Activism in the Digital Age: USC Class Visit and Action
November 22, 2016
I will be a guest speaker at Tara McPherson’s USC graduate course, Activism in the Digital Age, today at 11. I had organized a loose conversation/presentation for the class visit about my previous work on/in this subject (see below), but have instead decided to use my time with students engaged in thinking about activism, to do something about and in this space given what you see below. I will work with these young scholars, as collaborators, on a digital intervention to the video below (and other related fake news). Considering the status of our work, as scholars, as activism, will be part of our effort.
(NOTE TO READERS: I have not yet watched this, didn’t have the stomach for it, but doing it together, soon, with the students is one right way to engage, I’m sure of it, as deeply dismayed as I am to put this on my blog)
Given our current media/political moment, I felt compelled to contribute my (sorry) academic knowledge of fake media (and YouTube) to the larger viral conversation about Fake News and Social Media. So, two days ago when the story of fake news went really large, I pitched an op ed on Fake News to JStor Daily where I have written once before on images of viral black death. Considering whether such writing, and digital information sharing, is itself a form of activism has itself been part of my own scholarly project (although not my fake one), one that I had planned to share today.
Instead, I’m going to model something else: that the doing of thinking and sharing knowledge, in community, in collaboration, in the academy (and then out, on the internet) is an empowering and necessary act in times of moral, intellectual, political confusion and uncertainty. That doing this FAST is part of the dubious internet, digital logic that produces fake news, and other unseemly things in the process. However, writing an opinion piece, while living one’s own life and maintaining its many commitments, becomes actually possible and hopefully enjoyable and certainly more powerful when shared with others (I also suggest that the slow work about this, an entire semester for instance, or a scholarly essay or even monograph, will be more necessary than ever in these horrid times).
Thus, today I will ask the students to do something together with me: to help me build a kick-ass reading list for the JStor article, itself a form of the digital literacy pedagogy within and beyond academia (and on the internet) that is the article’s very proposition for academic response (if not activism). Part of JStor daily’s commitment to literacy is that the reading lists it provides as part of its content are available to all readers, purposefully breaking its own paywall in the process.
At any later date, I invite the USC students (and others so inclined) to peruse what would have been my presentation on my earlier work on/as activism in the digital age, including:
- my writing about leaving the Internet as activism and engaging on the streets
- or in the prison
- or in building context for digital media in rooms that can better hold it
- or through my collaborative work inside and critical of the internet (and YouTube), instead together making the the digital feminist teaching, spaces, and community we want and deserve