Jesse Drew and Glenda Drew

A Hack in the Odious Machine: Digital Organizing Tools for the Precariat

Date 4/13/15

Affiliation Cinema and Technoculture, UC Davis and Design, UC Davis


Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium

April 13, 2015, 7:30-9:00pm

The David Brower Center, Berkeley CA

Lectures are free and open to the public. Co-presented with the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative.

Reserve your ticket

Many high-tech projects that hoist the banner of “innovation” pride themselves on creating “disruption” to established modes of industry and commerce. Yet, often the disruption that ensues comes at the expense of the lives, livelihoods and neighborhoods of people in a vulnerable position on the socio-economic scale. What would a technology of disruption look like that champions the lesser off? How can we as technologists, artists, designers and innovators “disrupt” an economic system that has led to shockingly high inequalities of wealth and has damaged an already flawed system of democratic political participation? Stories of Solidarity attempts to do just that, to build a platform of social media that connects low-wage, part-time, marginal or seasonal workers (the precariat) to others in the same predicament, in order to build new solidarities that can combat inequality. In the spirit of the Free Speech Movement, our project asks how the resources and intellectual power of our public university can be used to empower Californians often deprived of the fruits of university research.


Glenda Drew is a media artist whose research and practice centers on making media that supports social change through an inventive and often playful approach. From scratch-n-sniff trading cards to Viewmaster reels, and from time-based portraits to visual databases, Drew uses the language of media and technology to foster innovation, create messaging with social implications, and encourage behavior change. Her subjects include country musicians, feminists and precarious workers. The content of Drew’s work is rooted in her own life experience, growing up the daughter of a truckdriver in Cicero, a working-class suburb of Chicago and working in low-wage service jobs for many years. Drew was an active member of Paper Tiger Television in San Francisco for several years, a defining experience that continues to anchor and shape her work, from the DIY aesthetic and approach to unpacking media technologies, to using accessible media to ask critical questions about media ownership and media. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally and was recently featured in Bitch! A Feminist Response to Pop Culture magazine. Drew is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Design at UC-Davis, where she teaches screen-based and interactive design.

Jesse Drew is Professor of Technocultural Studies at UC Davis, where his research and practice centers on alternative and community media technologies and their impact on democratic societies, with a particular emphasis on the global working class. A teenage runaway at age 15, Drew lived in remote wilderness communes as well as inner-city urban communes in New England and California, participating in collective and cooperative projects involving food distribution, community media, sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies and grassroots political organizing. Drew became a staff boycott organizer under Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union, and later became active in labor organizing on factory assembly lines and warehouses in the once-industrialized Bay Area. He then worked in Silicon Valley electronics plants and startups and became active in guerilla television, video art, independent film and interactive digital media. His video, film, photographic and art work has been exhibited at festivals and in galleries internationally. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, journals and anthologies, including Resisting the Virtual Life (City Lights Press), At a Distance (MIT Press), Collectivism After Modernism (University of Minnesota), Ten Years that Shook the City (City Lights), West of Eden (PM Press). His current book is “A Social History of Contemporary Democratic Media (Routledge). At UC Davis, he teaches media archaeology, radio production, documentary studies, electronics for artists, and community media.

-- As of 4/13/15