Tenth Brown Bag of the Semester – November 30, 2012

The audio from last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag 10 (Lindsay and David)

Lindsay Ems

What’s in a boundary? Exploring the subcultural dynamics that protect the Amish way of life in the modern world.

Today, all kinds of subcultures are congealing online—from fan groups to protest movements, to knitters, political ideologues, runners, tinkerers, and foodies, etc. Prior to industrialization, humans largely lived in and made sense of the world through an association to a tribe or small group, so this tendency may not be surprising. The reasons people are drawn into subcultural associations today, however, are different from before. In addition to kinship ties, styles of dress, and language, today, shared technological practice acts to identify members as part of a subculture. The dynamic process of subcultural boundary-making through technology use are illuminated in this project by drawing on ethnographic data collected on preliminary site visits to Indiana Amish communities. The Amish provide a particularly illustrative example of the dynamic mechanisms that govern subcultural boundary-making today because of their history of developing (often enigmatic) rules about technology use that govern their interactions with people outside their subculture.

Lindsay Ems is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Telecommunications at IU. Her research is aimed at understanding subversive uses of communication technologies by small clusters of people like hackers, protesters and the Amish.

David Nemer

Digital Inclusion Practices in Vitoria, Brazil

David Nemer’s research critically investigates Brazil’s access to digital technologies (DT) programs. Brazilian policy has recently been informed by a techno-enthusiastic vision, emphasizing access to digital technologies (DTs) as a right of citizenship in the information age. Consequently, a number of programs have been instituted to promote access to DT use and decrease a perceived “digital divide.” Scholars have disputed such technological deterministic visions, which presume that mere access to DTs is sufficient to promote digital inclusion leading to social and economic transformation. They argue that such approaches simply reflect pre-existing social divides and, sometime, even widen them. In his investigation of Brazil’s access to DTs programs, David explores both potential and pitfalls they entail in practice. He is particularly concerned to illuminate the complex relationship between digital and social inclusion—whether such programs actually lead to social inclusion of the marginalized, if so, how, and in which dimensions (health, education, democracy, financial, etc.). His method is qualitative exploration of state-supported LAN Houses and Telecentros located inside slums and low-income neighborhoods in the city of Vitoria.

David Nemer is a PhD student at Indiana University at the School of Informatics and Computing, concentrating in Social Informatics. He received a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Saarland University, Germany and also hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from FAESA, Brazil and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from UFES, Brazil.

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