Gardens, twungles and e-forests

March 29th, 2010 Margaret Atwood wrote about twitter as populated by helpful fairies on the bottom of her garden eager to scold, encourage and correct her (http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/mar/29/atwood-in-the-twittersphere/),  now it has become a twungle/e-forest with rotating skulls pushing her towards political activism: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/mar/12/deeper-twungle-atwood-twitter/. It’s a great trajectory to read.  I have quoted Atwood in my forthcoming article on the use of social media by Chicana and Mexican writers,“Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden: Writers Crossing Digital Borders”, in the Forum for Inter-American Research, http://interamerica.de/

Given my interest in this area, Niamh McNamara’s posted this recent assessment of the use of social media by Latinos on her Facebook [page, see: http://univisionnews.tumblr.com/post/12645026033/latinos-dominate-twitter-and-facebook.  This is an up-beat assessment and one that merits further reflection.  In my paper I did find that there is a digital divide, but one that falls along class/education lines more than race.  Of course, even if you are a privileged writer living in Mexico City, its sometimes unreliable electrical system can fail your ability to access rapid communication tools.  This was the case when I tried to interview one of  the authors in my study and there was a power failure.  However, we did manage to connect through conventional phone lines in the end.  The television netword reporting this is own by Hallmark and the Mexican broadcasting giant Televisa, and has become the largest broadcaster to Spanish-language speakers in the US.  Therefore their assessment is part of a pitch at promoting themselves as key players in this marketplace and showing how connected their viewership is.  The figures given:

“According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 18% of Latinos that use the internet have accounts on Twitter, compared to only 5% of white non-Latinos, and 13% of African American non-Latinos. On Facebook the same thing holds true, with 54.2% of Latino internet users on Facebook, followed by 47.7% of white non-Latinos and 43% of African Americans non-Latinos.”

speaks to a rising number of Latinos using social networking sites compared to other US minority groups, and while their presence on Facebook is significant they have a long way to go on Twitter.  It’ll be interesting to monitor the growth in future years.   Whilst the article’s heading might be that “Latinos dominate Twitter and Facebook”, the detail reveals that it is compared to other minorities and is seen as an “emerging market”, it is still one that has some way to go.

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