Monday, April 27: Pandemic Network Diaries

Glenn Harvey, via NY Times

Here’s our agenda <click the link!> for today’s class meeting; it includes a schedule and all the links we’ll need to coordinate our online collaboration.

Several publications — from Slate and the New York Review of Books, to American Ethnologist (an anthropology journal) and The Point (a magazine of everyday philosophy) — have invited writers and artists to contribute coronavirus “diary” entries. The New York Times has also documented more personal, idiosyncratic variations on the genre. We encourage you to skim some of these submissions and to consider: where and how do these contributors talk about networks? About connection and community? About equity and justice and other values that have informed our discussions over the course of the semester?

Now, we invite you to revisit our Network Diary assignment (scroll down to “Network Diary” on our Requirements + Assignments page) — to think about how your networks have changed in the six weeks since we dispersed from campus and settled into this new Uncanny Pandemic Reality. How would you re-map your networks in this time of disruption and dislocation, social distancing and “isolation partners,” mutual aid and mitigation, grief and uncertainty?

Please choose any 24-hour period over the course of this week and create your own Pandemic Network Diary. Document your use of networks: yes, digital platforms, digital gadgets, digital news sources, and digital infrastructures, of course — but also analog information and social infrastructures, familial systems of care, health infrastructures, mutual aid networks, etc. How are these various networks entangled? How do they supplement or undermine one another? When have your networks failed you? Surprised you? How have your networking use patterns and priorities shifted since early March, when you completed your initial diary entry? Have you had any experience with the social and movement networks we discussed last week?

Please use any media form you like: create a photo essay, a Google Slide show, a series of TikTok videos, an Instagram Story, a handmade data visualization, a (three-minute) video or audio documentary, a network diagram, a handwritten journal entry, a zine, whatever! Feel free to involve your family, roommates, and friends, if they’re game. Then, by 3pm on April 27 — an hour before class — please either upload your diary to our Pandemic Network Diary Folder, or post a link to your project on our class agenda, so we can discuss everyone’s work during today’s class. We’ll ask each of you to talk about your work informally for a couple minutes. If you’d rather not share, please speak with us in advance.

We want this activity to allow for introspection and reflection; to give you an opportunity to think about your personal relationships and priorities; to help you make our class material newly and personally relevant. Ideally, it’ll even be fun, cathartic, and/or revelatory. What’s it not meant to be is busywork.

After we talk about our Network Diaries, we will be joined by Dr. Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. Dr. Gangadharan’s areas of expertise include communication rights; data and discrimination; data profiling; and democratic communication. She is a co-founder of the Our Data Bodies organizing + research project, which provides a different view of anthropology and ethnography methods. Throughout the course, we have developed a growing awareness of inequities in the digital/networked world. This conversation will introduce the basics of moving from individual experience to networked organizing and collective action.

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