OTI's Policy Director at the 2011 Allied Media Conference. Photo licensed CC BY-SA by Preston Rhea.
This week at the Open Technology Institute, we’re going back to the source of our passion for technology. It’s not about policy objectives or new software features, but rather the inspiration and enjoyment we get from sharing what we know and learning from others. The Allied Media Conference offers a rare chance to interact with an array of community organizers, technologists, and policy folks in an environment that’s all about generating creative ideas and engaging with other participants. OTI has been a part of the AMC before, but this year we are sending our largest contingent yet.
From June 28 to July 1, thirteen members of the Open Technology Institute staff will participate in the AMC. The conference, now in its 14th year, places a unique emphasis on interactive sessions. Instead of your typical panel-driven conference, AMC workshops are hands-on, participatory experiences, focusing on “horizontal” knowledge transfer between organizers and attendees. In essence, everyone at the AMC is both a teacher and a learner. As a result, workshop leaders approach the conference thinking about both the knowledge they want to share and the lessons they can draw from the audience.
AMC participants will have a variety of opportunities to hear about different areas of OTI’s work this year, from across the field, policy, and tech teams. We are organizing and collaborating on ten different sessions throughout the event.
OTI Workshops at the AMC
We’ll strategize about how communities can change their relationship to data and research in several sessions. In our Power of Data: Analysis and Visualization workshop, we’ll demystify data-gathering and talk about how we can use it for the benefit of our communities. Another session in the Research Justice Track, Get It Right: Research, Power, and Community, will share tools and strategies to help heavily researched communities like Detroit gain more control over research processes and ensure that researchers give back to the community.
We’ll talk policy and governance through interactive sessions designed to inspire new approaches to the issues. At the workshop on Open Society, Open Spectrum, OTI will team up with the Association for Progressive Communications to visualize the impacts of open spectrum on various human rights, participatory governance and community issues. At our Civic Hacking for Self-Governance session we’ll reinterpret "hacking" to mean any process that intervenes government systems to redraw power relationships and envision the technologies we need to support self-governance.
Private companies and government agencies gather data about us all the time. How do we share new technologies with communities who are usually the first to be surveilled and exploited by state and corporate actors? In our Keeping Track: Surveillance & Organizing workshop, we’ll identify surveillance concerns, review a suite of tools that can help protect your privacy, and translate how these tools work for non-techie friends and family. We don’t have to leave it to big companies to determine our future when it comes to broadband Internet connections. In Community Media Policy & The New Majority we’ll talk about policy options for communities seeking to operate their own broadband infrastructure that is both affordable and accessible.
There will also be plenty of opportunities for some hands on work with technology. Learn how to connect your local community to a mesh network in the Social & Community WiFi Mesh Networks session, which will help explain the basics of flashing a router and the benefits a mesh network can bring to your neighborhood. Our workshop on Fostering A Culture of Repair will introduce participants to repair as a lifestyle. We’ll cover the knowledge and behavior we can all use to ensure that our digital ecosystem remains self-serviceable while fixing a broken laptop screen. As more and more people go online to organize protests and actions, protecting your online communication is even more crucial. Securing Our Online Communications will explore the vulnerabilities of digital communication and introduce simple, low-cost tools to promote privacy and security, primarily for women's rights activists.
And, finally, we’ll be talking about creative ways to use technology to share stories and develop new learning strategies. At the Fun With PirateChatterBoxes workshop, we’ll explain how to make a PirateChatterBox--a small WiFi hotspot in a fun pirate lunchbox package, with collaborative notetaking software, a fileserver, and a tin-can-on-a-string--for people to record their stories and listen to others who visited the Box before them. And in our Curriculum For Healthy Digital Ecologies session, we’ll discuss how blogging, digital storytelling, video, and more can teach holistic approaches to technology with the goal of building stronger communities inside the classroom and beyond.
One of the great parts about the AMC is that it is not a narrowly-focused conference, but rather an opportunity to “engage with [our] whole selves, not just with one part of [our] identity,” as AMP states in its network principles. If you can join us at the Allied Media Conference, you will get the chance to see the both the breadth of OTI’s areas of work and the diverse ways we collaborate with other organizations, as part of our core belief in the power of communities to work together and build off our collective knowledge and expertise. Below, you’ll find a list of our session collaborators for this year’s AMC and the Twitter hashtags if you want to follow the action from afar.
Center for Social Inclusion
Association for Progressive Communications
Code for America
Participatory Budgeting Project
Allied Media Projects
Detroit Future Media
Media Mobilizing Project
List of Sessions and Twitter Hashtags
Community Media Policy & The New Majority
Open Society, Open Spectrum
Civic Hacking for Self-Governance
Fun with PirateChatterBoxes
Social and Community Wifi Networks
Curriculum for Healthy Digital Ecologies
Fostering a Culture of Repair
Power of Data: Analysis and Visualization
Get It Right: Research, Power, and Community