[TOS] FS102: Computing and Activism

David Humphrey David.Humphrey at senecac.on.ca
Wed Sep 30 14:59:50 UTC 2009

Hey Matt,

This is a neat idea.  Reading your description, one thing that occurs to 
me is that you could also devote some energy to "Open Data."  A lot of 
the most interesting examples of "Computing and Activism" I'm seeing 
lately are in the open data, open government, etc. space vs. open 
source.  A lot of the work with regard to activism and software is 
historical, whereas the work to free data is just starting to catch fire.

I've CC'ed two people I know who are doing a ton of work in this area, 
Greg Wilson at U of T (also a member other the list, see 
http://pyre.third-bit.com/blog/archives/category/gov20), and David Eaves 
(see http://eaves.ca/).

I think the work around open data has the potential to do as much and 
more than open source.  One of the reasons for this is that it allows a 
more diverse set of players to get involved in the game (e.g., you don't 
have to be a programmer).

Also, since you're doing this work in the context of a writing course, 
allow me to plug my own recent work trying to define open data:




Let us know how it goes, Matt.


Matthew Jadud wrote:
> Hello all,
> Allegheny College has a Freshman Seminar (FS) program that all
> first-year students take part in[1]. The program is about fundamentals
> pertaining to writing, oral presentation, academic advising (students
> in my FS101 are my advisees until they declare a major), and life at
> college. Topically, we are free to chose the content area. As it turns
> out, I will be teaching an FS this coming semester. (This was not
> certain until recently.) Further, Allegheny has leveraged "theme
> years" in the past (being new, I don't have a sense for the history).
> This year is the "Year of Social Change."[2]
> Since I have to put together a blurb for a course (today, Wednesday),
> I thought I'd throw out the blurb for a quick bit of feedback from the
> community. My intention is for it to be taught at the same time as a
> colleague is teaching an FS over in art titled "Art and Activism."
> This way, some of the larger themes regarding activism and social
> change can be explored as a combined group. Readings for our FS might
> include some or all of "Democratizing Innovation," "Cathedral & The
> Bazaar," readings from Wenger regarding communities of practice,
> scholarly articles on technology and social change[3], and other
> sources (feel free to suggest, online or otherwise) will likely form
> our core.
> My intention is that throughout the semester, there will be a second
> arch (which nicely ties into learning to communicate effectively)
> where we might join an open community and engage with their
> documentation efforts---recommendations as to where might be best to
> engage are welcome. (I am not an active member at this time of any
> *large* open communities, and barring any better suggestions, I'll
> engage with the Fedora or Mozilla communities, as the students are
> most likely to be familiar with either/both of those.)
> Blurb follows; feedback welcome. All standard legal disclaimers apply,
> IANAL, etc.
> Cheers,
> Matt
> FS 102 - Computing and Activism
> 	Investigates social change, justice, and activism as it relates to
> historical and modern uses computational technology. Our touchstone
> throughout the semester will be the "open source" movement---software,
> hardware, documentation, and art created to be given away, freely, by
> volunteers around the planet. We will investigate issues surrounding
> secure communications in oppressive regimes, the role of closed and
> open services in social systems (political, economic, and others, at
> home and abroad), and how we as individuals are able to make a
> difference in this space. Along with academic study and reflection
> regarding open communities (through written assignments and oral
> presentations), we will actively join and contribute to one of these
> large communities to experience how we, as individuals, are empowered
> to change the world.
> [1] http://learningcommons.allegheny.edu/faculty/fs/
> [2] http://sites.allegheny.edu/yearofsocialchange/
> [3] http://www.gilbert.org/journals/JITSC/
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