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Open Source Scholarship: GitHub for Academics – Next Steps

Musician and digital pedagogue Kris Shaffer has written multiple articles on using GitHub for scholars and academics. Check out his post Push, Pull, Fork: GitHub for Academics, or his presentation and video, or his article on using GitHub pages for open publishing. If you are interested in using GitHub as a tool, I suggest the ProfHacker page GitHub 101 as a good place to start. And in case you missed it, I strongly suggest using SourceTree as an app for managing your repos on the desktop (if you aren’t going to use the command line).

All of this work is premised upon his conceptualization of Open Source Scholarship, a practice I support and promote. And while Kris begins to develop powerful reasons for working as an Open Source Scholar, and even reasons why it is natural to the work of academia, I find it challenging to figure out how to really be a practicing open source scholar. To me, Open Source Scholarship is not just about our research, but about our practice as academics–a practice of research, inquiry, teaching, learning, dis/un-covery, and engagement. Practically, politically, ethically, and socially, we face many barriers in opening up our processes as scholars. As a teacher, I’m limited from opening up my syllabus and course online because it is owned by my school, or owned by my department, and is therefore proprietary. As a graduate student, if I begin to publish my half-baked ideas and thoughts as I work and invite criticism as I go, I am breaking out of standard academic norms, and am therefore “endangering my future career.” Some of my work in progress I cannot publish because I have agreements with the people and communities I work with to protect confidentiality and privacy. Socially, I may face accusations that I’m spending my time in the wrong places, that I’m publishing work that is not rigorous or reviewed or thorough.Continue Reading Open Source Scholarship: GitHub for Academics – Next Steps

Image of Preparing for the Hackathon

#OpenData is (or should be) for Justice

These are my reflections on CityCamp Minnesota 2013, which occurred at St. Thomas in Minneapolis on November 9th.

What was it, and what worked well?

CityCamp MN 2013, hosted by Open Twin Cities and E-Democracy.org, was an event for civic hackers, open data nerds and advocates, and social justice-minded individuals in the region. Saturday was an Open Space Technology style Unconference event. It was brilliantly planned. While I’ve never been to an unconference before, I was impressed by the way it generally fostered a sense of community, conversation, and connection. This stands in opposition to most conferences I attend (and that is a pretty decent number), which primarily serve to foster a few connections in the hallways between tedious and oftentimes irrelevant-to-me presentations. Instead of this, we began the day with a brief introduction and inspiration as the “keynote”. This was followed by 5 minutes-or-less Ignite-style presentations to the large group. During these presentations, the organizers went to another room and tried to organize all of the topics that participants had proposed–either before or at the event–for conversations. Without knowing what I was getting myself into, I proposed a topic on “Racial Justice and Open Data”. When they posted the schedule, it turned out that I was leading a session on a topic something like this (I think it ended up being “Open data and communities of color”) with two other conference attendees who had proposed similar topics.Continue Reading #OpenData is (or should be) for Justice

by Moyan Brenn

A vision for a PARCMOOC (pronounced: PARK MOOC)

Okay, yes, the name is ridiculous. But I think there’s something in this idea. I want to mashup Participatory Action Research (PAR) and a Connectivist MOOC (cMOOC). I have a few topics in mind, but the organizing idea is actually most important to me at this point. The fact that it could be called a “PARC MOOC” makes me think of getting out, being outside, being with others in public, and I think that’s good imagery to start with.

I see Participatory Action Research as a methodology that has ethical implications for research practice. Ethically, it shifts social research from being about other people to research as an everyday practice we do with other people to change the political, social, cultural, and economic circumstances of our lives. It’s not empowering, it’s offering tools to be self-determining. There’s tons of writing that supports this shift on the grounds that it is a kind of research that really respects people. I also added the phrase “everyday practice”, because I think in the world we live in (especially in the West) requires research to skillfully and effectively navigate it. I agree with Arjun Appadurai’s assertion that research can no longer be considered a skill that scholars gain over time, but a right to which we all have access (See Appadurai – the Right to Research).Continue Reading A vision for a PARCMOOC (pronounced: PARK MOOC)

#OpenTogether: A Proposal for the Study & Practice of Openness

I joined the #OpenSource and Maker movements in my early teenage years, when I began building computers and teaching myself to write software, first in HTML and Basic, then Javascript and PHP and CSS. The Learning With New Media study entitled Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out tells the story my growing involvement in my teenage years with computers and the world of open source. I taught myself (and learned with friends) how to code, how to fix computers, how to build computers, and I gained a whole lot of practical experience programming. More importantly, I learned to be an autodidact. I’m always surprised when people tell me, “I don’t know how to do X.” I often respond with a friendly query: “Have you tried Googling it?” It’s my first default when it comes to learning something new. And if I’m interested enough, I pursue those new ideas with some serious tenacity.Continue Reading #OpenTogether: A Proposal for the Study & Practice of Openness

#OpenSource Everything

I’ve been spending little fragments of free time over the last several years engaging with Maker and Open Source communities. For a long time, I’ve seen them as part of claiming a more open, democratic (in real, everyday democracy kind of terms) way of life. The ideas I see behind both movements are: (1) we can build it ourselves, (2) we can do it better when we do it with others, (3) what we share will be multiplied, expanded upon, and will come back to us better than we could have imagined it, and (4) we can invite others to learn and participate.

When I was a teenager, open source was a fledgling movement. You could use Linux, but you really had to be a pretty decent hacker to get things working and keep them that way. Mostly though, you had to pay hundreds of dollars for software like operating systems, media editors, word processors, and so forth. Now, all of it is available for free. And you can edit and modify it to suit your needs. And, better yet, that invitation is no longer an empty one — there are many people making it easier than ever to learn to program.

I’m very inspired by the #FutureOfOpen conference that occurred today in London. It was organized by the group: http://www.oi-london.org.uk/. I love the idea of open sourcing a city and its commons. I especially appreciate the list of Open Domains at the bottom of this page http://www.oi-london.org.uk/what.

I’m working on a piece right now about the interactions between Makers, MOOCs, and learning. I posted on it preliminarily on the July 2 Group blog. It seems as though Open Source is officially moving beyond a movement that is “gaining steam” and has entered the “main stream.”

The Social Worker as Capacity Builder: A Proposal for Radical Professional Change (Draft of Ideas)

Sunset on the Prairie

Social work practice and research are divided, contested spaces. There are many divisions in social work, and in my education at both the masters and Ph.D. level, these divisions occupy an incredible amount of our time and energy. In the arena of practice, we construct arguments between micro and macro practice; between different models of case work, individual, and group therapy. In research, we argue about qualitative and quantitative research, about our values, and about Evidence-Based Practice. In fact, we are so wrapped up in these conversations that I think we often forget (or maybe even choose to forget) that all of these debates are based on a lot of assumptions. We argue about research based on social work values and practitioner’s wisdom versus evidence-based practice, but we forget in both of these frames, social work is still most often about working for people, rather than working with them. Working for is a synonym for “working on behalf of.” It can be seen structurally in the relationship between practitioner and client, where the practitioner is in a position of power over someone else, regardless the ways they attempt to mediate that power in their relationship. Working with is a way of struggling with other members of the human race to create a society that is more just, peaceful, and healthy. This is not simply a distinction between micro and macro level social work. Many community organizers work for people when they go to oppressed communities and try to mobilize them (this is common with union organizers). While some social workers might be comfortable with the idea of working for people, I see working for as another way of living out the hegemony of wealth and social class. I’m not the first to make this argument, in fact it is an argument deeply embedded within the history of the pre-profession and profession of social work (Reisch and Andrews, 2002).

Continue Reading The Social Worker as Capacity Builder: A Proposal for Radical Professional Change (Draft of Ideas)