Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Final Project for My Peer-to-Peer Democratization Course at the San Francisco Art Institute

For your Final Project you will generate a kind of personal conceptual mapping of the subject matter of the whole course. In order to produce this map, you will need to draw on readings and notes over the course of the whole term. Many connections and problems will likely become clear to you for the first time in making this map. Before you make your choices you should spend some time dwelling over the whole list above, since what may at first seem obvious choices often give way to different questions and concerns once you give them more thought.

The assignment is quite straightforward:

[one] Choose forty-four Keywords from the list below:

1. abundance
2. acceleration
3. access
4. accountability
5. agency
6. amateur
7. analog
8. artificial intelligence
9. auteur
10. author
11. authoritarianism
12. authority
13. basic income guarantee
14. biopiracy
15. blog
16. blogipelago
17. blogosphere
18. broadcast
19. "California Ideology"
20. canon
21. citizen
22. citizen journalism
23. code
24. collaboration
25. commons
26. commonsense
27. commonwealth
28. consensus
29. consensus science
30. consent
31. control
32. copyright
33. creative commons
34. credentialization
35. critique
36. crowdsourcing
37. crypto-anarchy
38. culture
39. culture industry
40. cybernetics
41. cybernetic totalism
42. cyberspace
43. cyborg
44. democracy
45. democratization
46. digirati
47. digital
48. digital divide
49. dissensus
50. diversity
51. elite
52. enclosure
53. end-to-end principle (e2e)
54. enframing
55. enhancement
56. eugenics
57. excludability
58. externality
59. fair use
60. filtering
61. finitude
62. flash mob
63. free software
64. The Future
65. futurity
66. futurology
67. genomic enclosure
68. gift economy
69. information
70. industrial model
71. liberal subjectivity
72. linking
73. mapping
74. mass culture
75. mass mediation
76. media
77. micro-payments
78. monster
79. Moore's Law
80. negative liberty
81. Neoliberalism
82. Net Neutrality
83. Netroots
84. network
85. node
86. objectivity
87. open source
88. participation
89. panopticon
90. peer
91. peer to peer (p2p)
92. planetarity
93. popular
94. post-humanist
95. precarity
96. precarization
97. privacy
98. private property
99. professional
100. propaganda
101. prostheses
102. prosumerism
103. public
104. publication
105. public good
106. public relations
107. reductionism
108. relational
109. representative
110. retro-futurism
111. revolution
112. rivalrousness
113. robotics
114. secrecy
115. security
116. sharing
117. Singularity
118. social
119. social aesthetics
120. social networks
121. socialization
122. sousveillance
123. spectacle
124. spontaneous order
125. stakeholder
126. surveillance
127. technocracy
128. technology
129. technoscience
130. techno-utopianism
131. "Tragedy of the Commons"
132. transparency
133. viral

[two] Organize your chosen Keywords into three separate, conceptually connected, sets. You can use any criteria that seems useful to you to organize these sets. The only rule is that no resulting set can contain fewer than eight Keywords.

[three] Each of the three sets should be given a unique title or heading and an introductory paragraph (no longer than a single page) that elaborates the criteria governing your choices as to what would be included in that set.

[four] Once you have organized your three sets in this way, briefly define each one of the Keywords you have included in each set in your own words. Ideally, your definitions should be as clear and as concise as possible. These definitions should be a matter of a sentence (or at most two), NOT a paragraph or more. They really are just definitions, not essays or lengthy explanations. It should be clear from your definitions why each of the Keywords in each of the three sets are conceptually connected to each other, but it is also crucial that no terms within any set are treated by you as synonymous, and that your definitions distinguish Keywords from one another clearly (even if the resulting distinctions are sometimes matters of nuance).

[five] Once you have defined all these Keywords, provide a short quotation (feel free to edit and prune to keep your chosen citations properly pithy) from one of the texts we have read this term to accompany each one of your definitions. The quotation you choose can be a definition you found helpful in crafting your own definition, it can be an example or illustration you found especially clarifying, it can a matter of contextualization, framing, or history that you found illuminating, it can even be something you disagreed with so strongly it helped you understand better what you really think yourself.

Obviously, there are endless ways of organizing these sets, defining their Keywords, distinguishing them from one another, and connecting them up to the texts we have read. What matters here is that you follow the rules of the exercise, not that you arrive at some single "right answer" you may fancy I have in mind.

Everyone's map will likely be quite dramatically different from everyone else's. That is a feature, not a bug.

Many students might also find it useful to introduce additional elements to their final projects -- illustration, cartography, collage, AV supplements, sculpture, games, and so on. None of these are required but students are welcome to make this final project their own, to introduce additional formal and experimental dimensions that help you come to terms with the course material as a whole in your own way once the basic requirements are satisfied.

I hope this final project is both illuminating and also enjoyable for you all, as I know it can be. Use this exercise to come to terms with our sustained encounter this term as an unrepeatable intellectual community, use it to help connect the course's preoccupations with your concerns outside the classroom, with your artistic practice, with your ongoing reconciliation of your history with your hopes. You'll discover, as in so much else, the love you take is equal to the love you make.


Lorraine said...

Not that I have any business doing this assignment, but you did blog it. Completed steps 1-4. Where was that required reading list again? Hopes it's not already past the due date...

Dale Carrico said...

All the course readings are available as links on the online syllabus here. Hope you find the whole exercise edifying -- let me know how it goes, d

Lorraine said...

wOw only a few words into Lessig chapter 3 and I learn this bombshell from history:

AT&T balked. Though Baran had the proper security clearance, and though the Defense Department supported his request, AT&T refused Baran’s inquiry. They had studied the matter, AT&T reported. The system was secure.

What ever happened to that AT&T?

Lorraine said...

Interesting assignment. Results posted here.

Dale Carrico said...

Did the assignment cause you to re-map the conceptual terrain in which these issues play out? Did it confirm you in your prejudices? Did anything take you by surprise? Did the exercise either change your mind or change your conduct? Just curious, I think you're the first to take the exam who has not first had the experience of a months-long slog through all this material with a group of folks checking in every week on their progress, clarifying and befuddling these issues for one another together (not to mention whatever my lectures provide in the way of provocation or elaboration) before facing the more singular acts of judgment demanded by the exam itself. I'm interested in the results from an experimental pedagogical vantage, you know?

Lorraine said...

I would say that the assignment did not cause me to re-map the conceptual terrain in which these issues play out. It may have helped confirm my prejudices as at least half of the readings were by authors I was already familiar with. As for anything taking me by surprise; perhaps the most surprising would be the revelation about AT&T cited above. My image of AT&T and its relationship with the national security establishment has of course been shaped a lot by the revelations about AT&T's infamous "Room 641-A" in San Francisco. I'd also be interested in seeing how my list compares with those who have benefited from the brick and mortar schooling of the SFAI and its brilliant faculty. There are C(133,44) or 338920154776130966881789411619154000 possible outcomes for step 1 alone.