Alan C. Shaw



BA (1985) in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University; MS (1988) in Computer Science from the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

Ph.D. (1995) in Computer Science from the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science


Alan Shaw is the son of Black Physicist Earl Shaw (both are featured in a book called "Black Genius").

Alan Shaw is a graduate of the Epistemology and Learning Group at the Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses upon applying constructionist models and theories to urban social settings outside of the classroom. To date, my work has developed into two major thematic projects and approaches: He creates ways for communities to organize online. Latest triumph is wiring a New Jersey housing project [See article at Mother Jones]

from Dr. Shaw's article:

Learning Through Social Apprenticeships

I have worked on a number of projects that have sought to organize learning environments for at-risk teenagers and their adult neighbors through social apprenticeships involving economic activity. The apprenticeships focus on organizing adult tutors to help young people start youth-based micro-businesses. The young entrepreneurs learn different skills with which their adult neighbors can help them, and then they apply these skills in organizing youth-run neighborhood services. The various skills that young people were involved in learning and turning into local services included: appliance repair, snow-removal, landscaping, video taping, word processing, newsletter production, and most recently, web-page development. To learn more about the teenagers and adults involved in the web-page project, click here . Links to information about the other projects will be included on this page in the future.

Neighborhood Networks and Social Constructionism

Using a formulation I devised for the concept of "social constructionism," I have worked on a theoretical model to guide technological approaches intended to foster social development and urban renewal. As an experiment in this type of approach and an applied example of this model, I have developed computer networking software called MUSIC (Multi-User Sessions In Community) which has been used to develop neighborhood-based community networks in Boston, Massachusetts and Newark, New Jersey. It is a tool for residents to use in developing local forums and discussions around community concerns, and to organize and manage neighborhood-based programs and social activities (or social constructions). It is to help provide local information infrastructure (instead of national information infrastructure) so that neighborhoods can stay interdependent and actively engaged in the development of their own social setting.



Computer Scientists of the African Diaspora

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State University of New York at Buffalo

visitors since opening 5/25/97

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