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DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media

November 10, 2010

I’m going to be attending an amazing event over the next few days – DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media, a conference and hackspace organized at the University of Toronto that seeks to explore how technological change and social media are changing the nature of citizenship today. The range of topics, issues, and developments that will be discussed is best understood by a look at the official program of events and book of abstracts (PDF).

Meanwhile,here’s an overview (taken from conference organizer Megan Boler’s website) :

A renewed emphasis on participatory forms of digitally-mediated production is transforming our social landscape. ‘Making’ has become the dominant metaphor for a variety of digital and digitally-mediated practices. The web is exploding with independently produced digital ‘content’ such as video diaries, conversations, stories, software, music, video games—all of which are further transformed and morphed by “modders,”“hackers,” artists and activists who redeploy and repurpose corporately-produced content. Equally, communities of self-organized crafters, hackers, and enthusiasts are increasingly to be found online exchanging sewing and knitting patterns, technical guides, circuit layouts, detailed electronics tutorials and other forms of instruction and support.

Many of these individuals and collaborators understand their work to be socially interventionist. Through practices of design, development, and exchange they challenge traditional divides between production and consumption and to redress the power differentials built into technologically- mediated societies.

“DIY Citizenship” invokes the participatory nature of these diverse “do-it-yourself” modes of engagement, community, networks, and tools— all of which arguably replace traditional with remediated notions of citizenship. The term“critical making” refers to the increasing role‘making’ plays in critical forms of social reflection and engagement. This interactive conference seeks to extend conversations about new modes of engaged DIY citizenship and politics evidenced by the exponential increase of DIY media, “user- generators”, “prosumers,” “hacktivists,” tactical media interventionists, and other ‘maker’ identities.

We invite scholars, activists, artists, designers, programmers and others interested in the social and participatory dimensions of digitally-mediated practices, to engage in dialogue across disciplinary and professional divides. All methodological and theoretical approaches are welcomed. Submissions may include paper proposals, works of art and/or design, short video or audio segments, performances, video games, digital media, or other genres and forms. Potential topics include: the relation between social media and the‘making’ of new forms of citizenship engagement—thus, for example, making movements; making community; making news; making play; making bodies; making health; making public; making education; making networks.

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