Tech Learning Collective

Technology education for radical organizers and revolutionary communities.

Firewalls Don't Stop Dragons interviews Tech Learning Collective, Part 1

A few months ago, we were flattered that Carey Parker invited us on to his security and privacy podcast, “Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons.” Carey has been producing this computer privacy-focused podcast for almost four years now, and he’s managed to amass quite a wealth of valuable information and an equally impressive collection of guests, including some of the most influential people in the cybersecurity industry like Troy Hunt, Phil Zimmerman, and Bruce Schneier. We were honored to be included in such auspicious company for a two-part interview that aired over the months of February and March, 2021.

In this post, you’ll find a copy of the audio recording of our interview along with a (somewhat rushed) written transcript of the interview. In the next post, we’ll publish Part 2 of our interview along with its transcript. Our thanks to Carey for his interest in our work, enthusiasm for our methods, and even, yes, participation in one of our workshops!

Carey Parker: Hello, everybody, welcome back to Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons. I’m your host, Carey Parker.

And this is Episode 208, for February 22, 2021. And we’ve got the first of a two part interview for you today. And today I’m going to be talking with the head instructor from the Tech Learning Collective. And these guys are up in New York City, though they offer their courses anywhere on the Internet. And I took one of the workshops recently, and it was really quite good. And this is not your regular tech education group, these guys are, have really taken a very different and important perspective on learning about computers in cybersecurity. And honestly, they really just have a very interesting and different perspective on technology as a whole, you’ll get a sense of that, from this interview. But you know, really taking a kind of a deep, a deep look at, you know, what technology really is and what its impact is on our daily lives. And you know, how knowledge of technology can really create significant power imbalances with really serious repercussions.

And one of the other things I really enjoyed about the class, and we’ll talk a little bit about in the interview today is some very interesting historical perspectives, and why understanding how we got to where we are today with technology, what the origins of some of these things are really kind of colors, your understanding of what technology does and what it was, what it was really meant to do. And if you were, if you’re interested at all in learning about computers, and I’m guessing you must have at least some interest in that, or you probably wouldn’t be listening to this podcast. But I’ve looked at you know, well college courses, I don’t have time for that, or the money for that. Or maybe you’ve looked at some of these cybersecurity certification programs that even thought those were too expensive are involved. These guys have some really interesting classes that you might want to look at for a lot less money, and are a lot more practically focused.

So anyway, I don’t want to make this an infomercial. But there was a reason I reached out to these guys and wanted to feature them here because they’re doing some great stuff. So we will get into that day in the interview.

Now, I haven’t seen any new podcast reviews or book reviews. But I did want to mention something I don’t think I mentioned before, this actually happened a few months back. But the Privacy Issue, which is really cool website added me to their list of their top 10 privacy podcasts. And I’m in some really rarified company there. So anyway, if that’s if you want to check that out, I’ll put a link in the show notes. So you can look at me on that list and see what else on that list you might be interested in. But I was very proud to make that list.

So that’s all I really have by way of prologue. Let’s let’s get right to our interview with the Tech Learning Collective.

All right, and today, as promised, we’re talking with the lead cybersecurity instructor at the (Tech) Learning Collective. And I came across your group, I believe is at a privacy conference last fall, the name escapes me I went to a few different online, online ones this fall we’ve got I think we talked in the chat room and check out your website and was instantly intrigued by what I saw there and reached out and you guys were so generous to set up this interview. So I wanted to learn a little bit about what you guys are doing. So I took one of your courses I recently took the one taught by you actually called “Clearing Away the Clouds,” which was really excellent primer on how the internet works. So that’s gonna lead to lots of questions. So let’s start off with just the basics.

So your website starts off with a phrase, “Are you looking to get certified? Look elsewhere. Are you looking to spark a revolution? We’ll show you how to become more powerful than the most well funded adversary adversaries, including corporate and government backed opponents.” So with that as a preface, why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about what the Tech Learning Collective is? And you know how it came to be?

Tech Learning Collective: Yeah, sure. Well, first, I think the conference that it must have been Hope 2020.

CP: That was it.

TLC: Yeah. Because we did a series of three I think cybersecurity workshops in their workshops track. This relates to the question, I promise, I’m not just sort of riffing here. But what we taught there was in an introduction to website phishing attacks class, we taught an introduction to website exploitation class. And I want to say the other one that we taught was, if I remember correctly, it was a password cracking, like hash cracking workshop. And so the first thing that you’re gonna notice from all this is that it’s all very security related. That is typically not the way that a lot of schools, especially not politically oriented schools will necessarily start off, it’s not the topic matter, for a lot of courses or classes, right? Like if you’re going to look at a code boot camp or a, if you’re trying to get website certification or a license or you’re trying to do, you know, career switch or something like that, you’re probably going to going to see things that are unless they’re specifically cybersecurity related, and even then, right, there’s a lot of prerequisites for this. You’re going to see very different subject matter. And so the first sort of highlight for this is that Tech Learning Collective started not as a school, that’s why there’s a focus on things that you might not see in like a traditional, if you’re going through the industry’s normal way of learning about this topic matter, you probably go to like a CompTIA A+ certification, get your hardware certs, you know, then maybe you get super interested in networking and you get your CCNA or something like that.

But we started as a political project, not not a school. And so back in 2016, 2015, or so, what we were doing was basically just doing privacy and cybersecurity workshops, you know, for, for lack of a way, say for the average Joe right, for like people who were concerned about internet surveillance, who had heard news about the NSA domestic spying activity, you know, who wanted to sort of understand what was going on in the world around them, not for people who were interested in necessarily in, you know, becoming experts in this field. What we learned pretty quickly, though, was that we weren’t making a lot of headway unless we actually talked about the technology. That’s not to say that everyone has to know the details of how packets, you know, are transferred across routers, or exactly what you know, the cryptography, you know, what the math looks like inside of a SHA-256 hash function or something like this, like that, you know, those are details that, you know, in the same way, you don’t necessarily have to know exactly how, like a water filtration system works to just want running water out of your tap, like that, you know, who you want water to come out of your tap when you turn on the faucet. And that’s kind of it and that’s okay. However, there was a sort of a wall we hit where we couldn’t get past a certain level of explanation and sort of a level of clarity without actually talking about the technology itself.

And so that’s when things started to shift a little bit to like, we really need to focus on not only becoming really good at this ourselves, but also finding a way to make this accessible to people for whom getting a job was not their goal, right? For people who didn’t want to necessarily spend a lot of money or spend a lot of time or change their life in such a such an incredible degree to do a career switch. But they still wanted to know what the hell was happening, and why, you know, the—why a certain app worked versus why one didn’t, or what, you know, a particular news story really meant underneath the headlines. It was just it was not possible to do this in a in an honest way without really explaining what it was that the technology that we were all using—web browsers and TLS certificates and as maybe the class that you went to, right, like we talked a little bit about probably ARP and the MAC addresses and sort of the the ways that that the networking that we have today is built up from these primitive pieces that were around since the 70s. And haven’t really changed that much and why that’s a problem in some scenarios, and why that’s a, you know, what, why that has proliferated to attacks that we see today. So that so that was really the core of it was like, we need to get started with an actual technical foundation. And that’s where the school part came in.

So that’s why that’s sort of the divergence right from from us and a lot of other groups that that typically talk about, sort of the social impact and the other the community education angle, those are great and useful to have. But they always hit a barrier when people start asking questions for which you have to have a foundational understanding of the technology to make solid policy or to understand certain aspects of the law or to understand exactly what the impact is on an individual in this certain scenario.

CP: Gotcha. So. So you touched on a couple things there that are interesting, so who is your audience? Like? Who are you trying to reach who, generally speaking, I’m sure you get—like me, I’m sure I’m maybe not your typical student, but I’m sure you get people from all over you got a website that people find the website, they take classes, but is there a certain audience? You talked about legal and policy and things like that? So are you are you specifically trying to educate, you know, staffers for legislators? Are you I know that you target, you know, certain communities that are actually often in physical danger? What so what would you say if you had just kind of someone who is your target audience?

TLC: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, you know, the short answer is anyone who wants to learn more, but the more you know, the answer I think you’re probably looking for and think the answer that makes the most sense really, for for something like this is people who want to use technology to make the material aspects of their lives like today, better without necessarily cooperating with the bureaucratic and financial system that is often an obstacle for them.

So that could mean right, that could mean people who are in the legal field, right, and who want to know more about the functioning of the technology that they’re using, whether it be for their own personal protection with you know, client attorney privilege, we know that that’s not something that’s necessarily respected by certain law enforcement agencies all the time. We also but but also it could also be you know, it could be people who are in the legal profession who want to not use the law to make the lives of their family and friends and community in the real world better. And the law is just one example. Right? So like, what we are trying to do as a school is to try to train system administrators, which is to say, we, we want it to be more feasible for more people to be operators of their computer systems in a way where they are the ones in power over those computer systems as opposed to the other way around. Right? When you’re using a website, when you’re using a service, Google Drive, Facebook, whatever, right? There’s a relationship that’s being developed between you and the people who are operating that service. The power differential between in that relationship currently is extraordinarily skewed to one side, our goal as a political project, and the school sort of founds this right or to school to school sort of fuels this is to balance as much as possible, through at first by necessity, individual action, but eventually, through collective action, what that power differential looks like. So taking down that’s like reducing the spread there of that power differential is the goal, at the end of the day, how that exactly happens, is going to be you know, that’s that’s sort of like history, shall write that story, you know what I mean. But at the moment, our tactic for that has has shifted from the early 2015 days, where we were primarily doing workshops, in person and at community groups, and so on, of course, then COVID changed a lot of things.

But also, we started focusing a lot more on the technology, specifically, because we realized that what really needed to happen was not necessarily everyone on Earth, needed to understand the intricacies or the effect, not even everyone on earth needed to use a specific, you know, secure messaging tool. And in fact that that was probably not the best way to go about impacting that power differential that we’re talking about. What probably needed to happen, we think we hope is that simply in the same way, as you have maybe a society that has, you know, some number of you know, million electricians, you don’t need everyone in that society to be an electrician, right? You don’t need everyone to be a plumber, you don’t need everyone to be to be to be an expert at certain trade. But you do need enough of them so that you can actually wire all the buildings so that you can actually get running water to everyone in your society. Right, it is a People Power problem, in some means at the end of the day.

And I think perhaps what’s happened is that people in the technology sector are so used to scale and are so used to thinking of these services that they make is like, you know, the success, the marker for success is going to be the situation where they have 200 million users or something. And that unfortunately, feeds into this power differential where what happens when you have 200 million users who don’t necessarily understand how your service is working, is you have a certain kind of power over them. In fact, the more important that service is to their day to day activities in their lives. Look at Facebook, for example, the more power that gives you over them. And so for us, the goal is to basically train, to be the vocational school that’s missing. But to do so from a perspective, where the people who are coming are not only motivated to improve their own lives, but to do so from a political standpoint, and the words who recognize that, for example, the mutual aid groups and the food distribution that happens on the local level in our city in New York City, but also across across the world, right has been in many ways, far more effective than a lot of government responses to the COVID crisis. And if we can supercharge that with technology, as opposed to keeping the the knowledge of the religious priesthood, that is the you know, the tech sector in the Citadel, right, if we can free that, then what we’ll have is a far more dispersed and relatively smaller scale. Right, but but in terms of scaling up, but we’ll have a more scaled out society with a smaller digital divide

Because more people, especially today, right, have access to the kinds of hardware and, and bandwidth that makes it possible for them to be effectively mini service providers for themselves. There’s a whole self hosting movement, I’m sure you’re aware of it, this fits very well into that. And so we often advocate for that kind of thing. But that’s also a dangerous thing without knowledge, right? Like, you don’t want a bunch of people who know nothing about electricity to suddenly be wiring their house. That’s a bad idea. Right. And so it’s important that they know how to do this well. And it’s also important, especially from a political angle, that if they are using this for political purposes, that they’re prepared for the kind of risks that a cyber threat landscape presents them.

And so that’s why the combination of cybersecurity and sort of system administration is is the ultimate sort of guiding light for for the curriculum. It’s why the workshop that you went to probably focus a ton right on like exactly how this works from a computer to computer conversation level. We didn’t probably get too much into the security on that on that specific workshop, right. But most of the workshops we offer have a heavy heavy security focus for that reason. And it’s it’s what makes the courses in the workshops are very different than the ones that you’ll see at, you know, Flatiron, or General Assembly, or Turing or this kind of other kind of stuff. Those are useful to learn about the skills that a job needs. They’re employees to have. But those are not necessarily that useful if the skills you’re trying to learn are, how do I make a computer system offer support to the, for example, mutual aid to distribution networks, right? That are in my neighborhood, those are two, not not divergent. But they’re not entirely overlapping skill sets, there is overlap, no doubt, but they’re not. But the approach that we take is very much geared towards that, that latter goal. And that means that you’re gonna be learning very different things in the classes.

So on one angle, right, we want everyone who’s interested to come so that they get exposed to the stuff that we’re teaching, because what we find, especially if you’re trying to make policy or trying to understand this sort of stuff, in a field that isn’t a technology field directly, right, is that it’s hard, it’s hard to understand what’s happening. And some of that’s just because it’s complex stuff. I mean, computers are one of the most complex machine humans have ever devised. But on the other side, and you know, this is made more clear recently with documentaries, like The Social Dilemma, and, and and all the Cambridge Analytica stuff, right? Like, there are incentives to keep this stuff hidden. And it’s important to recognize that that’s, that’s happening so that when you feel overwhelmed, right, you know, that it’s not just because you’re stupid, you’re probably not stupid, this stuff A) is hard. And on top of that, people are trying to make sure that the new big hype, you know, that the fancy new shiny object, you know, the the next thing that’s going to take over Twitter, right, like, it seems like, that’s, it’s so different. It’s not at the end of the day. And that is, in fact, a form of intentional obfuscation to try to sell a product, which turns out is something you could do, if you knew enough about it.

In the same way as like, you know, cars used to be stuff that we fixed on our own right now, computers, and there’s intentional vendor lock and look at the DIY repair movement, right, the right to repair stuff, all that stuff right there. There’s both there’s both just organic, yes, it is a complicated and it’s hard. And it’s important to recognize that and and acknowledge that. But it’s also important to recognize that when you going to cooperate with a system that is trying to get you to be a cog in the wheel of selling other people’s stuff, they’re not interested necessarily in making sure that you understand the foundational pieces, they’re not teaching you stuff that is relevant today but that was devised in the 70s. They’re teaching you the new Rails framework, or the latest JavaScript, you know, React programming model, or something like that. useful and certainly has overlap. But that’s not the skill you need. If what you want to do is distribute food in your neighborhood. That’s the skill you need, if you want to get a high paying tech job. Does that make sense?

CP: Yeah, and so I think if I could maybe paraphrase that back in, and you’ve, you’ve used the word political many times, so we’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna dig in what do you mean by that? And then, but so what I’m hearing from you is that this is really, you know, there are people that get into computers, because they want a career in computers. And so they may, you know, they may want to go to college or get a full till college degree, then, of course, computers, this was really interesting fields where you can actually do a lot of it, either self taught, or with online courses, or by just kind of doing things around and kind of tinkering around it, honestly, it’s a lot of the hacker mindset, in terms of and, and I make a point of the show that, to say that being a hacker is not a pejorative term, it’s, it’s somebody who’s really curious and somebody likes to take things apart and putting it together, who also understand how things work, and is really gets off on the idea of taking something that does one thing and making it do something else as part of a learning process.

TLC: Right.

CP: And so I’m definitely, you know, definitely getting that vibe from you guys. But I think what I think what I’m hearing is that, if it’s not your career, but it’s something you need to understand, because either you’re a community organizer, and you’re putting together, you know, a simple system for 20 people or for your neighborhood or for your politically active group of some sort of other or you’re working with people who for political reasons, need to have a better than average understanding of, of how we are surveilled, and how the Internet works and where the dangers lie. That sounds like it’s more of a grassroots kind of a lower level, very, very practically oriented approach that you’re taking.

TLC: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, what we like to say is that we don’t really care what your project is, we just want to help you succeed in it. Right. So like, if your project is going to need a computer at some point, and most projects do at this point, then there should be someone on that team. Again, this could be as like, you know, radical political project, or it could be just relatively mundane, and you know, just be like, you know, community garden in a neighborhood, right. At some point, you’re going to need a computer probably. And that’s the point at which it might make sense to spend a little bit of time investing in education, about what it is that that computer is and can do for you.

Because what’s important, I think what’s important to understand also is that like it’s more powerful than we think it is, right? Like, there’s this cliche that goes around, we have all this power in the palm of our hands in the form of smartphones, right? We have more more more compute power in our in our hands today than we had in, you know, possibly across the entire continent, if not the world in the early 60s. And that is easy to say and hard to grasp. Right? It means that the things that was happening, the things that were happening in the 60s across a global scale could be accomplished. If in the realm of sheer compute power by one phone today, that’s what it means.

That is not how—that seems ridiculous, if you look at what we’ve actually done with computers, right? Because it seems like, yeah, the world’s changed a lot. But like, it doesn’t feel like one person has that much power. Yeah, and our contention is that one person does have that much power, we just don’t know how to use it yet. And so if you can internalize that, and you’re, you know, willing to spend admittedly, it’s, you know, it’s not like a, you’re not going to suddenly be able to do that overnight, you know, anytime you use a relatively nerdy example, right, like, you know, it takes a while to become a Jedi Master or whatever. But, you know, if you practice at it, there is a kind of power in that, that is unmatched in all of human history. Yeah. And that’s, that’s an unbundled debatable fact, you know, given the, the technology that is as accessible as it is today.

So imagine, for instance, you know, a group of 20 people with one person who knows how to how to how to harness that kind of power. And then imagine that, you know, a group of 20 people with another person that can harness that, right somewhere else. And if you imagine those things, those those pockets of people as seeds across the country, you suddenly have a scenario in which the knowledge of how to do this right, is dispersed enough that the organizing principle of society is one where you actually have the power to affect the kind of bottom up organizational change that a lot of organizers and organizations that are advocating for this kind of like pro democratic, lowercase D democratic, right People Power movement, can accomplish without a lot of money, and without a lot of existing capital, and without a lot of cooperation with bureaucratic bureaucracies that are, in many cases arrayed against them.

CP: Yeah.

TLC: And so that’s the ultimate goal. That is, you know, we’re not utopianists, or, or, you know, sort of, you know, it’s it’s a, it’s an idealistic vision, but we’re not unrealistic about what that means. That’s, that’s a lot of education a lot of time. And, you know, there’s real reasons why people don’t spend their time, the limited amount of time with a limited amount energy that they have learning about technology. And our argument is that that’s okay, too, right? You don’t you can go as far as you want into this as an individual. And not every individual has to do this, and we can still reap these benefits. That’s the point of computers. Right? That’s what that’s what automation allows us to do. That’s what the networked reality that we live in, makes possible. I mean, you and I are talking, you know, different states and, like nothing, right? Like, what is a long distance call anymore?

CP: Right.

TLC: So that is sort of the vision, right? That’s, that’s the idea. Now, whether you come to us as a, you know, policy analyst with a background in, you know, in political science, or you come to us as, as you know, as an aspiring movement lawyer, or you come to us as a, you know, as a gardener, all of those are fine. And in fact, probably better than if you come to us better in the sense of like, you will probably find us more to your liking, as a school as a technology school than if you come to us from the background of like, I want to learn about, you know, I want to be a CS major, and learn about, you know, electrical engineering, not because that’s not valuable and good, right. But because that’s not our goal.

And so, the hope is that the way in which we present the material, and the purpose for which we present the material, is, I’ll go so far as to say unique enough, but also accessible enough, that what you’re learning is actually going to be valuable to you, regardless of which background you have. And if you find it interesting and enjoyable, before long, you will end up with skills that not only are incredibly employable today, but that are immediately valuable to every single project you have today, whether that be web scraping, data analysis, you know, what we call data science these days, right? Or simply being sort of the the tech person of your group. Because those are all things that we teach in various workshops and courses.

CP: So I’ll even take a little step further. Right. And I think that I’ll be curious to get your take on this. But the other value I see in your approach to teaching and the kind of like to some point, actually kind of have you walked through your kind of curriculum at a high level, because I know that you’ve already thrown a lot of technical terms of where people might answer like, like ARP? They have, you know, most people have no idea what you’re talking about. But the point I want to make is, first of all, not all of your classes are at that level.

Second, I think another value to your approach to this teaching is demystifying these technologies, because I think people today throw their hands up in both in terms of security and privacy, thinking, I don’t get it, I don’t know, I don’t understand this stuff well enough, I’m just gonna have to hope for the best or maybe I’ll buy Apple stuff because they seem to be more secure, they seem to more private, but other than that, I don’t I, I can’t hope to understand that they give up without trying. And I think that, and that’s part of what I tried to with the podcast, as well as demystify some of these things. So they’re not, you don’t just out of hand think I can’t grok this, because, like cars, like, you know, repairing lawnmowers. Like, you know, I’ve, I’ve repaired my own washing machine. I’ve repaired my refrigerator, because I’m kind of a hack guy, and I got in there. And once you actually like, get under the covers, look at these things. Oh, that’s not that difficult. This is doing this that’s doing that. It things. Yeah, things make sense. And once you’re armed, at least, even if you don’t have to be or a refrigerator repairman, or you’re gonna have to be a car mechanic, understanding and enough to demystify it is valuable. And if not it also, when it comes to evaluating maybe hiring someone to do work for you, or someone presents you with work that they’ve done, you’ve got some basis for saying, “Hey, that looks fishy,” or “No, that looks good.”

TLC: Yeah, I mean, there’s, there’s certainly an aptitude that that that people, you know, have towards, for example, repairing a refrigerator that look, for example, I don’t have I mean, I’m actually awful, and it sounds like the klutziest person I have so I actually was very proud of myself for fixing one of those, like pull ups think things, you know, like, one of those stoppers that you push down on, and it opens, I was like, Oh, I got that got it, you know, like, there are different intelligences in the world. And I’m not gonna sit here and lie to you, right to tell you that, like, you know, anyone at all, you know, can can without any trouble at all learn about this, but I will tell you that these things are at their core, no more complex than those physical world things, right? Because everything in this world both in it, whether it be mathematics, or whether it be computers in logic, or whether it be in the physical sense, right, they’re made up of smaller pieces.

By breaking the things that are huge into smaller pieces, we can actually examine what the constituent components of a thing is, and therefore how something works. That is the same whether or not you’re dealing with, you know, learning how to make a cabinet, you know, as a carpenter, or whether you’re learning how to make software as an engineer, you’re always going to have to have some understanding of the material you’re working with the tools you have, and how those two things relate to the world at large.

So like I use this analogy a lot in in classes when I teach is, you know, there’s a sense if you if you’ve spent a lot of time in the world, right? There’s a sense you get about for example, when you touch a certain object, you know, oh, that’s metal. Oh, that’s what oh, this is soft wood. Or this is a hard word, right? Like there’s a, there’s a tactileness to your experience in the world of dexterity you gain as you gain experience. You weren’t born with that, that took time and experiences. And most people are learning how to crawl right now on the internet. Yes, that’s okay. It takes time both as a culture and as an individual. But it’s not the case that that will always be true, right? Most people can learn this stuff, even if it’s not their, like, their their innate preternatural ability. And that’s our point, right?

So if you’re trying to learn how to be an master carpenter, you might spend 10,000 hours right, figuring out exactly how oak versus ash operate with a you know, with a with a hammer. And you will get better at that over time. And once you do it, it’ll start to feel more like, you know, when you do touch oak or ash, you’ll feel how it relates to the other tools in your toolbox, you’ll have a sense of what it’s going to do when you put certain stressors on it. And you can gain that same almost tactile sense on a computer, right? I mean, if you’ve been a system integrator for long enough, you can begin to sense you know, oh, my computer’s acting a little funny, right. And if someone who doesn’t know anything about computers me like, I don’t know, it’s just a little slower today. Right? Right. But like that’s a sense that you can actually develop and it’s not magic. It’s a skill. And all of these things, right? Are are things that were not only devised, designed by humans, but were meant to be understood at their base level. So they can be and that’s what we try to put forward in our classes. That’s what we hope to do by as you said that the demystification.

And at the same time though, right, like there’s a lot of history that is relevant to what exists now, as the computer systems we have. The example I think that was brought up in the workshop that you attended, right was the notion of Ethernet. We say Ethernet like it’s just another word. No one really questions what Ethernet is—the ethernet cable, right? Maybe even now it’s a little bit older because most people Don’t even plug it computers in with a cable they use Wi Fi right, which is really just radio. I mean, like if you use the walkie talkie, you know how the radio works in Wi Fi, because the Wi Fi of your computer is just radio, right, which is also how a walkie talkie works. So if you know the walkie talkie, you can understand at a basic level what Wi Fi is doing. And you don’t really need to understand more about it unless you want to.

But this notion that Ethernet right, which is what Wi Fi is intended to make possible wirelessly, is a reference to a specific in this case gnostic idea that gn o s ti c, right, this gnostic idea of a force that permitted and connected everything in the world, the ether. And when Bob Metcalf was inventing Ethernet, right, it wasn’t just some random word he used. He wanted to devise his intention for the technology was a technology that connected and permitted all electronic things. And that exists now it’s literally called Ethernet, it is what Wi Fi uses it is what the Ethernet cables was RJ-45 jacks that you plug in right to the back of your router. That’s what those are, those are Ethernet cables. Most electronic digital devices, when they’re communicating with other electronic digital devices, right are going to be using some Ethernet network. And so by imbuing the pedagogy and the the approach to learning this, with the knowledge of where this came from, we hope to do for technology, what people intuitively understand is important when they’re learning about, for example, their own genealogy, or how to, for example, take care of the earth, right to learn from indigenous peoples, and to learn about how this was done.

Not that we have to do everything the same all the time, you know, there’s, we don’t—culture and technology is not an append-only chain, like we can throw out the stuff that doesn’t work, you know, like, we don’t have to import all the bad stuff, all the you know that the sexism from the 1980s, about how girls can play video games, for example, right? Like, we can just throw that out. But there was stuff that happened at that period that is important to know about and is valuable, like, why is it called Ethernet? And what does that mean? What is the what is the metaphor that the designers of that network we’re trying to go for? Right, because that also helps us understand where we are, if we know more about the notion of Ethernet as the intent of a all permeating connected network, we can understand its function today. And bringing those perspectives back into it as opposed to simply treating the latest technology as the beginning of history, like a lot of classes we find do helps in the educational component, it helps people understand what it is that they’re learning, because now they have not just facts, but they have a narrative across time about how we came to be where we are. And that gives them not only a better understanding of where we are, but also the power to then write the next chapter themselves.

CP: Agree. And I actually thought that part of your course was was super interesting. And now it’s something and I wasn’t aware of though I you know, if I thought long enough that I might have come up with that idea. But it was really interesting to hear you cover that in the class. And so speaking of that, for the audience’s sake, walk through like a high level your curriculum and and talk about the different levels that it addresses because I know that you’ve got different levels of courses, and there are definitely courses in there for the people that might be curious about things that are more high level and not the nitty gritty parts.

I hope you enjoyed part one of that that’d be part two is even if possible, it’s even deeper than the part one we really get into some kind of deep thoughts about around technology. And again, a very unique perspective on even just what it means to use a computer. It’s it’s, it’s hard to describe, you don’t have to tune into Part Two to understand what I mean. But I’ll I’ll bet you money that this instructor, by the way teaches courses I took one of them really manages to look at computers in a way that even I had not really considered before. And then we’ll also talk about it well, in terms of getting deeper, we’ll talk about you know, learning about computers in cybersecurity, really almost from a self defense perspective, by taking a course in personal self defense. So definitely don’t wanna miss part two, that’ll be next week.

All right, everybody, thanks again for listening. Tune in next week for part two of fascinating chat with Techearning Collective. Make sure you’re out there getting ready to get your vaccine as soon as it’s available. And you know what, some of these in some states, it’s really kind of an arcane process. So you can also really help by making sure that other people you know, other friends and family, particularly maybe older folks, that they know what they need to do and how to sign up and get in line for their, for their vaccines and help, you know, help reassure people that it’s this is safe, and it’s something we we really all need to do it for this, you know world to get back to normal. We’ve got to get most of us vaccinated.

So anyway, wear those masks when you’re going out, maybe wear to a pair. Apparently that’s a thing. Stay in as much as you can until we can all get these all get these shots and hopefully hopefully by summer, we can get back to some sense of normalcy. So that’ll wrap it up this week. Thanks again for tuning in. Next week will be part two of the interview. And until then, as always, stay safe and don’t get caught with your drawbridge down.