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

My passions fall more in the realm of human-centered design. I have spent my previous education and work experience in the tech industry, specifically focusing on how user experience (UX) can help guide the development of technology to be better for people and society. At MIT, I earned my M.Sc. in Comparative Media Studies where I wrote my thesis on how the dining out food industry shifted in response to the proliferation of digital food culture on Web 1.0 & 2.0. I earned my B.A. at Wellesley College where I studied both how people and societies function and create culture (American Studies) and how computer science and design could be leveraged for innovation (Media Arts and Sciences). I am currently a UX Research role at HubSpot in Cambridge, a software company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses grow through an online marketing and sales platform. I sit as a user-centered researcher within the Machine Learning (ML) engineering team where my main focus is to gather insights about our users and strategize how to create ML-enabled solutions for our customers. Being at the intersection of technology and people is really my sweet spot.

 
 

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