Notes   /   20 March 2019

Today, we discuss and think about the 4th phase in a product's lifecycle: e-waste or recycling. To learn more about this, you've watched two videos: a PBS Newshour report about the work of a group called the Basel Action Network, and a short documentary film, E-Wasteland by David Fedele. Each of these works is attempting to persuade and educate about the same thing, but they both use their audiovisual resources differently. In a small group discussion and activity, compare and contrast these approaches while reflecting on the claims that each of these works is making.


Begin with a small-group discussion with the following questions as a guide:

  • What is a basic, working definition of "e-waste", and what are some examples?
  • Where is most e-waste produced?
  • Where is most e-waste recycled?
  • What are the economic incentives and challenges to recycling e-waste?
  • What kind of labor is necessary for e-waste recycling
  • What are the specific health risks posed by e-waste recycling?
  • Have the economics, cultural attitudes, or management of health risks changed in the years since these two documents were first published (2012 and 2016, respectively)?
  • Each of these documents makes rhetorical appeals to logic and emotion, primarily. Which is more persuasive? Which is more effective? How do you feel after watching each of these? What visual, auditory, and editing techniques are being used to make you feel certain ways?


Generally speaking, the Newshour report is about specific facts and specific claims, and the documentary film is about humanity and empathy. After discussing each, your next job as a group is to create an artifact that brings these together.

Discuss moments in the film that stood out to you, and use (or something similar) to create an animated GIF out of a particularly resonant single shot from E-Wasteland . Title or caption that GIF with a specific factual claim from the Newshour report.

Here's an example:

Share (link to) this GIF and your group's explanation of why you chose that particular juxtaposition in our #dgst101-whalen Slack channel. You may also wish to write about this on your DGST101 blog.