Podcast: André Brock, “Black + Twitter: A Cultural Informatics Approach”

Chris Sacca, activist investor, recently argued that Black Twitter IS Twitter. For example, African American usage of the service often dominates user metrics in the United States, despite their minority demographic numbers as computer users. This talk by André Brock unpacks Black Twitter use from two perspectives: analysis of the interface and associated practice alongside discourse analysis of Twitter’s utility and audience. Using examples of Black Twitter practice, Brock offers that Twitter’s feature set and ubiquity map closely onto Black discursive identity. Thus, Twitter’s outsized function as mechanism for cultural critique and political activism can be understood as the awakening of Black digital practice and an abridging of a digital divide.

André Brock is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. Brock is one of the preeminent scholars of Black cyberculture. His work bridges Science and Technology Studies and Critical Discourse Analysis, showing how the communicative affordances of online media align with those of Black communication practices. Through December 2016, he is a Visiting Researcher with the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England.

Vicky Zeamer

About Vicky Zeamer

Vicky Zeamer graduated from Wellesley College, where she studied Media Arts and Sciences (think HCI + design) & American Studies. She was also a cross-registered student at MIT where she took courses and participated in research centered around media technology and interaction design. Vicky’s past work has been largely in user experience design and research, in areas such as advertising and museums. As a design researcher, she is happiest when in the field conducting ethnographies and user interviews. She also gets a rush from synthesizing these findings and extracting design implications of users’ needs, values, and perspectives. Vicky's current research interests circle around personal and cultural relationships with food. More specifically, she is interested in exploring how computing and digital media are changing the way in which users experience food, and therefore exploring how computing is changing the way in which we use food as a tool to form connections and establish deeper understandings of events, people, and places.