report. Huffington Post was an unconventional site to examine, but the site’s demographic statistics were shocking. Only 4% of Huffington Post’s audience was Latino, compared to 8% of the browsing public and 15% of the population as a whole. We decided to bring Yahoo into our conversation about diversity on the Internet after reading this article about racial discrimination in Silicon Valley. Yahoo’s mention in the article because Yahoo acts as a major content creator online and because Yahoo is typically not considered to be a negligent corporate entity (not, say, in the same way that Microsoft is maligned.)
We got our audio clip describing racism from this independent news source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-q4MDQ0cDI.
The early description of the Internet that we include in our Podcast comes from a Canadian news broadcast about the Internet. The clip that this audio segment comes from has just been made unaccessible to American Internet users, but I am working to try to post this clip online.
Obviously, a variety of interviews that we did with different people, many of whom suggested that they wanted to remain anonymous. We ended up using four clips from those interviews in our final project.
The Fast Company article that inspired us to feature Digg on our podcast can be found here. To put the community’s attitudes in perspective, I would suggest that you take a look at the commentary Digg users posted to this article here.
The musical interlude that we included in our recording comes from Freeplay Music, which kindly makes the music on its website available to students doing projects like this one. The website can be found at freeplaymusic.com, and the specific song that we used is called Evolution 10.
We used this article and looked at several similar articles when looking for more information on Yahoo.
Our group also ended up using a few other assorted website while doing research, including this one: http://articles.sfgate.com/2000-06-15/business/17649523_1_asian-americans-online-population- households.
We found Quantcast surveys to be particularly useful when doing this project. In particular, we used the websites quantcast.com/huffingtonpost.com, quantcast.com/digg.com, and quantcast.com/4Chan.com.
And, most importantly, we used the Nakamura work as the basis of our entire project. In particular, we generously took our inspiration the first chapter (the one we read), the second chapter, and the closing chapter of Cybertypes. The one scholar reference I make in the last section is from the end of Cybertypes’ last chapter.