By Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Mozilla Fellow at Co-Creation Studio | April 7, 2020

Wampum.codes is my new podcast. It’s named after wampum, the craft of weaving beads into patterns that represent contracts and other agreements, and was practiced by my tribe (Seneca-Cayuga Haudenosaunee) for many years. Just like the craft that serves as its namesake, Wampum.codes is a recording of the stories, ideas, and wisdom that is collected through conversations with other native people. On the show, I interview people from my own tribe and many others, who are using technology to share their values with the world. 

Guests include Native artists, storytellers, filmmakers, organizers, and scientists, all of who are united by their interesting and creative uses of emerging technologies. These conversations highlight ways we can ethically use technology for the benefit of our collective communities. We dig into this question and many more in conversations that are by turns funny, heartfelt, and strange. 

I’m really interested in how, in computer programming, when we need to reference another piece of software, we call that a “dependency.” In software development a dependency is as good as law — better maybe, because one module needs the other in order to run. It literally can’t work otherwise. This means dependencies are effectively a way developers impose some conditions on any application using their work.

But technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. New technologies can have immense ethical effects. I wondered — what is the ethical analog of a dependency? How can software developers and other technologists make sure their work is deployed in accordance with a certain set of values?

Fans of the show can expect blog posts and infographics synthesizing the collective wisdom from the show’s guests, the first of which will deal with issues raised by the ongoing COVID-19 situation — what the crisis says about our relationship with animals, how listeners can stay physically and emotionally healthy, and what it means to decolonize our response the pandemic.

Listeners can also look forward to an online panel featuring guests from the show as well as other Native voices to take place April 28th at Noon EST. Hosted by MIT’s Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab and the International Screen Office.

Images for Blog Post by Mek Frinchaboy