August 8th Meetup – Digital Literacy: More Than Just Job Skills

How do technologies extend human capacity and how do they restrain it? What is the positive potential of technology’s amplifying power and what is the negative potential? What holistic development should proceed this amplification? These questions are relevant to responsible engagement with information technologies and the policies surrounding them, but are often missing from conversation in our consumer culture. This consumer culture often includes the people who teach our kids, write our laws, and develop our apps, so what must be done?

When news broke that Facebook was conducting “scientific research” through the alteration of newsfeeds, the mass media and the public broke into a frenzy. People were disturbed that Facebook would intentionally adjust the way personal information between friends and family was delivered. What many did not realize is that their complaint was over a relatively minor adjustment to the relationship-­shaping algorithm that a billion+ people feed and consume each day. Facebook and similar information services shape our intake of social and news information, yet few take the time to consider how the power­-biases affect our lives. In turn, some suggest that conversations like these should be a part of the “liberal arts of the information age.”

Beyond learning how to navigate an interface, the proposed “social study of technology” aims to help individuals develop contextual understanding of technologies and services, in the goal of supporting a largely confused and submissive public. This contextual look at technology can include an economic, technological, and social review of tools and services. The aim of this meetup is to discuss what key digital literacy concepts or facts are missing from popular conversation and education, why they are important, and how we can promote this knowledge. EFF­-Austin has gathered a set of masters in the digital education, policy, rights, and entrepreneurial fields to discuss the matter.

Panel
Dr. Robert Friedman of Mozilla Foundation

Robert Friedman works to advance the promise of the Internet for learning by supporting and connecting educators and technologists to collaboratively co-create innovative solutions to shared problems of practice and to leverage the Open Web. Robert is the founding Portfolio Strategist for Hive Austin, the newest member of Mozilla’s global family of urban learning networks; he is here to support Austin EdTech innovators with a grant opportunity from the NSF Gigabit Community Fund at Mozilla. A very recent arrival to Austin, Robert hails from Chicago where he cultivated his practice at Hive Chicago and before then, as an educational designer and manager at the Adler Planetarium. Robert also holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from his past life as a research scientist.

Sean Duffy of EdTech Austin and MakerSquare Austin

Sean Duffy is an educator and edtech leader who is passionate about helping to make meaningful change in education through technology and community-building. Sean is the founder of EdTech Austin, co-­founder of EdTech Action and the lead Organizer for Startup Weekend Education in Austin, TX. Currently, Sean is currently responsible for Employer Partnerships and Hiring with Reactor Core and MakerSquare Austin.

Dr. Sharon Strover of The University of Texas Radio­-TV­-Film

Dr. Strover is the Philip G. Warner Regents Professor in Communication of the Radio-­TV­-Film Department at the University of Texas, where she teaches communications and telecommunications courses and directs the Technology and Information Policy Institute. Some of her current research projects examine local and statewide networks and broadband services; the relationship between economic outcomes and investments in digital media programs in higher education; social media; the digital divide; rural broadband deployment; e-government; telecommunications infrastructure deployment and economic development in rural regions; and market structure and policy issues for international audio­visual industries.

Jon Lebkowsky of EFF­-Austin and Polycot Associates

Jon Lebkowsky is a web consultant/developer, author, and activist who was the co­-founder of FringeWare, Inc., an early attempt at e-commerce and online community. FringeWare’s email list, called the FringeWare News Network, established an international following for the organization, which also opened a store in Austin, Texas. Along with Nancy White, he co-­hosts the ongoing Virtual Communities Conference, the Blog Conference, and the public Inkwell Conference at the seminal online community, the WELL.

Monday, August 8, 2016 at Capital Factory

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