In the summer of 2014, renowned American Indian studies professor Steven Salaita had his appointment to a tenured professorship revoked by the board of trustees of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Salaita’s employment was terminated in response to his public tweets criticizing the Israeli government’s summer assault on Gaza. ——Haymarket Books, publicity blurb for Uncivil Rites
This article explores themes that date back to my Master’s degree work completed at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. The divide inherent then between projects in the public interest—based on notions of public access and democratic control of the media, as compared to projects that were useful more in terms of corporate sponsorship and donations—reveals a stark political and class chasm that persists within the digital realm to this day.
As digital media consolidate more in fewer hands, and as individual privacy concerns serve as a blind to obfuscate issues of communal control and content, the need for the conversation to shift in a literally radical way grows more pressing. In the example put forward here, that of a Twitter bot that I programmed to call out right-wing and reactionary accounts (which itself got shut down), I hope to elucidate what should be a major concern of all truly progressive forces concerning the media and their sources, the technologies of conveyance and their private owners, as well as the distances imposed on audiences in terms of the ability to be heard, to organize, to protest, and to resist.
The full article, with illustrative examples, can be found at the following link:
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