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tv   New York University Hosts Conference on Race Technology Part 4  CSPAN  July 31, 2019 12:46pm-2:00pm EDT

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of 1948, richard nixon did not just win the republican nomination, he won the democratic nomination. he wagered everything and carried the day. he ran unopposed. >> explore our nation's past on american history tv every weekend on c-span3. this focuses on how social media and television allows people of color to develop media and activists networks. >> everybody still with us? everybody's awake. it's my pleasure to introduce our final panel before our
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keynote. justice inclusion and imagining and building alternative platfor platforms. to introduce our guests, i'm going to turn it over. we'll kick start that panel with that. >> thank you. all right. for our panel today we have four wonderful speakers. i'm going to start by introdu introducing them. we have margine. he earned tenure there and he will shortly have the exciting new title of associate professor. [ applause ] all right. sarah jay jackson is an
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associate professor of communication at north eastern university and in july she'll be starting a new position as the presidential associate professor of communication at the university of pennsylvania's school for communication. [ applause ] >> math thu -- matthew is at the school for communication. [ applause ] >> i'm an associate professor of communication arts at the university of wisconsin madison. in this panel we want to explore the question of how we can use new media technologies for the specific purposes of racial justice and inclusion. it connects really well to the themes of the previous panel but i think all of our research will take it in a different direction. these scholars look at anti-racist interventions including alternative media production, archives, hashtag
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campaigns and counter mapping platforms. building on their wide array of experiences, they will discuss potential lessons, themes and strategies for a more radically and racially inclusive future of new media and technologies within and outside of pipelines of production, distribution and consumption. together we seek to engage with and produce scholarship activism aimed at combatting the flattening discourses of diversity and multi-culturism. i'm going to open with a broad question that will help tell us about the general work you've been doing this this area. how do you see your research as an intervention in the larger political context around racial justice? we can just go in the order here. >> hello. i view racial justice as critical to my work as also as linked from gender justice, sexuality and economic justice
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especially in all the other forms of difference that we contend with. in my specific work right now i've been interested in what independent creators do online and how so i -- after writing a book about independent web creators called open tv, where i interviewed people like lisaraye, who is probably the most famous person in the book, i started a platform called artist television to show items who are identified and working on their own shows. i do this because when i was doing my work, i thought why does the internet matter, i learned and got deeper into how much money there is in hollywood and how systemically excluded people of color have been in that system for so long.
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netflix spends now $13 billion a year on original programming. that's one channel. all of them gross several billion a year, hbo several billion a year. it's a lot of money. but the people who are executive producers and creators or shows, of all of those networks streaming and otherwise are less than 5% to 7%, that's all people of all colors for television. that's a lot of money that doesn't go to our communities and allow young people and creators tell stories and help people understand what it's like to be racialized in america. for me racial justice about getting people access to these systems and also building systems that could sustainably develop our communities when those systems inevitably lose interest and the waves go. right now we're in a diversity wave. i sort of knew that starting
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open television, there would be an opportunity to get people in and build an audience that might sustain these communities going forward. >> so my training is in arcable studies. so i'm primarily interested in records and evidence, and in the specific context i'm also very much interested in digital memory and also as carvkaren san the previous pam on the digital traces we leave behind. from that perspective i look a lot at gaps in the arcable record. i look at how people are represented in records. i look pretty specifically at how records are contributing to our carsonal state. so the gathering of data and social media records, the sort
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of push towards using those kinds of things, and i also have sort of deep investments in -- in critical understanding decisions to move analog records into digital environments, which i will talk a little bit more about later. so in terms of a larger intervention and records and archives and digital memory, there are -- there are so many ways that records are used in our everyday lives that we're just not aware of. and someone on a previous panel said something about how we don't know how long were did he don't know how long homeland security records are going to be kept, for example. for an archivist, that's actually not true. for archivist and records managers there are laws that governor and mandate how long those records are kept. so looking at those kinds of concerns and being able to
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address the racialized as spengts of them e. the race overlay, very typically when you're looking at gaps in our historical record, it's black people and other people of color and clear people that are falling into these gaps and whether it's just a lack of kepgs representation or work in our descriptive practices, how we name things, what we call people, there's sort of a lack of empowerment right now in terms of people being able to name and call themselves to record themselves, to create their open evidence and historical record. and the gap in the vagary and the violences tend to happen with communities of color and also, again to clear communities. those are sort of my primary engagements and investments.
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how that plays out in the research looks all kinds of ways but it really always comes back to the record and the evidence in front of us. >> so my work, as some of you know, focuses on media activism and also the ways in which journalists and other media makers cover black activism, feminism activism, et cetera. the question what does racial justice look like in relation to my work, it's basically what my work is about from a media studies framework and perspective. i would say that that means there's a lot of nuance and complication in that because historically there have been some sort of -- we can take technology as an example and folks on previous panels have noted this. there have been some myopic and very hopeful ideas spread that so, for example, technology will
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save us or erase inequalities, it will do et cetera, et cetera, that lacked the interventions to sort of acknowledge that, for example, the internet is a tool of military technology primarily. it's a surveillance tool primarily and it actually reinforces many of the very hierarchical structures in our society and many activists are using that tool to try to upend. so my work really considers and centers the question of the agency of activists and order people and thinking through the importance of the central story telling of these people. hopefully we all know there's no media outlet or tool that is perfect or that was created for the purpose of social justice, and yet we know that activists and ordinary folks use the tools available to them to tell really important and compelling stories that can change public narratives, that can change
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public politics, that can create community within groups that really helps to in some cases save lives, frankly. so thinking through some of those issues in terms of the question of racial justice means thinking through how are the media makers who are often at the margins really working on and helping to support projects of racial justice but also how are those projects going to -- and this is an important part -- to the many projects and many organizations wearying on racial justice we don't often see covered in the media or that we -- the things that are happening offline or the things that don't get covered because they're not compelling enough or whatever, which means thinking through the relationship of media activism and framing of activism in media to on the ground organizing and sort of what's happening every day in communities where folks are trying to make change.
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>> as one of the earlier scholars on this panel, i have multiple projects to answer the question. i'm working out my long-term agenda how racial inequality is shaped and also propagated through technology. for one, my colleague and i just got this forthcoming article about how telecommunication policy structures are very white and center whiteness. we didn't think it was an original idea to say there's a need for centering and grounding diverse communities of color and actually the interchanges within that communities of color are not monolithic. that was an original contribution we did not think would get through but it is. secondly i'm working on a chapter that's talking about ethics and things how in light of ai ethic as a dominant
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paradigm, why is it problematic some boards don't even have representatives from marginalized communities that are the most vulnerable. think about the lack of representation of black folks in the room or even other endangered communities. lastly, the disdisoortation i'm working on and hopefully will be finished in a year is urban science as tools for data and how do we bring to light racial politics of data and visibility. and we will talk more about that later. >> great. thank you very much so much. let's dig in a little bit more to the specificities of your work and your research. we will start with amar. let's talk more about open tv. you guys are creating tons of content but i think we could have a conversation about the idea of ownership and what you do with all of the content that you're producing. and what negotiations you make in thinking about where you post your media and then who owns it
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as a result of that. can you talk a little bit about the decisions that you have made or the conversations that you have had with your media creators about posting content on sites like youtube or facebook versus starting your own platform? >> sure. there's a lot there. ownership, we don't really think about it when we think about creative media but hollywood is ravenous for intellectual property. most of the shows you watch are owned by the corporations that distribute them. there used to be restrictions on how much an entity could own that they distributed but that got killed with deregulation. the result of that deregulation in the 1990s was actually the death of black television because corporations figured out a way to make money without necessarily having to actually cater to communities and actually build new audiences. and i think this is a real problem for inequality
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sustainability. if you're a young creator and you have a story and you bring it to hollywood, you're almost immediately given this proposition, well, if you want your story made, you have to sell it to us and then you lose control over it. they can bring in other writers who might not share your political perspective, who might not share your culture, to actually make it. so when i started open television, i very explicitly started with the idea that artists own their intellectual property on our platform. we have very basic letter of agreement where it states like really? part of that was practical as a professor, i didn't want people and i wasn't trying to get into television and i didn't have money to defend it legally and it wasn't practical. plus it was an ethical thing, i wanted them to walk into the room and say this is my story and i own it and i want to and should be able to profit from it. what i have learned, as many artists have since gone on to hollywood and sold feature films
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and written for television is because they're new and haven't been in the system for decades as many other people have and they don't look like a traditional executive producer, they're still in this sort of position where they made to sell their story, and sometimes they walk away. and i really can't blame them for that. there's a way in which when you put something on the internet, you have some control over it. there are terms and conditions like to say they have the rights to certain things and, yes, youtube can put anything you post on youtube in like an ad but they generally accept the proposition you're the creator and ip holder of that property. yet at the same time if you actually want to profit from that, most people, unless you have been on youtube for a decade or have 80 million subscribers are not making anything off their videos. they need to enter another system to profit. we need infrastructures to figure out how to correct these systems. for me that's really the research question. like can you actually create a
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structure that is equitable, that brings people in from the ground up and allows them to soar and make their own money and build their own systems so they can support other people. that's the work of social transformation. and i don't have the answers yet. there's possibility of spinning off corporations and nonprofits and doing deals but it's very complicated and very heady. thinking about liberation in any of these systems is very difficult. i will also say youtube and their algorithms, facebook, twitter, make it very difficult for any independent creator to build an audience or get seen. maybe ten years ago when lisaraye was starting out, it was a little more possible to spread, but now there's so much content. and all of the companies are now spending money on their own intellectual property right, youtube had has youtube premium, vimio and facebook are entering television. they want to be innovative
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creators for the free ip but they don't because they don't want people to compete with their own thing. algorithms are just as inherently discriminatory and might be inherent to people of color. so there are barriers. as researchers, it's important to be in that space because that's where we get the rich, thick data this is what's going on on the ground and these are the specific barriers to justice. >> so in this conversation about alternative platforms and how we can get around that, where are you seeing some of the hopeful areas? that was kind of a bleak answer, but the with the limited barriers. >> hopeful things. i would say people are really hungry for stories that reflect them, right? so we released this hoe in 2017 called "brown girls", ended up being our hit show. premiered basically right around
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the time about a friendship between a black woman and muslim woman. the black woman and muslim woman were good friends for years and the music is very good and look it up if you haven't heard it. i think their narratives artfully told can heer guienter communities and there was multiple forces that helped that show and same bally just sold her first feature several months ago. they wrote a book and are touring. and they will support creators after them. so i see how you're actually building solidarity sort of project by project. but of the 40-something programs that otv released, it was that one and a couple of others that
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were success stories. but even the ones that were little seeds has been able to get writers gigs in hollywood and getting them credit and professionalization. i think there's ways i'm learning we even though we fetish size what's visible, spreadable, big data, sometimes small data can have a much larger impact than we think, especially for the lives of those artists. i have seen a lot of artists, everything is chicago based, a lot of artists support each other. they support about each other's shows, they collaborate with each other. and this idea some people are hyper individualistic and only chair about themselves, it may be true for some context but not all context. people understand film and television productive is highly collaborative. you have to support each other if you want to get anywhere and it's only through collectivest we will make these systems.
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>> thank you. tony tonja, let's talk about your work on digital memory. what kind of practices have you seen and how does race play a role in those practices? and how do people of color fight for the right to be remembered and the right to be forgotten and what rules do technology play in both of those? >> okay. so in terms of digital memory practices, one of the things that i have been looking really closely at is the -- is digital after-life practices. what i'm calling digital remains, i'm sure i'm not the first person to use that term, but it's the one singing to my heart right now. i have several examples for you. the first is i sort of gestured towards earlier is this practice of moving records that were analog records into digital environments, digitizing them and moving them into digital environments. so some of what that looks like
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is taking slavery records, for example, or colonial-era records and mass digitizing them and putting them up online. which in theory is fantastic. it means people who didn't -- who previously may not have had access to say geological materials or stuff like that can help to build out ancestral histories, et cetera. that's the positive side of it. the negative side of it, and i will give a really clear example here, the danish national archives just digitized something like a kilometer of colonial era records from the virgin islands. and they sort of did it without any real context or without putting it into any kind of context. they just digitized all of the stuff and threw it up online. so now you have people who are looking at these records and being like whoa, wait a minute.
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that's my ancestor and the image of them is of them ripped and bleeding or, you know, the image that i'm seeing online here is a violent image. and i didn't consent and my ancestors certainly didn't consent and my family didn't consent to have this image up online where it will now live in perpetuity. it's different than sitting in a box in a physical archive somewhere and enjoying this digital after-life that goes on in perpetuity. another case that comes to mind in terms of digital memory and digital after-life is henrietta wax. there's been a lot of research and writing about henrietta lapse. the hilo cells. for those of you who are not familiar henrietta was a black woman who died of a very
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aggressive form of cancer in 1951. she was treated at johns hopkins hospital and they took de rigueur at the time, nothing untoward about it, they took cell samples from her cancerous cell samples from her. but this form of cancer was so aggressive that the cells were able to replicate so fast. and this was the first time that we had really sort of seen this play out in the medical history. so previously one could just take sort of a dead hift logical stain or smear. if you remember back to biology class, the gels, you look through the microscope and you see the dead stain there. with henrietta's cells they were replicating so fast that you could do studies on the cells that imitated what the human body could do. so henrietta lax, first two
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letters of her name, these cells became known as hilo cells. and they were mass produced and sold and so everybody kind of knows that part of the story. her family didn't get a say in it. a lot of people made a lot of money on hilo cells. in fact, a friend who does like biosales, they're asking her have you ever heard of hilo cells? and she's like oh, yeah we sell them. that's one of our highest selling products. i was like have you heard of henrietta lacks? and she's like nope, never heard the name. this black woman is completely invisible yet her cells live on. the part that really interests me is that german researchers took it upon themselves to map the entire genome and throw that up online. which meant that for her family, for hen rerietta lacks' family,r
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entire history is online. while it's illegal in the united states anyway for health insurance companies to use dna evidence from ancestors against you, that is not the case for life insurance companies. so their family was like -- her family was like hey, wait a minute, my grandmother died of this very aggressive form of cervical cancer. i could be denied life insurance because of this digital afterlife that the german researchers created. and there's been work to kind of remediate that but these are the kinds of things that come up. those of you who are more familiar with my work, i will make this my last example before getting the right to be remembered and forgotten, the tupac hologram. it's a bur in my side. somebody who i cannot remember right now, my apology to the
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journalist who brilliantly wrote this, the tupac biopic, acting like tupac is not the same as being tupac and that hologram, which was created in conjunction and in conversation with his mother, but really you have this instance of taking a whole bunch of data images, you know, archivable material and bringing a dead man back to life, a dead black man back to live to entertain a white audience at coachella. i take deep, deep issue with that. we're starting to see some celebrities are exercising action in what can happen to whether or not there will ever be a hologram of them after they die. they're trying to put in carrie fisher had a statement in her will that she was not to be digitally resurrected.
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those are the kinds of things i'm seeing of digital memory and racialized aspects of it. in terms of the rights to be remembered and forgotten, the right to be remembered i think is really -- it's a big one, memorialization, burial, the way black people care for and remember and think about our dead is really -- it's really important. so we see memorial sites popping up that have also been kmod fayed for like $30 you can have pictures but if you pay a little more, you can have video. there are those kinds of services that speak to our desires being remembered. that being said there are also companies like eterni.e that are looking to gather people's data right now, in the moment as they
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live, so that when you die, it can create a reasonable facsimile of you to continue conversing and texting and so on with your loved ones who remain. whom you leave behind after you die. some of the questions that come up around that are how is this algorithm which has taken all of my data, that i have handed over my data, how is this algorithm going to know to keep my secrets? how is it going to know what i do and don't tell my husband or mom? is it going to tell my mom something that wasn't meant for her ears or meant for her eyes via text? so the right to be remembered because a very complex thing, especially when sort of juxtaposed against the right to be forgotten. the right to be forgotten is not something we enjoy in the u.s. primarily because we have first amendment rights, and those two
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things tend to jug up against one another. but that being said, i think about the images of the dead from katrina. i think about mike brown's body lying in that hot, august sun. and, you know, there is no right to be forgotten in those cases. again, there's sort of a digital after life that is created wherein in the eu, the right to be forgotten basically says you can ask google, for example, to take down some -- some stuff that you don't like, you were convicted of a crime and google has it up, you have a right in europe to be forgotten, make a request and have that information taken down. we don't have the right here. and so the right to be remembered really starts to come up against the right to be forgotten because, you know, there are ways in which black people in particular in this
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country don't enjoy that right to be forgotten. even when we are looking to be remembered. there's sort of a lack of agency and power there. and when you're talking about power, you're talking about race. >> thanks. sarah, let's talk more about twitter. how would you say your work on #activism counters some of the way twitter has been traditionally understood and maybe as part of your example you can give us an example of #activism and how people of color are using digital media for activism. >> sure. as i sort of mentioned in my opening remarks, i think one of the intergenerations that my work does and i hope does -- and i have seen it used in different ways so i'm glad to be going on the record about the intervention i think it is, there have historically been these impulses around digital media and especially social media.
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there are the digital optimists who were screaming from the rooftops digital media would save us, it was a revolutionary tool, and you see that in the early coverage of the arab spring. the facebook revolution they called it, et cetera. and then there were the digital pessimists and the digital pessimists said this isn't real activism. this isn't real organizing. you know, it's just people clicking on something, does that really make a difference? it lures people into this sense of they're making a difference but are they really? and they're sort of infamous, to use arab springs as an example again, malcolm glad well published a piece called "small change." i think it was like literally two months before hosni mubarak was toppled as a dictator in egypt and basically saying social media will not be a
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useful tool for evolution. so from my perspective and for work my answer is middle ground and very nuanced middle ground. so it is absolutely true we shouldn't assume, as i said before, that any kind of technology is a technology of liberation. that's just not the world we live in. technologies are designed and created with very sort of purposeful ties to systems of capitalism, systems of imperialism, all of other sort of hierarchical systems. but at the same time people -- and i think the story should be about the people and not the technology is part of what i want my work to sort of speak to, people have for as long as existed used tools that might otherwise been used against them for libtory projects. for example, the first project today dr. clark talked about the
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beginnings of the aafrican-american press in the united states and the ways in which he early black journalists and black press really evolved to respond to the white supremacy of the press in america that excluded stories about black people's lives or only used those bases to denigrate them. my work very much argues that just as newspapers were a tool in that period, right, just as, for example, ida b. wells at the turn of the 20th century was telling really important and different stories about lynching than those what in power were telling and her stories became really foundational and important in our collective memory about the role lynching he has played in our nation but con temporarily media makers, ordinary people, activists are using new technologies to similarly attempt to intervene in the record and tell new stories from the perspectives of those communities and create new narratives and encourage the
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public to think differently about some of the taken for granted questions. as i mentioned, and i always dig in on this, that's part of larger products. that's part of larger organizing projects and libtory projects that you sometimes see online but often you don't. they're playing one role in sort of asking us as a nation to reimagine some of these stories. so an example of this in the forthcoming book #activism, which i collected with moya bailey, we look at a couple of different cases of #ak vctivism and everybody at this point heard of the #metoo, right? even #metoo there was some questions around its creation and ownership that had to do with race, particularly because
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tarana burke had an organization called me too and was initially not given credit for the phrasing or for her oergsrganizn but that was very quickly corrected in part because black women on the internet say hey, you need to give credit here. but that said we argued the book me too was made possible by other hashtags that were less well known as dr. christian mentioned sometimes less visible and yet they start to essentially are the building blocks towards disability. we look at four hashtags in particular we found were especially influential on twitter that didn't get the same type of main industry attention offline as me too but that predated it. and these hashtags were you oksis, why i stayed, survivor
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privilege and #sayhername. and these three hashtags, the first was started by black women to start about intervening in street harassment and strategies around intervening in street harassme harassment and talking about every day of the sexism on the streets in a femme body. why i stayed with the hashtag also started by a black woman to talk about the ways in which the ways victims of domestic violence are blamed in our society and talk about interand personal domestic violence. survivor privilege also started by a black woman started to reject narratives that were coming from the right suggesting that it somehow benefits women to talk about being sexually assaulted. and then, of course, say her name was started by a group of activists and scholars to really lift up the names of women and
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femme and transvictims of police brutality and sort of other forms of state violence. and all of these networks existed and sort of evolved over a very close number of years. and what we found in our work is that the people who were leading these conversations and the people who were participating in these networks were sort of all in conversation with each other. and all were influencing one another's discourse. and ultimately these same people became the people that helped #metoo trend on twitter. so the story of me too becoming international or even a global phenomenon that has allowed us to have a national conversation about all kinds of gender violence is in part due to the fact that there is sort of a digital labor happening that was
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largely black women digital creative labor that was setting the stage for and creating on any networks of people who are using similar vocabulary and framing and bringing to light sort of new ways of talking about these issues. of course, i should say this is not the first time this happened. in the 1970s women's lib publications, for example, set the stage for the mainstream media paying attention to issues like abortion and/or writing about this before. so that sort of speaks to the way that in which these networks are a tool that can be garnered. and that exists beside the fact these spaces are also spaces that people doing the most creative labor and often people contributing some of the most libtory framework and liberative stories are also the people who are the most surveillanced and
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harassed and trolled on these platforms. so that's something that's important for me to think about in my own work and for other people to think about, as they think about in any kind of media really but in this case talking about digital media as a libtory tool that it can't be a myopic framework in thinking that's the only thing that it does because people are vulnerable. people are really vulnerable and their lives are really vulnerable in these spaces. and those seem to align upon all things that have to do with power and inequality and difference. >> thank you. can i ask a question, i'm curious about this finding and i wonder if you can talk about the metho methods you use, the sign insigo uncover this activism framework. >> sure. the one thing that's really
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great is we're all in different field background. we're all having different training. dr. bailey is a digital humanist. so we use mixed message approaches. what we did essentially was cull millions and millions and millions of tweets, which for me as somebody who does critical method, i couldn't possibly analyze all of those tweets but when you have a network scientist on your team, they can use network science to find out -- i will give you another example of the #girlslikeus, which is a hashtag that trans women used to sort of build community and talked about issues from joy to survival to like media, whatever, and it was started by janet mock, who people now know her but when it started, she wasn't as well known as she is now.
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and so what we can do is take the millions of tweets of "girls like us" and the network announced this method to allow us to see who are the most influential nodes or in that network, so we can see janet mock, for example, and cox from "orange is the new black" were the two most popular. and yet who was contrary to what some might expect or some of the other theorization in my field maybe some expect, oh, it would be elite to have those powers, it would be celebrity, et cetera. what we found, in fact, it was often ordinary everyday people who didn't have that many twitter followers, who didn't have that much visibility in what we consider the mainstream world, but in these particular communities and networks, these were people that others came to
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rely on to sort of tell stories and share resources and sort of create a sense of community. and so then once we know who these are, we can look at how are the stories telling different or more? how are they filling gaps that others aren't? we looked at those with #ferguson and what we found was really amazing. we found order people who were neighbors of michael brown who were really initially in first days of what to this day became the most-ever hash kag used in twitter to really frame the narrative but later got picked up by the activists and advocacy organizations and celebrities to talk about police brutality and what was happening with
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ferguson. we think that's really cool, right, with the mixed message we were able to see that. one more thing on the message tip, we also, absolutely all through, but dr. bailey really pressed us to think about the ijici ethics of these messages. that's an important question because one thing we see particularly in academia and journalism, people will go on to twitter, there's a #girls like us or #ferguson, whatever, i will take screen shots and tweets and embed them in my story. what they don't know is they're outing people and driving trolls and sort of far right squads to these people's twitter accounts. they often are doing damage. there have been people who looked at me and said twitter is public. but that's not exactly the stance you want to talk. one of the things that was important for us in our methods
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of the project is not just to treat these folks who are doing a lot of creative labor at subjects -- or as sobts to obje consumed. because what we found in the project is their agency takes a cool that wasn't made for them, takes a space that wasn't made for them and fundamentally changes the conversations we're having and what their community looks like and all of those kinds of things. so it was really important to spend time in the process. so we actually applied for a small grant, got kier grant and had honnarians to the #activists we studied to write small contributions, sort of reflecting on the creation of their hashtags and on what we're seeing or arguing in our academic work about those hashtags. we have janet, which is exciting. we have contributions, the start
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of #survival privilege. we have contributions from quite a few of these folks. someone from vln, et cetera, et cetera. it was important to us their voices appeared alongside ours so we didn't perpetuate these dynamics of power and data and access around them doing labor and us simply sort of like consuming and telling you well, i don't believe it. but they can get to tell you what believer means too. in my opinion their version of what that labor means is just as valid of what my version of that labor means. that was really important to us. we also asked permission to use tweets. so this is something that i feel like even a couple of years ago, i would be on a panelist and people would argue about this, and i don't know if it's something people still argue about or not, i'm not sure. but i have a predigs on it. we removed identifying data when
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people wanted us to remove identifying data. sometimes we might say they included this argument but we didn't include an argument or fine image if they lied. that's a humane and i think ethical and humanistic way to understand our positionality and their positionality in terms of bauer. so i think that's that something that became also a part of the method we chose to use, which was thinking about we're using methods that were not necessarily designed to respect or argue the labor we're studying so how or do do you do to convert the fact the message itself might produce an ethic of consumption and instead more towards an ethic of collaboration with those folks. >> that's fascinating. thank you. so matthew, how do you understand the relationship between technology and racial capitalism? and what role does that play
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with how you understand racial justice around data analytics. >> there are many ways. the objects are capital enmeshed in technology, especially data-driven technologies. the initial conception of my dissertation, the starting point i was starting at was thinking about the smart city. how it's like in this day of age updated driven analogies, artificial intelligence, we will solve more problems. we will be more efficient and equitable. but the smart city limit in the imaginary levels of what communities are actually represented in the data, how are they represented? thinking about the racial politics of the data and i'm thinking about to the report that urban families and people were denigrated because of their -- they were denigrated
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because of their disorderly family structures. the thing about observing and objective observations are often used to remove hire arcries and they could do an election to produce these same inequalities. go og a, historical, and akon tex chul but looking at the mixture, the way i see the city racially segregated. i think about racial capitalism and length of real estate technology. so in thinking about how los angeles, there's a 1939 happen from the own owners loan corporation that showed one of the original conception of home lining. these are designated zone four, least valuable, scene likely to get invested in. thighs are often also the modes for low income, working class
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communities of color. they're mixed race. even to not getting those from these communities where sons one and two are the upper class community and ones and three the lower class munnties. how is los angeles pushing this narrative of objective, data-driven policy real areally obfuscating or erasing the initial reaction to inequality, and how are we going to foreground those questions for inequitable intervention? thinking about how it produced los angeles as very multi culture yet segregated get divided km divided community. and thinking about how do platforms such as yelp reproduce imaginaries. so to positive after my first example was about yelp and scraping yelp data and i think now in the moment -- i'm sorry,
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i'm working through how to clint l.a.'s history. l.a. is a poly centric city. it's like initially after 1939 because of the views of color, inner city, but we have multiple centers, there were a lot of places. so before that the organization, people of color wanted to be in the suburbs. it was a privilege to be in the suburbs. combust now with globalization and restructurizing, people are back in the city. with the reglobalizing in l.a., people are back in downtown l.a. now people want to move back to the inner cities but yelp, all of these coffee hipster coffee shops are centering in these central cities with people of color. so they're thinking about
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interrogating how the bay station is interlaid with the images in space. the most popular coffee shops are in centralized areas. if you don't trust me on my method, a harvard business school study did this and said gentrification is happening and hipster coffee shops are a signal of that but they don't use it as a bad term, they use it as a positive term, gentrification. now that it's hip and popular to be in the city, why are these communities getting displaced, dispossessed? so think about that. first chapter is about yelp. and then i have access to a commercial database which i cannot name. but it's a real state site, imagine whatever you want. think about the material, from the symbolic racial in the yelp platform but also the ways in
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which the processes are in the real estate data, these communities are the hot and upcoming areas. but also who are the hot and upcoming force. whose histories are erased in these up-and-coming neighborhood real fit advertisements. and finally like the last chapter, the thing about the history of l.a.'s revitalization and thinking about data as some proxy to countermap these interqualities the days in which downtown los angeles from 2011 to 2017, the exponential arrest records. the mandates -- another to l.a. as a mandate, the city of l.a. data ordered all cities had to publicize their data. so it's public access right now. from 2011 to 2017, nonviolent, nondrult-related kriemgz, aka
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just being there or homelessness, homelessness in a specific area of downtown los angeles, i'm conceptualizing it from -- don't quote me on the numbers, 207. some markings kind of have why is it as downtown los angeles has become increasingly prime real estate, why are we arresting and criminalizing homelessness now? sort of putting the historical context back into urban data annual itices that erase history and inequality but how we ask new questions during critical methods also capitalism the key quality the way it is produced. >> if you're unfamiliar with the term racial capital vix, you should read "center robinson." marie, thank you. it seems like everyone's research projects are in
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different stages but i was thinking about how we study racial activism and technology and how there's many obstacles we have to overcome, challenges, limitations, also just dark days, sad days. what are some of the strategies you have overcoming these challenges? and what are some of thens that give you hope and inspiration as we do this kind of research? >> so for me i think -- and it's been great to see so many people on this panel that do community-based work. that has given me hope going offline and going to meet with the people and partake in this kind of work. in chicago we posted over 40 screenings of intersectional tv. it's really critical for people to actually see each other, in terms of having an essential conversation. to sit and engage how you're feeling with the moment that we're in right now. and have been in for an entire
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history. so i think it's important to me a method to refract the online environment with the offline environment. because we are two different environments that inform each other but have different sort of safe and different levels that are popular. >> so a lot of the work that i'm doing requires looking at things like lynching photos, you know, interacting with google images which will ask you whether you want to see trayvon martin's deceased body on the ground or in a casket, right, so the sort of day-to-day engagement is really heart hard. it's heavy work. anybody that knows me well knows that i hate being told what to do. question authority, my dad said, and i do. so i think that gives me the most hope is seeing the way
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people subvert these systems, seeing surveillance turn on its head and become surveil ets. see the way people have taken facebook and twitter and also social media platforms and created a smaller, autonomous and will be lib atory spaces within them. you know, dr. brock hugh spoke on the first panel, does a lot of work on this fact. i think a lot of us do a lot of work on the ways people are subverting existing systems and using them for libtory purposes. and i say these probably the thing that gives me hope on the days that it seems like it's just oppressive. and it's not, right. there's a lot of joy to be found in separation. >> yeah, i would echo i think both of those points. i think being connected to communities, you know, i think
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it's interesting because there's an impulse in academia but also journalism, a lot of professionalized fields towards this concept that does not exist called objectstivety where you're not supposed to be attached to the things you're writing about. when we're talking about writing about people's lives and liberation and bodies and joy and like all of these things, the idea of not being attached to that sounds actually kind of vicious, right? so i think for me absolutely being part of the communities i study is really important and finding joy in those communities. raising resistance can be joyful. and i think right now there were
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people warning, many plaque women on twitter, warning about trolls and fake accounts and fake news and all kinds of attempts to silence people on twit, many, many years ago but since the 2016 election there is like this renewed -- not renewed but new public concern and sort of possess six about digital spaces and whose voices aring included, not included in information, et cetera. and those are valid concerns. those are things we should be worried about and we should be thinking about. but i think for me in terms of the joyful part, i just think it's so phenomenal to insist, and in my work i insist on centering agency, right, and a centering agency people who are reclaiming power. that doesn't mean it's not important to study the ways in which the system of power deprive them but we can't keep focusing all of our work on that
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if we want to find the solutions we're looking for. like we have to see what actually works, what kinds of sub version works? what kind of story telling and ownership models work? what types of record works? what types of understanding, like urban centers work, if we're going to develop the frameworks, i do topple the ones that overconcern us. i find joy absolutely from that process. >> i will just echo the community, being embedded in a community and connected to organizations like oh, we can use this map. or have you heard about this or that? i think a lot of l.a. history i kind of knew because i was a native but also taught by these community members and community organizations. secondly, i think i have been sitting at the feet of a lot of women of color who have been very generous academic mentors in the ways in which they've been like yes. i know i'm sitting here but i have been told my project is not
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important because racism exists, algorithm bias exists. but sitting at the seats and looking through and having people do the emotional labor, matt, keep going. you have an interesting question. people could be doing it, i just haven't found them. if you know where they are, send them my way. but yes, have been sitting at the feet of a lot of generous mentors and pupils that keep in my mind academia is not everything but life is joyful 0 outside too. >> i also wanted to say i forgot to mention open television is by far not the only platform. there are so many people doing the work of organizing other people nationally, slavery tv and tv for women in atlanta, it goes on and on and on. the color creative, so many people doing the work, that also gives me the hope.
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i see alliship is possible, solidarity is possible. i see so many people and identities saying i have privilege, i have a little something to give. i see them show up and they're like introduce me to someone. i will shoot something for $100. solidarity and it's happening. >> and also attending amazing conferences, you get to network with scholars who are studying interesting things and hear good things from the audience as well. let's open it up to "q&a" if anyone has any questions for our presenters. thank you very much for all of your talks. i had a question about -- okay. thank you.
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some of my work is about counter culture communities so i was really -- the thing i have to balance when we're talking about resistant platforms, the way we can learn so much from them but also expose the way that our work exposes those practices to a wider audience. sometimes it's overblown in terms of -- some of us were doing academic work and it just lives in a journal so we can have sort of ten people are going to read it you meet in society. but other times we can't scrocol our ways the work exposes or brings attention or reopens surveillance in people we study. is there any way you can talk about the way you have sort of balanced those concerns? >> so specifically i'm thinking about my meeting with the yelp executive who is like hey, i'm interested in your research, tell me more. we schedule a meeting. midway through the meeting he
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just said something kind of questionable. oh, no, maybe i should figure out what i'm saying and kind of backtrack or not give as much away. he's like this is a backtrack. and then i was like presenting like a map of digital device in -- so midway through i just realized oh, why were you interested, and he said oh, i was going to sell this data, this project to real estate developers. so it's like really thinking about gentrification and this word differs for communities. so i'm thinking about the politics as i'm doing this math what data am i showing, as i do the homelessness data project, thinking about the geographer
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training in me now. i think it's a work in progress and it's knowing how to being receptive to what is the ulterior motive. >> in terms of asking for permission, if the people you're studying are worried about being surveilled those are probably valid concerns you can take into consideration in your work. there were cases and have been cases in my work i where opted fought to include data and not in a way that would change my results but as journalists and academests we right these things
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up and we give examples. and sometimes you can do something that example might put a teenager at risk or sometimes that example might put somebody at risk for a police prosecution. this is something when i was really concerned about when people at the point of ferguson really started collecting all this data and collecting all the live videos and images, et cetera from the protests. i knew it was going to happen and it happened. which is that they decided to use that data and those images to prosecute young people who had thrown mall tav cocktails supposedly or whatever right? those are things for people who are collecting data, are for archivests, researchers, because you don't want to be complicit in the project that you're trying to lift up the people who
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you're working against. i will say to my point on agency, one thing i like to point out to people is that activists are smart and ordinary people are smart. and there's this way in which sometimes again journalists and academics write about activists and write about ordinary people like they don't know what's happening. and i promise you like most people who -- like the average millennial know and understands surveillance a lot better than potentially many journalists who work at flagship organizations who understand surveillance because their lives have been about having an alternative snap chat that their parents can't find or tweeting -- this is very common when people are like police are going to surveil
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activists if they tweet about their actions. activists are aware of that. it's literally a classic movement strategy to publicize or exaggeration reaction. and that's a strategy. and activists sometimes feed incorrect information into these spaces, and that also is a strategy to kind of avoid the folks who are surveilling them. so there's all sorts of interesting questions in there. >> my work is about making my participants visible, and they come to me to be visible. and largely that allowed me to assist them, and i sort of kind of like you're saying about being objective i'm unabashedly i'm in league with this with
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you. we need infrastructure instruct content. hollywood executives have reached out to me and i've had a general round of meetings and they're like yeah, introduce me to people and i'll do it because i've been able to get an artist there with an agent or a really important show runner. it has in some limited cases put me in an awkward position. sometimes i introduce them to someone and then, like, i introduce one other to a broadcast network executive who setup a deal with a broadcast network but then the deal was like very fuzzy where it seemed like they were trying to buy her out of her own show. i kind of felt icy because i trusted this person and trusted them with a really important person in my study. but i don't think it's never -- we are definitely on the front lines of a lot of sort of systemic problems, right, and we have to be aware of that. but i also think some of the
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problems are big enough we can't pretend is sit on the side lines and be objective because our work is going to have an affect. so i think we should try to do the change we think needs to be done. >> you know, i think knowing you have a problem is the first step. so matt and i were were recently at a dataification and community activism workshop. and one of the participants did as a group is acknowledge just by being in that space and doing the work we were doing and putting a public document up online that was the result of our two days worth of conversations we were in fact making ourselves vulnerable, that we were putting ourselves out there in a way that might indeed make us targets.
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and, you know, it sort of required everyone there to maybe not explicitly but implicitly agree that, you know, we acknowledge this is the position in which we are putting ourselves to be able to at least have that conversation. i mean, i what troubles me or concerns me is sort of the lack of awareness of the issues you raised. so i really feel it's important for us to be even having the conversations, giving people choices, giving people options. and to also, you know, keep an eye out as people who do have power in agency in particular situations and moments to take that power and agency to protect or to provide cover if that's what's appropriate. >> hi, the question i have in
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terms of the creative space in the context of telling stories from a racial justice or social justice perspective, many of the platforms have participated but allowed others who had let's say questionable conspiracy theories who got millions of followers and made money off of that, which you mentioned today. but somehow that level of opportunity is when you have happen to be someone speaking up against racism. what would you suggest to any creators who are trying to do that? i remember when she first was complaining about the whole hbo
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thing in 202 i was around and watched that and i watched her progression. but the truth is the challenge to come from a framework especially with these platforms specifically where they were being sort of critical of the mainstream american frame and then how did it get past that to their own existence of also being able to get someplace like an hbo or someplace like that? >> good question. it's difficult. success is rare especially for folks historically marginalized. there have been folks on social media who have called out white supremacy, call out police violence. i know one creator specifically
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who's an activist and artist who's had their facebook profile shutdown five times over the course of my study. and they're very popular and they're an important person just in the movement space in the city of chicago and they've taken it upon themselves to weather the storm because they think it's important and i think that's something every artist has to reconcile for themselves. can i take it and a lot of artists i know take a step back, and they're not in it all the time, right? they'll shutdown their own accounts and take a couple of months for self-care. so i think it's really portment as an artist to decide when your boundaries are. >> wee going to leave this program on race and technology. you can see it it its entiry on c-span.org.

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