[white women wearing t-shirts with black slang]

Keeping in mind that Peaches Monroe, who coined “on fleek,” is crowdfunding her life, that there is racial inequality in meme monetization, and that, as Doreen St. Felix put it when writing for Fader, black teens are breaking the internet and seeing none of the profits, here’s the question: When you have a situation in which, as what one person on Twitter called it, “the commodification and misuse of AAVE and black culture for capitalistic gain” occurs—not to mention unauthorized usage of lyrics from black musicians—should we be distressed with the companies making these products, upset with the consumers, angry at the market, pissed by the business plan (put words black people have used on something and sell it!), or just resigned to the idea that, as the kids say, there’s no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism? #

I saw this being retweeted a lot and wondered how many of those people unknowingly continued to use AAVE or black slang in their regular tweets. For example, using the emoji clap in between words to emphasize what’s being said. According to Know Your Meme, “On May 3rd, 2014, Urban Dictionary[1] user Alexandria Princess submitted an entry for “ratchet clap,” defining the expression as an applauding gesture used by “ratchet” people to “emphasize a point or statement.

Black Twitter influence + unpredictable diffusion throughout the internet = people who don’t know the net history. I’m reminded of Miranda Priestly’s monologue from The Devil Wears Prada:

This stuff’? Oh, ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic “casual corner” where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of “stuff.”

On the supercharged end of the internet spectrum is memes and “going viral”. On the other are people who are still figuring out what is a “basic bitch”. This means that there are folks who don’t know that the emoji clap history but know how to use it. People who will think that its history is not from black culture but internet culture and thus are ignorant to why black people get angry and annoyed by its appropriation and by white people’s attempts to cash in on it.

The internet is still terrible at providing sources but I think we need to be more diligent about it so everyone can be better informed and so black people can hopefully get the (monetary) credit they deserve.

Some of the problem with building fiber networks is that the needs of these profit-grabbing companies diverge from the public good, which requires long-term investments where the gains accrue to the economy in general. A sensible fiber system would be part of an overall smarter, 21st-century infrastructure. We should integrate planning for essential energy, water, and transportation systems with our communications transport planning. We need to affirmatively plan for fiber systems as the backbone for smart grid and distributed energy systems as well as educational networks. If we want our infrastructure to be resilient in the face of natural disasters and terrorist threats, not to mention helping us to mitigate climate change and support the growing Internet of Things, we will need a fiber-optic communications system that can respond in real time as demands change. A sensible network will work in complementary fashion with WiFi — we’ll need fiber lines deep into the neighborhoods and buildings to which those WiFi hotspots are attached. We should set high standards for ourselves — the FCC’s definition of “broadband” at 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads won’t cut it for many interactive internet uses. And to avoid waste and inefficiency, we need to get it right from the beginning — and not just hope we’ll get there with our current patchwork quilt of federal, state, and local government agencies and private utility planners, each with different goals and motivated by different incentives.

It’s got to be a single vision. Otherwise it won’t be the smartest one. #

Yes, yes, yes! We need to plan for the future! We need to plan public transit and mixed neighborhoods and internet access. And not internet access that is adequate for now, we need to start future-proofing it. We need to start planning how to power it, how to integrate internet access with our educational systems. We need to help create a safer, integrated, more accessible environment now!

Honestly, is there a SimCity or CitiesXL mod for this kind of thing? We need to spread awareness that these are important, systemic issues and that we need to start thinking about comprehensive solutions.

Beyond parking tickets, Browder’s bot can also help with delayed or canceled flights and payment-protection insurance (PPI) claims. Although the bot can only help file claims on simple legal issues — it can’t physically argue a case in front of a judge — it can save users a lot of money.

Browder programmed his robot based on a conversation algorithm. It uses keywords, pronouns, and word order to understand the user’s issue. He says that the more people use the robot, the more intelligent it becomes. Its algorithm can quickly analyze large amounts of data while improving itself in the process.

Although Browder programmed the bot according to UK law, he says it can be helpful in the US, too. For example, if a flight is delayed from New York City to London, the ticket holder can use the robot to claim compensation. Browder is working to program US city laws into the bot, starting with New York.

I love this kind of thing! People using technology to help others navigate through potentially complex and/or intimidating systems, like government bureaucracy.

The upper class can easily pay the ticket or pay someone to take care of the situation. The middle class can easily pay the ticket, pay someone to take care of the situation, or learn to do it themselves with some time, energy, and various digital skills. The lower class may not have time, energy, or resources to deal with the situation and it would be great if there were more bots or guides to help. It would be an asset not only to the lower class, but new immigrants, or those who aren’t used to technology, like the elderly.

The Internet was initially imagined as an equalizing force. Although it is not the norm, this is one way it can be.


A recent report, “Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in low income families,” shows that one-quarter of those earning below the median income and one-third of those living below poverty level accessed the Internet only through their mobile devices.

This leads to limited access: A third of families with mobile-only access quickly hit the data limits on their mobile phone plans and about a quarter have their phone service cut off for lack of payment.

So, what impact does this type of access have on youth learning?

High-speed internet should be a basic utility for everyone.


I’m switching from self-hosted Known to self-hosted WordPress. I like Known a lot, but it’s still in its early stages and isn’t as convenient for me, someone with little programming skills.

Suppose I was out and decided a take a picture with my cell phone. Here are some likely scenarios:

  1. I take a picture and upload it to Instagram, Flickr, or Twitter. The picture is stored with a company and my phone. If Instagram ever goes under like Twitpic, I could lose all my pictures. No thanks.
  2. In order to post a picture with Known, I have to go to my website and login. I can choose to add a photo, but the website can’t access my cell phone gallery, only the camera. I can only take one picture and I have to decide whether it’s good enough to go up. Then sometimes my phone crashes out and says there’s not enough memory to upload the picture to the website. This is not ideal.
  3. I can take a picture, upload it to Flickr, and get a WordPress plugin to import the picture to WordPress. Not ideal, but manageable.
  4. I take a picture. I use the WordPress app to upload it to my media library and make a post. I can take several pictures and create a gallery with the WordPress app.

I like the idea of the indieweb. I don’t know how feasible it is because not everyone has the resources to 1) own their own domain name 2) understand enough to make their own website, much less implement it with microformats. I realize Known is trying to close the gap and make these concepts more accessible. I understand it’s unreasonable to expect Known to be as fully-featured and as slick out of the box as WordPress.

But if WordPress makes it easier for me to generate content, then so be it. We’ll see.