For Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, computers, like ideology, create an imaginary relationship. When a person interacts with a computer, they engage in a fabricated dynamic in which they take on an invented identity. The person is removed from reality. They turn into a user. The desktops and folders that they use aren’t physical, material desktops or folders: they’re figurative, nonliteral desktops or folders. Such a relationship is problematic for Chun. As with ideology, computers can control and manipulate people.
Faye Ginsburg grapples with the idea that computers and the internet can reinforce unjust and deceptive hierarchies. Throughout her essay, Ginsburg cites Indigenous people who acknowledge that access to computers and the internet could do more harm to their communities than good. Rather than empower them, it could be another way for the dominant culture to expand its ideology.
However, as Ginsburg’s essay shows, computers and the internet can be utilized by historically marginalized cultures in order to spread their own culture and beliefs.
In her article, Ginsburg provides many examples of communities using the internet and computers in a way that advances their priorities. She talks about how Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk was able to establish an educational website that shed light on the Inuit community. Ginsburg also mentions how Australia’s Aboriginal people harnessed technology to create a positive youth-oriented website called Us Mob.
Of course, Chun believes that computers and technology can do more than reproduce a dominant ideology. What Chun’s essay calls for is “interrogating software and the visual knowledge it perpetuates.” The people mentioned in Ginsburg’s essay appear to be heeding Chun’s call.