#DataJustice Screenshot, CC BY-NC-SA, Alex Fink

How the Rapidly Evolving Open Access and Open Data Movements will Transform Child & Youth Care Research in the 21st Century

These are the notes from my presentation with Ben Anderson-Nathe entitled  How the Rapidly Evolving Open Access and Open Data Movements will Transform Child & Youth Care Research in the 21st Century presented at the Child & Youth Care in the 21st Century, Victoria, CA in May 2014.

The notes and slides for the presentation are pretty thorough. Like most presentations I do with smaller groups of people, the conversation ended up being more informal and more based on what people in the room were thinking about and working on. We are now evolving this presentation into an article.

You can find the presentation narrative and slides here.

Data Justice Presentation Cover Photo

Using Open Data & Open Source Tools to Support Social Services & Social Change

A presentation I gave at the Minnesota Social Services Association (MSSA) in March, 2014. This was the first iteration of an ongoing series of presentations and writing on the political economy and infrastructures of “data”, as well as the concept of #DataJustice.

The goals of this session were to: (1) spark conversation, debate, and collaboration around the use of open data in social services and social change; (2) engage participants in actively considering how open data might change their work; and (3) empower participants to take leadership in the growing open data and data justice movements within their field!

You can read the presentation narrative here and find the accompanying slides here.

#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.”

An Apology, a Purpose, and a Fragment: Ways and Modes of Grappling with Ideas

When I created this blog, the original purpose was to engage the unfinished, draft fragments of my work. I had two primary purposes. The first was simply to challenge academic processes of production which recognize work as either in process (and therefore relatively secret) or as finished/published (and therefore complete, unchanging, and static). The second was to recognize that my work is–in a “working” or “finished” form–always presenting and representing only fragments of me, fragments that I choose to make public.

I’ve failed at both of these in a particularly telling way. I continue to think of things I might post, only to stop myself in the process, thinking it is “not quite read yet.” Therefore, there aren’t fragments of my production or fragments of my process of becoming and self-representation. There is only an occasional post of things moving toward “completion.”

I’d like to disrupt that trend here and now with a first fragment. It is a mini-project rooted in my readings of several introductions to commentaries on Gilles Deleuze (who I plan to grapple with in detail this summer). In each of these introductions, some attention was paid to the ways that he wrote and talked about his writing. I was struck, in particular, about Deleuze making the claim that his work on other philosophers was an act of grabbing them “by the middle.” This was striking as a way of reading, contrasting with analytic (which I might characterize as searching for a string of more or less logical arguments) and continental (a search for hidden, absent, present signifiers through close readings) modes of engaging a text or work. Another example I borrow from scholar Eve Tuck, who writes about Deleuze in education, talking about Deleuze being “relentlessly scalar” — an idea that also captured my imagination.

So I began thinking it would be useful to have a list of the different modifiers you can use on ideas, to twist out nuances in your readings and writings. The points where I write “vs.” below are a pretty simplistic approximation trying to articulate that there is some tensionality between these two positions. One way to articulate the purpose of this mini-project is that it works at some of the phenomenological experiences associated with ideas and our experiencing of ideas.

Without further delay, here is the beginning of my list. I welcome suggestions.

  • Harden v soften
  • Clarity v stuttering
  • Scaling
  • Translating
  • By the middle (Deleuze) vs. hidden signifiers vs. analytic.
  • Spatial
  • Territorial vs deterritorial
  • Regional
  • Smooth vs striated
  • Tree vs rhizome
  • Normative vs resistant
  • Conscious vs unconscious
  • Empty vs full
  • Firm solid vs unstable
  • Connective v disconnective
  • Opacity
  • Singularity
  • Multiplicity
  • Active vs reactive
  • Rigid vs malleable
  • Texture
  • Complex vs simplify
  • Pitch – flat vs sharp
  • Crunchy, chewy, soft
  • Alive v dead
  • Attractive vs ugly
  • Abstract vs sensual
  • Engaging vs distant
  • Revealing vs obfuscating
  • Light vs heavy
  • Light vs. dark
  • Clean v messy
  • Internal v external
  • Inside v outside
  • Intellectual vs lived / experienced
  • degrees of Pressure
  • Being v. doing
  • Speed up vs. slow down
  • Bulleting
  • Countour, line, point

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)

Why deal with the “hard stuff” in class?

Or, the danger of sterilizing education (Reblogged from UMinn Techniques in Teaching and Learning)

 

“So, what did you learn?”

I asked this recently of a former student become a friend as we were sitting together in my office. She was catching me up on her previous semester, specifically an interesting class on the history of science.

“You know, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton… How science changed through all of those things.”

“Sounds interesting. Did you learn about eugenics?” I ask.

This question has been present on my mind as soon as she started talking about the course. Maybe it was growing up Jewish that made me particularly attentive to this question, or maybe it was my education in ethics. Either way, it felt like an important thing to learn about in a course purportedly training our future scientists about their historical roots.

“No, what’s that?”

“The scientific movement that provided the ammunition for Hitler’s attempted extermination of the Jews and the forced sterilization of mentally ill people in the United States and indigenous people in Australia.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Did you learn about IQ? How it was used to justify racism?”

“No…”

Social Darwinism?”

“No… We probably should have learned these things, huh?”

Yeah. Probably.Continue Reading Why deal with the “hard stuff” in class?

How I Organize All My Data Across 2 MacBooks, an iPad, and a phone: My Academic and Personal Workflow

I’ve been getting a bunch of questions about how I use my iPad for academic stuff, which leads to the broader question of how I integrate my academic and technological lives. I’ll try to answer that briefly here (though I’m still happy to talk with you about it).

Cloud Storage — The Backbone of My Workflow

Cloud storage serves as the backbone of my workflow. For Cloud storage, I variously use Google Drive, SugarSync, Dropbox, iCloud, and Box.net. These applications are on my home MacBook, work MacBook, iPad, and phone. They keep all of my relevant files synchronized. My primary computer is my home MacBook, so it is host to many more documents than my other devices. As such, it is backed up regularly to an external hard drive using Mac OS X’s Time Machine. This way, I ensure that all of my files are backed up, and all relevant working files are synchronized across all of my devices.

I use iCloud for Apple’s iCloud based services: Notes, Reminders, Contacts, Documents (Pages, Keynote, Numbers), Photos & Photo Stream, and backup for the iPhone and iPad. When you upgrade to iOS 5 (or soon iOS 6), iCloud should be part of the setup process. Using up to 5GB of space on iCloud is free, but more than that will cost you (though it is cheap). iCloud does not yet have a general file storage feature, so I can’t use it for most of my other needs.Continue Reading How I Organize All My Data Across 2 MacBooks, an iPad, and a phone: My Academic and Personal Workflow