The School of Information welcomed Max Baucus, the United States ambassador to China, to South Hall this afternoon to visit with adjunct professor Xiao Qiang and his seminar on digital activism. Ambassador Baucus served as US senator from Montana for 36 years and has been ambassador to China since 2014. Baucus visited the UC Berkeley campus with his wife, Melodee Hanes.
After being welcomed by Dean AnnaLee Saxenian, Professor Doug Tygar, and Professor Xiao, Ambassador Baucus and Ms. Hanes visited the course Info 296A. Digital Activism, taught by professor Xiao. The seminar explores civic engagement and political activism in the information age through the lens of technology-enabled collective action. Throughout the semester, students study real-world cases of the Internet mobilizing people by spreading alternative views and news, with case studies about the US, Iran, China, and elsewhere. The class also studies online surveillance and filtering, circumvention tools, and how repressive regimes have countered digital activism.
Xiao Qiang (萧强) is a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, an adjunct professor at the School of Information, and the founder and editor-in-chief of China Digital Times, a bilingual China news website. Professor Xiao began his career as an astrophysicist, but became a full-time human rights activist after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. He was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship in 2001 and is profiled in the book Soul Purpose: 40 People Who Are Changing the World for the Better.
Xiao’s current research focuses on state censorship and control of the Internet, mapping online political discourse, and building an automated aggregator of marginalized, censored, or blocked content in Chinese blogosphere. He teaches classes on digital activism and Internet freedom and runs the Counter-Power Lab, an interdisciplinary faculty-student group researching innovative technologies to expand the free flow of information in cyberspace.