#JITP5: Media and Methods for Opening Education

The “Media and Methods for Opening Education” special issue that I edited with the wonderful Suzanne Tamang has been published in The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy!

Intro-Issue5-1The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
Issue 5: Media and Methods for Opening Education
Editors: Gregory T. Donovan and Suzanne Tamang

Full issue:

Introduction: Media and Methods for Opening Education

Suzanne Tamang and Gregory T. Donovan

Special Feature: Questions of Authority: Academic Publishing, Anti-Art and Ownership

Elizabeth Bishop and Britney Harsh

Building a Place for Community: City Tech’s OpenLab

Charlie Edwards, Jody Rosen, Maura A. Smale, and Jenna Spevack

The InQ13 POOC: A Participatory Experiment in Open, Collaborative Teaching and Learning

Jessie Daniels and Matthew K. Gold, with members of the InQ13 Collective: Stephanie M. Anderson, John Boy, Caitlin Cahill, Jen Jack Gieseking, Karen Gregory, Kristen Hackett, Fiona Lee, Wendy Luttrell, Amanda Matles, Edwin Mayorga, Wilneida Negrón, Shawn(ta) Smith, Polly Thistlethwaite, Zora Tucker

Toward Digital, Critical, Participatory Action Research: Lessons from the #BarrioEdProj
Edwin Mayorga

Empowering Local Women through Technology Training:
A Sustainable Income-Generating Model in Hyderabad, India
Ioana Literat

Notes from Queer(ing) New York: Refusing Binaries in Online Pedagogy

Jen Jack Gieseking

Video of #TA3M Talk on ISOC-NY

The New York Chapter of the Internet Society recorded and posted my “Dataveillance and Everyday Consciousness in the ‘Smart’ City” lecture from May’s Techno-Activism Third Monday event in NYC. Big thanks to Joly MacFie!

Participation, Proprietary Media, and Dataveillance in the Smart City @ Sarah Lawrence College

I’ll be participating in a panel on “Surveillance Research and Action: Approaches to Information Freedom” this Tuesday (April 15th) at 7pm at Sarah Lawrence College. My talk will be on Participation, Proprietary Media, and Dataveillance in the Smart City. Details below:

ToPrint_Panel_PosterDear SLC community,

Please join us for a lively panel discussion about online surveillance with three leading activists and researchers, moderated by our own Mike Siff (Computer Science).

Surveillance Research and Action: Approaches to Information Freedom
Tuesday, April 15, 7 – 9 pm, Pillow Room, Esther Raushenbush Library

Our online activities are regularly tracked by corporations and government agencies, yet what are the implications for our daily lives? Is there such a thing as privacy online? With corporations as gatekeepers of digital tools and information, is there such a thing as internet freedom? Panelists will share their research and years of experience in anti-surveillance activism, and discuss strategies to avoid surveillance, advance information freedom, and engage in techno-activism.


  • Carolyn Anhalt, Internews, Berkeley Institute for Free Speech Online
  • Gregory T. Donovan, Saint Peter’s University
  • Sandra Ordonez, OpenITP/Techno Activism 3rd Monday

This event is part of the Perspectives on Place and Power Film & Lecture Series
Generously sponsored by the Student Senate

Please follow the live Twitter feed during the panel! @youtweetSLC #tweetSLC

Configuring a ‘Right to the City’ with a ‘Right to Research’: Towards a Participatory Smart Urbanism

I’ll be participating in the “Thinking the ‘smart city’: power, politics and networked urbanism” sessions (see Session I and Session II) at this year’s Association of American Geographers. Info and abstract below:

Title: Configuring a ‘Right to the City’ with a ‘Right to Research’: Towards a Participatory Smart Urbanism
Author: Gregory T. Donovan
Time: 04/10/14, 10:00AM
Place: Tampa

In this paper I draw on participatory research and design work with NYC youth to consider a ‘right to the city’ and a ‘right to research’ as deeply intertwined ontological and epistemological movements that can reconfigure the production of space and knowledge in the Smart City. Much of urban informatics has been defined by large-scale ecosystems of data that are privately owned and operated by corporations and/or governments. I historically situate these “proprietary ecologies” in a neoliberal logic of privatization operating in cities to spatially orient urban life towards capital accumulation via tactics such as zoning, policing, and enclosure. In studying the unevenness of such development, some scholars have argued for the right of everyday people to be represented in the social material configuration of our cities, while others have argued for a right of these same people to be represented in the aims and methods of contemporary research. Urban youth, in particular, populate proprietary ecologies with troves of data through their daily habits. Yet, they are among the least engaged in shaping how, where, and for what purposes, this research is conducted. I review two youth-based projects intended to shift this dynamic: one that developed an open-source social network, and one that maintains a local mesh network. These projects help consider how broader calls for rights to the city and research play out in the practical yet powerful ways youth are remaking the social material (and thus entailed, digital) configuration of smart urbanism.

Call for JITP5: Media and Methods for Opening Education

The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
Special Issue: Media and Methods for Opening Education
Submissions Due: October 20, 2013

Editors: Gregory T. Donovan and Suzanne Tamang

JITP welcomes work that explores critical and creative uses of interactive technology in teaching, learning, and research. For Issue 5, we are seeking submissions under the theme of “Media and Methods for Opening Education.” This theme invites submissions that critically and creatively consider both media and methods that open up traditional educational settings to more democratic and diverse modes of learning and knowledge production.

We are particularly interested in papers that express intriguing and promising ideas, demonstrate new media forms or educational software tools, or focus on research methods for opening education. Possible submission topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The development, implementation, and/or evaluation of pedagogical practices that draw on Open Education Resources (OER).
  • Explorations of Open Access, Open Source, and/or Open Data initiatives that address matters of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability.
  • Critical considerations of corporate or proprietary media in pedagogical practices.
  • Feminist media and methodologies for challenging patriarchal structures in education.
  • Analyses of both the educational media and practices of civic movements such as the Free University, Occupy Data, or CryptoParty.
  • Hackathon methodologies: tools and practices.
  • Critical and participatory approaches to facilitating MOOCs.
  • Engaging local communities in public research and/or education through civic media.
  • Interactive platforms and practices that queer traditional educational boundaries between teacher/student as well as inside/outside the classroom, unfixing these binaries so as to reconsider our norms and what they leave unsaid.
  • Critical appropriations of queer, feminist and/or radical praxis to address ITP matters such as universal access.
  • Visualizing research products for diverse publics.
  • Best practices for collaborating in heterogeneous spaces.
  • Anti-disciplinary approaches to problem solving and the public domain.

In addition to traditional long-form articles with a suggested limit of 8,000 words, we invite submissions of audio or visual presentations, interviews, dialogues, or conversations, creative works, manifestos, jeremiads or other scholarly materials. All submissions are subject to an open review process. Submissions received that do not fall under the specific theme of Issue 5, but do fall under the broader theme of JITP, will be considered for publication in a future issue.

Important Dates

The submission deadline for the Spring 2014 issue is October 20, 2013. When submitting using our Open Journal Systems software, under “Journal Section,” please select the section titled “Issue 5: Special Issue.” Submission instructions are here.

Affording the ‘Right to Research’: Doing Critical PAR with Open Source Technologies

Today I’m participating in a panel and facilitating a workshop with the Public Science Project at Rutgers University’s Representing the City: Technology, Action, and Change.

More info on the symposium from the The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University:

Date: October 19th, 2012
Time: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Location: Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy is pleased to announce Representing the City: Technology, Action, and Change, a day-long symposium exploring the possibilities and challenges of information technology in democratic planning practice for social justice.

The symposium features a morning panel of five organizations that utilize digital data technologies as a catalyst for urban community engagement, a keynote lunch, and a series of afternoon workshops that will expose participants to new technologies and tools for social change. Opportunities for dialogue, debate, and discussion will be available throughout the day.

Symposium Schedule:
10:00-12:00 Panel discussion (EJB Special Events Forum)
12:00-2:00 Lunch and keynote speaker (EJB room 369)
2:00-4:00 Workshops (various EJB classrooms)
4:00-5:00 Optional participant reflection and discussion (EJB Special Events Forum)

Participating organizations:
Center for Urban Pedagogy: The Center for Urban Pedagogy is a NYC-based nonprofit that uses design and art to demystify the urban planning and public policy process in order to improve civic engagement and contribute positively to urban communities.

Detroit Digital Justice Coalition: DDJC works to bring digital access to low-income/marginalized communities in Detroit, Michigan. The organization is based on principles of access, participation, common ownership, and community health.  Their work centers around ensuring that all community members have equal access to media and technology, as producers and consumers, that non-English speaking members are able to communicate as well and as effectively as English speakers.  Digital justice is thus a platform for communities to come together and discuss problems and generate solutions. The organization also works with inner city school to help design and integrate digital media into the curriculum.

MIT CoLab: CoLab works with community partners and labor to explore the intersection of democratic engagement, shared wealth generation and cities efforts to become more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.

Public Science Project: The Public Science Project conducts and supports participatory action research with a commitment to the significant knowledge people hold about their lives and experiences and a belief that those most intimately impacted by research should take the lead in shaping research questions, framing interpretations, and designing meaningful products and actions. The organization holds workshops, trainings, institutes and salons open to community members, graduate students, and academics on a range of participatory methods. OpenPlans is a social enterprise developing open source technology solutions that make cities run better. Based in New York City, OpenPlans is a non-profit with a team of 60 software engineers, designers, urban planners, analysts, educators, and journalists. We develop open source software tools, we catalyze and support communities of interest, we help city governments engage online, and we build capacity and new connections between different groups. We work in partnership with cities and community groups.

Lunch keynote speakers:
Elvin Wyly is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia.  He has studied and written extensively on the production and reinforcing of urban social inequality using an approach that includes both critical social theory and multivariate quantitative methods “designed to engage state and corporate institutions on their own terrain, with their own data”.

Alan McConchie is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia with an interest in critical GIS, volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), and user-generated cartographies.

Afternoon workshop sessions (2:00-4:00pm)
Space is limited to 10-20 participants per workshop. In your RSVP please indicate if you would like to join a workshop and, if so, which one(s). The symposium organizers will do their best to match participants to the workshop of their choice, but selection will be based on a first come, first serve basis.

Leveraging Community Knowledge
At CoLab, we strongly believe that planning is a participatory discipline. People should be involved in any decision-making process affecting their lives. Communities possess valuable knowledge and insights about the challenges they face. However, it is difficult to harness local knowledge if we do not have the necessary tools to communicate and to visualize it. In this workshop, we will introduce participants to Stakeholder Mapping and Participatory Visioning methodologies aimed at leveraging communities’ knowledge.

The Public Science Project
Affording the ‘Right to Research’: Doing Critical PAR with Open Source Technologies
In this workshop participants will be introduced to doing critical participatory action research (PAR) with open source technologies. Three PAR projects currently being carried out by the Public Science Project will be profiled with specific attention to the different ways open source technologies are being utilized to afford greater public participation in collaborative research and analysis. Workshop participants with laptops or web-enabled smart phones will be able to participate in practices of distributed data collection, collective data analysis, and online mapping while the workshop organizes discuss how these practices are socially coordinated and technologically facilitated. The workshop will conclude with a discussion of how to how to evaluate the methodological, ethical, and political appropriateness of various open source technologies for specific PAR projects.

How to Grow New Narratives 
Members of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition (DDJC) will share how they used Twitter for participatory data collection in Detroit Future, a program designed to cultivate a healthy digital ecology in Detroit.  Participants will understand how this strategy was used to document deliverables for a federal grant, while also fostering a new online narrative about Detroit, its residents and its future.  They will learn how this community-led narrative successfully countered prevailing narratives about the city which had made long-time residents and community organizers invisible.  DDJC members will teach participants how they can lead their communities through a similar process of participatory documentation and storytelling using social media.

Tools for Community Engagement
Participants will engage in hands-on activities to directly experience how tactile tools can be used to communicate complex issues to lay audiences. Participants will learn about the process by which the toolkit was designed by CUP and its partners.Ask everyone! Online mapping tools for community input
Ask everyone! Online mapping tools for community input
Naama Lissar and Mjumbe Poe from OpenPlans will talk about Shareabouts (, an open source mapping tool they have been working on recently. Shareabouts and other online maps make it easier to extend the reach of an urban planning project, allowing cities and community organizations to get better outcomes by gathering place-based ideas, suggestions and comments from the people who know the city best. Using several community-led mapping projects as examples, workshop participants will explore how online mapping by neighborhood groups can effectively support aspirational community-led activism, and its limits. The session will cover organizational and technical challenges to setting up and using online tools, including what data is effective to collect, and how it can be used.

Doing Participatory Research and Pedagogy in Proprietary Educational Environments

This Saturday (10/13/12) I’ll be presenting with Kiersten Greene at Northwestern University’s InfoSocial Conference. Info and abstract below:

Title: Doing Participatory Research and Pedagogy in Proprietary Educational Environments
Authors: Gregory T. Donovan & Kiersten Greene

Panel: Participation, Socialization, and Memory Online
Discussant: Prof. Kevin Barnhurst, University of Illinois at Chicago

Time: 10/13/12, 3:15PM – 4:45PM
Place: Annie May Swift Hall, room 102

Abstract: The ubiquity of proprietary technologies embedded within informational modes of pedagogy and research unsettles industrial understandings of privacy and property within educational environments. As educational institutions commit a growing portion of shrinking budgets to proprietary software and outsourced ICT services, their informational infrastructure intertwines with corporations from Google and Blackboard to IBM and Apple. We offer a multi-disciplinary analysis of this proprietary infrastructure, drawing on our respective dissertation research in the fields of Urban Education and Environmental Psychology, to articulate issues of privacy and property experienced by young people and teachers in these educational environments. We begin by summarizing the findings from two independent cases: The MyDigitalFootprint.ORG Project and The NYC Teacher Blog Project. Our first case, MyDigitalFootprint.ORG, is a participatory action design research (PADR) project interested in the concerns of young people developing in proprietary information ecologies. This project began by interviewing young people ages 14-19 in New York City to identify shared online privacy, property, and security concerns. A collective of youth co-researchers was then assembled to further research and take action in response to these concerns through the development of a youth-based open source social network. Through this PADR project, young people participated in investigating and reconfiguring how information is experienced in their everyday environment. Our second case, The NYC Teacher Blog Project, aggregates, stores, and anonymizes the blog posting of New York City teachers for qualitative analysis in order to examine the tension between the realities of everyday pedagogical practices and the tacit privatization of educational policy. Whether at the federal, state, or local levels, teachers’ opinions, local knowledge, and expertise count for naught in the policymaking process as K-12 public school teachers are provided little if any voice in the construction of education policy. The traditional isolation of the teaching environment has provided teachers with little opportunity to connect, reflect, or engage with this process. Yet, as our everyday information infrastructure grows so to do opportunities for teacher expression and research. Blogs have proven an enduring aspect of this infrastructure by providing a space where teachers can reflect, connect, and share local knowledge. We conclude our review of these two cases by discussing strategies for reworking educational boundaries, relationships, and flows towards the privacy, property, and participation concerns of young people and teachers. With the MyDigitalFootprint.ORG Project, we look specifically at the open source software and PADR methods employed to engage young people as producers of social media and participants in social research, rather than as social media consumers and social research subjects. With the NYC Teacher Blog Project, we look specifically at how its partnership with the OpenCUNY Academic Medium, a student-based open source medium at the CUNY Graduate Center, afforded both methodological and epistemological breakthroughs around teacher privacy and property in educational environments.

The Informational is Spatial: Understanding the Geoeconomics of Cybersecurity in Youth Environments

On Tuesday, 02/28/2012 @ 4PM, I’ll be presenting “The Informational is Spatial” at the Association of American Geographers’ paper session on “Geographies of Surveillance and Security 3: Data, Discourses, and Affects” (session organized by David Murakami Wood and Steve Graham).

Location: The Hilton New York, Second Floor, Sutton Parlor South.

Abstract: As cyberspace expands within young people’s everyday environments, so too does a geoeconomic conception of cybersecurity. My ongoing participatory action research project,, involved a team of youth co-researchers in investigating the production, circulation, and consumption of their personal data in order to collectively address larger questions of privacy, property, and security under informational capitalism. Of specific interest were how the material forms and social practices of proprietary digital environments such as Facebook and Twitter link up with the emerging U.S. war doctrine of cyberdominance. I discuss U.S. cyberdominance as a geoeconomic manifestation of security that aims to reframe a global cyberspace as a component of U.S. territory. Informational flows, from the global to the intimate, are thus cast as matters of national security that must be managed through a plethora of digital enclosure and surveillance mechanisms that are intimately experienced by U.S. youth through their routine participation in proprietary digital environments. Further, despite the “newness” of digital enclosure and surveillance I argue that these mechanisms are rooted in historical processes of environmental control and presuppose a geoeconomic logic of privatization and segregation already operating in our urban environments through strategies such as zoning, gating, and CCTV. I will conclude with a discussion of how the project’s development of its own open-source social network site served as a methodology for understanding the various forms of geoeconomic cybersecurity that become objectified, internalized, reworked, and/or resisted through young people’s everyday engagements with and within proprietary digital environments.

Justice Sotomayor on Digital Surveillance, 3rd Parties, and Societal Expectations of Privacy in Public

In United States v. Jones the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that attaching a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to a vehicle for the purpose of location-tracking constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. More notable than the unanimity of this decision, is that the majority opinion was premised on the fact that the federal government physically trespassed on Antoine Jones’ private property (his car) in order to install the GPS — leaving open the question of whether such surveillance would have been legal had the government not physically installed a tracking device. To this end, United States v. Jones raises more questions than it answers regarding the legality (and morality) of surveillance in everyday information environments. Governments, corporations, and individuals do not need to physically enter your house, your desk, or tap your phone line, to gain access to the multitude of personal information that flows through your everyday environment, and beyond.

In separate concurring opinions, Justice Alito and Justice Sotomayor both problematize the majority opinion’s focus on “physical intrusion,” yet only Sotomayor’s concurring opinion offers a consideration of the interests and concerns of U.S. citizens who currently exist in what is, at least to them, a largely mystified and little understood information environment. As Sotomayor argues in her concurring opinion:

Awareness that the Government may be watching chills associational and expressive freedoms. And the Government’s unrestrained power to assemble data that reveal private aspects of identity is susceptible to abuse. The net result is that GPS monitoring—by making available at a relatively low cost such a substantial quantum of intimate information about any person whom the Government, in its unfettered discretion, chooses to track—may “alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society.”

I would take these attributes of GPS monitoring into account when considering the existence of a reasonable societal expectation of privacy in the sum of one’s public movements. I would ask whether people reasonably expect that their movements will be recorded and aggregated in a manner that enables the Government to ascertain, more or less at will, their political and religious beliefs, sexual habits, and so on.

Sotomayor’s focus on “a reasonable societal expectation of privacy in the sum of one’s public movements” is important as it’s quite clear that society is not aware of the extent to which they’re being tracked, nor is there a social consensus on what constitutes ‘being in public.’ In my own research I’ve consistently found that when young people learn about the most basic ways that their personal information is being aggregated, they begin to articulate more sophisticated privacy concerns alongside a general amazement that such surveillance is actually happening — legally — in what they think of as private places: their facebook profile, their email, their texts, and so on.

Sotomayor concludes this point by arguing that society expects more privacy than it currently has in the digital age, and calls for a decoupling of secrecy and privacy in order to develop more situated and accurate judicial understandings of when and where people expect privacy:

More fundamentally, it may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties … This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks. People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books, groceries, and medications they purchase to online retailers. Perhaps, as Justice Alito notes, some people may find the “tradeoff” of privacy for convenience “worthwhile,” or come to accept this “diminution of privacy” as “inevitable,” and perhaps not. I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the Government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year. But whatever the societal expectations, they can attain constitutionally protected status only if our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence ceases to treat secrecy as a prerequisite for privacy. I would not assume that all information voluntarily disclosed to some member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that reason alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection.

Lessig on Architectures of Control

Lawrence Lessig on the need to build protections for privacy and autonomy into the internet’s architecture. From CODE 2.0, p45 (emphasis mine):

[The end-to-end principle] has been a core principle of the Internet’s architecture, and, in my view, one of the most important reasons that the Internet produced the innovation and growth that it has enjoyed. But its consequences for purposes of identification and authentication make both extremely difficult with the basic protocols of the Internet alone. It is as if you were in a carnival funhouse with the lights dimmed to darkness and voices coming from around you, but from people you do not know and from places you cannot identify. The system knows that there are entities out there interacting with it, but it knows nothing about who those entities are. While in real space —and here is the important point—anonymity has to be created, in cyberspace anonymity is the given.

This difference in the architectures of real space and cyberspace makes a big difference in the regulability of behavior in each. The absence of relatively self-authenticating facts in cyberspace makes it extremely difficult to regulate behavior there … We ’re far enough into this history to see that the trend toward this authentication is unstoppable. The only question is whether we will build into this system of authentication the kinds of protections for privacy and autonomy that are needed.

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