Communities on the Verge: Intersections and Disjunctures in the New Information Order
Tu, Thuy Lin
This article examines the relationship of information technology to communities of color. In recent decades, American microelectronics firms have shifted production facilities to offshore sites while prototypic and short-term projects, research, and development have remained in places such as Silicon Valley. Assembly work that fuels the industry there, done mostly by immigrant women, closely resembles the “low tech” labor of their overseas counterparts. Despite these attachments by people of color at the level of labor and high-tech production, the same people are largely isolated from the technology on the levels of use, consumption, and content development. Some attempts have been made by marginalized communities, however, to “stake a claim in cyberspace.” Examining what anthropologist David Hess termed the social and cultural “reconstruction of technology,” we argue that attempts to claim information technologies happen on two levels: the “virtual” and the “real.” We explore questions of how community is conjured or imagined by people of color using icons and language and how images and language mark insiders and outsiders, we examine the inconsistencies in “global village” metaphors and whether communities of color betray similar inconsistencies, and we conclude that we are both critical of and optimistic about the communicative possibilities of information technology.
Wexler-Tu-Nelson-Headlam_Communitites on the Verge_289-300_1997.pdf
Communities on the Verge: Intersections and Disjunctures in the New Information Order. Computers and Composition 14: 289-300.