(photo by @notalyce)
It's conference month for me — this time to Theorizing the Web, last weekend in New York City. Specifically, fitting the group's un-conference feel, in a warehouse in Williamsburg.
TtW is a gathering of ridiculously smart people working on projects related to network analysis, social media, human-computer interaction, and all manner of online and infrastructure theory.
What an invigorating weekend at UMass-Amherst for the one-off conference about Science for the People! Organized by Sigrid Schmalzer and her comrades at the university's enviable Social Thought & Political Economy program, the two-day gathering assembled nearly 200 people — most of them former members of Science for the People, and many of them enjoying the reunion with colleagues and cohorts — to discuss the legacies and lasting impacts of the group's resistance, publications, and educational efforts.
Founded in 1969, SftP became a diverse national network of scientists commonly concerned about the increasing militarization and corporatization of scientific research. Through organized confrontations at established science conferences, various street-level social projects, and an impressive, eponymous bimonthly magazine that published for 15 years (now neatly archived online), SftP sounded early alarms about issues ranging from drones (as early as 1973) and computer surveillance to the commercialization of biotechnologies and genetic manipulation. Early in the conference, the consensus was clear: these issues have grown only more urgent, and much work remains.
I'm THOMAS CONNER, communication researcher and culture journalist.