Globalization, the Internet, and Diversity: An Orthogonal View

Dr. Patricia Lange
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Dominant globalization discourses typically frame their analyses in terms of repressed groups from below resisting oppressive forces from above. However, such discourses ignore a completely orthogonal but powerful dynamic in which local interactions influence what is said and what is possible to say in certain computer-mediated environments. Here the "local" refers not to a geographically-bound space but to a focused piece of discourse such as a conversation about technology. The paper will examine how interlocutors themselves create barriers to free speech simply by attempting to follow perceived linguistic and social conventions within discourse. This research will show how subtle interactional dynamics influenced by the global spread of certain dominant technological and ideological discourses within the Open Source computing movement complicate access to free speech in ways that are far more troubling than obvious or clumsy attempts by states or corporations to curtail freedom of expression. Based on a two-year ethnographic study of technology discussions in two Internet communities, the research does not contend that such barriers to non-normative ideas inevitably result from communicating through a computer. Rather, the research proposes that such nuanced dynamics may be difficult to detect, but are ultimately discoverable and may be changed in order to broaden global transmission of diverse opinions and personal human expression.

Keywords: Computer-Mediated Communication, Information Technology, Linguistic Anthropology, Discourse Analysis, Open Source Computing Movement
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability, Technology in Community, Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Globalization, the Internet, and Diversity

Dr. Patricia Lange

Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, San Jose State University

Ref: T05P0309