In class last week we learned about the concept of digital redlining (see Dr. Chris Gilliard’s work on the topic), and we were asked to create an interactive map of Newark that compared its historical redlining zones and something tech-related. I chose to compare the redlining zones with free Wi-fi points, and my interactive map can be found here.
It was hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from my map comparison because it seems there aren’t many free Wi-Fi points in the Newark area, at least according to the source I used. I find that hard to believe, since many hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops boast free Wi-Fi, not to mention libraries and schools. In the interest of getting the map done within class time, I chose to continue working with the source, but if I were to do this project again, I would definitely use something else.
Although I wasn’t able to draw conclusions from my project, I still found it very valuable. I was naive to the whole idea of digital redlining, so I felt privileged to learn about it. The topic is relevant to both my thesis work, and to another class I’m taking this semester, Race and Ethnicity in Writing. In that class, we talk a lot about ways that language conventions, and the use thereof, reflect institutionalized racism. With digital redlining, it’s clear that new media literacies are subject to that same kind of subtle racism. As far as my thesis is concerned, I’m looking at online participatory cultures, and one of the biggest criticisms people tend to have about them is the inequality in access. Although participatory cultures allow great opportunity for expression and informal learning, it’s not fair if some parts of the population aren’t able to participate in them. Learning about digital redlining really hammered that point home for me. I also found it valuable to learn the basics of the h5p platform. There’s so many different things it allows one to make, and I can see possibilities for creating tutoring and teaching materials with it.