Asking in our classrooms – what is surveillance?

Understanding the complexities, nuances, and proliferation of surveillance technology can be difficult for students to understand.  By developing scalable surveillance technology activites, students can recognize the variety of surveillance today–including google algorithms, twitter posts, selfies, camera footage, airport security, and reality TV–prompting questions of where, why, and how these technologies can be used.  As voiced by Mark Andrejevic in Feminist Surveillance Studies, surveillance “is the coupling of information collection and use with power.  We are living in a time when information is becoming an increasingly transformative force, and power is never absent” (Andrejevic, x).  How can our teaching and classroom activities address this definition and recognize the interplay of surveillance in our daily lives?

Makers by Mail @ HASTAC 2016

20160505_130334 copyThe MbM project team is headed west to sunny Tempe, Arizona for HASTAC 2016 hosted by the University of Arizona. We will be unveiling our first kit during our workshop Hacking the Academy: Hacktivism, Makerspaces, and DH on Thursday morning. During the workshop, attendees will be creating a Hacktivist surviellence camera using littleBits. The instructions, a full list of kit components, and related teaching materials are available on the Makers by Mail Teaching Commons.

Hacking the Academy: Hacktivism, Makerspaces, and DH
Thursday, May 12 • 11:45am – 12:45pm

Makerspaces (a.k.a. hackerspaces, fablabs) are collaborative sites for experimentation, collaboration, and creativity. As experiential learning sites, makerspaces support the development of multiple literacies while also introducing students to the principles of design thinking. This interactive workshop will introduce the suite of tools selected for the Mobile DH Makerspace being developed at the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science, including littleBits building kits and Arduino microcontrollers . These tools were purposefully selected for their mobility, accessibility, and affordability. Each of these factors makes it easy to implement and build devices in unconventional venues.

In this workshop, participants will build a “hacktivist” device. As concerns over internet privacy and security increase, educators have become more and more concerned with training students to think critically about their digital presence, particularly through internet activism. As Elizabeth Losh notes, “Outright electronic civil disobedience could be described as the most militant form of political resistance in the digital humanities and one that has become more visible in panels and professional associations in recent years.” Although many academics discuss the need for hacktivism, few offer models for doing so. Adopting this approach, participants in this interactive session will work in teams to explore the capabilities of these tools and develop a working prototype while exploring the pedagogical approaches to incorporating these tools and critical technological literacy into the DH classroom.

Together the littleBits and Arduino scaffold to develop users’ confidence in coding, building, project management, and digital literacy. Designed to foster critical engagement and activism in undergraduate and graduate classrooms, across campuses, and in communities, this workshop emphasizes the ways in which individuals can simply and effectively engage in civil disobedience through the use of digital tools.