Sunday, May 3, 2009

Reading race online

Your assignment, in preparation for our final, is to thoroughly discuss the remaining articles via our blog. Our collaboration will make the entire review a lot more productive for everyone.

Keep the following tasks in mind as you're blogging the article:

1.)Provide a summary
2.)Define key terms
3.)Analyze potentially weak points in the author’s argument
4.)Compare your article to our past readings
5.)Read the other groups’ blog posts and comparing it to your article
6.)Relate your article to the larger themes from the class

Feel free to comment on any other group's blog discussions as well. You should be reading them anyway, and providing extra commentary will help us all.

In addition, we'll be distributing a study guide later. Please use this same blog space to discuss that guide.


  1. #1---Summary

    The selected reading "Reading Race Online" explains the practices and differences of identifying and stereotyping individuals based on race both online and offline. The article discusses the ideas of in-person interactions and the concepts that help people construct ideas about people based on physical cues. In discussing new online practices and groups, the author suggests that the absence of these physical cues, in general, distorts the basic ways in which people form their assumptions about people, as online they can no longer trust and use physical cues.

    The author utilizes a specific online community, Usenet, to further analyze the way in which people rely on stereotypes and previous personal encounters to form opinions and beliefs about the people they meet online. Initially the author says that in-person encounters allow for exceptions and anomalies when stereotypes and pre-conceived notions come into play. However, the author argues that because physical cues are so limited in the online environment, these exceptions to stereotypes aren't as prevalent. Thus, people are more likely to rely on their stereotypes to identify and frame the people they meet online. The author says that groups like Usenet that lack this personal interaction, despite the revolutionary technology, help reinstate older ways of categorizing people using misleading stereotypes.

  2. #2 -- Define Key Terms

    ethnicity - a cultural feature; based upon cultural markers of membership,such as language, religion, symbols

    racial identity - Marked by phenotypes and genotypes of a person; reliable social resource that organizes the behaviors that one anticipates, allows, and accepts from another

    physical cues - characteristics such as skin color and vocal pattern that are pivotal clues to racial identity; not present in online interactions (which changes stereotyping)

    soc.culture newsgroups - online discussion groups specifically dedicated to the discussion of racial and cultural issues

    Usenet newsgroup - a global electronic bulletin board; comprises several thousand different newsgroups, including "comp" (computer), "rec" (recreation), and "soc" (social) oriented, on the internet; a site for the collection of messages

    threads - chains of responses and counter-responses on a Usenet

    identity challenge - when participants question an author's identity online; diverts attention away from the author's ideas

    crossposting - participants can post their comments or repost others' comments to more than one newsgroup; audience reading a thread can expand from a few people in a single newsgroup to many people and then quickly shrink to a two-person correspondence

  3. The Reading Race Online article mainly confronts the issue of racial identity like Jori and Claire previously stated. The article discusses how people stereotype each other online more so than in person because there aren't physical cues online like there are in person. Therefore, it is necessary for authors that write on Usenet to signal to their readers (such as their racial identity) to further convey their message. This article also talks a great deal about Usenet, an internet chat-room like website that allows people to write messages about different newsgroup issues such as scoail, recreational, entertainment, etc. This relates to material access. Anyone who takes part in Usenet is in some way advantaged in terms of access. Either they have a computer themselves or they use one at a public place,but they all have access to the internet in order to write on in the chat. Also, they have skills and mental access, because they are able to understand how to get onto the website and use the Internet correctly, and because they know how to do this, they aren't as afraid of the technology.

    Along with access, I believe that this article, though most is about racial identity, discusses how people can build their social capital. By joining the Usenet, people from all over the country, and even world, are able to communicate and discuss subjects that are important to them. This allows for social capital to increase for the individuals.

  4. weak points...

    this article's point is actually thoroughly argued out. He first explains the fact that the biological color of ones skin and ancestry create a ethnicity that consequently creates a way that society and culture treat this individual. growing up with dark skin is a different experience than growing up with light skin. he goes on to say that markers such as skin help to identify a person. identifying a person online however is a different story. the primary marker for ethnicity is taken away and people have to rely for other clues to identify the ethnicity. he concludes with a statement saying that offline physical cues help people to identify, create expectations and stereotypes. Where as online, those physical cues are gone so a person must depend on stereotypes to identify the ethnicity of a blogger.

    burkhalter argues that means of identifying online are through stereotypes and means of identifying offline are through physical cues. both of these methods can be very misleading and in accurate at times. they also further negative stereotypes. he seems to gloss over this issue in his identification determination.
    he also acknowledges the fact that these identification cues are generalizations and not accurate - yet he still spends an entire article discussing the matter

  5. This article is quite different than other ones we have read about race in this class. So far, race/ethnicity has been almost a static descriptor. For instance, technology or library use is broken down by set categories of African American, Indian American, Asian American, etc etc. Yet we haven't really stopped to think about how these categories are determined: are they self-assessed or based on external descriptions? The question of race versus ethnicity is really interesting, and could help us break down statistics into more accurate groups. Since "ethnicity is based upon cultural markers of membership," it would be interesting to delve into how technology specifically fits into these various cultural markers.
    Burkhalter looks at what happens to self-determined ethnicity in the visual void of the Internet. This is certainly the first article we've read that tries to deal with the dichotomy of online anonymity and offline racial trends. Burkhalter actually looks at anecdotal evidence to try to understand HOW and WHY different ethnic groups use the Internet to reaffirm or disprove stereotypes (not HOW OFTEN or HOW MANY, like many of this class' statistic-based articles.)

  6. #5

    This actually goes along a bit with #6. The Reading Race Online article was different than the other articles in the section, and therefore our blog differs from eveone elses' blogs a little bit. This article was about how people can figure out what race other people are online, without using pictures and physical discriptions. It is all about the way people express their words. Also, people might use phrases such as, "Speaking on behalf of African-Americans..." or "We feel that...". The other articles expressed the differences and researches on the continuing digital divide, and what is making a divide. This article does not relate much to that at all. It talks about the SCAA and SCMA types of chat rooms and how people discuss plenty of topics of different cultures and ethinicities. Other blogs deal with key terms and information relating to the digital divide and research on the digital divie/ advantage and disadvantage groups whereas ours deals with terminology based on how people are identified online.

    This article is important, though, because it still deals with the digital divide . There is still mentioning of people of lower class not being educated enough and how their uses of technology differ. These topics are discussed between whoever decides to log on to the discussion board. In the threads, it is not so hard to determine what certain people's ethnicities are.