Comments for … My heart’s in Accra http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003 Mon, 11 Jul 2016 03:14:17 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by Homepage http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382868 Mon, 11 Jul 2016 03:14:17 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382868 … [Trackback]

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Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by Ashley Shew http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382836 Sat, 09 Jul 2016 14:02:18 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382836 You ask for suggestions of what to read and activities for students at one point in this article. I teach a class on technology and disability at Virginia Tech, and we spend a lot of time talking about how design goes wrong in the context of disability. For so many items, designers unveil with a great flourish and lots of media hype, and then those items do not end up in wide use due to an array of factors. Or, they do end up in wide use to the detriment of disability cultures or destruction of disabled lives. Or, the very ways they are presented are ableist and reinforce tired tropes that invoke pity or heroic overcoming in the context of disability. Or, it’s a great thing, but with no infrastructure to allow people to use and enjoy it.

Two things that I think are great, particularly on this topic, are exoskeletons and cochlear implants. To look at some of the really passionate writing by disabled people about exoskeleton projects — and how many of these projects reinforce bias against the people they purport to serve — really blows a lot of students away. Bill Peace has some great articles on his blog about it. I also have a Harriet McBryde Johnson reading with this unit that I read aloud on the first day of class that talks about resenting the well-meaning people who want to fix the character (it’s a novel).

The second topic that captivates students is the study of the cochlear implant and its reception (and the protest it caused). _Sound and Fury_ is an older documentary, but it still really engages people on the topic in a personal way, and, added to more recent writing about Deaf community with some recent media coverage of Nyle DiMarco’s stance on sign language, it could bring a lot out in discussion with students who don’t necessarily have a background in disability studies.

Anyway, best of luck. My whole reading list can be found here: techanddisability.com. I’ll be changing it up a bit in the next month or so before my next semester starts. Best wishes on your own course.

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Comment on Insurrectionist Civics in the Age of Mistrust by 506 People Have Been Shot and Killed by Police in America So Far This Year | Newsbunch http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2015/10/19/insurrectionist-civics-in-the-age-of-mistrust/comment-page-1/#comment-6382795 Thu, 07 Jul 2016 16:23:12 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5207#comment-6382795 […] we’ve come to mistrust or the new ones we’re building today,” he wrote in a blog post last year. “When the Black Panthers were founded in Oakland, CA in the late 1960s, they were […]

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Comment on That’s _Professor_ Bozo to you, Pal by quixote http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/05/10/thats-_professor_-bozo-to-you-pal/comment-page-1/#comment-6382703 Mon, 04 Jul 2016 08:35:30 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5272#comment-6382703 You look *totally* professorial. Because you are. Good for MIT for recognizing that.

Being annoyed, or in my case sort of strangely put off, reminds me of a very polite, hardworking recent immigrant from Central America in one of my classes in New Orleans. He always addressed me as “Teacher.” And, yes, you could hear the capital letter.

I tried to tell him once, or maybe twice, that Dr. GrumpyBioProf would be the way to go, but he just couldn’t take to it. It obviously felt too familiar. So Teacher it was for the rest of the semester.

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Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-06-26 – Bionic Teaching http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382696 Sun, 03 Jul 2016 18:55:28 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382696 […] The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems t… how do we help smart, well-meaning people address social problems in ways that make the world better, not worse? In other words, is it possible to get beyond both a naïve belief that the latest technology will solve social problems and a reaction that rubbishes any attempt to offer novel technical solutions as inappropriate, insensitive and misguided? Can we find a synthesis in which technologists look at their work critically and work closely with the people they’re trying to help in order to build sociotechnical systems that address hard problems? […]

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Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by heresiarch http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382695 Sun, 03 Jul 2016 17:59:05 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382695 If you haven’t read “The Zimbabwe Bush Pump: Mechanics of a Fluid Technology”, well, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It has amazing insight into the relationships between technology, inventors, and communities.

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Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by 1 July: #Brexit, technology and GMOs – INIS Blog http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382653 Fri, 01 Jul 2016 15:35:57 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382653 […] suggestion that we address violence in prison by giving every inmate an Oculus Rift VR headset. This epic takedown articulates some great questions about technology and social change, with implications for health […]

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Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? | Deterritorial Investigations Unit http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382608 Wed, 29 Jun 2016 21:53:11 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382608 […] “I’m going to teach a new course this fall, tentatively titled “Technology and Social Change”. It’s going to include an examination of the four levers of social change Larry Lessig suggests in Code and which I’ve been exploring as possible paths to civic engagement. It will include deep methodological dives into codesign, and into using anthropology as tool for understanding user needs. It will look at unintended consequences, cases where technology’s best intentions fail, and cases where careful exploration and preparation led to technosocial systems that make users and communities more powerful than they were before. I’m “calling my shot” here for two reasons. One, by announcing it publicly, I’m less likely to back out of it, and given how hard these problems are, backing out is a real possibility. And two, if you’ve read this far in this post, you’ve likely thought about this issue and have suggestions for what we should read and what exercises we should try in the course of the class – I hope you might be kind enough to share those with me. In the end, I’m grateful for Shane Snow’s surreal, Black Mirror vision of the future prison both because it’s a helpful jumping off point for understanding how hard it is to make change well using technology, and because the US prison system is a broken and dysfunctional system in need of change. But we need to find ways to disrupt better, to challenge knowledgeably, to bring the people they hope to benefit into the process. If you can, please help me figure out how we teach these ideas to the smart, creative people I work with who want to change the world and are afraid of breaking it in the process.” rest @ http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me… […]

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Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by Alex Enkerli http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382605 Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:39:46 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382605 [Edit: Gada Mahrouse is the one who taught on “voluntourism” with the Concordia Volunteers Abroad Programme, not Homa Hoodfar. Apologies. The #FreeHoma campaign has been on my mind, especially when we talk about prisons. Both Hoodfar and Mahrouse are Concordia colleagues.]

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Comment on The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? by Alex Enkerli http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2016/06/22/the-worst-thing-i-read-this-year-and-what-it-taught-me-or-can-we-design-sociotechnical-systems-that-dont-suck/comment-page-1/#comment-6382583 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 19:43:10 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382583 Got quite a few things to share, yes. Apart from academic references (Annemarie Mol, Michel Callon, Jennifer Cool, Matt Ratto, Heather Horst, Carl DiSalvo, Gabriella Coleman, Mark Warschauer, Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin, Langdon Winner, Liz Losh, Ivan Illich, Homa Hoodfar, etc.; got coursepacks, Mendeley folders and Zotero collections) would have several suggestions on activities to do with these learners.

The main one, which is actually diminishing the importance of those academic references, is to codesign the syllabus itself. Been doing this in a few courses after reading about it through Indiana University’s Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching (they called it the “collaborative syllabus”, but your version could be true codesign). It can work quite well and it sure would be fitting in this case. Of course, it’s “hard and frustrating”. But it’s very rewarding, in terms of the learning experience itself.

Other suggestions to engage learners in this particular course would have to do with their spheres of agency, experience, and expertise.

The latter could lead to a specialised version of “peer-instruction”. Engineers are typically quite proud of what they (think they) know. So basing an activity on getting them to teach something they know well could give interesting results. A snappier version would be “if you’re so knowledgeable about the topic why don’t you get somebody else to grasp it?”. But it can be handled with tact and help them interact with people who have a different frame of mind from theirs.

The part about experience is meant to be about something they do know full well, but may have difficulty bringing out. Especially when it comes to being users of technology. In many podcasts and blogs, John Siracusa has become recognised as someone who will go “hypercritical” on tools he actually uses. His expertise as an engineer does come back on occasion, but there’s a striking difference with the work of “Dr. Drang” who will meticulously analyse a product for all its flaws. Getting students to “pull a Siracusa” and rant over product design could lead to interesting exchanges, especially if facilitated properly.

The part about agency is somewhat similar, but it’s about recognising the limits to what they can do. Any course having to do with social change needs to address the fact that university students aren’t simply there “to make the world a better place”. This is where people like Hoodfar (currently the victim of Iran’s regime) can provide a lot of insight. Her research on “voluntourism” was a key part of our courses preparing Canadian volunteers going to Uganda. As both an anthropologist and a feminist, she could bring a lot to a course like this, were Iran’s prison system as conducive to thoughtful action as some US prisons are dreamt up to be.

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