I'm on my way to Boston next, to give a talk at an engineering college. Full info below.
Technology & Culture Seminar Series
Who: Dr. Larisa K.Mann, legal ethnographer, journalist, public speaker and award-winning DJ
What: When the wrong side is the right side : the harms of digital inclusion
When/Where: Tuesdeay, September 25, 2012 @ 6:00 pm – Olin College, Academic Center, Rm 126 (iCal)
Topic Abstract: The “digital divide” sounds like a terrible thing to be on the wrong side of. Lacking access to technology and information does seem to put you at a disadvantage compared to others who have greater access. Being invisible and uncountable also seems a weak position from which to struggle towards success. But what dictates the terms of participation in these brave new networks of participation and self-expression? Can remaining disconnected from or invisible to networked technology and information management systems be a wiser choice? While these days Anonymous and the Darknet are perhaps the most familiar (and threatening) examples of strategic advantages to invisibility, there are other examples that connect these questions to ongoing struggles within our society and beyond. Whether designing a system to meet the needs of a particular community or deciding on the default definition of privacy, we need to take account of the costs as well as benefits of connection. We don’t design in a vacuum: so we need to look at the context for the technology to understand its effects.
In this talk, I’ll draw on two examples. First, looking at Jamaican musical practices in Kingston, Jamaica, I’ll describe how their remaining outside of and invisible to global institutions allowed them cultural and economic independence. Next, I’ll discuss how the cultural practices of an Australian Aboriginal community required that designers challenge their own assumptions about quality and efficiency. Overall I will discuss how the goals like “solving the digital divide” or “better search and archiving of materials” can place vulnerable people and communities at risk.