Jade Did Drumbeat: A Field Journal

It's Interactive and Ethnographic

The Staff

a.k.a. The Rockstars

As a HASTAC team we meet weekly to discuss all items and FutureClass has been discussed at our meetings every week since the beginning of the term.   I don’t think I’ve ever included my class on the weekly agendas before but, because this one changes all the rules, it needs all of us thinking together on how to make it work as seamlessly as possible.

Cathy, Private email, Reproduced with permission

There were three women.  They occasionally popped in to our classes and spoke on administrative details or replied to an email sent to the listserv.  They also showed up when anything big or small needed to happen.

A few examples:

  • buying a domain
  • setting up the infrastructure for a website, 3+ times
  • making sure we were getting course credit
  • making sure we were safe while traveling
  • making sure we had places to stay in foreign countries
  • making sure we had everything we needed, from food to art supplies
  • guaranteeing  our class was successful
  • checking in to make sure we are having an all around positive experience
  • cab fare
  • phone calls

What word do we use to describe women like this other than Rock Stars?

What  I don’t think members of the class realized is how much work they were doing outside of the obvious things .  They were all part of our overactive listserv, wading through more than 500 emails we sent during the semester, making sure everything was okay.  They were discussing any issues or concerns they saw bubbling up in their weekly staff meetings, going through the class in real time, behind the scenes apart from us, but with us at the same time.

The Opening

This video puts the opening speeches provided by Cathy Davidson and Mitchell Baker in conversation.  It was very empowering to start the first day of the festival with these two amazing women.  After this speech all the participating groups pitched their ideas.



HASTAC tent at Drumbeat

HASTAC is why we were able to go to Drumbeat.  The tent we were a part of was a HASTAC tent.  HASTAC provided funding for the grad students to go (in the spirit of full disclosure, so did Mozilla).  Future Class was associated with HASTAC before it was part of any department on campus (though officially it was listed as an Eng and ISIS course).  Needless to say, if it weren’t for HASTAC, this experience wouldn’t have been possible for me or the other members of future class.

But, what is HASTAC!?

Hastac it’s like this perfect storm.

this is a voluntary organization that we started in 2002
of people who just thought

that the way

higher education is structured
first of all
is still based on … these two cultures idea,
that there’s humanities  and arts

on the one hand

and deep critical thinking, those things that don’t get you a job over here / and technology and science over here / and that’s how you get a job and it doesn’t involve deep critical thinking.  It’s just about doing stuff.
That’s a

disaster. I’m sorry

but you don’t want to have the people making the technology not understanding the historical context and theoretical ideas
and you don’t want people who do think about those things not getting a job.
I mean its a really bad vision that comes out of the industrial age and out of an industrial age idea.  It’s certainly not how Newton did physics and theology in his era or Copernicus or anyone before the industrial age.

So HASTAC is really designed as an acronym (said as though it were one word)

H-A-S-T-A-C Humanities,


Technology Advanced Collboratory
it’s about trying to put those things back together again.
Well, we were considered a renegade organization

until about

maybe last year
and now
we’re like the flavor of the month.
I mean every day it seems

some crazy new invitation is coming asking for us to teach people to think in a different way

and how to change the academy.

-Cathy Davidson, First Class Meeting

Meet the Prof

Cathy, Professor of Future Class

I have been back and forth trying to determine if “the prof” needed a separate section.  She does.  This class wouldn’t have happened without a blog post.  We wouldn’t have gone to drumbeat if it weren’t for her.  Further, as one of the co-founders of HASTAC, we can also thank her for that.

You can read all of the stuff she is thinking about at her HASTAC blog.

For the purposes of future class, drumbeat and this site, “Meet the Prof” is more about the role she played in the class.

Why is This Separate from “Meet the Class“?

The role the Professor played in Future Class has been, like most other roles, undefined.  While the professor does attend most  of the class meetings at least part of the time, based on interviews with the class and my own observations, this is probably the most independent of independent studies we have all gone through in perception.

Rather than explaining what she does in a narrative, I will provide some bullet points on her role.

The Role of the Professor in Future Class

  • To trust the students to be self guided
  • To ensure that if things seem to be veering to far out of the realm of okay that they get brought back in
  • To be an advocate for the students
  • To serve as a mentor rather than an instructor
  • To observe from a distance when necessary
  • To take the lead when the time is right
  • To step in at times of conflict and confusion
  • To always have the big picture in mind
  • To get to know the students and their strengths and weakness
  • To use the knowledge of the students to challenge them and push them in their work
  • To allow the students the freedom to try new things and fail without penalty
  • To listen and hear

I’m sure there are more, but those are the main patterns of behavior I’ve observed.   What do we call professors who do not profess?  Do we go back to them being teachers?

From the student point of view Cathy has been involved in bullet points.  She gave us the freedom to do what we wanted and forced us to work out any issues or tensions we had as a group.  It must be acknowledged that there is always  more behind the scenes.

I have spent more actual hours on this class than on any other I’ve ever “taught”–or not taught.   I’m on line with one or another student virtually 24/7 and the behind-the-scenes required to get everyone some kind of scholarship funding to Barcelona and to process all the paperwork, including for the one student who was a minor, was endless […] In terms of a time commitment, in a semester where I have no extra time whatsoever, FutureClass has been an incredible investment of my time, more than I’ve spent getting my book ready for press, but worth every second.

Cathy, Private Email, Reproduce with permission

In addition to Cathy, none of this would have been possible without the help of the HASTAC Staff, a group of amazing women that stayed hidden in the background even more than Cathy and her bullet point roles (they have their own bullet points).

The Science Fair & Side Table Sessions

HASTAC tent in the sqaure

HASTAC Tent in Plaça dels Angels



This was a First

None of us had attended a festival like Drumbeat before.  We went with a carefully crafted schedule that filled every time slot with a main tent event. For every tent event there was a complimentary side table event scheduled that a member of Future Class was in charge of.  Future Class also took the lead on planning the Science Fair table.  Like most well planned events, things did not work out quite as we had hoped.

The Science Fair

Sam's Tweet

Sam's Tweet on the Science Fair

At the Science Fair Future Class debuted the low tech social network. It was meant to map connections people made at the event.  We spent the entire night enticing people to place themselves on the canvas via self-designed post it type notes with tidibits of information.  It was our first opportunity to meet and observe who had come to this Drumbeat festival.  We were all left in awe. We were in a room full of so many fascinating people, and that the fascinating people were playing with our canvas! The empty space of our idea became a cluttered with little squares that represented all the people we were coming in to contact with. Our success at the Science Fair made us excited to take it to the side table as an ongoing activity.

The Downside =(

We could not hear the keynote speech from Joi Ito due to the acoustics of the room where the science fair was held. I am pretty sure that was the only downside to the Science Fair.

The Tent

We had a full schedule for both days we were there and a beautiful handout created with all the information about what would be going on in the tent. Rather than talk about everything we had planned, I will share the schedule:

Storming The Academy Tent Schedule

Storming The Academy Tent Schedule

Storming the Academy Tent

First Event at Storming the Academy

The Side Table

I think we learned that there is such a thing as over planning. The side table schedule was a bust. During the first event it was swallowed by everyone who wanted to participate in Anne Balsamo’s session on minority voices in tag clouds. This also made our low-tech social network inaccessible (can you find them, and us in the picture to the left?).

I will take responsibility and acknowledge that my actions, insisting that the table stay inside the tent so our technology wasn’t an easy target for pick pockets (there were a couple of big robberies at the event) might have had something to do with this failure. At the same time, allowing Future Class students the ability to freely participate in the Storming the Academy events added a unique voice. Cathy pointed out on numerous occasions that “our tent was the only tent with actual students”.  Had we been outside we literally would not have been part of the tent.  We were more engaged as participants by giving our input than we would have been had we stuck with the rigid structured schedule we set up.

Solution and Outcome for a Failed Plan

Anything that needed to be covered by the side table was incorporated into the main tent events. Everyone who was supposed to present and engage an audience had the opportunity to do so. The solution, incorporating the class fullt in to the tent, was a positive thing because it also meant that Future class members who presented also had the main tent activity leaders as part their audience to provide feedback and mentor in real time.

The side table ended up downgraded (or upgraded) to an information post about Future Class and HASTAC.