This curriculum’s history

James Parker


This curriculum comes out of an earlier attempt by Sean Dockray, James Parker, and Joel Stern to build a platform for open pedagogy, collective study, and scholarly and artistic production. ‘Machine Listening, a Curriculum’ was conceived in 2020 during the initial months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, as a way of starting to research machine listening together, and in public. At the time, they put it like this:

Amidst oppressive and extractive forms of state and corporate listening, practices of collaborative study, experimentation and resistance will, we hope, enable us to develop strategies for recalibrating our relationships to machine listening, whether through technological interventions, alternative infrastructures, new behaviours, or political demands. With so many cultural producers – whose work and research is crucial for this kind of project – thrown into deeper precarity and an uncertain future by the unfolding pandemic, we also hope that this curriculum will operate as a quasi-institution: a site of collective learning about and mobilisation against the coming world of listening machines.

A curriculum is also a technology, a tool for supporting and activating learning. And this one is open source. It has been built on a platform developed by Pirate Care for their own experiments in open pedagogy. We encourage everyone to freely use it to learn and organise processes of learning and to freely adapt, rewrite and expand it to reflect their own experience and serve their own pedagogies.

But the project quickly outgrew the ‘curriculum’ as a framing device, and started to seem less useful as a curriculum as a result. That was the impetus for developing this site, in a similar spirit to that previous one, but with pedagogy and utility more firmly in mind. Between January-March 2024, Mehak Sawhney joined Sean, James, and Joel as a temporary team member to conceptualise the current version of this curriculum.