From Philipp Budka’s web site at http://www.philbu.net/projects.html
Philipp’s dissertation project at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna investigated the creation, development, and utilization of broadband internet infrastructures, technologies, and services by indigenous people and communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.
(Budka, P. (2017). Indigenizing the Internet: Socio-technical change, technology appropriation and digital practices in remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Vienna.)
Research focused on
(a) the geographical, historical, and sociocultural contexts,
(b) the socio-technical infrastructures and relationships, and
(c) the digital practices and activities related to the local everyday appropriation of internet technologies.
Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork and framed by media and digital anthropology, the project discussed the case of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Kuhkenah Network (KO-KNET) and one of its internet service MyKnet.org.
KO-KNET is a First Nations owned and controlled internet organization and network which was established by a regional tribal council. Its main objective has been to connect the remote indigenous communities in Northwestern Ontario to the internet and with each other. Moreover, the network provides indigenous people with digital services, such as online education and e-health, with the aim to improve living conditions in the remote communities. MyKnet.org is a youth-based homepage system that has been built and developed around communities’ need to maintain social ties and networks across great distance.
The project demonstrated how digital infrastructures contributed to the connecting and networking of First Nations people and communities, and how this also enabled and strengthened social relationships between local communities and non-indigenous institutions. The analysis of digital practices that are closely related to the online social environment MyKnet.org emphasized the cultural and historical uniqueness of processes of technology appropriation in a remote and isolated area. As a community-based and community-focused service exclusively for First Nations people, MyKnet.org contributed to inter- and intra-community communication and interaction. Since the communities had no adequate telecommunications infrastructure until the middle of the 1990s, these developments can also be understood as processes of socio-technical change. By consistently including local populations in processes of infrastructure and technology development, KO-KNET also managed to localize the control over the construction, distribution, and use of digital infrastructures, technologies, and services. This, on the other hand, contributed to the socio-technical empowerment of First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario. Thus, indigenous people and communities are able to participate in a self-determined manner to regional, national, and even global digital connectivity processes.