Join us Tuesdays through March 12th for Lab Hours

For the 2019 winter quarter through March 12th, members of README will be posted up in the IS Lab on Tuesdays from 11am-12pm for README Lab Hours.

Each week, a few days before the lab hour, we will circulate a topic and relevant short news article to our listservIS-NET, and this page to better frame our conversation. If you have a topic or article suggestion, send it to or @ us on Twitter at @uclareadme.

README Lab Hours
Tuesdays, 11am–12pm
During Winter 2019 quarter
IS Lab, Zone A



January 15: free week!
This week, we’ll ease into our lab hours with an unstructured check-in. We can talk about what’s happening for README during Processing Community Day (Saturday January 19th!), brainstorm possible speakers/studio visits for future Lab Hours, and discuss planning a public event for the spring quarter.

January 22: menstrual surveillance!
This week we will be talking about the rise of “femtech” and, specifically, the proliferation of period apps that profit off of menstrual surveillance.

To help prep for the discussion, we’re reading “Period tracking apps are not for women” by Kaitlyn Tiffany (2018) and “Your menstrual app is probably selling data about your body” by Sarah Burke (2018). Though the first article is not as trans-inclusive as we would like, it will be a great springboard for our broader conversation about gender, technology, and intimate surveillance! Join us!

January 29: edtech and the future of student privacy!
This week we will be talking about new facial recognition systems being deployed in schools, “safety management platforms” that use AI to track student writings and the rise of new “engagement detection systems”. We will discuss what the future of education might look like and the roll information workers can play in building more secure and private systems.

To help prep for the discussion, we’re reading “Facing Tomorrow’s High-Tech School Surveillance” by Rose Eveleth (2018) and “Schools are using AI to track what students write on their computers” by Simone Stolzoff (2018). We will also take a look at our very own CCLE privacy policy and see what information we are sharing with the university! Join us!

February 5: decentralized storage systems and mesh networks with guest speaker Isaac Wilder!
This week we will have a (remote) visit from hacker/systems engineer Isaac Wilder. We will discuss his current work using blockchain, specifically Ethereum Swarm to build decentralized storage systems. We will learn about the InterPlanetary File System, and discuss new movements in decentralizing the web. We’ll also discuss his work with the Free Network Foundation and his experience building mesh networks. No prior knowledge, only curiosity, necessary!

February 12: Cancelled! :'(

February 19: teaching technology!
README is always curious about how we can better develop our own technical skills and then share them with others. So, for this week’s lab hour, we’re talking about learning, teaching, and developing workshops. To prepare for our conversation, we’re reading “How to help someone use a computer” by Phil Agre. Join us!

February 26: the art of passwords!
Some security experts say that using a password manager is one of the first steps in protecting your data online… but how many of us, even those cognizant of digital rights issues, actually use strong passwords or rely on password managers? During this week’s lab hour, we’re going to talk about the power of passwords, set-up password managers for those that do not already use them, and discuss password futures with tools like YubiKey! Join us!

Looking for some background information? Check out “Take these 7 steps now to reach password perfection” from Brian Barrett in WIRED (2017).

March 5: exploring surveillance capitalism!
In her new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, scholar Shoshana Zuboff asserts that contemporary capitalism is built upon a surveillance-style model of data collection. For this week’s lab hour, we’re going to begin a conversation about how technology, data surveillance, and contemporary modes of capitalism are transforming society as well as what accessible tools organizations like README have to resist. Without having time to sit with the entirety of Zuboff’s book for a brief lab hour, we’ve selected the following few articles to ground our conversation:

March 12: the world of data brokers! Do you ever find yourself confused when people talk about personal data? Or wonder how so much of your information just suddenly appeared online?Join us for our final lab hour of the quarter to learn all about data brokers – we’ll start our meeting by talking about who data brokers are and what they want with our information, then we’ll spend the rest of the session opting-out!

Looking for some background information? Check out “The Wired guide to your personal data (and who’s using it)” by Louise Matsakis (2019), “What are ‘data brokers,’ and why are they scooping up information about you?” by Yael Grauer (2018), and “Here’s a long list of data broker sites and how to opt-out of them” by Yael Grauer (2018).


All are welcome to drop in and chat with us! This includes IS faculty, staff, and students as well as allies from around the UCLA campus and its libraries.

#READMELabHour on Twitter