Chris Carlsson, a San Francisco activist and writer, was there at the beginning of Critical Mass (or the “Commute Clot,” as it was originally known).
Since the first Critical Mass more than twenty years ago, the event has spread around the world. Here in San Francisco, as elsewhere, it has sometimes caused controversy.
In short, the event has variable credibility: some people strongly approve of it, while others are sharply critical of it (or of some elements of it).
Your assignment is to read some selections in a book edited by Carlsson (many other people contributed to the book, as you’ll see). Read Carlsson’s Introduction and a few of the selections that follow. This will give you a sense of the participants’ view of the event. The PDF is linked here.
The entire book is available at the USF library in print form and at nearby bookstores such as Green Apple Books.
If you’re thinking of going to Critical Mass, you might also want to watch the rest of USF student Ellie Vanderlip’s film The Human Motor.
The ride begins at Justin Herman Plaza on the last Friday of every month. People begin assembling around 5 or 5:30 pm, and they actually begin riding around 6 pm usually. There is no leader and no one is in charge.
Effective communicators need to use a wide range of online tools to make an impact. For this reason, Speaking of Bicycles is managed through a WordPress site hosted by USF.
In order to turn in your work and interact online with other students and with community partners, you’ll need to create your own blog and link it to the course site.
Working with WordPress (the software behind the course site and millions of other sites around the world) will help you develop valuable communication skills and a better understanding of what’s “under the hood” of a lot of the internet.
WordPress also allows us to have an “open connected” course, where community partners and students can interact and share information and ideas.
The Center for Instructional Technology has prepared instructions for creating your own USF blog.
Journalist Malcolm Gladwell has written a number of best-selling books, including Blink, The Tipping Point, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and most recently, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. You can read a lot of his articles online at The New Yorker, such as this piece about college rankings: “The Order of Things: What College Rankings Really Tell Us.”
In a 2010 interview, Sarfraz Manzoor asked Gladwell about his public speaking career. Gladwell replied that “Speaking is not an act of extroversion. People think it is, but it has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”