2018 Thoughts in Review
Over the last year, I published blog posts to the ALiGN Media Lab on topics like: how speculative fiction is being used by activists to imagine and build newer futures; algorithmic knowledge required to understand why our social media timelines keep changing; and how laws to delete social media posts just can’t keep up with the technology. (Check out all those posts and more, here).
I’ve also been more and more focused on the role and responsibilities of mobile applications and social media platforms in our everyday lives.
For instance, I’ve been a Duolingo user for a while now and really enjoy how easy it has been to refresh my French while I’m on the bus or waiting for a meeting. When I first heard that Duolingo was offering two fictional languages on their application, I looked further into its history and how it makes its money. In this post, I take a dive into how Duolingo’s creators shape the languages we learn by controlling what is accessible and free for us. There’s opportunity for a platform like Duolingo to include Indigenous languages that they have repeatedly pushed aside.
But perhaps there’s some hope elsewhere. First Voices is a set of web-based tools and apps supporting Indigenous language revival and survival. Additionally, Facebook has recently included an Indigenous languages translation app with additional plans to launch Facebook in Inuktut in 2019. I’m hoping that 2019 will bring in so much more inclusive and diverse mobile applications.
This past year, many people also had their eyes glued to Facebook and Twitter policies and testimonies in front of US Congress since the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Russian misinformation online. Since then, I’ve seen many posts about deleting Facebook, other social media apps and even smart speakers, and I’ve been thinking about some unintended consequences of abandoning platforms. In my post on living with networked harassment, I look into how women and girls are frequently told to just leave and delete social media platforms when problems such as online harassment and violence arise. Yet, abandoning social media platforms are an easy thing to tell ourselves and others to do, but difficult in practice as our everyday lives are more and more embedded within media networks.
These are two topics that I want to continue to explore in 2019. I’m currently finishing up a post looking at how women of colour have been abandoning another platform this year, but it’s not Twitter or Facebook. Stay tuned for more on the ALiGN blog and make sure to follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter) - that is, if you haven’t deleted these yet - to stay updated on current posts and upcoming events.
I’m also currently knee-deep in my dissertation research project, so the next few months will be thinking more about the relationship women of colour have with technologies they are developing to end violence against in Canada.
Here’s to another year full of many more thoughts I hope I can share with you!