Designing for Freedom: Values in Communication Techologies | Monday 5/17/2010, 3pm, McClatchy Hall, Stanford University | A Pat and Rowland Rebele First Amendment Conference

+ panel description

Communication technologies have long been heralded as the harbingers of unprecedented freedoms, including the promise of decoupling expression from physical constraints and political scrutiny. These promises are not accidental: many organizations, from private corporations like Google to open-source software projects like One Laptop Per Child, specifically build their machines and software to embody these values. At times, however, the full implications of these design choices are not fully understood until the technology is put into use. In the process of appropriating, re-negotiating, and sometimes countering a technological artifact, users Ė from governments to schoolchildren Ė bring their own values and practices to bear on it, often with unanticipated consequences.

What happens when the values of these groups conflict? When we account for the sundry cultures of designers and users, what are the implications of these technologies for society and free expression? The 2010 Rebele First Amendment Panel will explore the ways in which the design and use of communication technologies can help or hinder freedom of expression. We will discuss the process by which technologies come to embody and symbolize values, how values are negotiated by various groups as the technology goes into use, and the implications of these processes for free communication.

This panel brings together three pre-eminent scholars at the forefront of this research area: Batya Friedman, Mark Warschauer, and Jenna Burrell. These scholars draw from myriad disciplines, including anthropology, cultural studies, communication, education, information science, and computer science. Batya Friedman, Professor at the University of Washington and Co-director of the Value-Sensitive Design Research Laboratory, has provided a methodological framework for studying values in the design of technologies and offers a designerís perspective on the integration of values into technology. Mark Warschauer, Professor at University of California, Irvine and Founding Director of its Digital Learning Lab, is a leading scholar of technology in education, the digital divide, and technology and development. Jenna Burrell, Assistant Professor at University of California, Berkeley, has analyzed technosocial practices in post-colonial countries, particularly Africa. Organizer Morgan Ames will join these scholars by discussing her recent work on the values that families create around communication and media technologies and her upcoming dissertation research on the social meanings of the One Laptop Per Child project. Associate Professor Fred Turner will moderate the discussion.

+ participant biographies

Panelist Batya Friedman
Professor of Information Science, Adjunct Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
Co-Director, Value-Sensitive Design Research Laboratory
University of Washington

Batya Friedman is a Professor in the Information School and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, where she co-directs the Value Sensitive Design Research Laboratory. She received both her BA (1979) and PhD (1988) from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Friedmanís research interests include human-computer interaction, especially human values in design, social and cultural aspects of information systems, and design methodology. Her 1997 edited volume (Cambridge University Press) is titled Human Values and the Design of Computer Technology. Her work on Value Sensitive Design has focused on the values of informed consent, privacy in public, trust, freedom from bias, moral agency, and human dignity, and engaged such technologies as web browsers, large-screen displays, urban simulation, robotics, open-source code bases, and location-enhanced computing. She is also Co-Director for The Mina Institute (Covelo, CA).

Panelist Mark Warschauer
Professor of Education and Informatics
Founding Director, Digital Learning Lab
University of California, Irvine

Mark Warschauer is a Professor in the Department of Education and the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, director of UCI's Ph.D. in Education program, and founding director of UCI's Digital Learning Lab. Dr. Warschauer's research focuses on the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in schools and community centers; the impact of ICT on language and literacy practices; and the relationship of ICT to institutional reform, democracy, and social development. His most recent book, Laptops and Literacy: Learning in the Wireless Classroom, was published by Teachers College Press in 2006. His previous books have focused on the development of new electronic literacies among culturally and linguistically diverse students; on technology, equity, and social inclusion; and on the role of ICT in second language learning and teaching. He is now engaged in a research project on technology, human development, and out-of-school learning.

Panelist Jenna Burrell
Assistant Professor of Information Science
University of California, Berkeley

Jenna Burrell is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley. She completed her PhD in 2007 in the department of Sociology at the London School of Economics carrying out thesis research on Internet cafe use in Accra, Ghana. Before pursuing her PhD she was an Application Concept Developer in the People and Practices Research Group at Intel Corporation. Her interests span many research topics including theories of materiality, user agency, transnationalism, post-colonial relations, digital representation, and especially the appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by individuals and social groups on the African continent. Dr. Burrell is also affiliated with the Center for African Studies and the Science, Technology and Society Center.

Panelist and Organizer Morgan Ames
Doctoral Candidate, Communication
Stanford University

Morgan Ames is a PhD candidate in Stanford's Department of Communication, advised by Professor Fred Turner. Her bachelor's degree in computer science, Master's degree in information science from UC Berkeley in spring 2006, and PhD minor in anthropology at Stanford provide the tools for her study of the social meanings of new media technologies. Morgan's dissertation work involves the technological dreams engendered by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project's "XO" laptop, particularly the tensions between the hopes of OLPC developers and realities of students, teachers, and parents. She is focusing on the country-wide deployments in Uruguay and Nicaragua. In collaboration with Nokia Research Center Palo Alto, she has also explored the socioeconomic divides in family practices and parent attitudes around communication and media technologies including computers, video games, mobile phones, and video conferencing in the United States.

Moderator Fred Turner
Professor of Communication and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Stanford University

Fred Turner is an Associate Professor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Communication at Stanford University. He is the author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism and Echoes of Combat: The Vietnam War in American Memory. Before coming to Stanford, he taught Communication at Harvardís John F. Kennedy School of Government and MITís Sloan School of Management. He also worked for ten years as a journalist. He has written for newspapers and magazines ranging from the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine to Nature. During the academic year 2007-2008, he was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He is now back on campus, ginning up another book.

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