DML 2016 Recap

This week I attended my first Digital Media and Learning conference, which was held here on the UC Irvine campus. I thought I would write a short recap of my experiences. Disclaimer: these thoughts are by no means all encompassing.

photo of a sign with lego texture that reads, DML Digital Media and Learning Conference

My first impressions of the DML community is that they are very friendly and very passionate about what they do. It’s a wonderful combination for someone joining in for the first time. There was also lots of engagement on Twitter throughout the conference, which I found to be a helpful way to make the event more accessible.
hand hold a DML conference badge, the text on the badge reads Kathryn Ringland Kate, University of California Irvine
Fun DML 2016 badge.
While I enjoyed all the sessions I attended, the keynote and plenary conversation were definitely the highlights. The conversations I had in between sessions and during the reception were by far the most inspiring part of the conference for me in terms of ideas for my own scholarly work.
a woman at a podium next to a projected slide
Constance Steinkuehler talking about the future that is games.

What is most exciting for me are the following two takeaways:
1. Play and games are truly coming into their own in the academic space. I am so excited to see games research in these more educational and learning spaces realize the potential of well designed games (i.e., not those educational games that kids see straight through and aren’t fun at all to play.)
a photo of a slide of a trojan horse painted, with text reading games are a trojan horse for interest driven learning
Slide of the trojan horse that is GAMES.
2. There were hints and whispers throughout DML of inclusion. For many this meant socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, gender, but very little about ability. The last two ignite talks at the end of the conference were calls for more disability work in the space. I whole-heartedly agree and am very excited to contribute next year as I can.

Of the many memorable moments, the students on campus held a protest during the plenary talk this morning because apparently the LA Police Chief was giving a talk somewhere else on campus.

I was ecstatic when Henry Jenkins discussed how Star Trek changed his world view.

All in all, it was an awesome event and I’m looking forward to attending again next year!

Mutually Assured Destruction

Rumors have been flying around the various social media sites this week as lawmakers gear up to vote on SOPA and PIPA. The biggest rumor being that the big internet companies that have sent a letter recommending the acts not be passed are threatening to shut themselves down if lawmakers fail to listen.

So my first question was, what exactly is SOPA? The “Stop Online Piracy Act” is a 78 page bill that attempts to eliminate online piracy. It does this through a variety of ambiguous methods including saying that anyone who posts copyrighted material will be prosecuted and can spend three years in jail. The website, if it fails to take down the offending copyrighted material within five days, will be shut down. So, every time a 16 year old girl sings a cover of her favorite new pop song, she could be thrown in jail and YouTube could be shut down. But it gets better. Any offending off-shore websites can be censored. Much akin to how China and Iran censor their countries’ internet.

The companies supporting the bill are those in the music and video industries. Disney and ESA (who represents game companies including Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo of America, and more…) are just to name a couple supporters. Basically anyone who is feeling the pain of piracy in the checkbook department.

In response to this bill, several large internet companies have banded together in opposition. Among these companies are: Facebook, Amazon, Google, Twitter, Mozilla, Zynga, and LinkedIn. If on January 24th, the bill is passed, these companies could do the unthinkable and disrupt their own services. I like to think of it as mutually assured destruction. Our country’s economy relies on the internet more than anyone would care to admit. If all the major players decided to fight back, life could get uncomfortable for a lot of people. Or maybe not having Facebook for a day will prove to people they really don’t need it after all. Who knows?

I personally think that this whole SOPA thing is a really bad idea. People should be writing to their congressmen and telling them to get their heads out of the sand! The internet is here to stay and censorship is not the answer! Perhaps it’s time for the video, game, and music companies to come into this century and let THEM change their ways of distribution. The American people are telling these companies how they would like to be able to access their entertainment through their behavior. It’s time to listen and give them what they want instead of inventing new ways to throw them in jail!