Reading together

Perusall logoWe’ll use Perusall to annotate and read together. Link here to Perusall.

Instructions for joining on the Week 1: Getting Situated page.


Link to calendar here

Time photoOur course is organized around a series of routines:  gathering and analyzing data, reading, writing, and making artifacts together.

Make Cycle 2: weeks 4 & 5

Make Cycle 2: weeks 4 & 5

Weeks 4 & 5: Sept 13-22

photo of robotsMake Cycle 2: Our Quantified Selves 

We’ll use this cycle to think about how selves are tracked. I’m fascinated by the self tracking trends and wonder what we gain from knowing so much about ourselves. Here’s a quote from one of the articles, “Big Mother is Watching You,” that we’ll read this make cycle:

Still more [devices] will track focus in the workplace, compliance to prescriptions from physical therapists, exposure to sunlight, and our ability to conceive. The breadth of devices and their utility is so vast that it’s proven difficult to name the trend: Quantified Self, Internet of Things, Everything-Tracking — nothing quite fits. The thesis that unites them, however, is clear: The future will be quantified.

What do you track? Who tracks you? How can we claim more control over the constructions of our digital identities? How are our literacy practices connected to our quantified selves? In other words, how does our use of social media sites, school sites, apps, construct a quantified self(ves) and construct digital lives? 

We’ll kick off by noticing your quantified self: What do you keep track of: Your followers? Your likes? Your steps walked? Your workouts? Your heart rate? Your sleep? Your gas mileage? Your hours worked? The number of books read? Your “top 9” instagrams and snapchats? 

Tasks in a Nutshell (longer descriptions below)

  • Monday, Sept 13: Discover: Trace your quantified self and bring to class (see longer prompts below)
  • Wednesday, Sept 15: Read: two articles (annotate/comment in Perusall)
    1. Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris’ “A Guide for Resisting EdTech: The Case Against TurnitIn” AND
    2. Choose one of these:
      • Audrey Watters’ “Building Anti-Surveillance EdTech” OR
      • Shea Swauger’s  “Our Bodies Encoded: Algorithmic Test Proctoring in Higher Education
  • Monday, Sept 20: we’ll write together and work with more of our data in class: what do we notice from tracing your quantified self?
  • Wednesday, Sept 22: Make: create an artifact that represents the ideas in this make cycle about the quantified self. Suggestions below, but totally up to you.

Full explanation of tasks:

By Monday, Sept 13


Trace your quantified self: to prep for this activity, we’ll skim together in class “Big Mother is Watching You” and explore the Quantified Self website.  Some ideas for discovering/tracing your quantified self:

    • Google your name in a web search. Perhaps try in incognito mode too: every browser has an option for this if you Google “how do I use incognito mode in X browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc)” Are there differences in the results from when you Google as yourself and when you Google in incognito mode?
    • Check My Activity in google
    • Check your screen time on your phone. The amount of time spent on various apps on your phone. The stats in your activity or health apps. 
    • Do you notice likes in Instagram or other social media? Number of followers?
    • Do you keep track of your sleep? Your workouts? Do you go into detail on workouts like keeping track of splits on a run?
      • I was diagnosed with AFib last year, so I keep careful track of my heart rate all the time. My apple watch has my heart rate right on the front; it’s a strange thing to know your heart rate all the time. Are there health things you keep track of? How?
    • What about school data? Do you keep track of scores, grades, etc?
    • Other ideas? Your gas mileage? Your hours worked? The number of books read? Your “top 9” instagrams and snapchats?

Ultimately, choose some things that you track and collect some data to contribute to our class’ data set (similar to what we did with our literacy tracings).

By Wednesday, Sept 15:


Two articles (annotate/comment in Perusall)

  1. Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris’ “A Guide for Resisting EdTech: The Case Against TurnitIn” AND
  2. Choose one of these:
    • Audrey Watters’ “Building Anti-Surveillance EdTech” OR
    • Shea Swauger’s  “Our Bodies Encoded: Algorithmic Test Proctoring in Higher Education

Further reading & links if you’re interested: 

And, if you’ve seen or wondered about The Social Dilemma documentary on Netflix, there are some much better resources for exploring the ideas mentioned in the film. If you are interested in the ideas briefly touched on in the strange doc, there is fabulous research, particularly from women of color who were researching long before the “prodigal techbros” claimed to see the light. A short list below to get started…

The film conflates and confuses a lot of issues (social media and google are not the same thing; capitalism will not be solved by “reducing your child’s screen time”; as with most problems, this is structural, not an individual problem; there are models of web design that don’t rely on an advertising model; we can design the world we want to live in on the open web (see Esra’a Al Shefei’s work below)…). I cringe every time someone claims internet addiction (please stop using that term lightly; you’re not addicted. You also binge TV series…) or every time we criticize youth literacies (please stop; literacies are connected to identities).

–Maria Ferrell’s “The Prodigal Techbro

–Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology and Captivating Technology

–S. Craig Watkins The Digital Edge: How Black and Latino Youth Navigate Digital Inequality

–danah boyd’s SXSW talk “What Hath We Wrought”

–Esra’a Al Shafei’s interview Do We Still Believe That Networked Youth Can Change the World? (the answer is yes; see her work in Bahrain with LBGTQ+ youth)

–If you liked Jaron Lanier’s points in the netflix film, this is an incredible interview with him on The Ezra Klein Show. He offers alternative models to the advertising model that undergirds most social media.


–Safiya Umoja Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression

Monday, Sept 20:

We will write and talk together about these ideas:

  • Small groups will take up one of the articles we read for this week and pull some quotes you find interesting. 
  • The quantified self. What did we track and reflect on why: how do you use this information? What did you learn by trying to keep track or discover your quantified self?

We’ll prep for our next Make too.

By Wednesday, Sept 22: 


  • An informal blog (the Big Mother opening could be a model for getting started on a blog post): reflections on your quantified self. 
  • Another blog idea: You could compare what your school data says about you and what your school data leaves out? You might consider thinking through all the stats from your college experience: how many tests, how many classes attended (and missed), how many grades, how many hours working or studying? And then what is not accounted for in these numbers: friendships, commutes, homesickness, new places visited. How might you represent the full college experience? Perhaps stats on one side of a page and film or images on the other? Perhaps try out Piktochart?  Or Adobe Spark? You could represent these competing stats/reality in a series of memes (“what people think I do vs what I really do”)
  • Use the Data Detox kit and then write a reflection on the process.
  • An infographic (like the Quantify Yourself chart in the Big Mother article). Piktochart could be a great resource for this. You could then add a short piece of writing to expand on the chart: what does your data explain and not explain about your quantified self? 
  • Watch The Internet’s Own Boy (<–this is the trailer) and write a reflection. Link to full film
  • A short film: alternating some day-in-the-life style video perhaps with some narrative and images from you. I would keep this under 3 minutes. And I would compose a film, not simply talk to a webcam. 
  • A piece of art
  • A game: design a gaming experience for us that immerses the player into a quantified self. You might even use a site like Super Better to create your game.
  • Slam poetry or original song
  • Some other cool idea you have

We’ll share our Makes in a gallery walk in class. You’ll also write a brief reflection about the make in class: what was your intention with this make? what were you trying to convey? what worked? what didn’t?