ON(LINE) TRANSPARENCY AND THE BLACK PUBLIC SPHERE
Keywords:Black public sphere, transparency, platforms, publics, critical data studies
AbstractIn the past several decades, Black publics have increasingly employed digital technologies to advance Black liberation movements, culture, and joy. This proliferation of Black publics online has prompted many scholars to ask whether the internet as a tool ultimately works to the benefit or detriment of marginal publics. Proponents of internet technology cite the aforementioned growth of these discursive communities online as well as their success in organizing demonstrations and producing independent media. Critics of the internet argue that its construction by powerful institutions forecloses the possibility of it being used to truly challenge those institutions. This essay seeks to contribute to this discussion not by advocating for one side or another but exploring the ways in which these two literatures may be inclusive. It does so by putting the theoretical construct of the Black public in conversation with an oft-discussed digital affordance: transparency. It first outlines the historical relationship between the two, noting both the threats and opportunities that transparency has created for Black publics. It moves on to discuss the forces of the state and the market that built transparency into the infrastructure of the internet. It then synthesizes the histories of Black publics and the internet by discussing how the historical threats and opportunities of transparency are impacting Black publics online. Finally, this paper concludes with some thoughts on the idea that digital technology might simultaneously aid and harm marginal publics, particularly with regard to its implications for digital strategy.
How to Cite
Mahoney, B. D. (2021). ON(LINE) TRANSPARENCY AND THE BLACK PUBLIC SPHERE. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.11977