The very first step in building Media Map was through a Teaching Innovation Grant at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where Alexandrina Agloro was faculty in 2016-2017. One of the grant’s calls was to work on a project related to race and games, which is one of the first themes we developed. SCRAM (then known as CRES: Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Committee) was in discussions about our commitments to Ethnic Studies and our commitments to relevant education in the communities where we lived and worked. First, we wanted to build upon concepts and methods in FemTechNet’s Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC). The DOCC is a feminist alternative to the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) course format, and features collaborative synchronous and asynchronous content delivery through online classroom nodes taught by participating instructors. The DOCC provided a horizontal network for connecting instructors and engaging learners in multiple locations, while a MOOC depends on brand name institutions or third-party companies to implement a one-to-many vertical delivery model.
While the DOCC was a semester-long course that provides a survey of topics more generally related to feminist technology, Media Map focuses on the creation of flexible plug-and-play content packages that can be utilized in a greater variety of class settings. From university courses to community education, these modules will provide easier access to scaled programming. We built this model to be inclusive of educators who teach at universities, community centers, and teen after school/summer programs and who understand the need to create learning modules that could be applied outside a semester system. Additionally, our explicit thematic focus is at the intersections of race and technology, emphasizing the connections between underrepresented groups’ access to technology and relevant content delivery methods that respond to intersectional challenges.
We worked across the 2016-2017 year to figure out the content delivery platform, Media Map’s themes, and bring in relevant comrades and stakeholders into this project.
In 2017 Kristy H.A. Kang was awarded an EdeX Grant from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Adapting the design for her online cultural history on Koreatown in Los Angeles – “The Seoul of Los Angeles: Contested Identities and Transnationalism in Immigrant Space” – this grant was used to create an online collaborative platform for critical making and mapping in the classroom. This became the basis for this online platform Media Map.
The aim of this project is to create an online collaborative database and mapping platform for students and faculty that can be used as a pedagogical tool for making and mapping of visual media (video, archival images, historical data, research and text). The outcome of this project would be to enhance course material development – to create a tool that would facilitate the process of sharing and creating research of online resources and to practice in creating audio-visual responses to the materials in a collaborative, interdisciplinary setting.
The platform would be utilized in distributed classrooms to share resources and student works among collaborating faculty who are part of Situated Critical Race and Media (SCRAM) – a D.I.O. (Do It Ourselves) race and social justice network of feminist organizers, educators, artists, activists, and scholars working on technology, justice, transformation, digital media praxis and theory.
Femtechnet hosted its first conference April 8-10, 2016 at the University of Michigan “Signal/Noise“. FemTechNet is an activated network of hundreds of scholars, students, and artists who work on, with, and at the borders of technology, science, and feminism in a variety of fields including Science and Technology Studies (STS), Media and Visual Studies, Art, Women’s, Queer, and Ethnic Studies. Launched in 2012, the network has developed and experimented with collaborative processes to address the educational needs of students interested in feminist science-technology studies. One of the FemTechNet projects is the creation of an alternative to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) called a DOCC: Distributed Open Collaborative Course.
In a workshop on mapping, Karen Keifer-Boyd begins with a discussion of feminist principles and practices of mapping and cartography from interacting with several examples, including FTN DOCC mapping projects. Two researchers, Kristy H.A. Kang at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Almudena Escribá Maroto, Universidad de Valencia, Spain, present how they use mapping to visualize overlooked histories of ethnic communities and how they claim space in the city, the relationships between politics of location and knowledge in terms of accountability/responsibility, the body, and ideological landmarks.
The interest in Kristy H.A. Kang’s presentation of her online cultural history “The Seoul of Los Angeles: Contexted Identities and Transnationalism in Immigrant Space” became the design inspiration and model for the NTU EdeX Grant awarded to Kang in 2017 to create this current collaoborative platform MediaMap. Co-PI’s on the grant include members of the SCRAM collective.
In 2014, Veronica Paredes and Kristy H.A. Kang designed and taught a course called “Global Cultures and Difference in Media Art” between Singapore and New York. This course explores media art intersectionally situated between nations, languages, cultures, genders, and ethnicities. This multi-nodal course is designed to be an alternative to the conventional university seminar and was taught simultaneously and collaboratively between two locations and schools: NTU-ADM and The New School’s School of Media Studies in New York.
Throughout the term, students from Singapore and New York developed creative dialogues and exercises to collectively create artworks, which became part of an online database and archive of class materials, group projects and discussions which can be viewed here – http://oss2014.adm.ntu.edu.sg/dm2011.1.html.
This course created an opportunity to reflect on how local or regional media artists and collectives in Singapore and New York respond to and challenge theoretical concepts of “difference,” while shaping multiple understandings of place and identity.