Invisible Users: Youth In The Internet Cafés Of Urban Ghana by Jenna BurrellInvisible Users: Youth In The Internet Cafés Of Urban Ghana by Jenna Burrell

Invisible Users: Youth In The Internet Cafés Of Urban Ghana

byJenna Burrell

Hardcover | May 4, 2012

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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 cafés 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 café 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 cafés 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.

Jenna Burrell is Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley
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Title:Invisible Users: Youth In The Internet Cafés Of Urban GhanaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.69 inPublished:May 4, 2012Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262017369

ISBN - 13:9780262017367

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Editorial Reviews

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 cafés 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 café 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 cafés 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.Too often, scholars and practitioners of information technology have used Africa as a foil for modernity and development without ever bothering to see what is happening there. This book is an extraordinary corrective. Rich with stories of Ghanaian life from the Internet Café to the Pentecostal church to the UN World Summit on Information Society, it uses this material to reformulate ideas of agency, materiality, orality and marginality. Invisible Users is a work on the global spread of information technology unlike any other, and a model for any to come.-Christopher M. Kelty, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Information Studies, UCLA