“A Belief in Humanity is a Belief in Colored Men:” Using Culture to Span the Digital Divide

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Abstract

Building on Harrison and Zappen’s (2003) contention that technologies are infused with the values and social goals of their creators, I argue that Web content reproduces existing norms, rules, and power relations, some of which may prove inimical to Black identity, culture, and information needs. To explore this claim, I construct a culture-specific framework based on W. E. B. DuBois’ analysis of race and racism in the United States, that is then used as an evaluation schema for web content in the form of images, links, and text on mainstream Web sites vis-à-vis Africana.com. The results of the analysis uncover basic cultural differences in the design of and responses to mainstream and African-American sites.

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