This is a really brilliant concept. I like how the phones are designed to reimagine elements of consumerism for the digital age (Ticketmaster & Groupon) and repurpose them for local populations.
Although only a few people may care about this, I was curious if you could tell me where the phones will be located? I lived in L.A. from 2010-2012 and will be returning this July. It would be enjoyable to run into one of them during an afternoon outing. Will they be located around Leimert Park, closer to USC, or somewhere else?
1.) People from the community that came during our presentations Saturday were really interested and excited to see what the next step is. A lot of people, especially younger community members, really loved the phone demo that allowed people to play music and were enthralled by the idea you could turn the dial pad into a beat box or drum machine.
In general people are really intrigued by the idea of hacking such a potent cultural icon that is underutilized yet calls out to people in a playful and tangible manner.
2.) We've been talking with the local Business Improvement District. They have a healthy sense of skepticism. The members we've talked with like the idea but want to see how it turns out and if we can find funding. So far it seems they want a very utilitarian design for the phones. We had one member come and talk with our group. She really loved one design that gave people discounts to local businesses and the idea of bringing new customers from outside the community (including USC students). Her ideal phone though would also allow homeless or transient populations to use the phones to find social and mental health services.
Our next step now is to finding larger funding opportunities. On Saturday, we received feedback about specific organizations and others suggested the Metro subway line itself, as they're suppose to invest at least %1 of development budget on art.
What an excellent project! What was the response from the community Karl? As the citizens are essentially hacking their environment, have you had any input or feedback from the LA city administration?
I think that, along these lines, that it is interesting to think how the students use their phones as rhetorical tools to frame and capture moments of bullying. Videos on Youtube that are categorized as "Nerd beats up bully!" or "Bully knocked out!" from public moments that turn into moments of personal catharsis for those online. It might be interesting to examine those alongside of the more "civil" responses to bullying that projects like It Gets Better.
The widely-circulated “What Most Schools Don’t Teach” serves as a sort of PSA for tech literacy, featuring a bevy of tech rock stars extolling the virtues of learning to code. In the video, Dropbox’s Drew Houston makes a great point: “It’s really not unlike playing an instrument … or playing a sport.”
I like to think I’m moderately tech-savvy: I’ve done a great deal of desktop publishing and WYSIWYG design, I can tweak WordPress themes and put together nifty vids, and I even knows a good amount of HTML and CSS. And yet picking up even the basics of programming languages has been tough for me: it’s like it just doesn’t “sink in." I wonder if it’s in part because I’m used to learning within a different framework, a framework whose foundation was molded in a childhood that didn’t expose me to coding.
I also should say that I really don’t think there are any fewer digital natives than we first suspected; instead, I’m guessing it’s the nature of their digital “homeland” that we’ve grossly misjudged. They are native to some things digital, but not to code; they’re native to button-pushing, to edutainment, to Siri, to viral videos, to lol and smh. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think young adults can’t get comfy with coding, and I don’t think we should stop pushing for everyone to dig in, but we should be careful that we don’t expect them to rock out on guitar when all they’ve ever played is the recorder.
When I consider the introduction of digital projects into my classes, most of which are introductory composition, I also think about the fact that this is an additional skill demanded of students in a 16 week course where they need to learn everything from citation rules to basic grammar to the form and content of academic writing (and perhaps other genres of writing). The class always seems stretched thin. I often give students the option of creating a digital/multimodal final project, but find that only a handful will take it on instead of a traditional paper. I am wondering if moving a digital project to earlier in the semester won't help to get students thinking this way for their final papers.
I have seen similar realities play out in my own classes. My students are rather savvy with social media, but know little about production on the internet. What I know about coding was based as much on necessity as anything else. Hosting a blog in the late 1990s pretty much demanded an functioning understanding of at least HTML. My introduction to gaming engines and coding also came from being forced to do it in class. Web 2.0 makes it much easier to be consumers of content instead of producers and while open projects like The Code School exist, even our desktop GUIs are becoming more consumption that productive based (thinking of the newest version of Windows). While these hierarchies may exist, I am impressed that the open source nature of the web remains in this next generation of budding programmers in your class. Also, thanks for the idea of using Frotz.
Your discussion makes me think that it would be more accurate if we spoke of digital divides rather than a digital divide. While our cultural monolithic conceptualization of access in the digital divide is one that is concerned with economics, you bring up a good point about the importance of our physical space and the role it plays in building or collapsing the digital divides. I don't think that pluralizing the term will solve all of our problems, but it can at least start us on the track of thinking about more manageable concerns in the quest for access than a term than implies it is a singular problem is able. Thanks for the food-for-thought.
This is some really interesting and very important work. I really like the way that you are considering the material and the digital. I had not heard of Nollywood until this post and am interested in finding out how it develops. Your post reminds me of one that Kris Purzycki wrote last week, where he studies video games and empathy. One game he addresses, phone story, takes you through the life cycle of a phone, from mining the metals in Africa, to selling the phones at an apple store, to recycling those goods. One thing he mentions is that, even when westerners play the game, they still don't get it. He is looking at ways to design games that build empathy. However, if we aren't considering how this works in our own back yard, how are we every going to be able to cross the digital divide and consider how our love of tech is literally changing the landscape of other countries?
Great post, Faye! I really appreciate your point that the digital divide is not merely about access to broadband, but also about an inverse lack of knowledge about how those lacking access have found innovative ways around that asymmetry. Rather than reductively assume that those lacking access to broadband lack essential forms of knowledge, we must do a better job paying attention to indigenous forms of entrepreneurial knowledge that emerge in response to unequal access.