ITP2800 – Week 3 – Nathan's Story, Secret Videos and Student Proposals

Homework for week 3:

Here’s what we talked about in class:

I announced my work in porting the Tor Project to Android. Tor is an “onion router” web proxy that allows web surfers in places like Iran and China get free, anonymous access to the web. Having secure, anonymous browsing that can route around censorship is a critical component of my Guardian secure smartphone project.

The story of Alan Turing and his impact on computing came up briefly and I just wanted to make sure everyone knew the amazing yet tragic story of his life. Just recently, an online, crowd-sourced petition effort pressured the British Government to issue a formal apology for causing his suicide, and countless others who were persecuted for their sexuality.

At some point in class, I drew a diagram that I quite enjoyed sharing, and will attempt to recreate here, since I unfortunately didn’t get a photo or capture it using the smart board. The drawing below is an attempt to demonstrate the various layers of network communication layers, both the physical medium and the amount of government/state and corporate control at each layer. Ultimately, the best opportunities for using networks with less control lie at the LAN layer and the Global layer…. though there are opportunities and technologies at all layers.

Spectrum Of Network Control

I also realized that I hadn’t given the class a background on myself, and decided to share a talk I had recently given at Parsons on my life and work. The presentation tells my story through the various computing hardware and devices I’ve owned, used, hacked and programmed in my life. Notice that the devices get smaller, more powerful and more connected over time. The slides are posted below, and then a video from the talk I gave at Parsons is below that.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

the audio starts after a minute or so…

Finally, we reviewed week 2 homework, specifically “mobile videos shot under duress” and the first draft of proposals for the cause they’d like to work on and the technology they plan to use.

You can search #itp2800 on Twitter and ITP2800 on Delicious to see links to some of the homework.

That’s all for week 3…. leave a comment here if you have any questions or feedback.

ITP2800 – Week 2 – Slides, Whiteboards, Videos and Homework

Here are is the homework, slides, notes, links and videos from the second week of ITP2800 – Social Activism using Mobile Technology.

Homework for Week 2

  • Watch the videos linked to here:
  • Continue reading/finish “Little Brother”
  • Take pictures or video using a camera phone or Flip-style device of something controversial or in a place where you might be seen as a threat to the subject of the video or photo. The goal is to feel/experience the state of using mobile technology under duress. Post videos to a public website and share the link via textmarks ITP2800 or twitter
  • Write a one page proposal for developing a mobile technology solution for a specific cause

The slides begin with a review of a breakdown of the class title “Social Activism using Mobile Technology” that the class went through in week one. Out of that, I came up with some slightly silly, but potentially introspective, alternate titles for the course:

  • People Organizing Portable Robots
  • Social Justice Protest. Invsibiel + Frustrating.
  • Casual Talking Grassroots Gadget (Not Naturally Evolved)
  • Shared Experiences. Mobilized Magic. Organically Evolved.
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Some brainstorming on the service value grid I shared…. the class brought up the idea that synchronous request/response service might provide a different experience than asynchronous messaging application. Larger questions about how and when to make value judgements about mobile services which interrupt, distract and complicate our lives was also brought up.

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Week 1 homework results – students were asked to come up with their own TextMarks keywords and Twitter hashtags to promote a cause, idea or movement.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

The tags/textmarks were: Sgsyn, Desair, IWantData, IWantHealthcare, SavePhillyLibraries, DaveBMiller, Represent, SiOnTheWeb, Mediate, Jeeee, IHeartPV, SecretPublicSpace, Rendezvous, WhatsThatBug, Rainforest, FirstJob, ITP101, GivKwik, PopulationPlanning, NoSmoke

The goal was to consider how to create a memorable tag that is also short. Positive feedback was given on tags that were intriguing, calling the user to take action to find out more. Some of the tags were actually put into use, gaining hundreds of re-tweets in just a few weeks. Another student created posters with mobile barcode images to promote their tag.

The overall topic of this week was “Simplicity is Powerful”, and so we did a whiteboard analysis of the “Flip cam”, cheap video cameras that have proliferated the market, and their usefulness in the service of social activism:

Flip Video Cameras are simple… but powerful.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

– Cheap < $100 in some cases - Durable - Great battery life (electricity is a common foe) - Push-button "fisher price" - double as hard drive storage - Unambiguous about what it is far - Ambiguous in that it might look like a cellphone or iPod - low profile - has a screen for display - has a video output jack - has a tripod connector (gorilla grip clamps work too!) - Can't remove storage (this is a plus and minus) - Easy to carry - quick to use, boot, load, very responsive UI - standard, global usability, globally available - standards based plugs, video (usb, rca 1/8 inch) While it is easy to dream up complex, James Bond-esque technology solutions, often it is the more MacGuyver-esque "off the shelf" approach of combining cheap, easy to use things, that can make a greater impact.

Our first guest speakers for the semester were Mark Belinksy and Emily Jacobi from Digital Democracy. They visited the class through a live Skype video connection, and presented the slides below, discussing their recent visit to Burma (Myanmar) and work in Thailand refugee camps, sharing information on digital communication and social media tools.

Unfortunately, the video capture of the event failed, but you can view clips from a previous event with Mark and Emily – “Subversive Tech and Burma’s Struggle for Democracy”, a talk held in Brooklyn, NY in June 2009, involved a presentation by Digital Democracy on the use of technology inside and along Burma’s borders, footage from the Sept 2007 Saffron Revolution, where mobile phones and the internet allowed protesters to coordinate and publicize the largest protests seen in a generation, and a Q&A with “Stanley”, a Burmese computer programmer and chairperson of the All Burma IT Students Union.

Subversive Tech & Burma’s Struggle for Democracy (Part 2) from Not An Alternative on Vimeo.

That’s it for week 2… see you next time!