Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blk Studies, Organizing in the Digital Age

Building participation for black studies projects is no easy matter. It requires, in this age, a mix of old-school organizing approaches and constant use of new technologies, especially if your 2008-2009 vision for the program includes implementing initiatives and activities that are educational, interactive, and visually-stimulating.

Early on, you learn that technology is helpful for enhancing your organizing activities, but technology is not necessarily a replacement for that organizing. In order to reach out to potential participants and strengthen connections with established contributors, we’ve learned that multiple modes of communication are necessary.

For instance, in the process of solidifying our letter-writers for the “Poetry Correspondence Program” over the last week, I have communicated with students face-to-face, via email, on facebook, by telephone, through text messaging, and with typed letters. Who knows where future modes of communication are headed? For now however, we have to keep meeting folks at the various places that they occupy, which necessitates fluency in analog and digital methods of communication.

Collaboration also helps. And, we certainly benefit by hearing about what other programs are doing.

By the way, there seems to be a lack of public, ongoing conversations about the ground-level strategizing and organizing essential to making black studies projects happen. Discussions about local strategizing are perhaps not prevalent enough in black studies journals and in books about the programs.

As a result, black studies programs, especially those with limited funds, have struggled to redefine themselves in the modern era and create sustaining activities. Perhaps, we need to explore some new approaches.

For example, I wonder what results we might get if more programs developed blogs? Doing so might allow us to develop firmer virtual relationships across a culturally-distinct digital diaspora. And exchanging ideas about up-to-date happenings of various programs would allow us to build our programmatic knowledge concerning the production of black studies.

Do you have links to other black studies, cultural studies, women studies, or American Studies programs that have blogs? Or, do you have particular thoughts about organizing in this digital age? Let us know.


Anonymous said...

Excellent points. In the emerging information society, it makes sense that black studies programs embrace (not replace) varying forms of technology to aid in organizing and strategizing.

With that said, the digital divide, a major concern that already receives a fair share of attention, would need to be acknowledged by these programs.

My hope is that black studies programs recognize the complexity of the digital divide. The issue is much more than limited physical access to the internet/technology.

While there are worthwhile initiatives black studies could take to increase physical access, these programs have an equally important responsibility to ensure that the information needs of low-income African Americans are met.

Blog on!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Your points here help extend something we began talking about last Wednesday--the need for increasing people's capabilities in order for them to take fuller advantage of the benefits of technology, for example.

We'll keep developing our thoughts in this direction.