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Bringing back the web: The digital literacies we need right now

Who are we when we're online? And how can we engage in digital spaces in ways that don't undermine the mandates, practices, and ethos of higher education? The keynote explores the underpinnings of our emergent information ecosystem. Digital and open spaces are being weaponized, while pervasive surveillance and predatory practices are normalized. Trolling and bots are regular features of social landscapes, and people are often hesitant to engage online in fighting the echo chamber. Concepts of what it means to know are increasingly generated outside the academy, in Silicon Valley AI frameworks.

What does this mean for higher ed, and for the future of knowledge in a data society? This keynote, from Virginia Tech's Digital Literacy Symposium, explores ideas grounded in adult education, critical pedagogy histories, and contemporary open practices—including participatory digital literacies and the pro-social web—that may be ways we can ALL help bring the web back from the brink.

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Bringing back the web: The digital literacies we need right now

  1. 1. BRINGING THE WEB BACK: the digital literacies we need (right now) Bonnie Stewart University of Windsor DIGITAL LITERACY SYMPOSIUM 2019 Virginia Tech
  2. 2. who here uses “the web?”
  3. 3. how do we understand its shifting structures?
  4. 4. a digital identity story
  5. 5. me on the web, 2006
  6. 6. participatory communities
  7. 7. architecture of Web 2.0
  8. 8. 6 years, 2 months 13,530 non-spam comments / links from readers
  9. 9. me on the web, 2012
  10. 10. monetization
  11. 11. algorithmic identities
  12. 12. me on the web, 2019
  13. 13. misinformation
  14. 14. Something is rotten in democracy when huge numbers of those participating in its debates are unaccountable and untraceable, when we cannot know who or even what they are…the bots are everywhere now. -Bridle (2018)
  15. 15. sensationalism
  16. 16. Information organizations, from libraries to schools and universities to governmental agencies, are increasingly being displaced by a variety of web-based "tools" as if there are no political, social, or economic consequences of doing so. - Noble (2018)
  17. 17. surveillance
  18. 18. extraction capitalism
  19. 19. The new Silicon Valley venture philanthropists are seeking more overtly computational models of education reform… to design new software systems and technological fixes for insertion into the institutions of education. 
 - Williamson (2017) Williamson, B. (2017). Educating Silicon Valley: Corporate education reform and the reproduction of the techno-economic revolution. Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 39(3), 265–288. doi:10.1080/10714413.2017.1326274
  20. 20. we’ve handed over control of our data, our identities, & our shared public infrastructures, 
 including democracy. 
 we are outsourcing 
 knowledge-making & governance 
 to AI.
  21. 21. okay. so…run away?
  22. 22. we need to bring back the web.
 Or bring into being a NEW web.
 a pro-social, pro-societal web.
  23. 23. The Luddites? •  NOT anti-technology •  Threatened by the effects of encroaching industrial systems •  No vote to change the systems affecting them •  Organized “friendly societies” for protection •  Broke machines •  14 executed in 1813 •  When you don’t tell your story, it becomes another story
  24. 24. we do NOT get to be Luddites.
  25. 25. (but we DO need a subversive hope)
  26. 26. and we DO need to understand what counts as enfranchisement in the systems we are in.
  27. 27. a critical pedagogy approach Nothing will change until WE change – until we throw off our dependence and act for ourselves. - Horton (1997)
  28. 28. key digital literacies for building a better web: 1. complexity
 2. cooperation
 3. contribution

  29. 29. COMPLEXITY
  30. 30. CYNEFIN Snowden & Boone (2007) To know how to address a problem, you need to know what kind of problem you HAVE.
  31. 31. OBVIOUS
  32. 32. OBVIOUS PROBLEMS 1. Only one answer needed 2. That answer always works 3. Does not require subject matter expertise 4. Solutions can be Googled
  34. 34. 1. Sometimes more than one solution is possible 2. A solution is possible 3. Requires subject matter expertise 4. Usually a lot of work COMPLICATED PROBLEMS
  35. 35. COMPLEX
  36. 36. COMPLEX PROBLEMS 1. Do not have a solution 2. Can only work on part of the problem 3. Iteration is key 4. You have to look for patterns
  37. 37. complicated or complex? landing on the moon
  38. 38. complicated or complex? climate change
  39. 39. complicated or complex? raising kids
  40. 40. complicated or complex? coding
  41. 41. complicated or complex? “personalized learning” through predictive analytics
  42. 42. student success complicated or complex?
  43. 43. complicated systems of thought CANNOT solve complex problems While machine intelligence is rapidly outstripping human performance in many disciplines, it is not the only way of thinking, and it is in many fields catastrophically destructive. - Bridle (2018)
  44. 44. complicated or complex? hijacked democracy
  45. 45. we need literacies – & digital practices – that foreground COMPLEXITY STRATEGY: probe rense respond no single right answersystem in constant fluxpatterns emerge over time
  46. 46. COOPERATION How might technoscience be appropriated and reimagined for more liberatory ends? How, in short, can we design our sociotechnical systems differently? - Benjamin (2018)
  47. 47. “If you want to travel fast, travel alone.
 If you want to travel far, 
 travel together.” - probably NOT actually a proverb
  48. 48. the web is a complex system of collaboration & cooperation. like scholarship.
  49. 49. Collaboration is a coordinated, synchronous activity that is the result of an ongoing effort to construct and maintain a shared idea of a problem.
  50. 50. Cooperation divides labor among participants, so each unit is responsible for solving a portion of the problem.
  51. 51. our problem? we’ve made ourselves extras in our systems.
  52. 52. Any strategy other than mindful, thoughtful cooperation is a form of disengagement: a retreat that cannot hold. We cannot reject technology any more than we can ultimately and utterly reject our neighbours in society & the world; we are all entangled. - Bridle (2018) we can’t fix the web without the machines.
  53. 53. resistance as presence & participation
  54. 54. webs are fragile, but also strong.
  56. 56. how to build presence
  57. 57. a pro- social web
  58. 58. for work.
  59. 59. play.
  60. 60. art.
  61. 61. scholarship.
  62. 62. sharing of resources & recommendations. #phdchat
  63. 63. sharing support.
  64. 64. publishing.
  65. 65. research funding.
  66. 66. collaboration & cooperation
  67. 67. professional learning.
  68. 68. teaching. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. We have the opportunity to labor for freedom…even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom. – hooks, 1994 Translation/dp/0415908086
  69. 69.
  70. 70. we can do better. together. we get to work towards better systems.
  71. 71. THANK YOU. @bonstewart