MARCH 2021: The Perils of De-Platforming

MARCH 2021: The Perils of De-Platforming Plus immersive film, activism & next-gen art View this email in your browser

It’s been an extraordinary two weeks here at the NYC Media Lab. More than 500 attendees joined us in a virtual world, purpose-built for the Tech + Storytelling event last week. We’ll be sharing clips and full-length panels, keynotes, and demos over the next few weeks — so if you’re not already following us on Twitter, now’s the time to click @nycmedialab. We also discussed “The Perils of De-Platforming,” bringing speakers from the ACLU, EFF, The New York Times, and Queen’s University to SXSW’s virtual stage. You’ll see links to some of that below as well.

We’ve got new team members to introduce, news from our Verizon EdTech program, and more on the way.

So, happy almost spring…and as always, if you have an idea you think we can help with, don’t be shy.

Steven Rosenbaum
Executive Director
NYC Media Lab NEW & NOTEWORTHY [ICYMI] Stream the First Video from Our March 10th “Tech + Storytelling” Event

Tech + Storytelling panel on “BLM, Immersive Film & Activism” On March 10th, hundreds of attendees convened online to explore the emerging world of immersive XR during our event, Technology + Storytelling: Engaging the Immersive Future. Co-sponsored by AWE and MOME, and hosted in NYC Media Lab’s virtual Exploratorium (i.e. not Zoom), the 5-hour event brought together creators, filmmakers, and technologists who shared their cutting-edge methods of storytelling in 2021. Speakers and attendees were encouraged to roam the virtual rooms and play with the interactive tools of the Exploratorium. (We quickly noted the therapeutic use of the audible applause feature.)

We’ll be releasing full-length videos and clips of the discussions and demos over the next few weeks. The first discussion — the “BLM, Immersive Film & Activism” panel featuring Caran Hartsfield (NYU Tisch), Alton Gass (GRX Immersive Labs), Lauren Ruffin (Crux), and Abran Maldonado (NYC Media Lab) — is now available to stream via the NYC Media Lab YouTube channel. Watch the full-length video and short clips here. Watch SXSW Panelists Discuss “The Perils of De-Platforming”

SXSW panelists discuss “The Perils of De-Platforming” When Twitter made the decision to de-platform Trump, it was, according to Twitter, to mitigate “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Since then, a wide range of tech companies and platforms have restricted or removed speakers they’ve deemed dangerous. The practice of de-platforming is praised by some and criticized by others, but many agree that the power and responsibility of Big Tech has led to a slippery slope.

Where’s the line between private platforms and government responsibility? Who do we want to determine what speech should be deemed as dangerous? What are the appropriate remedies for publishing such speech? These may be the most important questions of our time. Part of SXSW Online 2021, “The Perils of De-Platforming” panel features:

  • Ben Smith, Media Columnist, The New York Times (Moderator)
  • Kate Ruane, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU
  • Steven Rosenbaum, Executive Director, NYC Media Lab
  • Amarnath Amarasingam, Assistant Professor, Queen’s University
  • Jillian York, Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Watch select clips on NYC Media Lab’s YouTube channel. Register for AWE Academy’s XR Virtual Collaboration Workshop

AWE Academy has partnered with XR consultant and Forbes columnist Charlie Fink to offer a comprehensive, effective evaluation of virtual collaboration platforms.

During AWE Academy’s XR Virtual Collaboration Workshop, participants will explore, experience, and learn how to use 10 of the best virtual training and collaboration sites AWE has identified. This is a unique opportunity to simulate work and training experiences in virtual reality, which can only be conducted in a group setting.

The AWE Academy XR Virtual Collaboration Workshop will be held March 20–21. Register today and use discount code XRC20D for 20% off!

In Partnership With Verizon Innovative Learning, NYCML Welcomes Arcadia Earth to Our Inspiring Cohort

In partnership with Verizon Innovative Learning, we’re thrilled to welcome Arcadia Earth to our inspiring educational cohort. Arcadia Earth is a next generation art exhibition and extended reality experience designed to reimagine the way we address the most pressing environmental issues of our time. It’s the first multi-channel platform to offer a powerful, intimately personal exploration of the plight of our planet through immersive physical installations and the futuristic lens of AR and VR.

With a focus on individual empowerment, each experience provides educational commentary uncovering inconvenient truths about the future of our planet — like the fact that we ingest the equivalent of one credit card a week in microplastics — accompanied by easily actionable suggestions to inspire everyone to become part of the conservation of the planet.

Arcadia Earth will be introducing its AR app, which is designed as an educational tool to innovate the mediums through which we engage students and unite them in action around environmental issues. Learn more about Arcadia Earth, and stay tuned for future updates!

NYC Media Lab Welcomes Rachel Barrera as Interim Operations Manager

We’re thrilled to welcome Rachel Barrera who will be serving as the Interim Operations Manager. Prior to joining NYC Media Lab, Rachel was the Department Manager for the African, African American & Diaspora Studies department at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was responsible for the day-to-day management of departmental operations and oversaw all logistical aspects of departmental events.

Rachel holds a BS in business administration from Meredith College. Meet NYC Media Lab Program Assistant Ishani Singh

The NYC Media Lab team continues to grow — meet Program Assistant Ishani Singh! As Program Assistant, Ishani assists with a range of programmatic and administrative tasks including project logistics and management. She is currently a graduate student at NYU SPS where she is pursuing her MS in publishing in print & digital media.

Prior to joining NYC Media Lab, she worked as an Editorial Assistant at Sahapedia, a digital publishing house in New Delhi. She also worked as a journalist for — one of India’s leading digital news platforms. Ishani holds an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Delhi. VIRTUAL EVENTS MARCH 25: Creating Equitable Transportation at the Neighborhood Level

Local transportation challenges are inextricably linked to broader issues of equity and can have pervasive, systemic impacts on community. Today, more than ever, there’s an opportunity to apply emerging tech to support equitable planning and innovative service delivery to unlock opportunities for residents — from making everyday life more navigable to increasing access to essential resources, services, and employment, and fostering safe and welcoming streets.

Join Newlab on March 25th for an hour-long discussion on “Creating Equitable Transportation at the Neighborhood Level” with entrepreneurs, academic researchers, community leaders, and local officials who are on the front lines of developing policies, partnerships, and solutions to improve mobility at the neighborhood level. This virtual event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP for a link to the livestream.

APRIL 21: Data Science Day 2021

Join the flagship annual event of the Data Science Institute at Columbia University. Data Science Day provides a forum for innovators in academia, industry, and government to connect. The April 21st virtual event will be held from 10am-1pm ET and will feature 2 sessions of lightning talks from leading Columbia University faculty members; interactive demonstrations and posters; and a keynote address from Pat Bajari, a Chief Economist at Amazon and Vice President of Amazon’s Core AI team.

Register here — use code MediaLab21 to unlock free registration!


Coded Bias, the critically acclaimed documentary film directed by Shalini Kantayya, is set to premier on PBS on March 22nd.

About the film: In an increasingly data-driven, automated world, the question of how to protect individuals’ civil liberties in the face of AI looms larger by the day. Coded Bias follows MIT Media Lab computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, along with data scientists, mathematicians, and watchdog groups from all over the world, as they fight to expose the discrimination within facial recognition algorithms now prevalent across all spheres of daily life.

While conducting research on facial recognition technology at the MIT Media Lab, Buolamwini made the startling discovery that the algorithm could not detect dark-skinned faces or women with accuracy. This led to the harrowing realization that the very machine-learning algorithms intended to avoid prejudice are only as unbiased as the humans and historical data programming them. This film is a must-watch.


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