Comments for … My heart’s in Accra http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003 Wed, 29 Jun 2016 21:53:11 +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 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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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 The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? | … My heart’s in Accra | blockquotecite 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-6382582 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 16:57:56 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382582 […] Source: The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems t… […]

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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 Anneleise 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-6382572 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 01:00:00 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382572 ps if you want an example of how a community has used Appreciative Inquiry for empowered and lasting change http://www.lyttelton.net.nz, I’ve written a case study document which is on the ‘about us’ page. We produced the document because we had people all over the world who were asking how we were doing what we were doing so successfully and we were struggling to keep up with all the visitors! Lyttelton was half destroyed by an earthquake a couple of years after that case study was written and there are also some very good papers on how the existing framework of community significantly empowered and supported recovery efforts.

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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 Anneleise 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-6382571 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 00:28:04 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382571 My suggestion is having a look at Appreciative Inquiry and incorporating that as a base framework. It is a co-creative discovery and design process that seeks out and harnesses the energy of the bits that work not the bits that are broken. While a lot of the articles are focused around organisations, the premise is very adaptable to visioning and co-creating in other ways, I’ve used it as a base for all my work for the last 20 years in community led development, even in interviews for feature stories when I was working as a reporter. The real crux of it it is in ‘asking the right questions’ something you identified in your above article as a vital part of successful and meaningful change. Even just the articles around framing the right questions may be helpful. Great article. I really enjoyed it. Your students are lucky. I’ve attached a couple of links, but there is lots and lots of info if you google :) Warm regards, Anneleise https://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/ https://design.umn.edu/about/intranet/documents/AppreciativeInquiry-Asking%20Powerful%20Questions.pdf

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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 Brent Morris 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-6382565 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 20:04:35 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382565 The ManEatingRobot post is basically describing The Cubes from Almost Human/Iso-cubes from Judge Dredd like it’s a good idea. I mean sure he can say it’s a “thought experiment” but one doesn’t go that far into the thought without partially thinking it’s a good idea.

It’s gross that he thinks this in anyway resembles a model of restorative justice like they have in Norway.

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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 Beyond “solutionism”: what role can technology play in solving deep social problems – Boing Boing | Durrelliott 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-6382553 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 05:52:47 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382553 […] The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical syste… [Ethan Zuckerman] […]

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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 Joseph Rodgers 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-6382548 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 03:09:20 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382548 I’m sure your group will have read already, The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman. An excellent work of fiction asks these questions as well, The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson.

A closely related question to the ones you’ve posted here, is, why do news broadcasts find it easier to cover bad news than good news? Good news stories tend to be light and fluffy and not very challenging to understand, while bad news stories are rich and complex and full of expert opinions. I believe that there’s a bias here having to do with class relationships: good news for employers is bad news for employees. Good news for landlords is bad news for renters. Good now for investors is bad news for the environment. Complex, intellectually challenging good news stories are never unalloyed.

So this suggestion to improve prisons, already assumes that prisons are themselves solving a problem. There is plenty of evidence to suggest they’re making a problem worse. Good news for prison wardens is bad news for prisoners, and the general public when the prisoners are released. (And the families of the prisoners, who are themselves receiving state sanctioned punishment).

Another area where this kind of tar baby sucks people in, is questions of carbon footprint and global warming and how to move our current insatiable appetite for energy away from oil and toward renewables. It’s taken on faith that the total energy supply must inevitably grow, never shrink, and renewables must therefore be just as easy to tap as the older, dirtier sources of energy. Very few people seem willing to question this growth at any cost mantra.

To my way of thinking, most of these questions boil down eventually into some version of, “does the economy exist to serve human beings, or do human beings exist to serve the economy?”

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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 Beyond “solutionism”: what role can technology play in solving deep social problems – Boing Boing | Tech Daily News 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-6382547 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 02:54:26 +0000 http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=5284#comment-6382547 […] The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems t… [Ethan Zuckerman] […]

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