Kaitlin Clinnin - Manifesto

Knowledge should be communal, collaborative, and crowd sourced.

Current understandings of knowledge (at least in a Western context) privilege individual forms of knowledge production over communal and collaborative methods. This results in a theory of knowledge that supposes that knowledge can firstly be created, that it can be created in a vacuum, that an individual is not influenced by the ideas and contributions of others in the process, and subsequently that the individual has ultimate rights to how such knowledge is distributed and used. I adopted this statement because I believe that the individual form of knowledge production is faulty, and communal knowledge sources can ultimately result in solutions to problems that currently plague humanity. Crowd sourcing is increasingly becoming an acceptable and recognized production method. Wikipedia and Linux are two resounding successes for crowd sourcing. Rather than rely on a limited group of individuals who essentially act as gatekeepers, collaborative crowd sourcing creates a network of individuals so that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Such a production method results in faster changes due to increased manpower, less biased and more comprehensive information due to the diversity of contributors, and a product that more accurately reflects the needs and wants of the users. This statement should become part of the collective manifesto because knowledge as a communal act is already occurring, as evidenced by the existence of a collective manifesto for this class. Accepting this statement means that Western society will need to move beyond the individual basis that capitalism has relied upon, but as current events demonstrate, it has become obvious that the 1% speaking for the 99% has failed, and perhaps crowd sourcing for a solution will result in better future outcomes for the 100%.

Sources: Ubuntu's Community Page, Wikipedia

Education should take advantage of digital technologies, and all disciplines should incorporate technology meaningfully into the curriculum.

The availability of innovative and cheap technologies should revitalize the classroom, yet most classes still rely on the dated lecture method accompanied by PowerPoint. Marc Prensky notes that digital natives, the students currently in the education system, “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors.” And yet, the public compulsory educational system is a remnant from the Industrial Revolution that stresses efficiency and repetition over creativity and connectivity. The standardized test format of education is not realistic to the world outside of the school; employers often stress that they want employees who can define and solve problems rather than an employee who can plug numbers into formulas. Technologies in the classroom present a way to engage these digital native students in problem-based, self-motivated learning methods. For example, the Quest 2 Learn public middle school in Manhattan uses video game based play so that students are applying the skills they learn in complex self-defined projects such as building robots or designing purses. I believe this is a necessary statement because engaging students in meaningful ways across the disciplines will benefit the future. When students are interested in the material and able to apply their knowledge in creative ways without punishment while essentially playing a game, they are more likely to retain information and think creatively. Adopting this principle will mean that society will have to stop relying on standardized tests and a static number as a determination of a student’s potential. Additionally, this will require more funding by taxpayers (who may be more willing to pay when it appears that schools are no longer failing) and initial preparation by the teachers to use new learner-centered methods. It is important that this be part of the class manifesto because although we are the students who have been successful with this style of education, think about the millions of students who are truly left behind, as well as the negative impact that losing such potential has on the future.

Sources: Marc Presnky “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” Cathy Davidson Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn

All citizens should be producers of technology, not simply consumers.

Too often people use technologies without any awareness of how these tools actually work. Users are constantly multitasking and being exposed to multiple media sources simultaneously, resulting in an inundation of messages from outside sources. But to be simply a consumer in a digital age is essentially throwing away one’s agency with both hands. Douglas Rushkoff states, “understanding programming… is the only way to truly know what’s going on in a digital environment, and to make willful choices about the roles we play” (8). I adopted this principle because I am a staunch supporter of literacy, and digital literacy is becoming increasingly important not only as a marketable skill, but also for the myriad of political and cultural issues that are related to technology’s integration into all aspects of daily life. Just as traditional literacy is a necessary skill for survival and success in today’s culture, I imagine that digital literacy (understood as ability to code, use a variety of programs, and more importantly, to continue learning such skills) will prove just as vital in the near future. Without a basic understanding of programming or technologies, the user acts as a passive medium for the messages of others. With knowledge of programming, users can create their own messages, or at least think critically about the messages that they are being exposed to and respond accordingly. Additionally, retaining knowledge of how technology functions on a basic level will give humans a fighting chance if dystopian predictions of the future (The Matrix, Wall-e) actually prove true. Adopting such a proposal as this statement means that coding needs to move from a small sector of the population to be incorporated as a compulsory component of education, and this will also enable more collaborative production of such technologies since a larger population will be able to participate.

Sources: Douglass Rushkoff Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, Cynthia Selfe Gaming Lives in the 21st Century: Literate Connections

Technology should be used to augment humanity, not supplant it.

Among many programmers and theorists there is a fascination with the singularity and a desire to perfect Artificial Intelligence to the point of consciousness. But what human purpose does such a technology serve? Is it to simply “marvel at our own magnificence” as Morpheus suggests in The Matrix? Rather than spend time and resources to create a consciousness that can never be fully understood or controlled, technology should be used to understand and augment humanity. There is still so much about the human body (including the mind) and the surrounding world that remains unknown, wild and untamed. Instead of playing God and flattering ourselves by creating a machine in our own image, we should work to improve the lives of humans by developing a near perfect understanding of the body to prevent and cure diseases, work on solutions to common problems such as starvation and natural disasters, and to also heal the world around us. I selected this statement because too often the human element gets obfuscated in an effort to create something better, faster, and stronger. If the human element is retained as the primary goal, then there is still a lofty goal to strive for and plenty of areas for exploration. Furthermore, this will require society to examine its social issues and take a more humane approach to its problems, while using technology for a practical purpose to improve the lives of all. However, this augmentation will require a code of ethics so that augmentation does not become eugenics and result in more discriminatory practices. This statement should be part of the class manifesto because it provides a solution to the dystopian visions of the future while also maintaining social justice as a central component to humanity’s future.

Sources: Vernor Vinge “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era,” Kevin Warwick videos shown in class

Technology should not result in erasure of identity and body politics.

Technological determinists have traditionally hailed the Internet and other related technologies as a space that transcends race, erases the body and its marked characteristics, and ultimately equalizes all who inhabit it. This is a damaging vision that must be revised as we continue to consider the future. First of all, the body is never absent from the digital experience, even if it’s only recognizable role is as the connection to the digital interface. The state of the body impacts the experience of the technology like when a tired body makes typing mistakes. Secondly, identity politics still occur with these technologies and there is a disparate distribution of power as a result. Race, class, gender, sexuality, and other identity markers are still present, whether they affect one’s ability to access technologies or use them. I selected this statement because although technology may one day act as the great equalizer that it has been valorized to be currently buying into such propaganda is causing more harm. For example, there have been numerous recent examples of female bloggers suffering vitriolic abuse because of they shared political opinions and were women. Acts of violence do occur with these technologies, but erasure only ignores and therefore condones the problem. Accepting this statement would mean that society would have to attach more credence to experiences with technologies (especially those that occur online, a space that has often been considered “not real”) and reflect on the cultural assumptions underlying such technologies. This may result in more punitive action so that online harassment and discrimination are recognized and treated as violations of human rights. This statement should be included in the collective manifesto because if we want to confront problems of inequality and discrimination we must first acknowledge they exist.

Sources: Lisa Nakamura Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet, Laurie Penny “A Woman’s Opinion is the Mini-skirt of the Internet”

We need to understand the virtual as meaningful.

Too often in various readings and class discussions has the phrase “not real” been bandied about. Some examples of these occurrences include: online dating, online relationships, online chatting, conversations via any form of media, virtual simulations, video games, representations of bodies (avatars), computers, robots, Furbies, etc. Without getting into a discussion about why these determinations as “real” or “not real” are so problematic, I instead call for the abolition of such delineations. Virtual and digital experiences are real and have meaning; referring to them otherwise erases a large part of social existence. Perhaps these experiences with robots/avatars/OkCupid are not preferred to IRL (in real life) contact, but there can be no doubt that there is meaning attached. It is necessary that society recognize that virtual experiences have ramifications that transcend the interface boundaries and impact the real, and that the reciprocal also occurs. I selected this statement because as a society we have a tendency to cherry pick what virtual events are fit to have meaning, resulting in continued discrimination and injustice (as in, the “reality” of cyberbullying of gay teens rightfully causes a viral movement and legal prosecution, but the sexual violent harassment of female political bloggers is treated with nonchalance). This statement should be included in the class manifesto because real versus unreal remains a binary that must be dismantled. The binary has become a category of discrimination (there is a social difference between online dating and “normal” dating with a sense of deviancy attached), and it must be eradicated before it results in further damages.

Sources: Sherry Turkle Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, It Gets Better Project