Feminist Infrastructure as Metamorphic Infrastructure

MetamorphicRock3

I’m one of five women on a panel about Feminist Infrastructure at the Digital Humanities annual conference taking place now in Krakow, Poland. Due to other obligations, I’m here in the states, but my virtual presence will be manifest with little movie presentation. Related: not keen that this panel and so many others have been put on a “diversity” track, but happy everyone is there and doing the work.

Creating Feminist Infrastructure in the Digital Humanities

Susan Brown1,2, Tanya Clement3, Laura Mandell4, Deb Verhoeven5, Jacque Wernimont6

1School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph, Canada; 2English and Film Studies; Humanities Computing, University of Alberta, Canada; 3University of Texas at Austin, USA; 4Texas A&M University, USA; 5Deakin University, Australia; 6Arizona State University

Here’s my presentation

And here’s our abstract

This panel considers how gender and digital infrastructures shape each other. It will be a hybrid of the panel- and multiple-paper session with three sectioned themes:

  • Training and pedagogical traditions;
  • Examples of feminist technical infrastructure;
  • Infrastructure, collaboration, and credit.

The panel aims to improve understanding of:

  • 1) the extent to which even something as apparently neutral or apolitical as infrastructure is imbued with gender and other socio-political considerations;
  • 2) the impact of systemic gender and racial discrimination in a range of infrastructural contexts, notwithstanding the extent to which so many DH practitioners work hard to overcome the biases embedded in our cultures and our discourses; and
  • 3) current and prospective strategies for countering those biases.

We will seek to engage the audience throughout this session to include in the panel’s discussions a broad range of perspectives on and positions in relation to infrastructure.

 

 

DataPLAY Debuts

DataPlayDressImage

FemTechNet’s signal/noise conference, held in Ann Arbor (MI) this weekend, hosted the debut of Vibrant Lives’ DataPLAY.

Below is our playbill, which evokes early American playbills that were used to advertise formal theatrical events as well as technological experiences and new medical practices, like those at the World’s Fair or in smaller traveling techno-operas and shows.Slide1

In many ways the bill and the notion of a debut suggests a polished performance received by the audience. Instead we were working toward an experience that would bring together our datasets, everyday objects associated with play, and audience interaction and engagement, effectively engendering the performance in real time.

We created a playful space, the informal and cheerful aesthetics of our materials and signage were designed to invite participants into a communal engagement with sonified and haptified data (we might think here of a lineage of feminist play theory including Celia Pearce, Mechthild Nagel, Mary Flannagan, and Elizabeth Losh). Rather than the sometimes intimidating spaces of theatrical performance, we were working in the more quotidian open space of Hatcher library. In the tradition of feminist keywords, we were, in effect, playing with the word “play.” On the one hand, using it to evoke the idea of a thing, a performance to be consumed, and, on the other, as an action, the activities of play-time, the kind of noodling that is often thought of as a prelude to more formalized modes of production, or the play-acting of dress-up and theatrical performance.

This Play/playing was also an exercise in”Exquisite Engendering” a framing that draws on Erin Manning’s sense that”to engender is to undertake a reworking of form. To engender is to potentialize matter. Engendering involves potentiality at its most fertile: it calls forth the link between the incorporeal and the material, between the virtual and the actual” (The Politics of Touch 2007, p. 90). We were playing in order to activate matter. Everyone there were playing with data (so often rendered incorporeal despite our mantra that there is “no data without bodies”) in order to engender linkages between virtualized and non-virtual modes of being and knowing.

Here are our 6 play stations, or in Manning’s terms potentiality machines:

What did this mean in practice? It meant holding a large hand-crocheted net that resonated with data shedding in real time from a cell phone, or stepping into a dress that vibrated with the wearer’s data shed – suddenly feeling the ghostly but oh-so-plentiful emanations of one’s digital identity. DataPlayDressImage

 

It entailed people cradling beach balls as sonified histories of eugenic sterilization transformed them into singing, tingling orbs.

People dipped their hands into sandboxes that were alive with the data of global warming – both hearing and feeling a warming planet. And they braided bright cotton ropes that trembled with the Iraq Body Count numbers -plaiting and noting the steady beat of lives lost in a seemingly never-ending conflict.

DataPlayRopeImage

While technology shows and fairs, both historically and today, tend to be about a spectacle of mastery and the creation of communal consumer desires, DataPLAY functions differently. Collectively, we performed many of the acts of care – braiding, dressing, cradling, and holding – that have so long been a part of feminized labor. We drew on this embodied vernacular as a way of engaging differently with data about the many violences to which too many human bodies and habitats have been subject. We performed feminized roles as a way of re-embodying the data, both to give ourselves ways of knowing it differently and as a way of expressing care for both the data and the bodies the data are meant to represent.

It was serious play to be sure; to hold data about sterilization and death close to your own body is no small gesture. It requires a willingness not only to hold space, but to allow your body to be a vector for the violated bodies held in numerical abstraction. It is an act of generosity and vulnerability and often it was expressed in poses of deep concentration and gentle handling. Similarly, to step into an awareness of the promiscuity of our digital devices as described in Wendy H.K. Chun’s work is to perform a willing encounter with the ways that commodity cultures harvest the actions of our everyday lives as labor and capital. Both required our participants to let go of the comforts of critical distance and to sit with the murky ways that textiles and objects remediate technical and archival information. I am immensely grateful to our players and it was, I think, a rather exquisite performance – beautiful in its articulation of the potentials of radical care in our engagements with data and the bodies that it always represents.

For more, check out the Storify of the event (and an earlier one this spring) and look for future posts with additional media materials!

 

 

Addressing Antifeminist Violence Online: Work Narrative

Need
According to a recent Pew Study, 1 in 4 women have experienced online stalking or sexual harassment. Labeled as “social justice warriors,” prominent journalists, media makers, and bloggers have been harassed and threatened for writing about economic inequality, education, and racism in popular culture. The culture of fear that is being created impacts not just professionals, but more perniciously, young women and men who are developing their habits and protocols for online life. From advanced professionals to adolescents, feminists and women are at risk.

Much of this violence has been perpetrated online, but threats like these can move into offline, “real” life. In October, Sarkeesian canceled a talk at Utah State University after receiving a massacre threat inspired by the 1989 Marc Lepine murder of fourteen women. Many people, including women of color and trans people, have experienced threats, harassment, and the distribution of their location and contact information by people hoping to silence their voices. These violations of privacy and personal safety can morph into physical violence.

Harassment and threats of physical violence drive women offline. Declining numbers of women in computer science professions and degree programs is just one example of a trend that threatens to undermine efforts to reduce barriers for connected learning and digital engagement. In addressing online harassment, this project will safeguard gains made by other organizations and ensure that future efforts to overcome legal, technological, economic, and physical barriers can be sustained. We seek to ensure that women who participate in our connected culture do not have to trade physical and psychological security for access to digital resources and communities. We will be addressing not only issues of gender, but also of race, sexuality, and ability. Consequently, our resources will help with some facets of harassment that LGBT community members face as well.

Response
Our project will develop critical resources to establish and support resilient communities that can limit harm preemptively and respond to harassment effectually when necessary. If we are to stop the flight of women from connected work, education, and entertainment then we must put into place the means to combat out of control harassment. The central focus of this proposal is the development of educational and informational resources that will enable educators and advocates to ensure that connected learning and engagement can proceed even in the face of hostility and harassment. Connected learning breaks down if feminists and women of all ages feel unsafe in digital spaces; we can’t end online harassment, but we can ensure that everyone has the tools necessary to maximize the safety of learners and their data.

We will begin with a private summit in July 2015 to develop our production agenda, assign projects, and further develop collaborative ties amongst our networks. This in-person meeting will ensure even and rapid production of materials and events across the distributed network. We include a private retreat for feminists of color in order to develop resources that acknowledge the ways in which race and gender come together to shape responses that are needed for women to have more safety and autonomy online. Structures of power and privilege organize and inform digital engagement in ways that can obliterate trust; our in person meeting is designed to ensure that we have a cohesive, coherent, intersectional, and ethical approach to addressing anti-feminist violence.

While the content will be collaboratively determined in the summit and will be team designed and produced, we do know that we want content in the following areas/of the following kinds:

  • Understanding how algorithms, social sharing, and information retrieval works
  • Proactive personal data management as a necessary part of digital life
  • Systems for documenting & responding to threats w/minimal impact on the person experiencing the threat
  • Action and safety plans in the event of a threat
  • Best practices for addressing various kinds of threat
  • Key terms glossary for violence online
  • Existing local and national resource links
  • Four video dialogues (Each dialogue will feature two discussants and a moderator and will focus on a keyword. Possible keyword topics for the videos include anti-feminist violence, racist violence, harm reduction, transformative justice, community or collective defense, digital security/privacy, and trolling)

Our content structure is inspired by the nodal structure of FemTechNet, individual and institutional users can deploy our materials to address local needs with robust support structures throughout the year. This allows us to develop a coherent national network to address harassment, while also empowering local groups to tailor their use of our educational materials. In addition, the project team represents participants from diverse geographic locations and professions, thus allowing for broad dissemination of the resources.

We plan to ensure that our digital “product” is in fact a living, constantly developing, responsive resource that will be accessible well beyond the scope of our DML Trust Challenge grant. Additionally, we will host two public online teach-ins in the second half of the year and monthly “open online office hours” to be staffed with experienced scholars and support professionals.

Background
FemTechNet has been a leader in online and distributed education with the highly successful Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC). In addition to extensive presence within accredited institutions, the DOCC includes community courses and self-directed learners who access the resources, materials, tools, and communities online. With these experiences in virtual, blended, and face-to-face classrooms, FemTechNet is uniquely situated to be able to educate and serve online feminist learning communities. We have a well-developed content structure, including high-quality video dialogues, as well as a system for holding teach-ins and open online office hours. Our distributed model of online education also facilitates peer-to-peer connections, thereby strengthening and expanding the level of communal engagement possible with this project.

Addressing Anti-Feminist Violence Online – beginnings

I’m delighted to announce here that the Digital Media and Learning Competition 5: The Trust Challenge has selected FemTechNet’s “Addressing Anti-Feminist Violence Online” for funding.

This was a wonderfully collaborative effort that arose out conversations sparked by both GamerGate and the violences experienced in the summer of 2014 by female public intellectuals like Dr. Sarah Kendzior (which Eric Garland’s Urgent Dispatch from the Seat of White Privilege does a good job of contextualizing as gender based) and Slate.com author Dr. Rebecca Schuman.

Feeling unsure about life as a feminist scholar with a reasonably strong public profile I wrote the following to the FemTechNet community:

“I’ll be honest and say that I find myself feeling pretty uneasy these days. …with this summer’s threats against female scholars, the shooting on the west coast, and the latest wave of anti-feminist threats it strikes me that it might be a good time to talk about the above and what we can all do to help support one another. I’m also concerned about situations where institutions are themselves part of the threat and deeply aware that many feel threatened for a multitude of reasons these days.”

I was both heartened and saddened by the flood of responses from this relatively small community. It was good for me not to be alone in struggle – but it sucked to hear that so many shared my worry. The responses confirmed that the threats I was concerned about are real and also that women of color and transgender and queer folks face even greater risks.

Out of that discussion came our collective commitment to do something to address the harassment and violence that women and feminists are facing online. There are many who have participated in this effort and we are actively working to join in the chorus of voices that support the rights of feminists to work, write, speak, and live. I’ll be writing more in the coming days about our project and the connections that we hope to make with other efforts to address violence online.

For now, we are delighted to be in such good company with the other DML grantees and honored to be able to do this work.

The awards were announced March 10th at SXSWedu.

ASU Project Combats Online Threats Towards Women, Girls

DML Competition Press Release

Build a better DH syllabus

Prompted by a discussion on twitter (ht to Whitney Trettien and Daniel Powell) today (2/18/2015) about the inexcusable absence of women’s work from DH syllabi, I’m creating a space for collecting resources (the initial set up is derived from the DHSI course on Feminist DH that I teach each year with Liz Losh – if you’re not on here, it’s not because I don’t know and love your work – I just had precisely 6 minutes to get this rolling). Feel free to add yours in the comments and we’ll make this a running bibl of bad-ass DH and critical digital culture scholars. I’ll also note that there are already some great resources via dhpoco and GO:DH.

NB: I’m squeezing in additions as I’m able. This is currently thematically organized and that’s about it.

I’ll be adding in materials from Jentery Sayers’ syllabi shortly, in the meantime, you can check them out here and here.

You might also want to check out Carly Kocurek’s Teaching Theory and Technology

and Adeline Koh’s crowdsourced Race and DH

Code, Feminist Critiques of Code Culture

Wendy Chun, “Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory”

– selections from Programmed Visions “Invisibly Visible, Visibly, Invisible” and “On Sourcery and Source Code”

Annette Vee, “Text, Speech, Machine…” in Computational Culture

“Coding Values in Enculturation”

Tara McPherson, “U.S. Operating Systems at Mid-Century” in Race After the Internet

Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New

Barad, Karen. “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 28, No. 3. (1 March 2003), pp. 801-831

— Posthumanist performativity : Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. In Deborah Orr (ed.), Belief, Bodies, and Being: Feminist Reflections on Embodiment. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2006).

Work and ideas that came up in the ensuing discussion: about work in conversation with Barad:

Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska, Life After New Media, MIT Press, 2012.

Anne Balsamo, Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work, Duke UP, 2011.

Tara McPherson’s work on Scalar, discussed in a forthcoming article in Difference. (A talk version is here:
http://mith.umd.edu/podcasts/tara-mcpherson-scholarship-beyond-database/ ).

–Micha Cardenas and Zach Blas, “Imaginary Computational Systems, Queer Technologies, and Transreal Aesthetics”

Micha Cardenas et all, in http://transreal.org/media-n-journal-2013-caa-conference-edition/ and http://www.e-fagia.org/digievent/2011/tx/michaElle.html

Maria Fernandez, Faith Wilding, and Michelle M. Wright, Domain Errors, (Autonomedia, 2003)

Caludia Reiche and Verena Kuni, eds. Cyberfeminism: Next Steps (Autonomedia, 2004)

Kim Christen-Withey’s work on Mukurtu as anti-imperialist approach to database design

“Fuzzy logic:” looking at measures of information as the continuum between 0 and 1 rather than the binary,

–connected to French Feminism: Kristeva, Cixous, Irigiray, Wittig.

–see work of Margaret Homans, introduction and opening chapter in Bearing the Word (Chicago UP, 1989).

    Play, Feminist Game Studies

 
Mary Flanagan, Critical Play: Radical Game Design (Introduction, Ch. 2. “Playing House” (17-62) and and Ch. 7 “Critical Computer Games” (222-249).

Janine Fron, Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and Celia Pearce, “The Hegemony of Play”

Bonsignore, E.,* Hansen, D., Kraus, K., & Ruppel, M.* (2013). Alternate Reality Games as platforms for practicing 21st -century literacies. International Journal of Learning and Media

Kraus, K. (2011). “A counter-friction to the machine”: What game scholars, librarians, and archivists can learn from machinima makers about user activism. Special commissioned issue on machinima. Journal of Visual Culture 10(1), 100-112

Liz Losh, “#Gamergate 101” date: 10/17

Nina Huntemann (co-ed), Gaming Globally: Production, Play and Place and Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games.

— (associate producer of the film) Joystick Warriors: Video Game Violence and the Culture of Militarism
— (produced and directed) Game Over: Gender, Race and Violence in Video Games

    Discipline/Access, Feminist Critiques of Technoculture

Radhika Gajjala, Cyberselves: Feminist Ethnographies of South Asian Women and of Cyberculture

the Subaltern: Weavings of the Virtual and Real.
Anne Balsamo, “Feminism for the Incurably Informed,” Ch. 6 in Technologies of the Gendered Body

N. Katherine Hayles, “Prologue: Computing Kin,” in My Mother Was a Computer “Prologue” and “Toward Embodied Virtuality,” in How We Became Posthuman

Lisa Nakamura “Indigenous Circuits” in American Studies Quarterly

Morgan Currie, “The Feminist Critique: Mapping Controversy in Wikipedia” in Understanding Digital Humanities, ed. David Berry (2012)

Heather Froehlich and Michele Moravec, Postcolonial Digital Humanities | Gender and the DHPoco Open Thread: A Corpus Analysis

Jasbir Puar, Homonationalism gone Viral (youtube video)

Johanna Drucker on Humanist Approaches to Graphical Display and her feminist book arts

    Program, Feminism and Theories of the Media Apparatus

 
Lisa Parks on drone vision: “Zeroing In: Overhead Imagery, Infrastructure Ruins, and Datalands in Afghanistan and Iraq” Ch. 14 in The Visual Culture reader, 3rd Ed., ed. Nicholas Mirzoeff, Routledge 2012

Lucy Suchman, “Preface,” “Introduction,” “Interactive Artifacts,” “Plans,” and “Situated Actions” Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication

“Human/Machine Reconsidered,” published by the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University at

Genevieve Bell and Paul Dourish “Contextualizing Ubiquitous Computing,” in Divining a Digital Future

Murray, Janet Horowitz. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free Press, 1997

Blair, Ann. Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. New Haven Conn.: Yale University Press, 2011. Print.

Nina Lykke, Randi Markussen, and Finn Olesen, “There are Always More Things Going On Than You Thought!”: Methodologies as Thinking Technologies: Interview with Donna Haraway” Bits of Life: Feminism at the Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology.

Kraus, K. and Levi, A.* (Eds.). (2012). Rough Cuts: Media and Design in Process. [Online collection of essays and artifacts]. MediaCommons: The New Everyday. [Collection includes 23 contributors; edited, curated, and published by Kraus and Levi with introduction written by Kraus]

Lisa Snyder on 3D Modeling

Miriam Posner’s Blog, especially “Commit to DH People, Not DH Projects”

    Archive, Feminist DH Projects

 
Alex Juhasz, The Views of the Feminist Archive

Kate Eichhorn, The Archival turn in Feminism

Katherine D. Harris, Forget Me Not! The Rise of British Literary Annuals, 1823-1835, a literary and cultural history of early British literary annuals. Ohio University Press, forthcoming June 2015.

— “TechnoRomanticism: Creating Digital Editions in an Undergraduate Classroom.” Journal of Victorian Culture 16:1 (2011 April): 107-112. Invited by journal editor, James Mussell.

Julia Flanders & Jacqueline Wernimont, “Feminism in the Age of Digital Archives” Tulsa Studies of Women’s Literature

Watch: Amy Earhart on obsolescence in feminist DH projects,
“Recovering the Recovered Text” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ui9PIjDreo

Bethany Nowviskie “What Girls Dig”

Trettien, Whitney Anne. ‘A Deep History of Electronic Textuality: The Case of English Reprints Jhon Milton Areopagitica’. Digital Humanities Quarterly. 7.1 (2013)

Kraus, K. (2013). Picture Criticism: Textual Studies and the Image. In Julia Flanders and Neil Fraistat (Eds.) Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 3.

Kraus, K. (2011). Prim Drift, Copybots, and Folk Preservation. In Megan Winget and William Aspray (Eds.) Digital Media: Tech

Michelle Moravec, Unghosting Apparitional (Lesbian) Histories

Corpus Stylistics

Fischer-Starcke, B. ‘Keywords and Frequent Phrases of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice A Corpus-Stylistic Analysis’. International journal of corpus linguistics 14.4 (2009): 492–523.

Lutzky, Ursula. ‘Why and What in Early Modern English Drama’. Middle and Modern English Corpus Linguistics: a Multi-dimensional Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins (2012): 177–190.

— and Jane Demmen. ‘Pray in Early Modern English Drama’. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 14.2 (2013): 263–284.

Marchi, Anna, and Charlotte Taylor. ‘If on a Winter’s Night Two Researchers… A Challenge to Assumptions of Soundness of Interpretation’. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines 3.1 (2009): 1–20. Print.

Mahlberg, Michaela. ‘Corpus Linguistics and the Study of Nineteenth-Century Fiction’. Journal of Victorian Culture 15.2 (2010): 292–298.

— Catherine Smith, and Simon Preston. ‘Phrases in Literary Contexts: Patterns and Distributions of Suspensions in Dickens’s Novels’. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 18.1 (2013): 35–56.

Selections from*:
Pahta, Päivi, and Andreas H. Jucker. Communicating Early English Manuscripts. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Meurman-Solin, Anneli and Jukka Tyrkkö. Principles and Practices for the Digital Editing and Annotation of Diachronic Data. Studies in Variation, Contact and Change in English. Volume 14. Helsinki, Finland: 2013 http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/series/volumes/14/

Nevalaienen, Terttu and Susan Fitzmaurice. How to Deal with Data: Problems and Approaches to the Investigation of the English Language over Time and Space. Volume 7. Helsinki, Finland: 2011 http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/series/volumes/07/

Gonzalez-Diaz, V. and Hodson, J. and Auer, A.. Language and Literary Style. Linguistics and Literature. John Benjamins, Amsterdam: 2012