two things

This is a sketch of what could be a larger project about data and databases, knowledge production, and the electronic turn in social services. It’s inspired by Craig Willse’s 2016 book, “The Value of Homelessness: Managing Surplus Life in the United States”—specifically, the “Governing through Numbers” chapter.

At this point, there is only one modal. When you click the “First Name” input, you see part of an interview from the Signs for the Homeless project (link below). I’d like to create modals for every input box.

In disrupting the data field this way, the idea is to show how databases constrain the kinds of information we can know about a person. The resulting “statistical portraits,” to use Willse’s phrase, stand in for a population that doesn’t actually exist until the database brings it into being. This reality has important applications for how we use databases (and algorithms that rely on them) to create and inform policy.

outreachy bug fix for mozilla’s test pilot project

a very, very sketchy sketch of my process for working on a bug for mozilla’s outreachy application:

  • researched different teams and projects that were offering outreachy internships
  • decided on test pilot, an “iterative prototyping, user research, and opt-in user-facing testing platform.”
  • set up chatzilla, an irc add-on for firefox to communicate with mentors/team members
  • lurked on the #testpilot irc channel for a few days before finally reaching out to jared, one of the mentors, about which bug i should work on
  • chose the bug based on the words “this might be a little too ambitious”

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 1.00.35 PM

  • embarked on a 2-day computer binge of cloning repos, installing multifirefox, setting development preferences, creating a proxy file, getting familiar with the browser toolbox, and forgetting to eat.
  • the bug itself was not the difficult part. below is most of the solution:


  • the difficult part was setting up the testing environment, which involved docker and a bunch of command line stuff i was unfamiliar with. errors on errors.

error in console

error in js

error w docker-compose up

  • i asked a ton of questions, which felt not super comfortable for me, but was absolutely essential to continuing work on the bug. mentors were really helpful and responsive.

who knows whether i’ll get the internship. the project contribution is just a part of the application; i still have to write a bunch of words for humans about myself and my interest in mozilla, FOSS, etc. but it’s been great learning either way.

wowow, what a month

here’s some of what i’ve been up to:

  • surya’s radio class is a wrap. here’s my final presentation, what u kno bout free public wifi? i hope to shape this into a blog post and put it up on medium.
  • i’m starting a new 7-week class after spring break called “development in the public interest” with harlo holmes. very excited.
  • i fiiiinally finished fixing the formatting of the p5.serial documentation and created a graphic for the library. now it lives on the p5.js website and can help everyone communicate serially more better!

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 1.33.49 PM

  • anna deveare smith’s theater class is just extraordinary. and also a ton of work and growth and vulnerability all at once. we had to create and perform 5-minute performances about our lives. then, we were paired up and assigned to practice our partner’s piece, which we’ll ultimately perform in front of class. i’m also the blog editor for the class, so i’m responsible for keeping conversations going between meetings. that’s all keeping me pretty busy.
  • tavia’s class is wonderful readings. i missed theory. our final is a 15-page paper, which will be a stretch for me since i haven’t written an academic paper in 5 years. i pitched some ideas to him about affect theory and internet infrastructure. he was into it! it could be an exciting opportunity for me to make some theoretical connections that have been floating around in my brain.
  • i’m applying to be an outreachy intern at mozilla this summer after i didn’t get the engineering internship i applied for with them. part of the application is to find the team and project within mozilla i want to work on this summer and fix a bug for the project. so i’ve been working on a bug for test pilot, an application for prototyping new firefox features. it’s fun. i’ll write a post about it later.
  • i started and ended my internship as a code/electronics teaching assistant in a public middle school classroom. i was really excited because i worked with youth at a creative writing organization in seattle before i moved to nyc, and i think students are brilliant and weird. plus, it took forever to jump through the department of education’s hoops—fingerprints, in-person citizenship verification, lots of online forms—and i was ready to finally dig in. unfortunately, after two weeks in his classroom, my teacher was “reassigned pending investigation.” i had some issues with his teaching, and i guess other folks did too. we’re still trying to figure out whether i’ll join another classroom or push off until this summer.
  • i’m newly a moderator for a facebook group called “jews for decolonization.” this is related to organizing i did in seattle with jewish voice for peace. i think it’s really important work and deeply personal for me. i’m working on some community guidelines to keep conversations in the group of 1,200 respectful and constructive.