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Is it possible to keep your digital life private?

Concordia marks Media Literacy Week with a 3-for-1 maker event
October 31, 2016
By Elisabeth Faure

What do used computer parts, media literacy and online privacy have in common?

On November 3, education professors Giuliana Cucinelli and Ann-Louise Davidson from the Faculty of Arts and Science will explore these links through a mini-maker fair, exhibition and documentary screening.

Making things…and making things private,” takes place at the Milieux Institute as part of Media Literacy Week, which runs from October 31 to November 4.

Cucinelli participated in Media Literacy Week a few years ago and says she loved the experience, She was drawn to this year’s theme, “Making and Creating.”

“I believe it’s important for us to raise awareness of media literacy and this theme fits perfectly with our current research project on maker culture.”

A safe space for makers

On the menu for Thursday? What Cucinelli describes as a “three-for-one” event, featuring the mini-maker faire, followed by a fabrications showcase and the launch of her new interactive documentary, Define Privacy. 

“The maker faire is a safe space for folks who are interested in making things using small and affordable technologies like Raspberry Pi and Arduino,” explains Cucinelli. “The essence of this workshop is bringing participants in to explore these technologies in a place where they can ask questions and start to tinker with the different items.”

Davidson believes that to make is to know. “Once you experience your first blinking light, interact with your first lines of code with objects moving on the monitor, solder your first wires, you know you’ve got it,” she says.

“You understand how it works and that knowledge stays with you forever.”

The fabrication showcase will include projects that have been created by graduate students, maker faire participants and the organizers themselves.

The closing film launch is the culmination of two years’ work for Cucinelli. Define Privacy explores how young people engage with digital devices in an increasingly technologically minded society and how they conceive of privacy. Cucinelli interviewed close to 40 Montreal high school students for the film.

The documentary project includes a website with a series of educational resources prepared for kindergarten to grade 12 schools and community centres. “I hope audiences appreciate the value of the young people’s voices and their message,” Cucinelli says.

Keen collaborators

The event is being held in collaboration with partners including the ACT Project (ageing + communications + technology), and MediaSmarts, the Ottawa-based group that hosts Media Literacy Week.

Cathy Wing is co-executive director of MediaSmarts. “We’re really pleased to have the participation of Concordia University, one of Canada’s leading learning institutions,” she says.

“We look forward to sharing their work in media literacy and spotlighting their events.”

Cucinelli and Davidson are confident the day’s activities will offer something for everyone.

“Our goal is to open up maker culture and issues surrounding digital privacy to experts and novices alike,” Davidson says. “These are cultural spaces and discussions that should be accessible to all.”

Register for “Making things…and making things private,” which takes place Thursday, November 3, at 2 p.m. at the Milieux Institute, in room 11.655 of the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV). 



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