Sometimes the English language is limiting. I find my many selves erased from the constructs of words that should describe me, but, in any given context, are not likely to. The word ‘woman’, for example, might conjure up a White woman, a Mexican woman or my mother depending on who’s using it and where it’s being used.
We take context for granted in our every day lives. That’s why I’m training as a designer and a writer. To look at context and explore how words and concepts receive meaning from context is a challenging endeavor, a gift and a curse. A designer’s language extends far beyond the clumsy performance of the English one, but like that FedEx arrow, once you start to see it, it’s everywhere.
I’m abstracting my thoughts as a way to look at the conversation around diverse spaces in technology, specifically this baby profession called web design and development. On twitter, I often comment on The Overwhelming Whiteness of things such as the staff page of any given design agency. And, like a migratory pack of birds, the web design and development community at large circles back to the question of Where are the [insert minority group here] in [insert your tech profession here].
Both my comments and that question are exercises in futility if we fail to examine the contexts that produce them. What happens before technology comes into play is far more important than technology itself. Here, the medium is a distraction from what’s really going on in cities all around the United States.
Ah the United States of America: a nation built on stolen humanity by a very specific set of humans who happen to be dominating the technology space today. It’s not a coincidence at all. It’s a very clear trajectory from the beginning of this nation to now. It has seeped into the fabric of our political, judicial, educational, financial and now technological institutions.
Technology isn’t special. It’s just louder than most other media. We haven’t figured out how to, erm, cover our asses as well as the financial and educational institutions have. We thought, naively, it would be the great leveler of proverbial playing fields. Context is history and it tells us that we are fated to repeat ourselves over and over again.This entry was posted in Design, Education, Internet, Web, Work. Bookmark the permalink. ← Why I Am Here And Now, A Threshold →