Sunday, September 6, 2009

Creating an Infrastructure for Latinos/Hispanics About to Cross the Digital Divide

As I sit here typing I am getting Tweets via Tweetdeck from a variety of Hispanic/Latino contacts among others. What I want to point out here is that there is an already thriving Digital Latino community, but it will be growing exponentially in the next few years. For a long time I have been reading articles that state we need to bridge the digital divide by providing Internet access in libraries and communities. While this is still true, we had better start thinking about those Latinos who are already online and who will be coming online shortly.

In 1997 the Pew Report Latinos Online stated that "just one in three Latinos who speak Spanish go online. While this may have been true in 1997 surely the numbers have grown today. The Pew Study also mentions access via phones for Spanish speakers. This has truly been a growing market; with many Hispanics I know using more than one device to access the Internet and the Web. When creating digital content please remember to include a phone-based framework for digital access by those using a phone.

The Pew report also mentions that 56 percent of Latinos in the us use the Internet! That is a huge number and that was in a study PUBLISHED in 1997! While I will not argue there are a large number of Latinos and poor people in general who do not have regular access to the internet, I will argue that if we do not work to create a digital infrastructure that is from within our community, that we will be failing the now and future Latino user population.

Here is a great post by Esther J. Cepeda with some great stats on Latino Internet usage.

Here is an article by Marissa Lang from the entitled Latinos Narrow Digital Divide.

We need our own media--As a Latino, I don't like getting my information from CNN! I don't feel that much more comfortable getting it from Univision either. However, I find myself having to use them often. We need a bilingual/multilingual approach. We cannot alienate Latinos who only speak English just as we must not alienate those who speak indigenous languages. We are all related and must work to bridge communication gaps and to help each group build their part of the infrastructure. I am a big believer in DIY (do it yourself), and the web provides a perfect medium for Latinos to take control of their own media, publishing, artistic networks and other avenues by building a digital infrastructure for future users and consumers.

With the advent of Social Media I have become increasingly convinced that organizations can partner with business in an ethical and mutually beneficial manner. Thanks to tools like Facebook and Twitter I have been exposed to thinking from such a variety of aspects/cultures/viewpoints that build my knowledge-base daily. This type of diversification of thinking can be beneficial for our Latino Community, while also benefiting general society by educating and dispelling mythologies about Latinos/Hispanics.

There are no greater tools for advocacy today than social media and digital communications. We must work to build the digital political infrastructure so that it remains free and equal. We need to ensure that the Internet does not become like the publishing industry of today is--corrupt--with the power of influence going to the highest bidder, with entertainment masking itself in the cloak of news, with PR segments portrayed as news investigations. We need journalists who will tell the story no matter if it doesn't sell Modela. We need artists who will share their message with the poor as well as the rich.

With communities like Blogadera and social media groups like Latinos in Social Media springing up and filling the void of Latino Online leadership I am optimistic that we can and will be shaping our OWN futures. With leaders like Louis Pagan, Urban Jibaro, Lori Gama, Raul Ramos, Julito, Nezua and I could go on--If I didn't mention YOU here--it is because I do not have much time to write this. Please follow the tag #latism for Latinos in Social Media discussions and people to follow on Twitter! I have a search going on my tweetdeck application that gives me a constant stream of #latism--it is fun and informative!

We must be thinking Big Picture/Systems style when we are creating our content, networks and communities. Learn from one another, communicate ideas and collaborate then please share. We must have a well of freely available helpful information in order to achieve any sort of autonomy. Please list your Latino digital group as a comment and I will create a list and publish it. We need to communicate, use each others previous work instead of repeating it and increase our growing momentum even further. I can feel it growing daily and am optimistic that we can do it. We must seize the moment and create what we need for ourselves.

Stop AAPI Hate!