Diasporadical Radio is an open-source and user-generated geographic map of independent global artists (artists not backed by Sony, Universal or Colombia), which focuses on people of the global south, indigenous and Black people. The map is open-source and works from user-generated data in order to present artists that slip through algorithms and do not show up on our corporate-curated playlists. By allowing users to contribute, the map creates a community of people with hopefully different tastes, but similar creative and political values.
Diasporadical Radio is based off the idea that sound is incubated collectively, so community is a vital aspect of the process of music distribution. In a world where we rely on machines to tell us what to listen to (and more increasingly, what to make), it is important that us subjects take control of our listening process.
My final project will be focused on finishing this project in a way that centers some of the accessibility guidelines put forward by the WCAG, and presents the project in a finished way on a GitHub repository. The repository will go beyond just providing a place to store code, and will include administrative documents and suggestions for contributing so that users can feel encouraged to share music.
Luna Olavarría Gallegos — https://github.com/lunaog
Define the problem.
Last year, writer, Liz Pelly, published a deep-dive into Spotify which originated from her year-long research of the tech company. Aside from issues of privacy and monopolization, the article was groundbreaking in the articulation of a greater socioeconomic shift that takes place when we rely on corporate-curated playlists and the imminent dangers of treating artists as brand ambassadors in a consolidating industry. This case study shows not only the commodification of art, but a transformation in the culture in which we begin to reward artists that make music from an understanding of algorithms which time and time again have shown are coated in racist and hegemonic ideologies.
While Spotify and other music streaming platforms are just one cog in the AI factory which wants to quantify our tastes, music is a basic part of human ritual, and spirit. We negate human desire when we allow machines to dictate how we create and consume art.
Diasporadical Radio works in opposition to this structure, as a platform curated by humans and only featuring music from artists who are not represented by one of the three big corporate music labels. We also pose a question rarely asked on mainstream platforms: How do we reward people who don’t take alcohol / military money? We will encourage digitally-dependent people who live in urban areas and are most affected by algorithms to break out of a regular routine to contribute. By adding artists and music, the user is contributing to the ritual of humans sharing music with other humans based on their individual taste. By streaming on the platform, users decentralize an algorithmic-dependent system.
Address Greater Landscape
There are many similar projects that seek to break us out of algorithm land and offer sonic alternatives that we are not necessarily familiar with living in a english-speaking commercialized digital bubble. Projects like RadioGarden, Radiooooo and Pudding’s Music Map use already existing data to create visual maps that show popular music from around the globe and projects like the Seven Seas Music map attempt to highlight the more independent artists of certain geo-locations for the purpose of bringing opportunities to those artists.
This map will build off these projects that more explicitly highlight artists not based purely on identity, but rather on politics. In doing so I hope people can think more about a phenomena of artists as brand ambassadors and the growing commodification of all aspects of being human.
By the end of this process, I hope to have a working map that incorporates guideline 1-3 in the Web Content Accessibility Requirements 2.0. This map will be available on GitHub with a clear list of administrative documents — a ReadMe.md, How To Contribute and Code of Ethics.
The basic map will be created using MapBox and layers on top that act as markers for where an artist is. There will be two main layers— one that I create with the music I have chosen, and another layer that is created from user-generated input. The final map can toggle between the two layers.
Users who would like to contribute will be lead to a form that they can easily fill out and will push their data using NodeJS to a map which I have access to remove if they do not fit into the guidelines.
- Set up GitHub repository
- Write Code of Ethics in order to frame project
- Set up Nodejs for my project
- Incorporate the 1st guideline of accessibility into my code
- Incorporate the 2nd guideline of accessibility into my code
- Create toggle layer aspect
- Incorporate the 3rd guideline of accessibility into my code
- User testing
- Finalize design of map
- Write ReadMe and ContributingGuidelines documents
I will keep my documentation process on my ITP blog. I will also track as much as I can on GitHub as issues which will be a huge part of my GitHub learning process.
One of my goals of this project is to be able to re-code the map with accessibility in mind. I would like to address and focus on 1-3 in the WCAG 2.0 requirements which are: Perceivable (providing text alternatives and alternatives for media, creating content that can be presented in different ways and making it easier for users to see content); Operable (making all functionality available from a keyboard and providing users enough time to read and use content); and Understandable. I think making all content Operable will be the largest challenge for me but I would like to see how I can do so.
Someone who was incredibly helpful to me last year through this process was Mimi Onuoha who encouraged me throughout my technical difficulties. I think my hardest barrier will be some of the programming around making my map more accessible, for which I think the WCAG will be helpful to me. I am also taking conceptual guidance from two colleagues Boima Tucker and Natalia Linares who are assisting with the curation decisions.
More About You
Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico in a bicultural Puerto Rican/ New Mexican household Luna Olavarría Gallegos I am a writer, curator and filmmaker and my work typically surrounds themes of internet, diaspora, and culture. As a curator, I have organized panels, showcases, film festivals, playlists that highlight the work of Black and Latin American artists and have always done so intentionally. In 2016 I launched the archival multimedia project and album developed in Havana, Cuba, AfroRazones, which confronts issues of digital accessibility and Black archives. My written pieces on music, race and technology have been published in outlets including The Guardian, StopBeingFamous, The FADER and REMEZCLA among other outlets.