I’m absolutely over the moon about Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez’s underground classes on social media technologies. While courses on blogging, microblogging, and html coding may not sound particularly subversive to Western readers, Sánchez’s class, as one journalist describes it, “is a place where the digital revolution really feels like one.” That’s because her classes take place in Cuba, where the print and digital media is almost entirely state-run and less than 1% of the population has a steady Internet connection.
Classes are run in Sánchez’s apartment and her students, who range in age from 20 to 50-something, share several computers. Her classes – all free of cost – have focused on topics like the possibility and politics of participatory journalism, Twitter (“The revolution in 140 characters”), and writing code in WordPress. While some of her students have faced harassment by the police and have even had their computers and cell phones confiscated, it is unlikely that they will be deterred. As Regina Coyula, one of Sánchez’s students and now a blogger herself (Mala Letra) says:
I think I’m giving a voice to a lot of people who think like I do, whose views aren’t reflected in the official media. We’re people who want change, and we want the current government to be an instrument of change.
Sánchez’s own blog, Generation Y, is a transnational grassroots phenomenon. Since March 2008, the Cuban government has blocked Cubans’ access to Sánchez’s blog and so it operates through “the solidarity of friends off the Island to post my texts on the web.” Today, Generation Y is translated into 18 languages including German, Greek, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Czech (all by her readers).
I worry sometimes that my concerns about the integration of digital media with capitalist modes of production (especially in relation to the temporal and political economic logics of fashion blogs) might be mistaken for a general disdain for the Internet and for social media technologies. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Mimi and I are constantly in awe of how blogging has introduced us to the positive energy and brilliance of our fellow bloggers and readers whose creative blogging practices and incisive thoughts and comments about fashion, beauty, style, popular culture, and digital media inspire and motivate us all the time.
And while I’m feeling all this blog love, let me mention the upcoming HASTAC 2010 conference called “Grand Challenges and Global Innovations” (April 15-17) organized by the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois. It’s a fully virtual conference with an exciting range of topics on the cultural, pedagogical, and technological politics and practices of the digital media. Nothing specifically on fashion/style blogs but here are some topics that may be of interest to Threadbared readers:
- David Theo Goldberg and Cathy Davidson’s (one of our favorite people whose blog, Cat in the Stack, is in heavy rotation in our bookmarks) “The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age”
- S. Craig Watkins’ “Now What? Rethinking the Digital Media Participation Gap”
- Asunción López-Varela Azcárate’s “Art and Technology Reconfigurations”
- Bill Morrison’s “Redefining the Object of Cinema: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Media Obsolescence”
- And so many more!
It’s free to register for the conference so do it now! I already have!