Thursday, November 4

Storming the Cloud/Crowd
Activity Leader: Anne Balsamo, University of Southern California

An interactive, collaborative performance and tag cloud activity designed to explore the ethics of the crowd, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and minority expression. Tools: index cards, pens, large sheets of paper, a couple of helpers, a crowd.

Live notes from the event participants/leaders:

Technology is about the way cultures are made. Cultures of the moment, cultures of the future, tinkering ("ways of the hand").
Audience selecting three words that best describe their experience with collaboration, then pair with someone you don't know, share your three words and pick ONE word that describes a quality of collaboration across difference that you feel is important. The sociality reality check!
Words from the crowd:
Imagine an app where what is priviledged is the minority voice, not the loud, crowd voice. What about the inverse, priviledging the fringe voice?
Rhetoric continues that the open web is a level playing field, not so sure it is for everyone across the board. There are hierarchies and assumptions encoded in the technology (i.e. in a tag cloud).
Curation and collection can reiterate dominant opinion. To curate multiplicity is a different model.
Alternative models/iterations of tag clouds:
can we modulate the tag cloud based on different characteristics, things like geographic location, self-identifying nature of tagger?
computers can cluster, perhaps show random tags that people can "like"--figure out computationally clusters of tags (similar to Netflix model) that represent/appeal a different user
Is there anything out there that already exists that represents a range, allows you to look at tags through different characteristics/values? How to capture qualitative differences?
Not about building a tool, but developing literacies for reading nuances of tag clouds and other potentially exclusionary technologies.

How do we build that literacy by building a smarter application. We are going to use clouds, how to make it speak its knowledge in ways that don't alienate minority/fringe voices
Hackerbus goes out into the community to find people/voices being excluded -- how do we "evangelize" in the same way? "Click on the small tags!"
Ways students are going to learn in the future is knowing how to navigate a tag cloud. Going beyond the "big words" (similar to going beyond first page of Google results)
Teaching the politics of the small print and what that means. Understanding we can visualize in different ways is key to building better tools for the future or improving existing tool-- political literacy around the small print is key.
how can we make our tools self-reading and encourage users to question/think critically about the tools? How can we make that process visible in the interface of the tool itself?
The response to not being heard means you are constantly moving to find new place wwhere you can be heard. Constant moving confounds process of cultural production, futher alienates.
Danger of imposing on people the need to engage difference. Who gets to decide the difference?
Is there a space in the offline world where engaging with difference happens in a productive way, how can we emulate that online?
Why aren't we building conviviality tools?
Stop thinking of tools as static, they change with how we use them.
Some of us believe that tools by virtue of their existence embed things, but that does not mean that it is necessarily deterministic, but must consider critically.
What if we want to build a tool that hacks whatever is out there that serves the conviviality of the crowd so that you don't feel forced.
Maybe it is not a tool, but the openness of the data. Have to develop the skills for people to interpret the data in critical ways.