Week 1: Sept 11, 2017
Who are we?
- Introduce ourselves
- Activity: “To what groups do you belong, and how do those groups organize themselves?” Add to this Doc
Each of you will contribute a presentation, in web form, to the rest of the class.
Choose an organization from the below list (or add your own) and research how the group organizes itself. Each of the following makes use of various democratic principles: representatives, voting, decentralized labor, etc. Create a single serve website that you can present to the class that communicates how the group organizes itself. Who does the work? What are the benefits and drawbacks to its structure? What are the rules? Who has a stake? What makes it special? How can we learn from it?
- Quaker Community
- The Dirt Palace
- The Boy Scouts
- Burning Man Festival
- The Green Bay Packers
- The w3c
- Park Slope Food Coop
Creation of class pact
- How might the class structure itself support, reinforce or play with the central ideas of the course. Do we form a constitution? How much of what we do is public/online? Let’s use arena, yes? What do we want in our GitHub repo? As a browsable site? Does majority rule?
Unit 1: Public sites
Every group shares objects, space, etc — a resource is called ‘public’ when it refers to something state-owned. How the group manages its resources and tends to what is common is critical to the vitality of the group. Democracy is an ideal system of government, but it is rarely justly applied. Who occupies public space in the U.S. has always been contentious. This unit seeks to understand the state of our public possessions, in Providence specifically, and a desire to invest everyone within them. An abandonment of what is public is an abandonment of what holds the group together.
We will take a walking tour and seek out public sites, noting the differences between public and private spaces. I want each of you to choose a public space, thing or institution to work with. What should everyone know about these sites? What and who is there? What is valuable or noteworthy? Who can you meet? How is the web currently a service or disservice to that space?
What is the difference between public and private? Make a list in small groups. What public institutions exist? Work together to expand the list of “Public …” phrases. As a group, we will make a list of what is public. And where should this go? Put here for now. #thingsthatarepublic
Choose one of the following directions.
Pick a public site from our tour or the list being created, and create a website for it that will communicate to everyone (residents, predominantly) what you value of that public possession. How might you translate what you value about the public site to the web? What can the medium of the web (and by extension the Internet) do to help bring awareness to the original? Or might the website subvert, complicate or provide an alternative read of the public site chosen.
The Providence government website takes a fairly expected approach. It organizes what it knows fairly efficiently so that its citizens (and potential citizens), may find information produced by the government. But this seems limiting. The essence of a city is that which changes, is mutable, changeable by the citizens themselves. There is the playground, but it’s those playing on the playground that define it as well. Using the city as inspiration, how might the web become more effected by its citizens? Something more dynamic, varied, dense. Clay Shirky’s view of Github comes to mind, a system for managing changes. This asks you to imagine a website that would make use of the media and stories created by citizens in a less hierarchical way. Not government pushed out…. but citizens bubbling up. We are in “the largest period of human expressive capability.”
Make a project that is sited in the public space and would bring people together there
For next week
Next week, communicate what you have learned about your site. Communicate early concepts of your site.
- Excerpts from Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair, Bonnie Honig
- Clay Shirky on cooperatives
- What is Democracy For?
- Read: What People Really Want from News Organizations
- Protecting the Commons
- Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public School