Category: Conferences Page 2 of 8

#Domains 19 Day 2 Breakout Session 2: Weaponizing Your Website

Speakers: Jennifer Hill

Abstract: There is a war a raging in our cyberworld and it is time for you to join the resistance. Cambridge Analytica stealing Facebook user’s data, white supremacists getting verified on Twitter, and child pornography on Instagram. The list of atrocities continues. We as technologists know the inner workings of social media platforms more than anybody. We see the hypocrisy and the evil of social media platforms in a way that most people do not. It is time for us to awaken from our passivity and take a stance against our corporate social media overlords. Weaponizing Your Website will give you ideas, or ammunition, to fight against our broken social media world. This bootcamp will include learning how to utilize the strongest weapons in your stockpile; your voice and your website. With me, Jenn Hill, a University of Mary Washington student, at the helm I will prepare you for taking up arms and battling the corporate social media tyrants.

My Notes

tl;dr: Social media is killing the personal website.

Hill argues that we need to become less reliant on social media by using our own websites to host our voice. This ties into the POSE (publish once, syndicate everywhere) idea that Jim and the Domains community has been pushing.

Avowedly ironic twitter embed:

In Q&A: what kind of reception do you get for this message? Hill said that freshman in digital identity workshops take FaceBook and other social media at face value. It takes work to help students see the ways in which their data is being sucked up.

I didn’t get a chance to ask, but I’d like to hear more about the differential impact of having a student like Jennifer advocate for students to make their own web spaces as opposed to having staff or faculty make the same types of arguments. I really like the model UMW is using with their students, and I would love to see some discussion / analysis of their peer-to-peer work.

#Domains 19 Day 2 Breakout Session 1: HAX Chaotic Good

Speakers: Bryan Ollendyke

(Not really an) Abstract:


Unbalance, unrest, and chaos can be brought with one simple act: Giving away everything. It’s a notion I explored in my MS thesis via open source; because, edtech systems are build on power. Power and control technology is largely codified through institutional history. Collapsing control, we can restore a greater order. I want to take you into the philosophy and madness that drives me and inspires the team behind HAXTheWeb.

#HAXTheWeb at its core is a new way of creating and remixing content. Think of it as a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) built for the future. When I say WYSIWYG, you probably think text. But when I search YouTube, responsively embed it and save in ~10 seconds, all without leaving HAX or seeing HTML; it becomes clear this is not normal. This is just one massive time saver among many and why people in IndieWeb and OER communities are getting excited. Because HAX doesn’t live in just one platform. HAX is a platform that is portable and embeddable in many platforms, with all materials produced able to work in any other platform on the web.

Technology needs to focus more on why and less on how, especially now that Web components is THE way to build the web going forward! That focus on the why positions my team as villains in the edTech / LMS world. Like complex villains though, we have a competing vision of the world which is largely seen as chaos. Through this talk I’ll force you to challenge one critical idea: Why do you need platforms to publish?


“You said you were a man of your word”

“I’m only burning my half. All you care about is money.. This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I’m going to give it to them..”

The establishment understands money. They won’t pursue what is best for education unless it prints green. There’s a lot of great things that have come out of this pure capitalist approach to edtech but rampant complacency via oligopolies has ensued. We must shake up the industry by pulling ourselves up through decentralization; otherwise, we’ll never see the change needed. HAX is distributed, decentralizes power, is flexible, portable, slick, fast, the best of HTML without knowing it, future proof, and.. free. “I’m only burning my half” in order to establish a new market place that serves us, not the other way around.

I once had strings, but now I’m free

HAX can be used in HAXcms, Drupal (6, 7, 8), BackdropCMS, GravCMS, and WordPress; today. All capabilities in all places. Content produced in HAX, no longer requires HAX to render afterwards.

What happens to our towers when their functionality provides equal Authoring Experiences (AX)?

What happens to Gutenberg (a WordPress only editor that is terrible for OER / open web) when we improve the AX of ALL solutions?

We will set you free.

My Notes

Bryan launched with a ferocious attack on LMS & CMS’s editor UX, noting amongst other things the lack of accessibility or even care about accessibility in Gutenberg (see the Gutenberg accessibility audit from WPCampus).

Bryan’s (not really tongue-in-cheek) goals is to collapse the publishing industry and the broken parts of education. I tend to get confused looks when I say that the publishing industry is evil, so Bryan’s comfort with, and the audience’s lack of pushback against, these goals was great to see.

Bryan’s argument against the current web, is that we need to simplify back to standards and use js Web Components <script type=”module”>.

BYU is already using this to unify branding. They no longer need to rely on a particular CMS, but can just use the components on any site. Check out their sites.

These web components can work across projects – a micro-service architecture.

This presentation was really exciting. I still don’t know how much of that excitement was Bryan yelling at us, and how much of it cashes out, but this might be the first thing I work on when I get back to campus. I want to build some stuff using web components and see what happens. I also want to stand up HAXeditor (now available in a one-click install on Reclaim) and see how it uses the Web Components.

#Domains19: Martin Hawksey Keynote

Minority Report

Martin Hawksey, creator of TAGS and chief innovator for ALT, gave the opening Keynote for Day 2 of Domains19.

Martin talked about data surveillance including everything from Twitter metadata to facial recognition.

Hawksey mentioned Francis Galton in his history of data collection and facial analysis / phrenology. Galton, a proud cousin of Charles Darwin, was one of the originators of survey instruments for collecting demographic data and doing statistical demographics.

At one point Hawksey called 9 volunteers up onto the stage, took a selfie, and then had facial recognition tech find the faces, analyze the sentiment (smiling or sad), and add a visual overlay marker using Space Invaders characters. This demo was showing that the Google image analysis API already has facial recognition and sentiment analysis baked in. Minority Report is already looking less like science fiction and more a dystopian critique of current technology.

Hawksey moved into talking about the face race, part of the broader AI race between China and the US. China’s national, gamified credit system combines not just financial information but also data based on your movements (jay walking), the reports of your neighbors, and analysis of social media. While good scores can get you discounts and other perks, bad scores can block you from being able to buy train or plane tickets or getting a loan. In London, they are testing facial recognition to identify pedestrians on various police lists. Martin didn’t mention it, but CNN was running a story as I was coming to the conference on facial recognition being used for crowd control in the Miami airport.

Martin also talked a little bit about the failures of this technology. Companies are already starting to trust facial recognition, either unaware or uncaring about its fail rates. While we (in the room) were feeling good about the high fail rates in facial recognition, when safety systems on automated vehicles fail to ID threats to humans and other similar safety systems fail, there are real problems with our extreme trust in the goodness of technology.

Martin’s talk was particularly interesting to me, because it shows how much of this tech is already available, how much can be combined and remixed off the shelf by techies, and how much we can tech wash both the challenges and concerns behind these new tools. We daily see the “tech (or algorithms) can’t be biased” argument, at the same time that these obviously dystopian technologies are developing.

We are implementing attention tracking and facial rec technologies already in our classrooms, despite the technologies known failures in recognizing people of color. If your attendance grade is determined by these technologies and many classes have built in failure for missing a given percentage of classes, we are setting people up to fail because of failed tech.

In the Q&A, sava saheli singh asked how we balance the “cool factor” of exciting new tech with our critical concerns. I think that’s a great way of identifying the challenge that we face, both in ed tech and technology spheres more broadly. As Martin said, many of us are tech magpies, and we enjoy playing with these new techs. However, we have an ethical duty to think critically and teach others to do the same about these new techs.

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