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Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Caf�s of Urban Ghana

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An account of how young people in Ghana's capital city adopt and adapt digital technology in the margins of the global economy. The urban youth frequenting the Internet caf's of Accra, Ghana, who are decidedly not members of their country's elite, use the Internet largely as a way to orchestrate encounters across distance and amass foreign ties--activities once limited to t An account of how young people in Ghana's capital city adopt and adapt digital technology in the margins of the global economy. The urban youth frequenting the Internet caf's of Accra, Ghana, who are decidedly not members of their country's elite, use the Internet largely as a way to orchestrate encounters across distance and amass foreign ties--activities once limited to the wealthy, university-educated classes. The Internet, accessed on second-hand computers (castoffs from the United States and Europe), has become for these youths a means of enacting a more cosmopolitan self. In Invisible Users, Jenna Burrell offers a richly observed account of how these Internet enthusiasts have adopted, and adapted to their own priorities, a technological system that was not designed with them in mind. Burrell describes the material space of the urban Internet caf' and the virtual space of push and pull between young Ghanaians and the foreigners they encounter online; the region's famous 419 scam strategies and the rumors of "big gains" that fuel them; the influential role of churches and theories about how the supernatural operates through the network; and development rhetoric about digital technologies and the future viability of African Internet caf's in the region. Burrell, integrating concepts from science and technology studies and African studies with empirical findings from her own field work in Ghana, captures the interpretive flexibility of technology by users in the margins but also highlights how their invisibility puts limits on their full inclusion into a global network society.


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An account of how young people in Ghana's capital city adopt and adapt digital technology in the margins of the global economy. The urban youth frequenting the Internet caf's of Accra, Ghana, who are decidedly not members of their country's elite, use the Internet largely as a way to orchestrate encounters across distance and amass foreign ties--activities once limited to t An account of how young people in Ghana's capital city adopt and adapt digital technology in the margins of the global economy. The urban youth frequenting the Internet caf's of Accra, Ghana, who are decidedly not members of their country's elite, use the Internet largely as a way to orchestrate encounters across distance and amass foreign ties--activities once limited to the wealthy, university-educated classes. The Internet, accessed on second-hand computers (castoffs from the United States and Europe), has become for these youths a means of enacting a more cosmopolitan self. In Invisible Users, Jenna Burrell offers a richly observed account of how these Internet enthusiasts have adopted, and adapted to their own priorities, a technological system that was not designed with them in mind. Burrell describes the material space of the urban Internet caf' and the virtual space of push and pull between young Ghanaians and the foreigners they encounter online; the region's famous 419 scam strategies and the rumors of "big gains" that fuel them; the influential role of churches and theories about how the supernatural operates through the network; and development rhetoric about digital technologies and the future viability of African Internet caf's in the region. Burrell, integrating concepts from science and technology studies and African studies with empirical findings from her own field work in Ghana, captures the interpretive flexibility of technology by users in the margins but also highlights how their invisibility puts limits on their full inclusion into a global network society.

37 review for Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Caf�s of Urban Ghana

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nina Chachu

    At times this book can be academic and quite dense; at others it talks about young men and women in the mid 2000s using internet cafes in Accra. Some of what is described still exists, but much has changed. Very interesting

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris Beiser

    Solid fieldwork, analysis that hits and misses in turns. Some chapters feature excellent accounts of users and their views, but a couple drag on belaboring the mundane in order to carry out obscure academic beef. Despite the emphasis on materiality, very little engagement with the actual use of software, or the material agency it posesses.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aidan Attema

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela Kristin VandenBroek

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jørgen Carling

  7. 4 out of 5

    Oviya

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Rankin

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Densmore

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ishita

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Poggiali

  13. 5 out of 5

    Harriet

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Voigts

  15. 4 out of 5

    Evan Conaway

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Notaras

  17. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vemana Madasu

  19. 4 out of 5

    CTM

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Krieshok

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura Norén

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aalarcon

  23. 4 out of 5

    danah

  24. 4 out of 5

    Diana180

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marcell Mars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marcele

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johnathon Beals

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  31. 5 out of 5

    Carla

  32. 5 out of 5

    KM

  33. 4 out of 5

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  34. 5 out of 5

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  35. 5 out of 5

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  36. 4 out of 5

    Mariafe

  37. 5 out of 5

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