I’m in a Multimedia Program and I’m taking this business class, right? Every week I’m required to read a book, write a two-page op-ed of some aspect of the book then come to class the following week and discuss it. Ironically, the reading is less about business and more about the rise of nationalism, technological culture, behavioral economics, etc. We read things like Benedict Andersons’ Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, Dan Arielys’ Predictable Irrational: The Hidden Forces the Shape our Decisions, and our most recent reading Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City by Walter J. Mitchell. The readings all have something in common. They’re written by old (and sometimes dead) white guys which makes the reading and writing part a little difficult for me.
Let me explain. The purpose of the reading is to help us understand “this nebulous term Multimedia” and how modern technology is changing us and the societies we live in. In the interest of doing this we use the exclusive ideas of white men. As a black man who is trying to make sense of this new age we are entering (and if you are not aware of this then you are really not paying attention) I find this very hard to do while reading the works of people who don’t consider diversity when they are discussing the future.
So, I search for explanations of diverse people in the digital age. I haven’t found much reading on the subject although Marshall McLuhan’s ideas are pretty cool. But, there is information out there in the digital world. They swim around and scream of relevance. It isn’t textual but there are images and music which is appropriate, I think. We tribal folk begin our expressions through movement and sound.
One such example is Alan Spearman’s (ironically, a white cat) As I Am embedded above. The beauty and tragedy of this video is reflective of a comment I made in class regarding Walter J Mitchell’s view that new technology would see the end of marginalized and alienated communities. He seemed to be referring to foreign terrorists but we have these folks right here in the U.S.
The ability to stream As I Am and to watch the digital images of poor black people as the protagonist questions his existence through voice over narrative is to see black people watching the world change around them while they try to figure out how to exist in it.
It’s a very powerful piece that, I think says a lot. And, I’m still trying to piece all of it together.