This semester, I’ve started an exploration of online networks in the Black community. The research is an independent study that I’ve organized with the Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University. I’m very pleased to have Dorian Warren, a political economics professor, frequent MSNBC correspondent, and the IRAAS Dean of Undergraduate Studies as my advisor.
The goal of this project is to understand how online networks are utilized and formed within the Black community. My hypotheses are as follows:
- A tight-knit network structure and a nuanced culture within the Black community has lead to a fundamentally different usage of online social networks.
- Imposing social networks like BlackPlanet limit these network effects; open communication platforms like Twitter promote these network effects.
- Understanding these networks and their effect can help us create cultural movements to increase Black entrepreneurship and diversity in STEM education.
I don’t believe anyone else has attempted to understand the implications of a specific cultural group’s actions with online networks. I don’t expect my work to be authoritative, but I do hope to gain a better understanding of a complex group’s interactions.
The plan is to conduct the research through interviews, network analysis, experiments, and anthropological studies. I’ve decided to research this topic in public, such that others can take my work and build off of it. I plan to host the full “syllabus” along with my research on Google Docs for all to see.
As I trek through this study, I will post regular updates on my blog under the tags #Research and #ONITBC.
In the meantime, feel free to leave any comments.