Does anybody remember the Digital Divide? It was the term you heard a lot around ten years ago, during the much hoopla’d Y2K turn of the millennium -- which was like the 2012 thing only without distortions of Mayan culture. The idea was that because of a lack of mastery of English, Latinos would not be able to take advantage of the Information Age, and would lag behind. We would have split into a society of high tech Anglos and ignorant, out-of-it low-tech Hispanics who would be a burden on the economy . . .
Yeah, they actually believed it. The media spent a lot of time discussing it.
I was even asked about it by a reporter from the now-defunct Latino.com while being interviewed about my novel Smoking Mirror Blues. I said I didn’t think it was going to be an issue. At the time I was taking computer classes at Glendale Community College here in Arizona, often sitting next to young women in Islamic head scarfs, overhearing conversations in Vietnamese, while black and brown kids did cell phone tech support for their parents in languages that weren’t officially recognized Spanish or English.
Hm. Just where do those ideas for my stories come from?
And it turns out I was right. We’re into 2011 and the dreaded Digital Divide is all but forgotten. After all, technology doesn’t care what language you’re using, or culture you’re practicing, or what color your skin may be.
Here in Aztlán/Arizona, the people helping me puzzle out the newfangled are, more often than not, young Latinos who are more bilingual than I am. Chicano techies and hackers are so common they are almost a cliché. Even Mexican grandmothers have smart phones. You can’t judge a person’s immigration status by their ability to telecommunicate.
I’m also delighted to see how Hispanoid cultures are jumping into cyberspace and going wild. There are sites like La Bloga, and others that I keep discovering daily. That border turned out to be easy to cross. The electronic revolution is here, beyond my early visions of dipping microchips into salsa.
The fall of traditional publishing is creating new opportunities with electronic self-publishing, and new ways of marketing and networking. Also, bilingual editions are now possible in new ways. Language barriers will break down as a result.
So my suggestion to all the struggling Latino and Chicano writers is to join the revolution. I’m publishing and networking online. I’ll soon be putting my books out as ebooks. I’ll let you know how it goes.
And before I sign off, let me throw out an idea: The iPad and new ereaders are making it possible to do illustrated ebooks. Comics have gone electronic. Two of my most visited posts on Mondo Ernesto are about Mexican comic books. Every day people look at them from all over the world. What if they went from pulp to digital? In bi- and multilingual editions?
Maybe they need a catchy new name, like mexga . . .
Ernest Hogan has decided to work harder as professional writer in 2011. Got any freelance work out there?