Category Archives: technology

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Open Thread: Shonda Rhimes says ‘A Hashtag Is Not Helping’

By Arturo R. García

Considering that at least part of her success has been buoyed by Twitter, Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes’ apparent views on Twitter seem somewhat dismissive.

During her commencement address at Dartmouth University, Rhimes encouraged students to “pay it forward” with their education, including this bit of advice:

Find a cause you love. It’s OK to pick just one. You are going to need to spend a lot of time out in the real world trying to figure out how to stop feeling like a lost loser, so one cause is good. Devote some time every week to it.

Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething

Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s Game of Thrones.

Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an as*hole.

Rhimes is incorrect on at least one of these examples: Take Back The Night did not begin as a hashtag. That particular campaign against domestic violence can be traced back to the 1970s, and has always included in-person vigils and marches. So for her to say it is just a hashtag doesn’t square at all with reality.

But it’s also fair to point out that a href=”http://time.com/114043/yesallwomen-hashtag-santa-barbara-shooting/” target=”_blank”>#YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen emerged as vital conversation points in the wake of the shooting and stabbing attacks in Isla Vista, California. They also served as points of connection for people who might not be willing to open up in a “public” setting, allowing them to share their stories as they saw fit. That doesn’t make them “Dr. King,” but the idea of online safe spaces shouldn’t be treated as invalid, either.

Likewise, #BringBackOurGirls did the same for the mass kidnappings perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the pressure upon the government to respond.

So in those instances, it can be argued that the tags did help, because they alerted people to the problems at hand in ways that larger media outlets were not able or willing to do. And in the case of #BringBackOurGirls in particular, the tag was a visible part of the first demonstrations associated with it in Nigeria, let alone the ones that followed around the world. In other words, seeing the tag led people to do just what Rhimes is calling for.

Moreover, what if a person has no outlets — or at least, no safe ones — within their communities? What if a person is not physically or emotionally able to put themselves in the middle of events that are typically crowded, loud and, in a worst-case scenario, potentially dangerous?

Lastly, it cannot be forgotten that Scandal, in particular, has not only survived, but thrived in part thanks to being able to generate such heated online conversation and live-tweeting. As Think Progress reported last year, data has emerged showing that people “sitting on their butt” can have quantifiable — and thus, money-making — influence on a show:

Specifically, the study found that for 18-34 year olds, an 8.5% increase in Twitter volume corresponds to a 1% increase in TV ratings for premiere episodes, and a 4.2% increase in Twitter volume corresponds with a 1% increase in ratings for midseason episodes. Additionally, a 14.0% increase in Twitter volume is associated with a 1% increase in TV program ratings for 35-49 year olds, reflecting a stronger relationship between Twitter and TV for younger audiences.

Further, the study found that the correlation between Tweets and TV ratings strengthens for midseason episodes for both age groups. An increase in Twitter volume of 4.2% and 8.4% is associated with a 1% increase in ratings for 18-34 year olds and 35-49 year olds, respectively. Moreover, by midseason Twitter was responsible for more of the variance in ratings for 18-34 year olds than advertising spend.

So what do you think, Racializens? Was Rhimes off-base?

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Our Facebook page is open for business again

Image via Facebook.

No, don’t worry, we haven’t been taken over by Zuckerborg. We’re here to announce that our Facebook page is back up and running, with a mix of new and revisited content, and other social justice-related posts.

Now, the trick to getting all of that isn’t just to Like the page, but check the “Get Notifications” option so Facebook knows to highlight it in your feed. Thanks for sticking with us, and follow us as we build up our FB community alongside the R page proper.

Race + Tech: Watch Black Girls Code’s Kimberly Bryant’s TED Talk

By Arturo R. García

The opening of Kimberly Bryant’s video lays it out: “Just to say the words ‘Black Girls’ is revolutionary.”

In this presentation from a TED Talks event in Kansas City in August 2013, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant takes us through not just the development of BGC, but her own upbringing in Memphis, a hub of social change in its own right.

“As a child of the ’60s, I like to think that revolution and radical action was running through my veins, from the time I set foot on the Earth,” she explains. What she has built, she says, is a movement not just for the nerdy girl she was growing up, but for girls like her daughter, and girls “who believe the revolution of this generation is, indeed, technology.”

Technical Difficulties

By Arturo R. García

Apologies for the lack of content on Wednesday. About once or twice a year, WordPress decides it’s just not going to connect to the server, and Tuesday night was one of those nights.

So, we’ll reload today with the Links in a bit. And keep an eye out for our first round of Scandal coverage Friday morning before we resume normal transmissions on Monday.

Is Geek America Ignoring Miss America?

By Arturo R. García

Lost in the morass of morons who decided to pop up after Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America on Sunday was … well, just about everything else about her.

But as Lakshmi Gandhi pointed out at The Aerogram, Davuluri is a nerd in both the academic and pop-cultural sense: she’s holds a degree in Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science and plans to apply to medical school. She is also a self-identified Star Wars and Star Trek fan.

The New York Times‘ Jeff Yang added to this on Sett, both citing Gandhi’s post and posting a shot of Davuluri in full cosplay:

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Race + Tech: Despite ‘Titstare,’ Black Girls Code Does Disrupt Right

By Arturo R. García

While a pair of sophomoric, reckless displays ended up being the calling card for this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt developers’ gathering, let’s not let that take away from the work Black Girls Code put in over the weekend.

As founder Kimberly Bryant told KQED-FM on Monday, she brought a team of three BGC members to the event as part of a partnership between her organization and ThoughtWorks, with their demo, SnackOverflow, providing a guide to each of the organization’s chapters.

The successful appearance at Disrupt came just a couple of weeks after Bryant and her group were profiled on CNN.
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#POC4culturalenrichment: The Racialicious Interview

By Arturo R. García

All tweets posted with permission of Suey Park.

Colorado State University graduate student Suey Park opened up another welcome Twitter discussion into diversity and race relations over the weekend when she coined the tag #POC4culturalenrichment, which picked up steam within a day of her beginning to recount her own experiences. But rather than try to sum up the story, we contacted Park — who has also blogged about the #KeepVeronicaHome campaign — to get her account of what led her to delve into the topic, and where it led her.

AG: From what I could tell — and please, correct me if I’m mistaken — the tweet above was your first tweet that used the tag. But let’s talk about what led you to coin it and begin to elaborate on your experiences.

SP: It’s been building up for a while, honestly. It seems I’m only allowed to talk about racism if I center my world around the feelings, power, and learning of white people. I have consistently been reprimanded from both people of power who have progressed within a white heteopatriachal system and white folks that the pathway to success is playing your cards the right way. That is, acting like the focus of racial justice should be centering our work around developing white allies and reinforcing hurtful power dynamics. It also means shifting from focusing on baseline survival of people of color to the self-improvement of white folks who want to challenge biases to feel less guilty. This doesn’t actually fix the situation, it gives white people a free pass for letting racism continue by letting them point to and identify something might be racist, why deflecting any personal responsibility. And although it’s cliche to say, people totally think people of color should still pull themselves up by their bootstraps to some extent. Even the first lady and President talking about the “personal responsibility” of people of color to improve their situations, but we never talk about the personal responsibility of white folks to do something very simple: to educate themselves.

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