Participatory Politics

The Politics of Reticence: Beyond Number Games

Thursday, April 21, 2016 Comment lgbtq

Politics by numbers is a funny game. It allows for large structures like universities to reduce the question of diversity, plurality, dissent, and acceptance into quantified rubrics of access, inclusion, and representation. So that universities can often build coherently diverse groups, where the markers of identity tick the boxes of conformity and resemblance to diversity ideologies, but more often than not, these tick marks are ways to gloss the reinforced cultures of containment and the persistent poetics of silence. In the last two blogs, I had looked at #DalitLivesMatter, as arising from the politics of despair,


#SlaveryWithASmile: How Twitter Can Raise Social Consciousness

Monday, January 18, 2016 Comment twitter-slave

I love Twitter. I love Twitter because it makes silly questions about dog pants go so viral that the President feels the need to weigh in with his opinion. I love Twitter because it allows me to follow the thoughts of all of the actors in my current theatrical obsession: the “Hamilton” musical. But most of all, I love Twitter because of its ability to bring stories to light from around the country (and around the world) that spark social and political dialogue. While some consider tweeting about social causes to be a form of “slacktivism” because


The Value of Social Media and Counternarratives

Monday, August 17, 2015 Comment blacklivesmatter-600.jpg

As I write these words, St. Louis County has just declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of protests marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson. When word began to spread that night that protests were taking a violent turn, I did not immediately turn to The New York Times, CNN, or any other traditional news source to learn more about what was happening. Instead, I turned to Twitter. There, I found first-hand reports from people on the scene in Ferguson about what


The Nuts and Bolts of Digital Civic Imagination

Thursday, March 26, 2015 Comment blacklives.jpg

I grew up in Oakland when the Black Panthers were setting up free lunches and breakfasts for me and my classmates in Oakland public schools and carrying guns to defend themselves and their community from the Oakland police. I grew up not trusting the police. It wasn’t an active distrust, but a vague terror that the police might at any moment stop me, arrest me, beat me for no reason at all. I still carry that quiet terror with me 40 years later. Every black man in my life has had experiences of police violence similar


Addressing Race, Inequity Issues Through Social Media Power

Monday, September 22, 2014 Comment blacktwitter1-600.jpg

The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. began dominating the national headlines instantly. One of the biggest factors, as Newsweek’s Elijah Wolfson points out, was the use of social media by the residents of Ferguson as well as those sympathetic to the concerns about hyper-aggressive police tactics. Speaking about Ferguson, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes told a New York Times reporter, “this story was put on the map, driven, and followed on social media more so than any story I can remember since the Arab spring.” Amidst the surge of social media, a number of journalists reported on what they perceived


Do-It-Yourself Democracy

Monday, June 30, 2014 Comment horse.jpg

I’ve written before about civic education initiatives intended to help model systems of political deliberation in the United States, but with my first trip to Latin America in April for the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) conference, I wanted to learn more about efforts underway in countries south of the equator.  Pia Mancini sat down with DML Central for an interview about the Net Democracy foundation, which is intended to “innovate in the political system” in response to a perceived “crisis of representation” in which communities of young people fall prey to silence,


Innovators, Not Hackers: Stop Portraying Youth as Digital Deviants

Thursday, May 29, 2014 Comment innovators-3.jpg

Why is it that when young people use technology on adult terms, they are praised as 21st century learners, but when they use technology on their OWN terms, they are castigated as deviant rule-breakers? I’ve been pondering this question lately as I consider the national media attention that students from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles, have received in relation to the rollout of iPads for all students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. By most accounts, the rollout of the iPads has been — how could I


New Media’s Role in Participatory Politics

Monday, April 14, 2014 Comment istock_000007693549large.jpg

Social network sites, websites and text increasingly serve as a conduit for political information and a major public arena where citizens express and exchange their political ideas, raise funds and mobilize others to vote, protest and work on public issues. In “Youth, New Media, and the Rise of Participatory Politics,” a working paper authored by me, my Mills College colleague Ellen Middaugh, and Danielle Allen, of the Institute for Advanced Study, we address how the ascendency of today’s new media may be introducing fundamental changes in political expectations and practices. This work grows out of the


Capabilities of Movements and Affordances of Digital Media: Paradoxes of Empowerment

Thursday, January 09, 2014 Comment zeynep5.600.jpg

From the “Indignados” in Spain, to “Occupy” in the United States, from Tahrir Square in Egypt to Syntagma Square in Greece, from Gezi Park in Turkey to #Euromaidan in Ukraine, the recent years have witnessed a proliferation of protests which, while embedded in differing circumstances and specific grievances, share multiple characteristics. Social media, an integral aspect of all these movements, is not a mere “tool” that is external to the organizational and cultural structure of these movements. Instead, it has become increasingly clear that communication is a form of organization, and the form of communication strongly


New Media, New Civics? The Bellwether Lecture at the Oxford Internet Institute

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 Comment ethan10.600.jpg

The Oxford Internet Institute was kind enough to invite me to give the inaugural lecture in their Bellwether Series. The OII’s director, Professor Helen Margetts, introduced the series explaining that she hoped talks would anticipate what is to come in the space of internet and society…and explained that the word “Bellwether” came from a middle English word for a castrated ram, who was fitted with a bell and made to lead a flock of sheep. That’s pretty ominous compared to my assumption when I was invited, which was that they found someone named Bellwether to sponsor