Connection at Ewiiaapaayp Mountain: Indigenous Internet Infrastructure.
One thing I found intriguing about this read was the different modes of appropriation used. Sanvig begins by describing how University funding and groups of people of an indigenous Indian culture, brought internet to various southern California reservations. They have an array of equipment such as radio antennas, cell phone towers, batteries, (etc.) and they all helped build their own network to help stay connected to the world. They started out with no experience in the field and went through many hardships and struggles, but in the end they got things done. There were three men that Sandvig followed that became qualified engineers. However, living on reservations, it ended up being useless knowledge that wouldn’t help them make money.
I thought it was very interesting to read all the things they had to do in order to gather used items and appropriate them for their own use. They had to assemble their own materials to build these networks. The innovation and ingenuity that went behind all this was brilliant especially reading about the solar power. In the end however, the team who helped create everything wished they could’ve just hired actual engineers to do the building so they could be “normal” and have internet like everyone else. They wanted to bring education and knowledge to help people stay connected when they implemented the Tribal Digital Community.
In the end, Sandvig mentions “Rather than an engine of difference, in the case of the TDV it is clearer that some kinds of appropriation can be engines of similarity in the development of technological infrastructures, and that this asked use to reconsider the role of aspiration in the design of new technologies”(191). He is saying that the appropriation wasn’t just innovate technology but rather to become equal. Sandvig also uses another quote by saying “appropriation is a response to marginalization, we should work at obviating the need for it by empowering the marginalized” (Ron Eglash).
I actually agree with Sandvigs thoughts of appropriation being sort of a push towards equality. Not just innovation. He described the reservation being on the ghetto side with its lack of electricity, roads and even phones. But some of the tribe members would argue and say that if they get internet access they fear they would lose their culture. It took seeing examples of leaders using the interent for business for them to see how it could be used as more of an educational instrument. They then received funding from Hans Werner Braun, but it still wasn’t enough. They ended up having to do everything themselves. All this hard work and effort was to be equal. The tribes seem to want the same level of access to the online world as us, but they also want to stay culturally different. But overall, they ultimately want to appropriate the access of the online world and be equal with the rest of the world.
I think none of this would’ve been a problem if the government wouldn’t have placed the tribes on unwanted land. They would’ve had accessibility like everyone else and they wouldn’t have had to appropriate different technologies to create a network. But then I start thinking about what the tribe leader said in the story and how there would be a possibility of their culture being lost. Would it have eventually been lost since they would be integrating more into the American Culture? Overall, it was interesting seeing appropriation in technology being used as a way to create equal grounds with other people.