engage mooc

engage mooc.png

How can we work together in a society where our communications channels have become so polarized? Can we engage in active, effective collaboration in a media ecosystem designed to make money from driving us apart?

instructors: Bonnie Stewart and Natalie Delia Deckard


Bonnie fb share (lots of other things.. just starting here:

#engageMOOC starts Monday, folks…but Chris Gilliard‘s provocation is already out as a taster. THIS IS YOUR SMART WEEKEND READING. i promise. :)

Chris frames polarization in a digital age as the “hundreds of outrageous intrusions on our private and social lives that are first and foremost in the service of power.”

and you can sign up here to come hash this out in Topic 2 of #engageMOOC: https://www.edx.org/…/engagement-time-polarization-davidson…

chris’s piece: https://hypervisible.com/polarization/power-technology/

David Golumbia’s description of the scholarly concept of Cyberlibertarianism is useful here (emphasis mine)  :

In perhaps the most pointed form of cyberlibertarianism, computer expertise is seen as directly applicable to social questions.  In The Cultural Logic of Computation, I argue that computational practices are intrinsically hierarchical and shaped by identification with power. To the extent that algorithmic forms of reason and social organization can be said to have an inherent politics, these have long been understood as compatible with political formations on the Right rather than the Left.

resonating with current reading: human use of human beings..  the whole idea that communication (and computation – to me easy grasp).. is a control issue.. (p 16)

Digital technology in general, and platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter specifically, exist to promote polarization and maintain the existing concentration of power.

Tech platforms are, to borrow a legal term, fruit of the poisonous tree. The segregated ground of Silicon Valley is both the literal and figurative foundation for the platforms we use, and the design of these platforms, well-aligned with their racist history, promotes notions of free speech and community that are designed to protect the folks in society who already benefit from the most protections.

Facebook started as “Facemash,” a kind of “hot or not” where college students could vote on whether or not they found their female classmates attractive. Billions of dollars and billions of users later, Zuck is still doing the same thing.

facebook, twitter, automating ineq..  Zinn, Tufekci, Zuck, Dorsey, .. et al

The American Supreme Court decision Citizens United extended these categorical biases by ruling that corporations are people and money = speech. Thus, more money = more speech, and we are all free to get as much money as we can to have as much free speech as we can.

again.. to p 16 in human use.. and communication as control

b reply to comment from above:

not so much “uplifting”…but maybe a reframe of the big picture? i don’t think we can address a problem until we come to terms with what it is. Chris’ topic is #2, and that’s what it’s about. in #3, there’s more focus on strategies for sure. the goal is to help people feel like we have options and aren’t helpless.


#engageMOOC IN T-2 HOURS! https://t.co/hzFFgnmQy6
(come for the ideas, stay for the bad poetry) https://t.co/MoedaRrV0r

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/bonstewart/status/962873440133935104


monday feb 12th – 7 pm est – hangout

The Monday Feb 12th intro hangout is a provocation in and of itself…we’ll be debating “Does engagement even matter today…and why?

ONE HOUR til our first #engageMOOC live session.

talking histories of participatory public engagement with @ProfessorNati @sundilu @ariannamc18 @piko_e live on EdX

feel free to join right here: https://t.co/vfVmGXmiov

(have to have edx acct)


here: https://t.co/l3D1F7XROg

youtube link yay (notes here in quotes)

bonnie: i think there is intentionality to engagement

huge.. to – come to my campfire ness.. i think we miss something huge when we don’t start with the individual.. everyday.. freedom to change.. everyday.. ie:  2 convos

natialie: silence isn’t something that happens accidental

not voiceless ness

bonnie: engagement does not often have external rewards.. engagement tends to be around pushing a social dial.. a misunderstanding.. mistaking sm metrics as actual people

Mike Caulfield: Participation is measurable and observable. I’ve seen engagement used was a way to *explain* differing levels of participation, engagement is more disposition and capacity

really..? observable..?

“Stephen Downes​ – I mean – why are we even talking about ‘bringing people in’ – what does that accomplish?”

yes.. that’s the campfire ness

Stephen Downesyes tweeting the conversation is engagement…. yes, listening & not speaking is engagement

Bonnie: the term lurk gets used negatively.. but you need to watch.. to engage/connect via cues you’re getting.. most likely to be welcomed in.. if don’t do what is expected.. may not get welcomed in.. so part of becoming a belonging member.. is lurking

i don’t know.. to be welcomed in..? why do we need those spaces..? today..? we have the means to connect us in spaces by everyone’s ie: curiosity.. daily.. back to the campfire and stephen’s comment

Stephen Downes​…But that doesn’t open the door to all forms of participation by all manner of people – there are limits. And it is a failure to recognize and respect those limits that has broken engagement today…*making it possible for people to have the capacity to participate in community on their own terms — and making communities (at least the ones we belong to) open to people having that capacity

*as it could be

Stephen Downes​: Nobody is obligated to engage (solely) for the purpose of making lives better for everyone.

we have the means today.. for obligation to become irrelevant.. which would do wonders for the energy we’re missing..

it will go live on EdX too

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/bonstewart/status/963205440514527232

dipping in & out is welcome. :)

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/bonstewart/status/963186970301169666

@holden @HiltonKelly1 the only core reading for Topic 1 is my Educause article on #Antigonish2: https://t.co/jH6W8XiEi1. these are just extras for those who have time & want to dig in. :)

and we’re talking “why does engagement even matter anyway?” so READING NOT REQUIRED. ;) #engageMOOC

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/bonstewart/status/963190667286581248

the same higher education institutions whose hierarchy and gatekeeping the web was supposed to open up and democratize7 are increasingly necessary partners in building any kind of democratic future for society, full stop.


The Antigonish Movement addressed people’s poverty and lack of agency by creating collaborative capacity for pushing back on the structures of their disenfranchisement.

I want to try it again. But I want to focus on a different sort of poverty and disenfranchisement: our current, widespread incapacity to deal with our contemporary information ecosystem and what the web has become.

Antigonish 2.0, therefore, is a community capacity-building project about media literacy and civic engagement.

It did so through three key structural components: mass meetings, a school for leaders, and study clubs. Antigonish 2.0 draws on that three-layer infrastructure to galvanize collective action at global, regional, and local levels.

Layer One. This distributed international network..Twitter hashtag #Antigonish2,

Layer Two. ..regional hubs of expertise, resources, and conversation.. k12 & higher ed

Layer Three. ..localized workshops for people in their own communities

Higher ed is the key source of the cognitive surplus that will build Antigonish 2.0’s resources and knowledge hubs. Most of the volunteers for the project’s Layer One network are higher ed employees, volunteering personal time that’s nonetheless based in expertise and knowledge they’ve built through higher ed programs, higher ed jobs, higher ed grant projects, and higher ed Internet infrastructure.

The web was supposed to open up higher ed. In a model like Antigonish 2.0, higher ed may be the lever needed to reopen the web to its participatory, democratic potential.

I believe that would be a revolution worth aiming for.

same day/night via Bonnie

great #engageMOOC question in the intro discussion forum… given our spiral into fake news etc, can we *really* ever escape the need for information gatekeepers? thoughts?

i mean, that was the promise of the web, esp Web 2.0. then ppl found a business model. but are we so damn stuck in capitalism that we’ll just let our entire info ecosystem & all that’s dependent on it burn down around us?

(actually we all know it appears damn likely we will. forget i asked. BUT ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES?!?)

yes.. there is.. a nother way

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]

Bonnie Stewart (@bonstewart) tweeted at 8:11 PM on Tue, Feb 13, 2018:
“The work in network is the water lifting. It’s the labour that the algorithm can’t appropriate, that needs our time & vulnerability to loss.”

leave it to Kate to bring me to tears. this network we share is the most polarized space i’ve known…least AND most humane. #engageMOOC https://t.co/1fBIEHl7Q6

‘think of the imagination as that which allows you to crack through that space of ennui and get back going’ bell hooks

hooks & barlow

imagine deeper



We’d love to hear from people engaging in #engageMOOC . Join us at: shindig.com/login/event/ft…#FTTE

‘i don’t think either of us count a lot in our research’ @bonstewart w/ @Professornati on #engageMOOC#FTTE

of math and men

this will be my tombstone ;)

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/bonstewart/status/964233060320534528

on the way we define participation.. as being.. even the best..?.. i’m reticent to the model that you have to be in the class that way.. we tend to think of participation in framework of choice rather than ..ways we can remove constraints of options to..  @Professornati 

maybe there’s a whole new form of practice and engagement – @bonstewart

making people feel welcome.. understanding participation really broadly – @Professornati

invited to exist ness

we’re reducing people to their signals very quickly – @bonstewart

marsh label law

signal\ling ness

in my political .. i prefer a base (in commons) to start with.. that would maybe get rid of polarity.. @Professornati

let’s try this: basic needs.. let’s go that deep..

beyond binary ness


sunday feb 18th – 1pm est

This. bit.ly/2EB6Lpc#engageMOOC



notes from hangout (quotes are chris unless otherwise stated)

i’m very skeptical of the notion of the power of the consumer.. individual resistance not going to be enough

on variations of .. i’ve got nothing to hide

privacy is pretty important for a number of reasons.. but imagine if they have same capabilities as they do now.. to target surveil.. harass.. in private is where a lot of things get hashed out.. where fringes of society get pushed to more just arenas.. so.. if could never have a safe convo about.. all these things..

gershenfeld sel

batra hide in public law

on the circle (book) – was surveil .. on radical openness.. there are no radically open billionaires.. because you get to decide..

who gets to tell your story.. make decisions about you.. and based on what info

Stephen Downes​: I think that what’s wrong here is not so much the collection of information about me, but rather, the way that information is used in order to perpetuate discrimination against me

Leo Havemann: Yes I think that’s a good point Stephen – but how to ensure the discrimination is not going to take place, once that information is already collected?

Stephen Downes: @Leo that’s the key question

begs gershenfeld sel

ie: if i want clean water.. beyond the individual

bonnie: are any of the solutions technical.. what do we do now

i do think we already know what lots of the solutions are.. it’s having institutional/political will to affect them..  ie: better tech/design/diversity.. i’m never going to say that it (tech) doesn’t matter.. on public goods.. roads, ed.. even if i might not used them.. good for society.. we’ve kind of gotten away from .. public goods.. not sure how to get back to that..

Stephen DownesYup. Better tech would help.

as it could be

Stephen Downes​: That’s a great point – ‘polarization as a targeting’. Agreed.

we don’t need a middle class to buy things.. i would argue that that’s gone

bonnie: not just context collapse in sm .. but whole publics.. not that there isn’t ugliness offline just not as visible

Stephen Downes​: I like that – ‘we have whole publics that have never learned how to use their indoor voice…’

Autumm Caines: But does making them more “visible” make them “worse”? What is the difference between being more visible and being worse?

Stephen Downes​: Flip that on it’s head – if polarization online is the result of groups who would not normally interact are now interacting online – and that this is potentially a good thing

Simon Ensor​: Those conflictual interactions aren’t THE NARRATIVE


Bonnie Stewart (@bonstewart) tweeted at 5:23 AM – 21 Feb 2018 :

big real-time engagement day, #engageMOOC!
join in for:
– @zeynep’s Ask Me Anything chat at 10am EST – AMA Forum Topic 3
– @holden’s hangout at 9pm EST – Live Discussion Topic 3 https://t.co/ggabqea1XY (http://twitter.com/bonstewart/status/966287315466379265?s=17)

wed 10am est – zeynep ask me anything (was in edx)

not at all. and we KNOW EdX isn’t an ideal platform for a live discussion…but sometimes a private group space allows for different types of conversations, or allows a public figure to join without some of the stresses of open engagement. #engageMOOC


wednesday feb 21st – 9pm est

w @holden.. mike


bonnie: i need all of you

none of us if one of us

mike: more motivation to counterfeit.. and much easier

mike: checklists.. (talking about four moves.. Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers) ..aren’t conditional at all..  no given thing that is the end of the question..

Daniel Lynds​: why was expert ever a thing?


mike: fact checking as 90 second hygiene

mike: no body is the smart hero.. but who’s in a position to know

mike: the goal of what we’re trying to do here is regain trust.. when trust and truth goes by the wayside all you have left is power


mike: for years scientists didn’t believe the knowledge of indigenous cultures

indigenous ness

bonnie: asking about twitter purge – russian bots et al.. people losing tons of followers..

mike: if they’d done this back in 2013 when people said.. we’ve got some real problems here.. we could have avoided more than most people realize.. this problem of the industrialization of conversation is at the heart of our problem w the public square.. and bots are at the heart of that

mike: much better to have earlier interventions

mike: we have to look at ways in which people are systemically suppressing the voices of citizens.. thru all these methods to drown out the authentic ones.. most interesting policy piece

2 convos

as it could be

mike: we’ve faced this before.. the mafia was one.. we have to start thinking/dealing about these as systems

deep/simple/open enough


monday feb 26th – 7pm est


on loneliness apps getting trolled by jihadi recruiters

easy to blame (polarizations) on tech.. when had to be a physical ness as breeding ground – arianna

next day bonnie tweet


follow up to last evening’s closing conversation. if we’re going to approach this human problem in a human way, we’re gonna hafta get up EARLY. https://t.co/wy5RSfMFv0

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/bonstewart/status/968513809919901698

article is from 2015

Schools are being sold software to monitor pupils’ internet activity for extremism-related language such as “jihadi bride” and “YODO”, short for you only die once.

Several companies are producing “anti-radicalisation” software to monitor pupils’ internet activity ahead of the introduction of a legal requirement on schools to consider issues of terrorism and extremism among children.

embedded in tweet (convo between @holden/mike and audrey)


Whether or not we take seriously the proposal to arm teachers, we must recognize that this will likely lead to an expansion of surveillance technologies in schools. (Ed-tech IS surveillance tech already)


from Arthur Brooks

at @Kennedy_School
overcoming political polarization

we don’t have an anger problem.. we have a contempt problem..

defined by the worthlessness of another human being

if we want to solve the problem of polarization today .. we have to solve the contempt problem.. t.. answer with (practice) warmheartedness
assume good ness
i know you ness
brooks contempt law
marsh label law