DML Summer Institute 2012 Video

DML Central just published a blog post and video interview with me from last year’s DML Summer Institute. The Institute was hosted by danah boyd at Microsoft Research New England, organized by the University of California Humanities Research Institute, and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In the video, I talk about my research with the Free Library of Philadelphia Hot Spots and the major findings from my study that was published last fall in a special issue on Broadband Adoption in the International Journal of Communication.

Book Review: Net Locality

net localityMy review of Eric Gordon and Adriana de Souza e Silva’s (2011) book, Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World was just published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Media Literacy Education. It was a real honor for me to have the opportunity to review the book. Eric was my advisor at Emerson College, while I was there working on my M.A. in Media Studies. He is currently an Associate Professor of New Media at Emerson College and a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where I used to work.

Here’s the opening from the review that was also shared on the National Association of Media Literacy Education’s website:

Location-based services, such as Foursquare, Google Latitude, and Facebook Places, ask users to share information about where they can be found. In their book, Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World, Eric Gordon and Adriana de Souza e Silva describe how these and other location-aware technologies are impacting the ways people learn, socialize, and change institutions, communities, and spaces. However, the authors argue, “as people become more comfortable with letting devices track their longitude and latitude coordinates” (11), they open themselves up to commercial and political surveillance.

Media literacy educators will find Net Locality accessible and useful as a tool to help students navigate this new hybrid landscape. The authors write, “This book is about an emerging form of location awareness we call networked locality (or net locality). It is about what happens to individuals and societies when virtually everything is located or locatable” (2). And, as the authors explain, location-based services are also quite profitable

Read the full book review at the NAMLE website.

New Article Published in IJoC

ImageI am pleased to announce that my article, “Free Library Hot Spots: Supporting Broadband Adoption in Philadelphia’s Low-Income Communities” was published this week in a special issue on Broadband Adoption in the International Journal of Communication. The issue was co-edited by my colleagues Seeta Peña Gangadharan and Greta Byrum at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

The paper reports on early findings from my formative evaluation of the Free Library Hot Spots project, which was funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Here is the abstract:

Earlier studies of broadband adoption have focused on Internet use in the home. This article suggests that Internet use outside the home can provide a context in which meaningful measures of broadband adoption can be developed. Findings are presented from a study of the Free Library of Philadelphia Hot Spots, which used an innovative community engagement strategy to bring broadband technology and library services to underserved neighborhoods. The study shows that the sense of comfort (i.e., support, trust, safety, and respect) at the Hot Spots was important to residents as a precursor to technology access and use, and it suggests that these factors be considered in broadband policies to support sustainable broadband adoption in low-income communities.

Here is a snippet from the OTI press release:

This section launches at critical time, as policymakers and practitioners search for best practices and key metrics to identify the impacts of digital inclusion funding. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program—a $7.2 billion initiative to stimulate broadband growth across the United States—will sunset soon.

”Politicians and policymakers want to know: how well has it worked?” Senior Research Fellow Seeta Peña Gangadharan says. “This special section showcases fresh thinking and new methodologies to disentangle the complexity of broadband adoption. The advice and evidence laid out by contributors are instructive for all kinds of digital inclusion efforts.”

My hope is that the paper will contribute to the conversation about some of the key non-technology factors that are important to people–particularly in low-income communities–before they engage with computers and the Internet.

Community Informatics Studio

ImageMartin Wolske and I taught our first class together this evening for our course, titled “Community Informatics Studio,” at GSLIS this semester.  Here’s the description:

The course will investigate how individuals, libraries, and other community-based organizations can use popular education and participatory design methods as a meaningful approach to digital and media literacy training.  We will begin by building a foundation using readings from, and conversations with, leading thinkers in the areas of popular education and participatory action research and design. The studio model will then provide opportunities for students to design, apply, and refine their own participatory workshops and “train the trainers” who will be able to provide workshops of their own. Students will be expected to design and lead discussions to help libraries and community partner organizations achieve the following objectives: (1) develop capacities to engage with emerging technology, (2) respond to and support existing needs and assets around technology use, and (3) re-imagine the role of formal libraries and informal information spaces in the 21st century.

Martin and I have invited a number of speakers to join us this semester to share their participatory approaches to digital and media literacy education. I am particularly excited to announce that Virginia Eubanks, author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age and her colleague Christine Nealon, will join us for one of our classes. During her visit, Dr. Eubanks will also be doing a book talk at the Champaign Public Library on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 5:30PM = Free!

Here’s the abstract:

Despite widespread celebrations of Twitter Revolutions and social media activism, the relationship between new technology and the social justice goals of peace, freedom, equality and dignity for all people is deeply contradictory. In this talk, scholar-activist Virginia Eubanks will reflect on fifteen years of efforts with three grassroots organizations–Our Knowledge, Our Power: Surviving Welfare, the Popular Technology Workshops, and Women at the YWCA Making Social Movement– to make technology serve the needs of oppressed and exploited people in the United States.

The event is sponsored by the proposed Center for Digital Inclusion at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study, the Gender and Women’s Studies Program, the Mix IT Up! Youth Advocacy Project funded by the US Institute of Museum and Library Services, Action Research Illinois, and the Women’s Resources Center, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. With the Champaign County Health Care Consumers and the Independent Media Center.

I look forward to sharing more about our course this semester and learning more from our students and community members who will be working to design meaningful interventions to address shared challenges and opportunities with technology playing a supporting role.