EYEBEAM EXCHANGE | Internet Tools For Digital Activism led by Surya Mattu and Ari Melenciano


Internet Tools For Digital Activism led by Surya Mattu and Ari Melenciano

May 19, 10:30am – 5pm


This month’s Exchange focuses on tools that help us both understand the internet and use it for purposes of activism.



Watch the Livestream here.

# Find the schedule and curriculum here

# Slides will be released here after the workshop ends


This month’s workshop is inspired by the work of current resident Surya Mattu. While in residence at Eyebeam, Surya Mattu and Ingrid Burrington are working together as INFRA (Investigations, Near Futures, Research, and Art). During their residency, they are creating actionable research for investigative reporting and are excited to make work that is useful to the range of communities that sit between journalism and other forms of investigation — including but not limited to — labor organizing, policy advocacy, and art. We are excited to have Surya share some of the tools he uses for these investigations in the first part of the day, and then Ari Melenciano will show how your political thought can be translated into digital activism. 


The day will consist of two artist-led workshops that explore the tools used for understanding and creating content for the web. 


Tickets are for both workshops, space is limited, tickets available here!

Admission to Eyebeam Exchange covers a full day of learning and includes participation in both workshops! 


Session 1: Understanding the Internet through Herbivore

Teaching Artist: Surya Mattu

This workshop is ideal for those who are interested in learning how to packet sniff or learn what that even means. We will use Herbivore, an open source tool that demystifies the world of network packets for the uninitiated. A handful of packet sniffing libraries and desktop applications already exist for analyzing network packets, but they were designed for people who have programming experience or a network engineering background; they were not designed as educational tools for people without technical backgrounds. In this workshop we will go through the basics of what packet sniffing means, run through a few exercises and let you try it out.


Workshop Requirements

You will need a Mac to run Herbivore. Even if you don’t have a Mac, you’ll still learn a whole bunch. We encourage participants to work together and share computers.


Session 2: Digital Activism

Teaching Artist: Ari Melenciano 


In this course we will build Twitter bots that can be used to engage users politically with tweets that reflect social injustices. This will be done through a text editor, (such as Atom or Sublime), and using node.js. Goals of this course include teaching students how to “hack” social media for activist purposes, how to build personal APIs, how to build a Twitter bot, and gaining a basic understanding of coding.


Workshop Requirements

Basic programming knowledge, particularly in Javascript, would be helpful, but this will be an introductory session aimed at beginners.



Surya Mattu is a Brooklyn based artist, engineer and investigative journalist who look at the ways in which algorithmic systems perpetuate systemic biases and inequalities in society. He is currently the data reporter at Gizmodo’s Special Projects Desk and a resident at Eyebeam. Previously, he was a contributing researcher at ProPublica, where he worked on Machine Bias, a series that aims to highlight how algorithmic systems can be biased and discriminate against people. Machine Bias was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Explanatory Journalism. He has shown work at The Haus der Kulturen der Welt , Sundance Film Festival The Whitney Museum,  V&A Museum and Bitforms Gallery


Ari Melenciano is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, designer, creative technologist and activist passionate about exploring the relationships between various forms of design and the human experience. She is currently a master’s candidate of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Outside of class, Ari is creator of Justice Factory, a data visualization platform highlighting social justice issues and currently part of the Processing Fellowship; lifestyle movement, Be Gold On The Inside; building a line of experimental “neo-retro” digital analog cameras, Ojo Oro; founder and producer of the New Media Arts, Culture and Technology Festival, Afrotectopia.