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Memes to Movements: A Conversation with An Xiao Mina and Dorothy R. Santos

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California Institute of Integral Studies

1453 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

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This event is part of the Technology & Consciousness Series: Fall/Winter 2018-2019

Memes are the street art of our digital spaces and increasingly serve to reinforce, amplify, and shape today’s politics.

The silly stuff of meme culture—the photo remixes, the selfies, the YouTube songs, and the pun-tastic hashtags—are fundamentally intertwined with how we find and affirm one another, direct attention to human rights and social justice issues, build narratives, and make culture. Meanwhile, governments are learning to wield the internet as effectively as protestors, and hate groups are also beginning to utilize memes to spread propaganda, xenophobia, and misinformation. Botnets and state-sponsored agents spread them to confuse and distract internet communities. Whether we like it or not, memes have become a major part of life on and offline.

Join writer and curator Dorothy R. Santos for a conversation with technologist and digital media scholar An Xiao Mina exploring the long, winding road from the innocuous cat photos of the past to the central practice for political contention and civic engagement that memes have become today.

An Xiao Mina is a technologist, writer, and artist. She leads the product team at Meedan, where they are building Check, a platform for collaboratively verifying news in real time, and Bridge, a platform for translating social media and messaging app content. She is also a co-founder at the Credibility Coalition, an effort to develop a standard for assessing content credibility online, and co-chair of the W3C Credible Web Community Group.

At Harvard University, An is an affiliate researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a recent 2016 Knight Visiting Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, where she studied online language barriers and their impact on journalism.

She is also co-founder of The Civic Beat, a global research collective focused on the creative side of civic technology. They have led workshops and exhibitions in spaces such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Mozilla Festival Open Artist Studio (curated by the V&A Museum and Tate Modern), the Asian Art Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the ACLU and RightsCon, and they've been producing what Net Monitor called "the cutest map of the internet"—a world map of animal memes in collaboration with over a dozen internet culture researchers. She serves as contributing editor to Civicist, advisory editor to Hyperallergic, board member at China Residencies, and co-chair at the Online News Association's SF Bay Area chapter.

An is the author of Memes to Movements: How the World’s Most Viral Media is Changing Social Protest and Power.

Dorothy R. Santos is a Filipina American writer, curator, and researcher whose academic interests include digital art, computational media, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco and received her Master's degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently a PhD student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow.

Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Ars Technica, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA's Open Space. Her essay "Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings," was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She serves as a co-curator for REFRESH , a curatorial collective in partnership with Eyebeam, the program manager for the Processing Foundation, and host for the podcast PRNT SCRN produced by Art Practical.

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California Institute of Integral Studies

1453 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

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