This panel is about the many ways in which modern internet adoption and use mirrors the development of agrarian sharecropping in the South following the Civil War- whereby African Americans provided massive amounts of labor to make other people rich, but could never move beyond basic subsistence living. According to the Pew Internet& American Life Project,as of May 2011, 25% of online African Americans now use Twitter, compared with 9% of such whites. African-American and Latino internet users are each significantly more likely than whites to be Twitter adopters. One out of ten African-American internet users now visit Twitter on a typical day—that is double the rate for Latinos and nearly four times the rate for whites. Pew research has also indicated that Blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to use mobile devices to text message, use social networking sites, use the internet, watch and record videos, make charitable donation, use email, play games, listen to music, instant message and post multimedia content online. Yet disproportionate consumption of technology among Blacks, does not appear to be translating into wealth building and job creation in a community facing a 16.1 unemployment rate. Techcrunch founder, Michael Arrington caused a minor controversy when CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked him about Black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Arrington replied “I don’t know a single Black entrepreneur.” In 2012, the definition of Digital Divide appears to have shifted from access to technology to how communities of color leverage that technology.
9th–13th March 2012