This semester’s syllabus is a set of conversations on themes relevant to information and ethics.
Final sessions’ meetings and blog posts are still in process, check back later!
Let’s revisit last semester’s ideas around governing the commons, but with more emphasis and focus on how knowledge, information, and digital data might be treated and governed as common pool resources.
We’re hoping these readings will spur us toward frameworks for understanding how open resources beyond nature can be sustainably governed.
If you have any questions or want to dig into other works we considered, feel free to chime in on our planning github issue: https://github.com/datatogether/reading_datatogether/issues/40
A major lens through which governance of communities is understood is civics and citizenship. Even our own texts talk about “a civic layer for the web.” But it’s not clear that we really know what we mean by that! In order to think about communities, and more compellingly, what forms of space and collective action could be built around decentralized forms of governance, let’s read about civics!
Iseult Honohan, Chapter V “Common goods and public virtue” in Civic Republicanism. This is a somewhat academic text, and to some extent refers to concepts that are defined in the first (mostly historical) part of the book. Still, it’s really very interesting and helpfully discusses the tension between a liberal and “republican” view of society and the rights and duties it confers. If it feels long and difficult, maybe concentrate on the sections labelled “Introduction”, “The Common Good”, “Is Civic Virture Oppressive?”, “Specifying Civic Virtue”, and “Conclusion” – together these are about half the full chapter, and should (we hope!) be intelligible without the remaining sections.
Paul Frazee Information Civics. Available at: https://infocivics.com/. This is also a somewhat philosophical text, but focused on the new possibiliies that information technology opens up for civic engagement. Hopefully we can bring (1) and (3) (if you read that optional reading) into conversation with this text.
Optional Johnson, P., & Robinson, P. (2014). Civic hackathons: Innovation, procurement, or civic engagement? Review of Policy Research, 31(4), 349-357. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ropr.12074 – Read the Intro and Conclusion, Skim the rest . This text is largely a reminder of where many of us come from, and a prompt to think about what we might want to be doing differently or better.
Optional Rethinking the Civic and Citizenship These optional readings flesh out the problem of citizenship especially through an examination of the No one is Illegal anti-racist and migrant movement. We often construct our sense of “civic” around a rights-based and liberal “citizenship regime”. By examining places where that construct breaks down – especially around immigration status – we can maybe come to grips with the ways that “citizenship” can let us down, and maybe even the limitations of “civic” as a concept.
When we explore current centralized data models, many of our fears and challenges are driven by the power of capitalist incentives; the reduction of privacy, disproportionate influence by advertisers, and concentrated ownership of data by a few corporations are all seemingly justified by the capitalist imperative to deliver maximum value to shareholders.
If the levers of capitalism place it in opposition to just data practices, can we imagine an alternative? What systems are imagined or practiced outside of capitalism, what is their power, and what do they center?
Topic description coming soon!
November 12, 2019
True to form, we gathered readings in a decentralized way. Themes that emerged were: looking critically at how “decentralization” is defined, how it could/should be measured, and the sticky problems that aren’t automatically solved (and sometimes are actually caused) by technology. The readings are chunked to break them up a bit. The first 3 focus on decentralized tech and apps, the next 3 on political decentralization, and the last 2 on decentralized knowledge creation and stewardship.