Black Tech Review

Black Tech Review


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Black Tech Review

Issues & Views on Blacks in Cyberspace




Tech Perspectives

In Hyderbad, a company called Wipro is training Indian workers to speak with “Midwestern American and working class British accents” in order to answer service calls for companies like Dell Computer Corporation and Oracle. These are entry level positions that would have once gone (in the American labor market) to high school graduates. Now, they are being done by East Indians who, as the chart above points out, make less money a year than an inner-city black high school student would make at McDonald’s in six months.

What is even more significant for American worker is that there are aggressive forces in India preparing its workforce not just to receive outsourced jobs but to develop their own version of California’s “Silicon Valley.” One has but to recall the negative effect that Japanese carmakers, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan, had on the domestic automobile market to imagine what might happen to the American high tech companies if they must face competition from abroad. In less than a decade from the time Japanese cars entered the American market, their cars were considered to be a better value than their American counterparts. HyderBad

African American Journalists in Harlem, 1936. The U.S. corporate media segregated the reporters and the news until the late 1960s following the mass rebellions throughout the U.S. Prior to that time, many corporate daily newspapers had special days for carrying so-called “Colored News” which consisted of sports, entertainment and crime. African American papers were banned in the segregated south a…nd had to be smuggled into those communities by the Pullman Porters. Black reporters were often chased out of town, beaten and killed by members of the KKK and other white racist organizations. During WWI and WW2, African American newspaper publishers and editors were threatened with censorship and closure under century-old Sedition Laws by the U.S. government for reporting on racism in the U.S. military.—Charles Simmons

Reporters for the New York Amsterdam News at work in the newsroom, 1936.—Photo by Lucien Aigner

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Black Studies and Digital Humanities

A Growing List of Online Resources

Compiled by Kenton Rambsy & Goyland Williams


I am interested in online mediums, blogs in particular, can be used as a space to think through ideas when preparing larger publications, getting immediate feedback, and simply giving larger audiences access to new ideas and information.  In terms of bridging the gap between “Digital Humanities” and “Black Studies,” developing an online presence is crucial. Online websites concerning black culture serve as points of entry for how wider audiences engage in scholarship about African American life and history.

Below, this list constitutes the growing “digital resources” by professors, public figures, collective groups, and institutions that can be used to discuss and study issues in Black Studies. Ranging from the personal blog of Professor Adam Banks and rhetorical matters to digital archives of HistoryMakers, the innovative means by which social networking and online mediums are used to create and shape conversations about black culture is noteworthy. 

Talking Book Blog—Prof. Adam Banks

Rhetoric, Race, andReligion—Prof. Andre Johnson

Black Gotham Archives—Prof. Carla Peterson

SIUE Black Studies—Prof. Howard Rambsy II

Imani Perry—Prof. Imani Perry

Diaspora Hypertext—Prof.Jessica Marie Johnson

BLAC (K) ADEMIC—Prof.Kortney Ryan Ziegler

Thoughts of a GhettoIntellectual—Prof. Kwame Zulu Shabazz

Uptown Notes—Prof. L’HeureuxLewis-McCoy

New Black Man (In Exile)—Prof. Mark Anthony Neal

Something Within—Prof.Renita Weems

The Atlantic—Ta-NehisiCoates

Collective Group Blogs

The Black Bottom

The LiberatorMagazine


Institutional Digital Archives

The Digital Schomburg

History Makers

Source: ProjectHBW

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Amin Sharif Amin Sharif Table

HyderBad: A Third World Cyber-City  

NetWar: The New Threat  (essay) 

Notes from the Digital Revolution  (essay)

A Post Industrial Blues   A Post-Industrial Vision  

Sharif Interviews Junious

Third World CyberActivists

We Sing the Revolution Electric! 

The World to Come

E. Ethelbert Miller

Responsibility of Blacks in Cyberspace

Journal & Newspaper Reports

Launching Africa’s First E-School

The Nigerian Media As Scapegoats (Nworah)

No Brass Check Journalists (Studs Terkel)

No phone, No computer for Most Africans

Kalamu ya Salaam Kalamu ya Salaam Table

afro geek

afro geek (2)

Clapping On Two and Four

Digital Technology & Telling Our Story  (interview)

Kalamu Neo-Griot

WORDS: A Neo-Griot Manifesto

Louis Reyes Rivera

Internet Copyright Settlement Alive

Responses to IT Uses

Arthur Flowers

Herbert Rogers

Joyce King

Kalamu ya Salaam “Liberated zones in cyberspace”

Mona Lisa Saloy 

Rudolph Lewis Mosquitoes Fly 

Can We IT Users Create Communities

Making Use of IT for Black Liberation  

The State of Black Journalism 

Troy Johnson

African American Literature Book Club (AALBC) in 1998  

Assessing the Black Net

Huria Search—Discover the Global Black Community

List of Sites Included in Huria Search’s Index

Uche Nworah


Citizens As Journalists

Global Media Imbalance and Africa

The Impact of the Internet on Journalism Practice in Nigeria

Segun Adeniyi and E-Information

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Related files

Another Good Loving Blues 

Breath of Life

De Mojo Blues

E School in Uganda

In Honor and Memory of Leroy Horn

Kola Boof

Mojo Rising 

Mojo Rising: 5th Movement   

 Rootwork By Patricia R. Schroeder  

Rootwork and the Prophetic Impulse  

Tin Mines War Murder Rape Cell Phones

Up Against the Wall in Haiti


created  13 July 2005

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Seven ways mobile phones have changed lives in Africa—Tolu Ogunlesi—14 September 2012—A little over a decade ago there were about 100,000 phone lines in Nigeria, mostly landlines run by the state-owned telecoms behemoth, NITEL. Today NITEL is dead, and Nigeria has close to 100 million mobile phone lines, making it Africa’s largest telecoms market, according to statistics by the Nigerian Communications Commission. Across the rest of the continent the trends are similar: between 2000 and 2010, Kenyan mobile phone firm Safaricom saw its subscriber base increase in excess of 500-fold.

In 2010 alone the number of mobile phone users in Rwanda grew by 50%, figures from the country’s regulatory agency show. During the early years of mobile in Africa, the Short Messaging Service (SMS) was at the heart of the revolution. Today the next frontier for mobile use in Africa is the internet. “Mobile is fast becoming the PC of Africa,” says Osibo Imhoitsike, market coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa at Norwegian firm Opera, whose mobile browser is enjoying an impressive uptake on the continent.

“In fact there isn’t really anything more personal than a mobile phone nowadays.” Last October, for the first time ever, the number of Nigerians accessing the internet via their mobiles surpassed the number of desktop internet users, figures from Statcounter show.

The trend has continued since then. Most of those devices will be low-end Nokia phones, tens of millions of which have already been sold on the continent.

The more expensive “smartphones” are however also increasing in popularity, as prices drop. Blackberry’s market share has been rising in the developing world, bucking the trend in Europe and North America. Google, for its part, plans to sell 200 million of its Android phones in Africa and it is estimated that by 2016 there will be a billion mobile phones on the continent. In 2007, President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said: “In 10 short years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone, has become a basic necessity in Africa.” (Watch video from Kenya on how mobile has changed Africa.)

Seven ways that mobile phones have transformed the continent: health, agriculture, disaster management, entertainment, education, banking, and activism.—cnn

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Racism: A History, the 2007 BBC 3-part documentary explores the impact of racism on a global scale. It was part of the season of programs on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It’s divided into 3 parts.

The first, The Colour of Money . . . Racism: A History [2007]—1/3

Begins the series by assessing the implications of the relationship between Europe, Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. It considers how racist ideas and practices developed in key religious and secular institutions, and how they showed up in writings by European philosophers Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.

The second, Fatal Impact . . . Racism: A History [2007] – 2/3

Examines the idea of scientific racism, an ideology invented during the 19th century that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. The episode shows how these theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race.

And the 3rd, A Savage Legacy . . .  Racism: A History [2007] – 3/3

Examines the impact of racism in the 20th century. By 1900 European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century’s greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule.

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Media Relations Trends to Expect in 2012

Facebook and Twitter were the top outlets where people found out about the U.S.’ attack on Osama bin Laden’s compound. This just shows the evolution of social networks as news sources, which means communications pros must at the least have an active listening/monitoring plan in place to stay close to their community online as well as their targeted media.—Priya Ramesh, Director, Social Media Strategy, CRT/tanaka

Blogging will grow increasingly important for otherwise “traditional” publications. Journalists will be required to generate more stories with an eye for driving traffic.

Search engine optimization (SEO) will be increasingly important. This will be important for journalists looking for sources and for journalists posting stories. Just as the media use search to find experts and be the first with the story, they will find their own content development will drive traffic to their own site(s).

Geo-targeting efforts will extend to the media and their need to find sources that are relevant for their stories in a hyperlocal world.—Johna Burke, Senior Vice President, BurrellesLuce

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Saying Bye-Bye To Britannica—Kaila Colbin—16 March 2012—In 1999, Ken LaVan and I wrote a book called “The Real People’s Guide to the Internet.” In it, we marveled at the Internet’s size and power. “Currently, there are approximately 132 million people who use the Internet,” we wrote, “and, by the year 2000, it is estimated that 400 million people will access the Web.” According to Internet World Stats, that prediction was a bit high—there were almost 361 million online at the end of 2000. By the end of 2011, however, that number had grown to more than 2.2 billion. Our book described the many navigational guides available to Net surfers: Goto, Lycos, Infoseek, Altavista. The screen shot demonstrating the Yahoo! search results for “weather” showed 3,854 sites—and lamented the “overabundance of information.” “Real People,” we said, “do not have time to look through that much information to find what they are looking for.” Though we didn’t discuss it, at the same time as our book was being published, a whole new genre of website was being born: the online encyclopedia. And they struggled, at first. Nupedia, the peer-reviewed predecessor to Wikipedia, launched in March 2000, but by November that year, it had only published two full-length articles. Everything2, from the creators of Slashdot, gave writers experience points for contributing. Even Douglas Adams (of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame) launched a “Hitchhiker”-based online encyclopedia called h2g2 in 1999; however, his company TDV ran out of money in 2000 and the site got taken over by the BBC. The future of online encyclopedias was anything but certain. But this week, with the announcement by Encyclopedia Britannica that it is discontinuing its print edition, the Internet has officially won. . . . Nearly everyone points to Wikipedia as Goliath to Britannica’s David. Wikipedia is certainly an excellent resource—and always, I tell students, a good starting place for online research. Britannica’s competition, however, is not just a different online encyclopedia; it is the whole World Wide Web. Increased content has meant that, when faced with my own ignorance, my first port of call is the search bar. If Wikipedia has the answer, I’ll get there through the SERPs; but I can just as easily access a YouTube video or eHow.—MediaPost

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Huria Search—Discover the Global Black Community—Huria Search improves the internet experience for people looking for content created by the GBC and to help support the efforts of those websites. Websites thrive when they can be found.  Higher visibility allows websites to earn more revenue, attract better writers, garner more visitors who interact with the website and provide valuable promotion. . . .  Huria Search is financed by donors and developed by volunteers.  This site is completely driven our collective mission to support the global Black community.  List of Sites Included in Huria Search’s Index

Troy Johnson Assessing the Black Press  / Troy Johnson founded in 1998 the African American Literature Book Club (AALBC)

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Blacks: Is Tech Racist


Google Worsens Experience by Retuning Poor Search Results—8 August 8, 2011—Troy—The majority of new visitors to arrive via a Google search.  I suspect the same is true for most other websites. I’ve also heard and read additional speculation that Google skews their query results to sites that purchase a great deal of online adverting through Google’s AdWords.  While I can not prove this; the search results shown by the example above do not rule this assertion out.

Of course it could be that web page popularity is a significant factor in Google’s search algorithm.  The sites or pages with the most traffic would tend to rank higher.   Perhaps the very popular, AOL owned, Huffington Post can exert dominance and higher page ranking simply because of it prominence.Even if the Huffington post brought $10 million dollars in Google ads and was more frequently visited than Facebook; there is no way one can justify that a page containing two sentences (quoted above) belong in the top ten of a search result for the query string “Terry McMillan“.    That Huffington Post  page would be appropriate result for a query entered something like this: Terry McMillan Tweet Willow Jaden Smith

I fully realize I could be making things worse for myself by making these accusations against Google in a public forum.  I have first hand experience with Google shooting first and asking questions later (yet another topic for a future rant).  However, this is a very important issue that needs additional scrutiny and awareness.  We are already losing on-line sources for quality news and information because of a lack of platforms for good journalists and writers.   Now the potential for these platforms are hampered even more by having their content devalued relative to sites that promote more scandalous or otherwise less valuable and relevant information.

As large corporate entities produce, broker, promote and manufacture more scandal, and companies like Google make this information more accessible by elevating it in its search results; we are witnessing the Internet becoming less free while corporate interests contort the world wide web in to a entity where profit is the only motive.—aalbc

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There’s more going on here, too, with the difficulty in securing advertisers within each territory or island-wide. While easier today than 50 years ago, getting ads still has much to do with political power, race, and fear of speaking out or writing (NB: anonymous letters to the editor) which can lead to losing one’s job or business, or not getting a particular job or contract; it has to do with who controls what sectors of the economy, and what and who a journalist or the media dare to report or editorialize on critically. This is especially true when there is an “issue” with, for example, the firing of hotel workers and not identifying the hotel owners by name or pictures, the spoiled-rotten golden goose of tourism, corruption, racism, language of instruction and its relationship to school failure rates, or, heaven forbid, independence for St. Martin (South and North).

And the ad-challenged areas probably have nothing to do with any St. Martin exceptionalism. Nevertheless, Allen, as a relatively new media owner/publisher, will have to smartly tough it out through the establishment and the advertising minefield like the forebears of his trade—St. Martin Internet News: Samuel Allen, Jr.

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A New Google Venture and Another Boundary Line Is Nudged—Claire Cain Miller and Nick Bilton—2 December 2011—Google is working on a delivery service that would let people order items from local stores on the and receive them at their homes or offices within a day. The service is in an early testing phase, and it was described by three people briefed on the project who were not authorized to speak about it publicly before it was announced. It is part of a bigger, strategic effort by Google to move beyond its core search business by helping people buy things, not just find them.

Other parts of this strategy include Google Wallet to make payments by cellphone, Google Offers for daily deals, apps that show location-based mobile ads and product search for local stores. The idea behind the new delivery service is that people searching for products online or on their phones could buy something from a local retailer or the local branches of nationwide chains, and could then take the next step—delivery—through Google.

Google does not intend to build stores or warehouses or become a retailer itself, two of the people briefed on the delivery service said. Instead, it is talking with potential partners, including retailers and possibly couriers.

The service is the latest example of how the biggest tech companies — including Google, Apple and Amazon—are trying to branch out and, in the process, blurring the lines between their core businesses.

For example, Apple’s iTunes business is formidable, and much of its success in selling phones and tablets, which compete with Google’s Android and Chrome devices, comes from its retail stores. And shoppers increasingly search Amazon directly, instead of looking first for products on Google, in part because of Amazon’s Prime program, which offers free two-day shipping for a $79 annual fee. Amazon also operates AmazonFresh, a local delivery service focused on groceries, in Seattle.—NYTimes

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Pew Report: African Americans Outpace Whites in Mobile Phone, App Usage—by Sherri L. Smith—23 September 2010—As the discussion on net neutrality and equal access to high-speed Internet continues, minorities continue to make strides in closing the digital divide. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, minorities are not only gaining access to the Web, we’re doing it without necessarily having to access a desktop or a laptop.

When it comes to social media, we’re not only using it at a higher rate, but we also have a different perspective on how we engage with the technology. According to the report, since 2000, the racial makeup of American Internet users has started to more closely resemble the offline population.

In fact the amount of black and Latino users has almost doubled from 11% to 21%. In addition, increasing amounts of African Americans have broadband in their homes although whites are still leading. Blacks are also less likely to go online or own a desktop computer compared to their white counterparts.  51% of African Americans own a desktop compared to 65% of whites.

While African Americans might not being using desktops to access the Web, the mobile sector is a whole new ballgame. According to the report, Latinos and blacks are more likely to own a mobile phone than whites and outpace whites in mobile app use. Compared with white cell phone owners, blacks and Latinos are significantly more likely to use their mobile devices to: Text message (70% of all African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos use text messaging, vs. just over half of whites).—BlackWeb20

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Geo targeting in geomarketing and internet marketing is the method of determining the geolocation of a website visitor and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as country, region/state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, IP address, ISP or other criteria[1]. A common usage of geo targeting is found in online advertising, as well as internet television with sites such as iPlayer and Hulu restricting content to those geolocated in specific countries (also known as digital rights management). Use of proxy servers and virtual private networks may give a false location.—Wikipedia

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.—Wikipedia

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Growing Up Digital Wired for Distraction—By Matt Richtel—21 November 2010—Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning. Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks—and less able to sustain attention.

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

But even as some parents and educators express unease about students’ digital diets, they are intensifying efforts to use technology in the classroom, seeing it as a way to connect with students and give them essential skills. Across the country, schools are equipping themselves with computers, Internet access and mobile devices so they can teach on the students’ technological territory.—NYTimes

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Black Bloggers Get Played By the White House—A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon—“Real journalists would have laughed those anonymous spokesperson and “off the record” requirements right out of the room. Ethical journalists only grant anonymity to sources like whistle blowers with well-founded fears of retaliation..”

In the words of I.F. Stone, one of the 20th century’s great investigative journalists, “Governments lie. All governments lie.” Stone’s words are as true now as they were when he uttered them more than half a century ago.

When the White House invited black bloggers in for a Columbus Day meeting, they were told they could print anything they heard in the first half of the meeting, but that they could attribute none of it to any White House spokesperson by name, while the second half of their meeting would be completely “off the record.” Fortunately, or perhaps by design, none of the invited bloggers were actually journalists. They hailed mostly from celebrity gossip sites like ConcreteLoop, and Young, Black and Fabulous, from BET and Essence magazine, from BlackSingles.ComBlackAgendaReport

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Betting on News, AOL Is Buying The Huffington Post—7 February 2011—The Huffington Post, which began in 2005 with a meager $1 million investment and has grown into one of the most heavily visited news sites in the country, is being acquired by AOL in a deal that creates an unlikely pairing of two online media giants.

The two companies completed the sale Sunday evening and announced the deal just after midnight on Monday. AOL will pay $315 million, $300 million of it in cash and the rest in stock. It will be the company’s largest acquisition since it was separated from Time Warner in 2009.

The deal will allow AOL to greatly expand its news gathering and original content creation, areas that its chief executive, Tim Armstrong, views as vital to reversing a decade-long decline.—NYTimes  

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Cuba launches Wikipedia style encyclopaedia—By Sandy M. Fernández—Published —13 December 2010—Cuba launched its own open, Wikipedia-style online encyclopaedia on Tuesday with an estimated 20,000 articles. The website is “EcuRed emerges in Cuba and in the Spanish language, with the will to create and spread knowledge from a decolonizing, objective and truthful point of view,” a statement posted on the website said. The site went down for a while Tuesday, apparently due to excessive demand. The online encyclopaedia is an initiative of a government-run network with 600 computer centres around the island, and more than 1,150 content developers.—IOL

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Small Change—Why the revolution will not be tweeted—By Malcolm Gladwell—October 4, 2010—Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand “friends” on Facebook, as you never could in real life. This is in many ways a wonderful thing. There is strength in weak ties, as the sociologist Mark Granovetter has observed. Our acquaintances—not our friends—are our greatest source of new ideas and information. The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvelous efficiency. It’s terrific at the diffusion of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, seamlessly matching up buyers and sellers, and the logistical functions of the dating world. But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism. . . .

The evangelists of social media don’t understand this distinction; they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960. “Social networks are particularly effective at increasing motivation,” Aaker and Smith write. But that’s not true. Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires. The Facebook page of the Save Darfur Coalition has 1,282,339 members, who have donated an average of nine cents apiece. The next biggest Darfur charity on Facebook has 22,073 members, who have donated an average of thirty-five cents. Help Save Darfur has 2,797 members, who have given, on average, fifteen cents.

A spokesperson for the Save Darfur Coalition told Newsweek, “We wouldn’t necessarily gauge someone’s value to the advocacy movement based on what they’ve given. This is a powerful mechanism to engage this critical population. They inform their community, attend events, volunteer. It’s not something you can measure by looking at a ledger.” In other words, Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro. . . .

The drawbacks of networks scarcely matter if the network isn’t interested in systemic change—if it just wants to frighten or humiliate or make a splash—or if it doesn’t need to think strategically. But if you’re taking on a powerful and organized establishment you have to be a hierarchy.—NewYorker

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Cell phones cut maternal deaths in Ghana—Cell phones have cut dramatically the number of women dying during childbirth in Amensie village in south-central Ghana, according to local health officials. Health and aid workers say while other improvements in primary healthcare in Amensie – as part of the Millennium Villages project – have contributed to the drop, the availability of cell phones has been pivotal. . . . In 2006 mobile handset producer Ericsson teamed up with mobile telecommunications firm Zain to install internet access and mobile phone coverage in the villages in 2006. They distributed free handsets to health workers and sold handsets to villagers for US$10 each.“We entered the project because we believe information and communications technology play a critical role in helping to end the poverty cycle,” Elaine Weidman, Vice-President of Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson, told IRIN.The UN says maternal health overall has improved in Bonsaaso due to improved primary healthcare services. But Madam Owusu said the drop in deaths during childbirth is due, primarily, to information and communication technologies (ICT) plus the ambulance.

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Black lawmakers work to close ‘digital divide’—By Vince Rogers—July 30-August 5, 2010—Broadband is an umbrella term for technology that provides high-speed connection to the internet. Some 92 percent of the general population has access to such technology, Smyre said, compared to 42 percent in minority, rural, and low-income communities.”Minorities and poor communities are being left behind as a result of the increased cost of computers, limited broadband access and lack of digital literacy,” Smyre said. “So much money, access and quality of life issues are connected to finding a solution to this issue.With only four of 10 African Americans having broadband access, he said, “our policies initiatives must address accessibility and affordability,” he said. Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said it is vital that black elected officials fight to close the digital divide.—The Atlanta Voice

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Students trust high Google search rankings too much—By Jacqui Cheng—The researchers observed 102 college freshmen performing searches on a computer for specific information—usually with Google, but also making use of Yahoo, SparkNotes, MapQuest, Microsoft (we assume this means Bing), Wikipedia, AOL, and Facebook. Most students clicked on the first search result no matter what it was, and more than a quarter of respondents said explicitly that they chose it because it was the first result. “In some cases, the respondent regarded the search engine as the relevant entity for which to evaluate trustworthiness, rather than the site that contained the information,” wrote researchers Eszter Hargittai, Lindsay Fullerton, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, and Kristin Yates Thomas. . . .

Only 10 percent of the participants mentioned the author or author’s credentials when performing their research, and according to screen captures of those students, “none actually followed through by verifying either the identification or the qualifications of the authors.” The researchers said this was the case even when the student stated directly that he or she should check to see who the authors were and what their qualifications were.

Students did acknowledge that certain websites—mostly those ending in .gov, .edu—were more credible than others because they weren’t written by “just anybody.” However, some felt the same way about .org sites, and were unaware that .org domains could be sold to anyone (and therefore have about the same credibility as any .com out there).

Still, the takeaway is that a large majority of students give more weight to the search tool they’re using than the sites they’re finding via those searches. The paper quoted numerous students professing their particular love for Google, or talking about how Microsoft’s search services are credible because Microsoft is a “more professional” company—basically, search engine brands meant a lot to the students using them, and those students seem to place credibility on the automated search rankings provided by those services.—ArsTechnica

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Internet World Stats News—January 25, 2009—Internet World Stats says internet users number over 1.5 billion—Note that these are early figures, and that breakdowns by country are not yet available in this database for end-2008. More complete data is available for mid-2008 at Internet users in the world already hit one and a half billion persons approximately in July of 2008. The current estimates of Internet users for 2008 year-end (2008Q4) according to our database, which includes ALL the Internet users universe, comprises over 1,573,269,743 persons worldwide. The Internet Penetration Rate is 23.4%, considering a global population of 6,708,755,756 persons according to the U.S. Census Bureau data.—Internet World Stats

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Chinese Internet Audience Outranks U.S.—China represented the largest online audience in the world in December 2008 with 180 million Internet users, representing nearly 18 percent of the total worldwide Internet audience, followed by the U.S. (16.2 percent share), Japan (6.0 percent share), Germany (3.7 percent share) and the U.K. (3.6 percent share). [Others in the top 15 countries included France and India, each with over 3% of the world audience; Russia, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, and Italy, each with over 2% of the world audience; and Mexico and the Netherlands, each with 1.2% of the world audience.—ComScore

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Africa: Internet Growth Accelerating

AfricaFocus Bulletin Feb 4, 2009 (090204)  

Editor’s Note “Until recently, the experience of the internet in Africa has been like having to eat a three-course meal by sucking it through a straw: time-consuming, unreliable and expensive. .. [but prices are dropping] and cheap international bandwidth is an essential component for any developing country to remain competitive in a changing world.”—Russell Southwood, in Global Information Society Watch 2008   Southwood goes on to note that new undersea cables, two of them due to be completed this year, are predicted to cut international bandwidth prices for some African countries by as much as 90%, and that there will be strong pressure for reducing costs inside countries as well, as well as for finding new ways to bring cheaper connections to neglected rural areas.   Although Africa still remains last among world regions in estimated internet penetration (5.4% of the population as compared to the world average of 23.4%, according to end-2008 figures from Internet World Stats – see article below), it also features a growth rate of over 1,000% between 2000 and mid-2008, with an estimated 19.8% growth rate between end 2007 and end 2008. Internet World Stats now estimates more than 51 million internet users in Africa, while leading expert Southwood estimates an even higher user/population rate, if usage at internet cafes is fully taken into account.   This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from two recent articles on global internet usage, the first from the commercial firm ComScore ( and the second from the web site Internet World Stats (, which also provides more detailed estimates by country. The Bulletin also contains excerpts from Russell Southwood’s article on Trends in Technology, from the Global Information Society Watch 2008 report, released in December. Additional articles from GISW 2008 are available for download at, and a press release on the report is at

GISW reports on Africa ( Abiodun Jagun ) Inernet statistics for individual African countries, as of mid-2008

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Bandwidth, the petrol of the new global economy—Put simply, bandwidth is what carries voice and data from one place to another. Bandwidth is the petrol of the new global economy; and cheap international bandwidth is an essential component for any developing country to remain competitive in a changing world. . . . Used strategically, bandwidth can create new “think work” industries like business process outsourcing (BPO) and call centres. For example, a single company in Ghana, ACS, employs 1,200 people doing data processing. The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius employs between 4,000 and 5,000 people in a combination of BPO and call centres. Over 10,000 people in the South African city of Cape Town work in these sectors. . . .

Take the example of West Africa. According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC), there are three waves of population movement. Since the early 1960s, 80 million people have moved to the cities from rural areas. Populations also move from one country to another in West Africa, and this represents 90% of inter-regional migration. Finally, West Africans represent 3% of immigrants from non-OECD countries living in Europe. Each of these people needs to be able to communicate with their family. . . .

Financial remittances flow all the way down this chain of communication and, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in 2006 these were worth USD 10 billion to West African countries. These remittances exceed the amount of money spent by international donors. But the cost of sending that money is around 12% of the total, whereas elsewhere in the world, such as Latin America, it has fallen to 6%. Cheaper communications and competition can bring cheaper transaction costs, and more of this money will arrive in developing countries.

The first wave of the communications revolution in Africa was the spread of mobile phones, which are now within reach of 60-70% of the continent’s population. By contrast, the internet is only accessed by 12-15% of the population. Until recently, the experience of the internet in Africa has been like having to eat a three-course meal by sucking it through a straw: time-consuming, unreliable and expensive.

While new mobile interfaces will increasingly allow mobile internet access, the second wave of the communications revolution will be the spread of relatively cheap internet use. For developing countries, particularly in Africa, the internet has been the poor cousin of much more widely distributed technologies like mobile phones and radio. However, despite the limitations of speed and cost, a surprisingly large number of people use it.

Based on national survey samples from a range of twelve African countries of different income levels, between 2-15% of the population use the internet (except in the two poorest countries) and 1-8% use it on a daily basis (except for the four poorest countries). On this basis, there might easily be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of broadband subscribers depending on the size of country. Literacy plays a part, but probably not as big a part as price. GISWatch

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Steve Jobs

By Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.   Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits.

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What is significant for these “information activists” and their anti-capitalist organizations—the new computer linked social movement—to understand is that their activities have already caught the eyes of “independent critical intellectuals, mainstream social scientists and National Security Analysts.”

Cleaver’s paper, itself, is a compilation from various sources. But, from reading Cleaver’s paper, it is clear that he was deeply impressed by the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. These intellectuals were able to transcend “Left notions of structuralism” and “dialectics” and have instead been able to focus on the “micro-dynamics of the individual and the social movements” themselves.

In other words, these men scrapped the old way of analyzing social movements and their participants in favor of different and more revealing analysis. What they have concluded is that there is emerging a global network of progressives, radicals, and revolutionaries linked by modern information technology—e-mail, cell phone, pc’s, etc. that yield power greater than the sum of their parts.  NetWar

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Technical foul on the old guy—it’s interesting to see America’s oldest presidential candidate out on the hustings transforming himself into a yahoo and a cracker. . . . And it’s an amazing country where an Arizona multimillionaire can attack a Chicago South Sider as an elitist and hope to make it stick. . . . whereas the Arizonan is the son of an admiral and was ushered into Annapolis though an indifferent student, much like the Current Occupant, both of them men who are very lucky that their fathers were born before they were. The Chicagoan, who grew up without a father, wrote a book on his own, using a computer. The Arizonan hired people to write his for him. But because the Chicagoan can say what he thinks and make sense and the Arizonan cannot do that for more than thirty seconds at a time, the old guy is hoping to portray the skinny guy as arrogant. Good luck with that, sir. Meanwhile, the casual revelation last month that McCain has never figured out how to use a computer and has never sent e-mail or Googled is rather startling.


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Broad coalition backs universal broadband—A broad coalition of Internet business leaders, online gurus, community organizers and advocates across the political spectrum launched a campaign Tuesday with the lofty goal of universal high-speed Internet service. Better broadband access and quality can be a boring and technical issue, fraught with bureaucratic complications, admitted the organizers for But they also see it as crucial to the future of the U.S. economy, education and even the health of democracy. At a news conference in New York, the group warned that the United States is falling behind European and Asian nations with Internet access that is more limited, more expensive and slower. U.S. users pay an average of $53 a month for high-speed service, compared with $32 in Germany and $33 in Britain, according to one international survey. . . .A “digital divide” among Internet users could also leave lower-income and minorities behind, the coalition warned. According to the Census Bureau, 35 percent of households with annual incomes below $50,000 have broadband, while 76 percent of those with higher incomes are connected. It’s ‘life and death’. High-speed Internet is becoming crucial to democracy, said Van Jones, and people are left out “when they don’t have access to the discussion in the blogosphere” or have access to specific information in an emergency. MercuryNews

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As my taste in music changed from Blues infused Urban Soul to Blues infused Urban Jazz, I can remember Marvin Gaye ask the question we all wanted to know the answer to, “What’s Goin’ On!”  What’s goin’ on with the Vietnam War? What’s goin’ on with the riots and the Panthers? What’s going on with Tricky Dick Nixon? What’s goin’ on? What’s goin on? And, of course, Marvin already had the answer. We all nodded in approval as Marvin crooned his reply over every black, urban AM radio station in America: “Mercy, mercy, me. Things ain’t what they used to be!”

Some will see all that I have said as coincidental. Those who see it as such are unaware of the mythic, purgative, transforming power that music has for the Black American. From plantation to plant floor, it has been hymns sung in church, Blues screamed in jukes, and Jazz played in clubs that have sustained us. And, if Hip-Hop is about anything, it is the scream of Black youth at war with itself as it watches the death of one world and the beginning of another. 

But the Black youth of America are not alone in their sense of profound confusion. For the whole world is singing the death song of the Industrial Age. All that we see in our children—the confusion, the obsession with drugs and thuggery, the fascination with death—speaks of the dislocation of their souls, their hearts, and their minds. A Post Industrial Blues

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Jazz, blues, and their sacred cousin, gospel music, all have a rhythm-device in common: the back-beat. Indeed, the back-beat, a heavy emphasis on two and four, is a hallmark of African American music and remains dominant as a rhythmic device into the 21st century. An interesting note about the back-beat with respect to gospel music is the flipping of rhythmic emphasis. In the then popular waltz form, the emphasis was usually ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three. But in gospel, when three-four time is used, as it frequently is, the practictioners usually clap on two and three, thus getting a one-TWO-THREE, one-TWO-THREE rhythm. The back-beat.  None of the other popular musics of the African diaspora (whether from the Caribbean, Central America or South America) employs a heavy back-beat unless the particular form in question, such as salsa, reggae or soca, is a form that was significantly influenced by Black music from America. This absence of the back-beat is distinctive especially given that most African diaspora music heavily uses drums, or quasi-drum instruments (steel pans for example). 

This is a curious development that is made even more curious by the fact that for the most part the drums of the diaspora remained hand-drums and it was in the United States that the mechanical drum, or the drum kit, commonly called the trap drum or traps, was developed. So the place where the drum had the least continuity in terms of usage and in terms of the direct retention of African poly-rhythms, is the place where the back-beat was emphasized and the drum kit was developed!  Clapping On Two and Four

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Day of Tears

By Julius Lester

This powerful and engaging historical novel is told in dialogue and through monologues. It also moves around in time, from the period when the story takes place to “interludes,” in which the various characters look back on these events years later. It begins with a factual event—the largest slave auction in United States history that took place in 1859 on Pierce Butler’s plantation in Georgia. The book introduces Butler, his abolitionist ex-wife Fanny Kemble, their two daughters, the auctioneer, and a number of slaves sold to pay off Butler’s gambling debts. Emma, a fictional house slave, is the centerpiece of the novel. She cares for the master’s daughters and has been promised that she will never be sold. On the last day of the auction, Butler impulsively sells her to a woman from Kentucky. There she marries, runs away, and eventually gains her freedom in Canada. Lester has done an admirable job of portraying the simmering anger and aching sadness that the slaves must have felt. Each character is well drawn and believable.

Both blacks and whites liberally use the word “nigger,” which will be jarring to modern-day students.

The text itself is easy to read and flows nicely. Different typefaces distinguish the characters’ monologues, their dialogues with one another, and their memories.

—School Library Journal

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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