With the increased expansion of internet and social media technologies to the far reaches of our world, it is all to easy to assume that equality and democracy shall follow. Of course, this is not necessarily the case – in part because access to technologies means something different in different circumstances, and because the cultural and social value systems of diverse cultures often differ from that which is assumed around the typical technology user. We neither could nor should not forget the values and beliefs of people as we think about technology.
Building on many years of work with Native American communities to create and design networks and spaces to help them combat fragmentation from one another and their memories, I am now exploring ‘autonomous technology and infrastructures’ through collaboration with the Rhizomatica group in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. They have been able to develop indigenous and non-western local mobile phone infrastructures, showing how mobile phones can support people to organize and learn from one another on the ‘margins’, and connect to their families and friends across the world, but on their terms.