Multimedia for Social Change

Feb. 8th roundup
February 8, 2011, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Reflections

After last week’s excellent presentations from community-based organizations IDEPSCA, KIWA, FIOB, the Southern California Library, and LACAN, each student now has a community partner and it’s time to get into the core of the course: the projects. This week everyone is working to arrange their weekly meeting & working time with the community partners, and over the next few weeks we’ll all be sharing project ideas to refine them into concrete proposals and workplans that are implemented during the second half of the semester. Meanwhile there are lots of interesting posts about the readings and conversations we’ve had so far, as well as additional related media texts. We’re off to a great start 🙂


Reflections from last week (scc)
September 28, 2009, 4:41 pm
Filed under: Reflections

It’s nice to see the class begin to really take off now that everyone has begun meeting with the community partners. Everyone also seemed to enjoy experimenting with Prezi; I’m guessing that some will end up using it for both the project presentations next week and perhaps the final presentations at the end of semester. Claire did a reflection on police brutality, the importance of reaching the population you’re supposed to be working with in grassroots activism, her project with KEEN, and Prezi as an interesting presentation tool ( Adam’s prezi explores Stuart Hall’s critique of the Frankfurt School’s analysis that we are cultural dupes – or dopes, as the case may be 😉 – and optimistically concludes that new media literacies reflect our active engagement in producing and negotiating meaning rather than simply receiving it from advertising and mass culture industries ( Amanda also looked at the transition from mass culture to the multichannel universe to the finely segmented online audience of today, and reflected on what this means for her own life goals as well as the collaboration she and Sylvia are developing with KIWA ( In a similar way, Meghan is using Prezi as a drafting space to think about what her partnership with LACAN might look like, including questions of audience and form ( Katie didn’t post a Prezi to share, but she did offer an intriguing question: what are the implications of rapid media technology transformations for history, memory, visibility, and even the disappearance of physical communities that takes place with  gentrification? I would add that one of the prime reasons Holly and I wanted to offer this class is because we are concerned about how extreme disparities in multimedia literacy shape who gets visibility as ‘activists,’ ‘service providers,’ or even ‘grassroots’ organizations. With digital literacy comes visibility online, the ability to ‘write’ histories for whole neighborhoods and communities, and of course, access to resources of all kinds. In response to Katie’s post, Sylvia raised the key question of what persistent online data means for privacy and surveillance over our life span. The Critical Art Ensemble call this our ‘data body’ and have some very interesting (and disturbing) thoughts on the subject. She also mentioned that she enjoyed Holly’s presentation and posted a short Prezi that looks like the beginnings of a reflection about the relationship between social activism and grassroots media ( Last thought: while looking at everyone’s first prezis today this related one came up, on new literacies and the classroom. Hopefully we’re actually doing some of the things hinted at here. See you all on Thursday for the video workshop!

Technology Access Inequality in LA County
September 23, 2009, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Reflections
Technology Access Inequality in LA County

Technology Access Inequality in LA County

This map is from a 2007 report by CSULA’s Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs, titled “ Technology and the Geography of Inequality: Assessing the Digital Divide in Los Angeles County” [click the title to download the pdf]. It demonstrates the spatial distribution of technology access inequality by creating a ‘composite technology index’ that is a combined measure of the percent of households in each census block group that had access to communication technology. It includes measures of access to computers, internet at home, broadband at home, and mobile phones.

Not surprisingly, the authors found severe geographical disparity in access to technology. Most of the disparity is based on income and race/ethnicity; some of it is based on whether the household is English or Spanish-speaking. Their findings demonstrate on a larger scale that Adam’s experience at Foshay is, unfortunately, typical in LA:

I was astonished to see that most students only had basic technological skills.  One of my students, Guillermo, told me he had detention after school because he did not do his online homework.  After I asked him why he did not finish his homework he replied that he did not have a computer at home.

It’s true. Some young people have extensive, always-on access to all kinds of communication technology and training in how to use it, while others – especially those in households that make less than $40,000 a year – have limited access to computers, broadband, and mobile data plans. So on the one hand, it’s definitely true, as Amanda says:

Now that Web 2.0 has arrived this form of public access has become 1000 times easier. With new media and technologies, we can create, rip, and mix culture and then upload it for the world to see.

At the same time, who gets to participate most in new forms of creating, ripping, and mixing? And what role can we play in helping ensure more just and equitable access to new media literacies? Let’s try to take these disparate realities into account as we develop our projects with the community partners.

September 10, 2009, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Reflections

Adam and Katie posted their reflections for this week on their own wordpress blogs:

Multimedia for Social Change
September 9, 2009, 9:26 pm
Filed under: mm4sc

Welcome to the group blog for Multimedia for Social Change. This is a project-based, service learning class taking place in Fall of 2009 at the University of Southern California. Students in this class will be working with community based organizations in Los Angeles to plan and implement multimedia projects that advance social change goals. Each week, course participants will be blogging here about their experience. For more information, check out the syllabus under ‘Media for Social Change’ at Enjoy!