I’m excited to have been accepted to participate in Data, Power, and Pedagogy put on by HestiaLabs and Brown University’s Information Future’s Lab (IFL) running Sept. 27th – 29th in Providence, Rhode Island. It is the first professional development anything I have traveled to in person since the pandemic and I’m so happy that it is NOT a conference. I’m doing a little homework trying to prep for the experience and can’t help but find connections to past and current work that seemed worthy of a blog post.
I know HestiaLabs as the most recent project from Paul-Olivier Dehaye who I know from my past poking around regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In the last few months, I have caught up with Paul and others at HestiaLabs and been impressed with what they are doing. When I saw this opportunity in Providence to workshop some of the things they are working on first-hand I had to apply – especially since I am now remotely teaching Digital Citizenship part-time for College Unbound which is also located in Providence – and was really excited to be accepted.
As part of our prep work for the workshop we were asked to make data requests from several social media sites, ride share services, mobile operating systems, etc. and to export the data that we got back. We are bringing those exports to the workshop with us. What are we going to do with those? Well, I have some idea from following what HestiaLabs has been doing but it turns out IFL’s most recent panel discussion gave us a sneak peek too. The panel was after my own heart asking the question “Can Regulation Solve the Problem of Misinformation?”, and at about 51:00 in the video one of the panelist Mark Scott from Politico gives a glimpse of what I think we are going to experience this week.
As I found in the past, just obtaining the data exports was a lesson in itself. Every service had an automated process to request your data which is a huge improvement from when I worked with Paul to request my data from Cambridge Analytica back in 2016. All of the platforms that we were asked to download from were big ones and I suppose they now have to have such services with GDPR protections and an automated system is likely the cheapest way for them to field such requests. For almost all of them I had to initiate a request and then wait a bit to then be provided with a raw data file in a JSON format. I could have also picked an HTML format in many of them. All of them sent me a notification when my file was ready with the exception of TikTok. I had about 5 expired requests from TikTok already as I’ve requested my data from them in the past but they never send a notification and I always forget. The data files expire after something like 4 days and without a notification that your data is ready it is easy to forget.
I’m excited to participate and to be blogging again. I’m seeing connections to my past work questioning regulation and calling for education around data privacy, as well as, applying some of these methods to help us to better question the edtech solutions that we use locally. We will see what comes of it all.