For the 2019 spring quarter through June 6th, members of README will be posted up in the IS Lab (Zone A) on Thursdays from 3-4pm 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 listserv, IS-NET, and this page to better frame our conversation. If you have a topic or article suggestion, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or @ us on Twitter at @uclareadme.
README Lab Hours
During Spring 2019 quarter
UCLA GSEIS Building
IS Lab, Zone A
April 4: free week!
This week, we’ll ease into our lab hours with a relatively unstructured check-in! We can talk about a recent meeting some members had with Elliot Harmon (Activism Director @ EFF), our upcoming event “After Disruption,” our participation in the UCLA Arts Party @ Hammer Museum, and brainstorm upcoming lab hour topics and collaborations. Join us!
April 11: workshop prep!
At the end of this week, README will be hosting a two-part event about platform “disruption” and worker-centered futures! In preparation for “After disruption,” our lab hour will be a collective e-conversation between README and LA Cryptoparty about our upcoming workshop! All are welcome to join the conversation and help us brainstorm the details!
April 18: Paul Dourish @ UCLA iS Colloquium!
In lieu of an article-driven #READMELabHour this afternoon, we encourage everyone within the UCLA GSEIS community and beyond to attend today’s Information Studies colloquium talk “We Don’t Know What the Internet Is” with Paul Dourish of UC Irvine’s School of Information and Computer Sciences. The talk begins at 3PM in the UCLA GSEIS building, Room 111.
April 25: data inference & the difficulty of opting-out!
Protecting our privacy online is getting gradually more difficult. Long gone are the days were we could just say less to be seen less. In this week’s lab hour, we will talk about “data inference,” how Big Tech is making it more difficult for us to actually opt-out of datafication, and what kind of work small organizations like README can do to respond.
To frame our conversation, we’re reading Zeynep Tufecki’s recent article, “Think You’re Discreet Online? Think Again” (2019)! Join us!
May 2: #ChoosePrivacyWeek and data detoxing!
From May 1st to May 7th, ALA’s privacy initiative, Choose Privacy Every Day, is holding their annual #ChoosePrivacyWeek to encourage librarians around the country to raise awareness and engage with patrons on privacy issues. For this week’s lab hour, we will have a focused discussion about the importance of privacy in library settings and why this year’s theme, inclusive privacy, is of particular interest to README. If time allows, we will also, together, begin Tactical Tech’s 8-Day Data Detox to take some tangible steps to control our own privacy.
To frame our conversation and add more context to this week’s meeting, we’re looking at: “Why Privacy Matters: Choose Privacy Week 2019” by T.J. Lamanna (2019), “Libraries close the gap on unequal privacy during Choose Privacy Week 2019” from Choose Privacy Everyday (2019), Choose Privacy Everyday’s Privacy Guidelines and Checklists for Libraries, and “A Data Detox for a healthier, balanced digital life” by Daniel Kessler (2017). Join Us!
May 9: facial recognition systems & affordable housing!
Facial recognition systems are growing in popularity and can be found in our schools, airports, office buildings, and apartment complexes. Recently, a Brooklyn-based management company announced that they would be replacing their current entry system in a local housing complex with a facial recognition program to create a “frictionless” experience for its tenants, most of whom are black women. Current research, however, has shown that facial recognition systems fail to correctly identify darker-skinned women about a third of the time.
This week, we will spend our lab hour attempting to untangle the impact of and implications behind this situation. We hope to address how facial recognition systems perpetuate racism and explore the historical tradition of targeting low-income citizens with developing forms of surveillance. Join us!
- “The Landlord Wants Facial Recognition in Its Rent-Stabilized Buildings. Why?” by Ginia Bellafante, The New York Times
- “Study finds gender and skin-type bias in commercial artificial-intelligence systems” by Larry Hardesty, MIT News
- “Residents of Brooklyn Building Furious Over Landlord’s Attempt to Install Facial Recognition Technology” by Rana Novini, NBC – New York
- “Why facial recognition’s racial bias problem is so hard to crack by Queenie Wong, CNET
May 16: criminalizing sex work online
Databases are generally used to store and organize information for convenient access and retrieval. What happens when a database is specifically created to out and shame a specific group of people? Florida’s state government passed a bill last month that mandates the creation of a public database that would include and list “all people who solicit sex.” Although this database is meant to target those who pay for sex, what kinds of risks does the information kept in the database expose sex workers to?
Join README for this week’s lab hour as we discuss the aftermath of FOSTA/SESTA and the continued rise of digital initiatives that target and endanger sex workers.
To frame our conversation, we’re reading…
- Florida lawmakers hope public humiliation could help combat sex trafficking by Joseph Ojo, NBC 2 News (2019)
- “A new law intended to curb sex trafficking threatens the future of the internet as we know it” by Aja Romano, Vox (2018)
- “What the FOSTA/SESTA Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill Means” by Kitty Stryker, Teen Vogue (2018)
- “Suicide, violence, and going underground: FOSTA’s body count” by Violet Blue, Endgadget (2018)
Interested in the full-text of this new legislation? Find it below:
May 23: informal, almost end-of-the-year check-in
Join us for a quick conversation as we discuss all the great things we’ve accomplished this academic year as well as what sort of things we can look forward to in the fall! We’ll talk about what kinds of conferences are coming, what kinds of zines we can make, and what things we should focus our organizing efforts on!
May 30: untangling “smart cities” with special guest, Amy Zhou
After a recent multi-million dollar federal investment, the discourse around smart cities has rapidly accelerated across Canada. In April 2019, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a lawsuit against the city of Toronto for their alignment with Sidewalk Labs’ “high tech neighborhood” project on the city’s Quayside, citing privacy and surveillance concerns. As a response, UCLA Urban Planning Masters student Amy Zhou and Think Fresh Group, with the support from Digital Justice Lab, Tech Reset Canada, Jane’s Walk Toronto, and the Toronto Public Library, led a “Smart City Playground” in the local library to facilitate discussions around smart cities and what they mean for Canadian society.
Join us in conversation with Amy on why, how, and under what circumstances discussions around smart cities should be taking place, as well as how libraries and information workers can be allies moving forward!
To prepare for this meeting, we’re reading …
- “Canadian Civil Liberties files Lawsuit over Sidewalk Labs Project” from the Canadian Press, CBC, April 2019
- “Quayside, Toronto’s Google-linked smart city, draws opposition over privacy, cost” by Amanda Coletta, Washington Post, May 2019
- How will Smart Cities change our Human Experiences? An introduction to the Smart City Playground from ThinkFreshGroup, September 2018
- “We might have smart cities before we have smart homes” by Jordan Golson, Verge, January 2016
June 6: Sarah T. Roberts @ UCLA iS Colloquium!
Thanks to the amazing PhD organizers of this year’s colloquium, we are lucky enough to attend lectures with prominent information studies scholars from around the world! In lieu of another article-driven lab hour this week, we will attend our very own Professor Sarah T. Robert’s talk, “Online Content Moderation at Crisis Point.” We encourage everyone within the UCLA GSEIS community and beyond to attend! Beginning at 3PM in Room 111 of the UCLA GSEIS building.
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.