Sonia Livingstone on where and why do digital media – and digital media learning – fit into the lives of young teenagers living in complex urban societies? Do they help build valued connections, or enhance opportunities to create, learn and participate? Or do they lead to hyper-connection, surveillance and loss of privacy for young people? Reflecting on a year’s ethnography (free to read at http://connectedyouth.nyupress.org/) with a class of 13 year olds, exploring their sites of living and learning online and offline, Sonia argues that their understandable desire for ‘positive disconnections’ means crucial opportunities to learn are being missed. These might be overcome with a more child-centered or even child-rights approach to the digital age.
In this Databite, Neil Selwyn works through some emerging headline findings from a new three year study of digital technology use in Australian high schools. In particular Neil highlights the ways in which schools’ actual uses of technology often contradict presumptions of ‘connected learning’, ‘digital education’ and the like. Instead Neil considers…
• how and why recent innovations such as maker culture, personalised learning and data-driven education are subsumed within more restrictive institutional ‘logics’;
• the tensions of ‘bring your own device’ and other permissive digital learning practices
• how alternative and resistant forms of technology use by students tend to mitigate *against* educational engagement and/or learning gains;
• the ways in which digital technologies enhance (rather than disrupt) existing forms of advantage and privilege amongst groups of students;
• how the distributed nature of technology leadership and innovation throughout schools tends to restrict widespread institutional change and reform;
• the ambiguous role that digital technologies play in teachers’ work and the labor of teaching;
• the often surprising ways that technology seems to take hold throughout schools – echoing broader imperatives of accountability, surveillance and control.
The talk provides plenty of scope to consider how technology use in schools might be ‘otherwise’, and alternate agendas to be pursued by educators, policymakers, technology developers and other stakeholders in the ed-tech space.
Elana Zeide on Student Privacy and Big Data. With the rise of online learning environments, student records are no longer just basic academic and administrative information, but include data and metadata generated from student interaction with digital platforms as well as unexpected sources like student ID badges and social media. Applying big data analytics to this wealth of information has the potential to revolutionize education, but also risks unintended consequences that affect the core values of the education system as well as civil rights and liberties.
The current student privacy regulatory regime does not address the issues raised by modern information technology and data-driven decision-making in education. This presentation highlights key issues of the student privacy debate, proposed reforms, and emerging legal and ethical issues, as well as implications of data-driven education environments and decision-making that extend far beyond school settings.
Madeleine Clare Elish presents “An AI Pattern Language,” coauthored with Tim Hwang. The publication is the culmination of two years of research and conversations with a range of industry practitioners working in intelligent systems and artificial intelligence. The work was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. You can purchase your own copy or download the PDF at autonomy.datasociety.net.
Kristian Lum will elaborate on the concept of “bias in, bias out” in machine learning with a simple, non-technical example. She will then demonstrate how applying machine learning to police records can result in the over-policing of historically over-policed communities. Using a case study from Oakland, CA, she will show one specific case of how predictive policing not only perpetuates the biases that were previously encoded in the police data, but – under some circumstances – actually amplifies those biases.
Ilana Gershon discusses how we all have moments in which someone’s use of new media baffles us, and we have to ask a friend how to respond. It often isn’t just the content of the message, it is also using that particular medium in that way which leaves us scratching our heads. In this talk, I discuss what anthropological concepts can help us understand our confusion. I will turn to LinkedIn as my case study and analyze the dilemmas people face when using LinkedIn as they look for a job. This will be my starting point to discuss how the newness of new media generates social dilemmas, especially for the people these days who are looking for a job.
Natasha Schüll – From the NSA scandal to Facebook’s controversial “mood experiment,” the past decade has seen heated debate over the ways that governments and corporations collect data on citizens and consumers, the ends to which they use it, and the threat this poses to civil liberties. Yet even as this discussion over surveillant monitoring unfolds, the public has embraced practices and products of self-tracking, applying sensor-laden patches, wristbands, and pendants to their own bodies.
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this talk explores how mainstream self-tracking technologies – in their design, marketing, and use – increasingly part ways with the ethos of intensive self-attention found within the Quantified Self (QS) community, serving as digital compasses to guide consumers through the confounding, tempting, and sometimes toxic landscape of everyday choice making and lifestyle management (for instance, by regulating the micro-rhythms of their bites, steps, sips, and breaths). By offering them a way to fulfill the cultural demand for self-management while delegating the often tedious, sometimes existentially taxing labor involved in meeting that demand, such devices at once exemplify and short-circuit ideals of individual agency and responsibility.
In the story of self-tracking technology and its increasing automation, a certain ambivalence over the terms of contemporary selfhood comes to the fore. Are there any connections to be drawn between this ambivalence and broader debates over governmental and corporate surveillance, data privacy, and the possibility for resistance?
danah boyd weaves together her work on youth, privacy, and data-driven technologies, to examine the complicated social and cultural dynamics underpinning social media, the messiness of “big data,” and the problematic implications of using algorithms designed for one problem to address societal issues without accounting for unintended consequences.
Noel Hidalgo will journey through two fellowships — his Data & Society Fellowship and construction of a new fellowship for 21st century civic hackers. The first half of the discussion will focus on detailed lessons learned from working within the City’s civic technology community, collaborating with CUNY’s Service Corps students, building a municipal open data curriculum, and developing partnerships with the Mayor’s Office, Manhattan Borough President, and various City agencies.
Bruce Schneider describes how we have created a world where information technology permeates our economies, social interactions, and intimate selves. The combination of mobile, cloud computing, the Internet Things, persistent computing, and autonomy is resulting in something altogether different — a world-sized web. This World-Sized Web promises great benefits, but it is also vulnerable to a host of new threats from users, criminals, corporations, and governments. These threats can now result in physical damage and even death.
In this talk, Schneier will take a retrospective look back at what we have learned from past attempts to secure these systems. He will also push us forward to consider seriously what technologies, laws, regulations, economic incentives, and social norms we will need to secure them in the future.