Platforms, Book Bans, and Speculative Action: A Call for Design

UntitledI want to play this tune for you, but I forgot the words.

This past week, I’ve been watching robotic dogs that can hunt immigrants on our border, the ceding of a fight about book banning, and debates about Joe Rogan that limit perspectives of civic engagement to if someone should move from one platform to another.

I’m wondering why we’re not doing more for teachers and students.

We’re not doing more for teachers and students because we’re all. so. goddamn. tired.

And so, I’m thinking about the limitations of discourse: The ways the ongoing trauma of a pandemic has left us flat-footed when it comes to responding to censorship and attacks on the possibilities of classroom ingenuity right now.

We are losing in a moment of indelible grief.

That word–“indelible”–has been showing up kind of serendipitously in my life lately – in books, films, conversations.

Each time, the word is punctuated with the memory of Christine Blasey Ford using it, her voice quivering as she describes the memory of her assault by Brett Kavanaugh: “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two. They’re having fun at my expense.”

A lot of us have spent time dreaming and arguing for social change. But arguments are simply screeds when they’re in an online vacuum. Speculative imagination is only as good as the change it might instantiate.

So, here’s a query: if we were to convene virtually in the next few weeks to take on the current contexts book banning and educational responsibility, what would you want to design, to develop, to dream together? (“we” is you, and me, and whoever is willing to participate.)

Academics are good at talk for talk’s sake. What might we do? Who might we become? Are you willing to mutate in dialogue for the sake of tomorrow?

Leave a Reply