Editor’s note: The first part of this series can be found here
As most of my more avid readers know, I’ve been attempting to push this idea. I’ve been working like the crew in the movie Inception to impregnate you with this irresistible living thought. That simple thought is this: you are being watched. The second-person subject, you, is well you, but more accurately, Black internet users, and Black media consumers, particularly. This is nothing new, per se, and it isn’t an exclusively Black “thing”, but when you are dealing with a group of people that haven’t been able to avoid the subtlest of oppressions, there’s a need for alarm. Especially when given the history of art and Black cultural commodities that have been usurped and monopolized by corporate bodies that care not one iota about the Black community that planted the beans.
I’d like us to look at these words from the website News One:
“It is a trend marketers have come to understand in a framework they call the ‘technology adoption life cycle,’ a model that details the adoption and acceptance of new products and innovations. Its bell curve details the psychographic profile of five adoption groups: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.
Brendan Meeder, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University who analyzed the tweets of more than 100-million users to see how Twitter users interact with one another, found that African Americans on Twitter have taken to forming tight-knit groups that propel and virtually dominate Twitter memes, otherwise know as trending topics.”
Now, I’m not sure where everyone’s thoughts are, but I believe they should be more focused on the direction that Black trend setters are going(which, yes, implies knowing exactly who the trend setters are in that space), and the intentions of the observing hunters. Hunters look at trajectory. What is the next move of that which the hunter is attempt to have in some way? It is important to know where Black trend setters are at presently, that will be used, but it is also important to know where they are going next, and can they be sway, scratch, how they can be swayed to go where we want them. Now, that is in the voice of the hunter, but also it should be your thinking as well.
Now, presently, I don’t know who these researchers are studying. Sure, Twitter is catching on, in my opinion, in some circles of the Black community. I see Twitter on the computer screens and phones of more and more Blacks. But, I’m also in places and dealing with the sorts of people that Twitter would appeal to: the professional class(or just think of all those “CEO’s” on Twitter) and the academic types(I’ll include “geeks” in that grouping). When I’m on campus, or at the coffee shops, of course, I tend to see the Twitter page, or a Twitter api more often. Yet, in the clubs, in the streets, and places of the sort, Facebook and YouTube are still the dominant applications for Black people. This is not a conclusive statement as I haven’t done a comprehensive tallying of numbers, but my observations in these matters tends to be accepted. Twitter maybe the next move of the truly “cool kids”, but to say that it is now, I would have to pose an argument. Beyond subjective let’s argue just to show how far we can shoot our wad type debate, I’m just not hearing about Twitter from the sorts of people that would create…White flight. How’s that for an indication that Blacks are moving in, right?
Now, there is a large base(eh, another subjective term, for those that want to begin to rub on their argumentive genitalia now, I’ll catch up later) of Blacks on Twitter, and as noted earlier, there tends to be a recognizable pattern. The usage of these people should be studied in that cold sort of manner. It would probably be wise to know our Selves since we are being gotten to know, correct?
“African Americans are the heaviest TV consumers, watching 6 hours and 54 minutes a day versus the 5 hour and 11 minute average for all U.S. households. More than 30 percent of African American households have four or more televisions, and they over-index in subscription to premium cable services. On their mobile phones, they use more voice minutes than other groups (1,261 minutes per month).
Different Retail Channels for Diverse Needs
African-Americans shop more frequently than other ethnicities, but spend less on each trip and on an annual basis. Compared to other households, African-Americans make relatively fewer trips to major channels like grocery stores and supercenters, but are more frequent shoppers in smaller retailers like drug stores, dollar stores and convenience/gas channels. Spending on basic food ingredients, non-alcoholic beverages, and personal and beauty care products exceeds the U.S. average.”
Interesting statements being made there, and I bet they don’t have to qualify their wording with quaint sentiments to temper the first year formal logic students, huh? Take a gander there. Even if you aren’t in the mind of taking advantage of the apparatus(which makes completely no sense to me), it would be beneficial for you to know what “dances” the “cool kids” are doing in that space, no? Now, I don’t want to get swamped by what White marketers, and more to the point, the marketing department of Twitter, is doing to influence Blacks. Phrases like “Black Twitter” and controversial studies of Blacks on Twitter cause Blacks to want to be on Twitter. There is a sense of elitism about the Blacks that are on Twitter, and their will be an even greater sense of this when they realize the possible benefits, if any outside of some gamification methodology, of being an early adopter-or early enough adopter. So, my question is not so much about what I think Twitter and their marketers want from Blacks, but what do Blacks want?
What do Black people want to do with technology? What are our more self-determined goals and visions for this apparatus?
You know, me personally, and of course, that means anyone dedicated to the growth of Asylum, I want to push for more reverse convergence. I don’t see the Black community as a whole prepared or conditioned to deal with a totally digital world. Our culture is simpy not rooted in that sort of thing. Black women just aren’t going to be content playing Guitar Hero and dancing to Michael Jackson games on the big screen. Black women are going to want to go stepping, get seen. That’s not a bad thing, Black people-it is just a thing. Objectivity, for one thousand, Alex. In that context, I would venture to say bring the matrix out of the matrix. Whatever I’ve created online, needs to have a strong offline implementation. Your ground forces may have to be as strong or stronger than your air(digital) squadrons. This is nothing new among the circles that I float. Which is why I’m slightly baffled about who is being studied by News One. As a heavy Twitter user, and one that has been spoken of as highly influential and a trend setter in my own right, I don’t see Blacks dominating trending topics, nor do I see these packs as such. There does tend to be bonding, but most that is cross exchanges with loyalties being spread across various groups. Actual Twitter participation is small percentage wise(10%) anyway, so the Black users that are prominent don’t form a large body. We tend to know one another and interact indirectly through our RTs. But, you know, News One is a bigger site, so I’ll let whoever needs to run with their spiel have at it. Asylum knows better.