The 'Beyond the Digital' Directory

For the past few months, Maesy Angelina has been sharing the insights gained from her research with Blank Noise on the activism of digital natives. The ‘Beyond the Digital’ directory offers a list of the posts on the research based on the order of its publication.

Have you ever wondered what is really “new” about the activism of digital natives? In May 2010, the Hivos-CIS ‘Digital Natives with a Cause?’ Knowledge Programme started a collaboration The Blank Noise Project in India and Maesy Angelina, a student-researcher from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam – International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague who is taking up the research agenda for her final project to qualify for her Masters degree in International Development with a specialization in Children and Youth Studies.

Maesy has been blogging about the insights she gained from her field work in Bangalore in the CIS website under the ‘Beyond the Digital’ series, which consists of the following posts:


1. Beyond the Digital: Understanding Digital Natives with a Cause

Digital natives with a cause: the future of activism or slacktivism? Maesy Angelina argues that the debate is premature given the obscured understanding on youth digital activism and contends that an effort to understand this from the contextualized perspectives of the digital natives themselves is a crucial first step to make. This is the first out of a series of posts on her journey to explore new insights to understand youth digital activism through a research with Blank Noise under the Hivos-CIS Digital Natives Knowledge Programme.


2. First Thing First

Studies often focus on how digital natives do their activism in identifying the characteristics of youth digital activism and dedicate little attention to what the activism is about. The second blog post in the Beyond the Digital series reverses this trend and explores how Blank Noise articulates the issue it addresses: street sexual harassment.


3. Talking Back without “Talking Back”

The activism of digital natives is often considered different from previous generations because of the methods and tools they use. However, reflecting on my conversations with Blank Noise and my experience in the ‘Digital Natives Talking Back’ workshop in Taipei, the difference goes beyond the method and can be spotted at the analytical level – how young people today are thinking about their activism.


4.  Taking It to the Streets

The previous posts in the Beyond the Digital series have discussed the distinct ways in which young people today are thinking about their activism. The fourth post elaborates further on how this is translated into practice by sharing the experience of a Blank Noise street intervention: Y ARE U LOOKING AT ME?


5. The Digital Tipping Point


Is Web 2.0 really the only reason why youth digital activism is so successful in mobilizing public engagement? A look into the transformation of Blank Noise’s blog from a one-way communication medium into a site of public dialogue and collaboration reveals the crucial factors behind the success.

6. Diving Into the Digital


Previous posts in the ‘Beyond the Digital’ series have discussed the non-virtual aspects and presence of Blank Noise. However, to understand the activism of digital natives also require a look into their online presence and activities. This post explores how Blank Noise’s engagement with the public in their digital realm.


7. The Class Question

Blank Noise aims to be as inclusive as possible and therefore does not identify any specific target groups. Yet, the spaces and the methods they occupy do attract certain kinds of volunteers and public. This raises the class question: what are the dilemmas around class on digital interventions? Are they any different from the dilemmas on street interventions?

8. The Many Faces Within

Blank Noise, as many other digital native collectives, may seem to be complete horizontal at first glance. But, a closer look reveals the many different possibilities for involvement and a unique way the collective organize itself.

9. Activism: Unraveling the Term

After discussing Blank Noise’s politics and ways of organizing, the current post explores whether activism is still a relevant concept to capture the involvement of people within the collective. I explore the questions from the vantage point of the youth actors, through conversations about how they relate with the very term of activism.


10. Reflecting from the Beyond

After going ‘beyond the digital’ with Blank Noise through the last nine posts, the final post in the series reflects on the understanding gained so far about youth digital activism and questions one needs to carry in moving forward on researching, working with, and understanding digital natives.

While the posts present bits and pieces of field research notes and reflections from data analysis, the full research products are:

- Angelina, M. (2010) 'Beyond the Digital: Understanding Contemporary Forms of Youth Activism - The Case of Blank Noise in Urban India'. Unpublished thesis, graded with Distinction. The Hague: International Institute of Social Studies - Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

- Angelina, M. (2010) 'Towards a New Relationship of Exchange'. Position paper for the Digital Natives with a Cause Thinkathon.  



Maesy Angelina

Maesy Angelina worked on a research on the activism of digital natives under the Hivos-CIS Digital Natives Knowledge Programme while pursuing her MA in International Development, specializing in Children and Youth Studies, at the International Institute of Social Studies - Erasmus University of Rotterdam. After graduating, Maesy practices being a hybrid in Jakarta, where she works as a programme officer on gender, women and development while exploring research initiatives on Digital Natives in Indonesia.