Jessie Daniels

"For Trayvon Martin" mural by "Israel" in Third Ward Houston. Photo taken by Jenni Mueller.


On February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin, a Black, 17 a year old, unarmed, high school student, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a White Hispanic man acting in the self-appointed position of neighborhood watch captain (click here for more details).

The case has become a symbolic battle ground for two important issues: gun laws and racism. Although both of these issues are inextricably entwined, for purposes of simplicity, I will focus here only on the issue of race.

As Jessie Daniels importantly points out on Racism Review, battles over racism have shifted into the realm of social media, where digital and physical race relations persist in an augmented relationship. We see this in both the progressive anti-racist discourses, and the racial smear campaigns surrounding the Martin/Zimmerman case.

Although it is important to expose the overtly racist tactics utilized by some of Zimmerman’s defenders—of which there are plenty—I want to talk here about a more subtle, and so perhaps more problematic form of racial discourse. Specifically, I will talk about how a prominent strategy of protest—coming out of the liberal left—may inadvertently perpetuate, rather than challenge, racial hierarchies in their most dehumanizing form. more...

Conference Twitter Bingo Card created by Jessie Daniels and Nathan Jurgenson

There was a popular “bingo card” for the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association held last week in Las Vegas. It poked a bit of fun at sociologists and the meeting itself. Nathan Jurgenson’s reaction was that the card itself revealed much about the sociological discipline and the problems with the annual meetings. He wrote a post here on Cyborgology calling for a more positive bingo card that might be helpful to improve the conference experience rather than just complaining about what is wrong. It is easy to be annoyed, much harder to be constructive.

CUNY sociologist Jessie Daniels responded to this call, and, toegther, we have created a more constructive and useful Bingo card that looks specifically at how to improve a conference by augmenting one’s experience with Twitter.

The card describes how conferences in general benefit from engagement on both the physical and digital levels. Conversations taking place move onto the web, and discussions in the “backchannel” flow back into physical space. In fact, we noted this trend during the Theorizing the Web conference this past spring, calling it an “augmented conference.”

More on Twitter use at the ASA 2011 meetings.

In a post titled “Why Journals are the Dinosaurs of Academia,” I recently considered whether traditional journals may, increasingly, be serving to hinder the communication of ideas, rather than optimally facilitating such exchanges.  I argued two main points:  1.)  We need to get beyond the notion that the mere fact that journals is printed makes it somehow more legitimate than digital-only journals.  2.) In the age of the Internet, conventional articles may no longer be the most efficient way to communicate some ideas (which was the original justification for making journals the centerpiece of disciplinary discourses).

Over the past few days, Twitter has been abuzz with academics discussing another, related issue: Whether disciplinary discourses are better facilitated by non-profit, open-access journals or proprietary, pay-walled journals.  I have archived that discussion below and will follow up with my own thoughts later in the week. more...

Presider: Jessie Daniels

The panel I organized for the Theorizing the Web conference was called, “Cyber Racism, Race & Social Media.”  A key theme of all the papers in this session was that race, racism and caste, are enduring features of media across geographic and temporal boundaries, and across cultures.

In the late 1990s, a popular television commercial advertisement captured the zeitgeist of thinking about the web at that time.

This notion that the Internet is a place where “there is no race,” is also one that’s permeated Internet studies.  Early on scholars theorized that the emergence of virtual environments and a culture of fantasy would mean an escape the boundaries of race and the experience of racism.  A few imagined a rise in identity tourism, that is, people using the playful possibilities of gaming to visit different racial and gender identities online (Nakamura, 2002; Turkle, 1997).

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As many of you already know, the Cyborgology editors decided to throw a conference called Theorizing the Web. The conference will be in College Park, MD (just outside of Washington, D.C.) on April 9th. Today we are excited to announce the program for the conference and attach a flier that we hope you all can distribute to those who you think might be interested.

As you will see, the response was terrific. We built 14 panels out of the 56 papers we accepted (from the over 100 submissions). There will be three invited panels (on feminist activism, race, and methods). There will be two symposia (one on the role of social media in the Arab uprisings and another on social media and street art). There will be two plenaries (one by Saskia Sassen and another by George Ritzer). And we are excited to have danah boyd deliver our keynote.

If that was not enough, we have plenty of art-related surprises in store for those who attend. We have invited artists of all types to display and perform art specifically tailored to the themes of the conference. This will be one busy carnivalesque day for those who love technology and/or theory!

The program is found here:

Last, a flier for the conference [.pdf here]. Please distribute widely!

TtW2011 Flyer


This post was originally published March 2, 2011 by Racism Review and is reproduced with permission. This work is part or an ongoing series by Jessie Daniels on race and social media.

(CC photo credit: ERNESTO LAGO)

I’ve been doing a series about what academic research on race and racism on the Internet.    The series continues today with a look at what researchers are finding about one the most talked about aspects of the popular Internet: Social Networking Sites.

Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook and MySpace, are phenomenally popular and important to the field of Internet studies, (Boyd and Ellison, “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship,” JCMC, 2007, Vol.13(1):210-230).    According to a recent report, the top SNS is currently Facebook, with over 65 million unique visitors per month.  Facebook has displaced the former leader in the field, MySpace, which still currently gets about 58 million unique visitors per month.  These are staggeringly high numbers of people participating in these sites.    But what does this phenomenon have to do with race and racism? more...