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

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, June 29, 2020


I've spent the last three days crafting a lecture while pushing through writer's block... I've managed about sixteen pages and have another six or eight to go to finish the transcript I'm recording to distribute tomorrow. I've been doing this every week for months now, crafting these polished longform transcripts of lectures I podcast for online learning. The transcriptions of my recorded lectures have given me book-length manuscripts on patriarchy in Greek and Roman antiquity, on queer theory and avant-garde art movements, on the history of critical theory to the present, and on reactionary futurology and "design" culture. Who knows what I think I'm going to do with all these piles of pages -- they number in the hundreds already. But, just on a day to day basis, sometimes generating all this theory to deadline, on issues that matter to me and for which clarity therefore also matters enormously to me can be a real drag... Today, I'm burned out and feeling blocked and I don't feel like I've got the juice to do justice to the topic I'm elaborating. But I'm just going to bang it out, and edit as best I can, and hope for the best.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, June 25, 2020


Still don't like teaching online, but I'm not liking it less now than I was not liking it before. Highly engaged students are still engaging as they were, tho' I need to figure out new strategies to keep everybody on board... assuming this is something I'll get a chance to do more of anytime soon. However alienating online teaching can be, I do find utterly chilling the university plans for Fall re-openings without a vaccine or a viable system of contact testing or even a robust set of masking norms being enforced (even informally!) in this country, even in comparatively saner California. It seems to me administrators are typically prioritizing what they see as "institutional" survival over student and staff survival (no, it doesn't make sense) and major bailouts of the public school sector are going to have to be forthcoming in the aftermath of all this... I say this as someone whose school closed and who has been laid off from my teaching jobs (the Rona was at least the context if not the pretext for these decisions) and has no real sense of what comes next for me personally, but I do feel pretty sure, come what may, that schools will NOT really be re-opening or hybrid-opening or whatever they are telling themselves they're planning for now. Cases and deaths are rising, the US failed to contain its first wave, let alone the beginnings of the second wave coming in the fall. Teaching is still happening for now, but it really feels as if... school's out.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, June 15, 2020

Rona Is Real, Re-Open With Care...

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States today will pass the total number of American deaths from World War I, which was 116,516. That means, in four months, the disease is now officially more deadly than almost two whole years of World War I, including both deaths of soldiers killed by enemy fire and deaths of soldiers in Europe from influenza in the 1918 pandemic. The Rona is still real, people, and Republicans don't care if you die -- stay masked, stay distanced, support emergency workers, if you are protesting (and white racism is also a public health emergency, protesting it is righteous and necessary, just try to stay outdoors, masked, distanced, and as safe as may be), and then vote these death-dealing Nazi-collaborating Republican flim-flam traitors and bigots out in November. As always, the real work happens between elections, the work of education, agitation, organization, but the work of elections itself is also real and necessary, frustrating tho' it always also is.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Teaching, I fear, going to be a terrible slog this summer. Online learning is being a terrible headache. It is alienating at best (which is not to deny the usefulness of accessibility it makes available as a supplement and certain creative possibilities worthy of exploration around the edges). But to have it happening in the midst of a school closure, pandemic, righteous uprising, rising authoritarian tyranny, and what sometimes feels like a slow-rolling multi-year nervous breakdown at this point is really, truly, ugh.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily


Teaching an eight-week summer intensive, this time entirely online, and everything feels very much by the seat of the pants. Definitely I appreciate the distraction and welcome the occasion to talk about the politics of equitable sustainable technological change at a time like this. It still looks like I'm jumping off a cliff at summer's end, however, with no fall teaching in sight, and prospects beyond remaining dim and bare...

Monday, June 08, 2020


[E]very high-quality national poll with proper education weighting had Joe Biden leading Donald Trump two months ago by an average of 6.2%. And nearly every one of them have him leading by more today, by an average of 10.2%... Biden’s lead is not only larger than Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, “it’s more secure.”
Pointing out this sort of thing isn't about counting chickens before they hatch (tho' Oscar Wilde insisted that that's the only sensible time to count chickens, since they move around so much after they hatch), this is, for me at least, about resisting despair and trying to be sensible. It is awfully encouraging to think that the Trump epoch might soon really end. It is also encouraging to think the present righteous uprisings against white supremacy and police violence are instilling well the lesson that it isn't enough to vote for Democrats like Biden but necessary to push even the best Democrats (of whom Biden is far from one) from across the democratic left where we are to ensure they do what we elect them to do after the election is done.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Syllabus for My Upcoming Summer Intensive

CS 301AK-01 (3759) Critical Theory B: For Futurity: A Clash of Futurisms

When/Where: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 4.15-7pm. Online (ONL-CS3) 
Summer Session, 2020, June 9-July 30 at the San Francisco Art Institute
Course Blog:
Instructor: Dale Carrico;

Course Description: Futurity is a register of freedom, "The Future" another prison-house built to confine it. Futurity is the openness in the present arising out of the ineradicable diversity of calculating, contending, and collaborative stakeholders who struggle to make and remake the shared world. "The Future," to the contrary, brandishing the shackle of its definite article, is always described from a parochial present and is always a funhouse mirror reflecting a parochial present back to itself, amplifying its desires and fears, confirming its prejudices, reassuring its Believers that the Key to History is in their hands. This course will stage a contest of futures: Italian Futurism, corporate-military think-tank futurologies, Afro-Futurists, punks, crips, queers, and some competing versions of posthumanism for good measure. Both ranting and raving will be involved. In the end, I will send you out on stage yourselves... and Into! The! Future!

In this class we will distinguish (while also pressuring these distinctions):

1). Futurity: The quality of openness inhering in the diversity of stakeholders to any political present.
2). The Future: Sites of imaginative investment, a Destiny/Destination at which "We" never arrive.
3). Futurisms: imagined and intentional communities, subcultures, memberships, and fandoms organized and sustained through identification with particular visions or narratives of The Future.
4). Futurology: A parochially profitable pseudo-scientific discipline confusing marketing with understanding, and the quintessential justificatory discourse for white-racist patriarchal extractive-industrial corporate-militarism (ie, global financialized "neoliberal" capitalism).

Grade Provisionally Based on the Following: Attendance/Participation, 15%; Reading Notebook (3 Quotes/3 Questions/3 works), 15%; Mid-term Precis (2-3pp.), 15%; In-Class Presentation, 15%; Final Symposium Presentation, 15%; Final Paper, 25%. (This is a rough basis for your final grade, which is also subject to contingencies, improvement, and so on.) 

Schedule of Meetings (Subject to Change, Check Online Version for Updates)


Week One: Futurity 


Jenny Anderson, "The Great Future Debate and the Struggle for the World"
Ted Goertzel, "
Methods and Approaches of Future Studies"
Roland Barthes, from
Mythologies, "The Nautilus and the Drunken Boat," “Jet-Man," "Plastic" (for the relevant passages scroll to pp. 65-67, 88-90, 97-99.)
Audrey Watters:
The Best Way to Predict the Future Is To Issue A Press Release  
William Gibson, "The Gernsback Continuum" (short story)

Discussion, Tuesday, June 9
Workshopping: Syllabus
PRESENTATION(S):  Personal Introductions

Lecture, Thursday, June 11

Week Two: Singularity


Shannon Mattern, Databodies in Codespace
Marc Steigler, "The Gentle Seduction" (short story)

Lecture, June 16

Discussion, Thursday, June 18
Workshopping: Ethos, Pathos, Logos; Audience and Intentions.

Week Three: Ecology


Laurie Anderson, “The Language of the Future” (performance)

Lecture, Tuesday, June 23

Discussion, Thursday, June 25
Workshopping: The Toulmin Schema

Week Four: Eugenics


Peter Cohen (dir.), Homo Sapiens 1900 (a documentary about 20C eugenics)
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun,
Race And/As Technology
Critical Arts Ensemble,
Eugenics: The Second Wave
Alison Kafer, Imagined Futures from Feminist, Queer, Crip
Amy Goodman interviews Harriet Washington about her book Medical Apartheid: Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
Octavia Butler, The Evening, the Morning, and the Night (short story)

Lecture, Tuesday, June 30


Discussion, Thursday, July 2
Workshopping: Aims of Argument: Interrogation – Convinction – Persuasion – Reconciliation
Precis due by end of scheduled class session.

Week Five: No Future!                                


Alfonso Cuaron (dir.), Children of Men (film)
Lee Edelman, The Future Is Kid Stuff

Lecture, Tuesday, July 7

Discussion, Thursday, July 9
Workshopping: Critical Film Terms

Week Six: The Italian Futurists


FT Marinetti, The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism
FT Marinetti,
War, The World's Only Hygiene
Valentine de Saint-Point, Manifesto of Futurist Women
Valentine de Saint-Point,
Futurist Manifesto of Lust
Luigi Russolo,
The Art of Noises
Toxic Titties, Mamaist Manifesto
Karen Pinkus,
Futurism: Proto Punk

Lecture, Tuesday, July 14

Discussion, Thursday, July 16
Workshopping: Final Papers

Week Seven: Afro-Futurists

“Africa Is The Future”
Mark Dery interviews Samuel Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose
Tananarive Due,
Afrofuturism: Dreams to Banish Nightmares
Nnedi Okorafor,
The Magical Negro (this one page story is the first in Okorafor's wonderful collection Kabu Kabu, and the easiest way to read it free is just to preview the book at Amazon, and scroll to the story)
Nnedi Okorafor:
On Stephen King's Super-Duper Magical Negroes
Lanre Bakare, Afrofuturism Takes Flight: From Sun Ra to Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae: “Dirty Computer” (short “emotion picture”) and selected other videos (linked on the blog).

Lecture, Tuesday, July 21

Discussion, Thursday, July 23

Week Eight: Symposium

Symposium, Day One, Tuesday, July 28 (program will appear online)

Symposium, Day Two, Thursday, July 30 (program online, followed by housekeeping, last chance Presentations, and concluding remarks).
Final Paper due by end of final scheduled class session.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Vote Out Hate

His own words are all you need to hear. That's been true for years by now, but there it is. Vote against the Nazis or you are one yourself. That's where we are.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily