Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week 4: Reading Response - Non-Places in the Concept of Latin America

The Eduardo Navas essay "The Influence of Non-places in the Concept of Latin America" extends the idea of non-places beyond areas of transition and explores its impact on various areas of a globalizing culture. Non-places permeate today's society in many ways. When we enter any designed commercial space we enter a what I believe is a non-space. Navas cites the mall, but we can see this phenomenon in many of the places where people congregate (congregation is a great economic opportunity!). In more rural areas we can see that Wal-Mart becomes "the mall" and, in general terms, wal-mart is offers a homogeneous space regardless of location (think Mexico Wal-Marts).

I can see this type of homogenization having its basis in the evolution of economic multinational corporations. There is a strong economic motivation for the evolution of non-spaces. Tourism is a prime example but so is the arena of User Experience (UX) Design. One of the goals is to offer the user a level of familiarity in their virtual experience so that they can spend more time in that community. Navas alludes to this in the “common” interfaces provided by social networks.

I believe that these social networks are a prime example of today’s virtual white-collar Maquiladoras. If you take into consideration the cultural capital(images, video, content, etc) which people put up, it is essentially cheap labor for the sake of creating online traffic to a specific community which is in turn used as economic capital by the corporation. While I am not sure of the implications it is interesting to frame this in the context of a globalized experience.

For me the greatest area of interest are the questions raised by Navas in terms of identity. How does they feedback loop of non-spaces and globalization affect those whose labor keeps them going?

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