Category: public writing

Forthcoming: Poetico-Mathematical Women

I’ve written a chapter for a forthcoming collection on history of early modern science and I was just asked to write up the abstract for said piece. In writing, I found myself pretty jazzed about the piece and thought I’d share at least the abstract with you all. I’m particularly tickled by the way the chapter harmonizes with work I’m doing right now on my book, which is all about long histories of quantifying media and interfaces.

“Poetico-Mathematical Women” offers a recontextualization of the first ever mathematical periodical – The Ladies’ Diary – as central to the tradition of early modern aesthetic rationalism. Pairing poetic enigmas with mathematical inquiry, the Diary creates readers attuned to a new intellectual paradigm and leverages early modern interest and pleasure in the procedural, formal qualities shared by mathematics and poetry.  While often held out as exemplary in bringing mathematics into a humanist context, Wernimont demonstrates that the Diary actually follows a well-worn, if under-recognized path that includes canonical history of science texts such as: Mercure Galant (1672-1724), Bernard Fontenelle’s Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes (1686), and English works such as Aphra Behn’s translation of Entretiens, titled A Discovery of New World (1688), and Peter Anthony Motteux’s Gentleman’s Journal (1692–94). In so doing, she argues that such texts represent early lineages of modern algorithmic culture – a culture invested in the pleasure and power of procedural logics – and demonstrates the centrality of women’s writing within this tradition.”

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

Working Bibliography: Anti-feminist violence online and transformative justice resources

I’m sharing here the helpful resource collection work of the FemTechNet network. Errors are my responsibility and I’m happy to add reader contributions.

Update 10/4: Fembot Collective and ICA respond to gamergate

Anti-Feminist Violence Online+

Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Rights Programme, “End Violence: Internet intermediaries and violence against women online”

Balsamo, Anne Marie. Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press, 2011.

Blanchette, Jean-Francois, and Deborah G. Johnson. Data Retention and the Panopticon Society: The Social Benefits of Forgetfulness. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, November 22, 1998. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=140048.

boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, 2014.

Citron, Danielle Keats. Hate Crimes in Cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2014.

Coleman, Beth. Hello Avatar Rise of the Networked Generation. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011.

Creative Interventions Tool Kit for addressing violence without the police http://www.creative-interventions.org/tools/toolkit/

Daniels, Jessie. Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and The New Attack on Civil Rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.

Davis, Simone Weil, and Barbara Sherr Roswell. Turning Teaching inside out: A Pedagogy of Transformation for Community-Based Education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Dibbell, Julian. “Julian Dibbell » A Rape in Cyberspace,” 1998. http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/.

Duggan, Maeve. “Online Harassment.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Accessed October 27, 2014.

Englander, Elizabeth K. Bullying and Cyberbullying: What Every Educator Needs to Know. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2013.

Fox, D. L, and C Fleischer. “Beginning Words: Toward ‘Brave Spaces’ in English Education.” English Education. 37, no. 1 (2004): 3–4.

Fron, Janine, Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and Celia Pearce. “The Hegemony of Play,” 2007, 309–18.

Gajjala, Radhika, and Yeon Ju Oh. Cyberfeminism 2.0. New York: Peter Lang Pub., 2012.

Gurak, Laura. Cyberliteracy: Navigating the Internet with Awareness. New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2003.

Hardwick, J. “A Safe Space for Dangerous Ideas; A Dangerous Space for Safe Thinking” Hybrid Pedagogy, 2014,

Hinduja, Sameer K. and Justin W. Patchin. Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2015.

hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Levmore, Saul, and Martha Craven Nussbaum. The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Losh, Elizabeth. “Bodies in Classrooms: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part I.” DML Central. Accessed September 2, 2012. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/liz-losh/bodies-classrooms-feminist-dialogues-technology-part-i.

———. “Learning from Failure: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part II.” DMLcentral, August 9, 2012. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/liz-losh/learning-failure-feminist-dialogues-technology-part-ii.

———. “Recasting the Bullying Narrative.” DML Central: Digital Media and Learning, September 25, 2014. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/liz-losh/recasting-bullying-narrative.

Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2002.

———. Digitizing Race Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=220871.

Nakamura, Lisa, and Peter Chow-White. Race after the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Technology and Confidentiality Resources Toolkit   http://tools.nnedv.org//

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011.

Tynes, Brendesha. “Internet Safety Gone Wild? Sacrificing the Educational and Psychosocial Benefits of Online Social Environments.” Journal of Adolescent Research. 22:6, 2007, 575-584.

Urgent Action Fund and Front Line Defenders, (video of panel) “What’s the point of the revolution if we can’t tweet? Women Human Rights Defenders speak out”

Warnick, Barbara. Critical Literacy in a Digital Era: Technology, Rhetoric, and the Public Interest. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2002.

Transformative Justice Bibliography

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Community Accountability Working Document: Principles/Concerns/Strategies/Models

INCITE! Community Accountability (PDF)

Taking Risks: Implementing Grassroots Community Accountability Strategies

Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence

The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Violence within Activist Communities Beautiful, Difficult, Powerful: Ending Sexual Assault Through Transformative Justice

Think. Re-Think: Accountable Communities

Furthering Transformative Justice, Building Healthy Communities: An interview with Philly Stands Up

Toward Transformative Justice: A Liberatory Approach to Child Sexual Abuse and other forms of Intimate and Community Violence

Moving Beyond Critique

Philly Stands Up Portrait of Praxis: An anatomy of Accountability

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and Critical Resistance: Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex

StoryTelling and Organizing Project – Community Responds to Domestic Violence (AUDIO)

Cultural Center Confronts Sexual Violence and Kicking Ass Part 1 & 2

Gendered Risk: Feminist Programming

I recently heard Audrey Bilger of Claremont McKenna’s Center for Writing and Public Discourse talk about the ways that social media can help bring certain feminist issues to the fore – in her example, the exclusions of women of color from mainstream feminist movements by way of the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag. While a lot went wrong in the mainstream coverage of that story, including the elision of Mikki Kendall’s role in initiating the conversation, it is true that a social media event helped to continue an important conversation

At the same time, the recent furor over Twitter’s user blocking policy change and then quick reversal reminds us that social media spaces are also sites of potential threat and abuses, where stalkers and trolls often are able to work with relative impunity. Women are systematically harassed not only in media venues, but in online gaming and knowledge building communities as well. There is a reason that less than 10% of Wikipedia editors are women. Things don’t look much better from the tech infrastructure side either – as HASTAC director Cathy Davidson notes, the number of women entering the field of computer science has declined since 1993.

Enter into this space Arielle Schlesinger’s “Feminism and Programming” blog on HASTAC. Schlesinger’s questions are important – how do we abstract in non-normative ways? What would it mean to encode our knowledge and to shape our interfaces in ways that would recognize differences through non-binary paradigms? Is it possible to imagine a feminist programming language? What is at stake in Schlesinger’s research are life opportunities – the ability to inhabit digital and analog spaces without having to sacrifice some fundamental part of your life or your being. Sound hyperbolic? It’s not. Our tools mediate every part of our lives and our ways of being. The logic of our (computing) systems can inhibit thinking through questions of race, class, and gender, as Tara McPherson suggests, and these compartmentalized habits of thought inform our everyday lives.

The question that Schlesinger’s research asks then, is how can our technologies – here programming languages – be less violent, do less violence? It is a practical and ethical question of great importance. I’m delighted that Schlesinger is raising it in her work and in a public space like HASTAC. I’m also heartened by the wonderful responses – many by computer scientists/programmers – in that forum. There is an opportunity for some powerful engagement and thinking to occur.

At the same time, however, Schlesinger has now become a target – while HASTAC conversations have been productive, those on Reddit and 4chan have not been. Schlesinger has become a target on Twitter as well. As is so typical these days, a parody of the project, under the name “Feminist Software Foundation” attempts to undermine a genuine conversation. Consequently, Schlesinger’s efforts to bring her research into a public discussion teach us again about the gendered risks entailed in public intellectualism and open inquiry. For some – it isn’t entirely safe to even ask a question

Want to follow the conversation? #femtech. Working bibliography on this topic.

Wikipedia Interventions for Feminist Dialogues on Technology

 Academics nationally and internationally are beginning to integrate work on Wikipedia into their courses; it is a great way to get students to think about public writing, the creation of knowledge, citation, and to hone a few digital authoring skills. Many of the faculty teaching  “Feminist Dialogues on Technology” – the FemTechNet Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC) that is running this year – are going to include Wikipedia assignments. Adrianne Wadewitz and I are leading this area of FemTechNet work and we’ve created this list as a way partially representing the ways one can participate in Wikipedia culture and knowledge production – while there is a lot there, it’s not exhaustive. As we continue working, I’ll be putting up additional resources, but it is worth checking out Adrianne’s extensive work in this area – including this: “How to Use Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool” by Liz Losh (interviewing Adrianne).

There are some basic categories of work:

  • Adding information
  • Format/design of information
  • Participating in discussion
  • Policy

Which we can break out into work items:

Create new articles about

Work on existing articles by

  • adding sections,
  • adding information,
  • adding citations,
  • citing sources on feminist topics,
  • citing women’s work on any topic, or
  • citing feminist sources on non-overtly feminist topics (e.g. “history of the novel”).

Clean up existing articles by 

Below are more advanced work items – ones that can be undertaken once an editor has built up some authority and experience.

Adding Images (requires an understanding of copyright issues)

  • find new images to add to Wikimedia Commons – this is a challenging task, especially for historical women
  • find images on Commons to add to Wikipedia articles

Participating in conversations (after established oneself as a memeber)

  • about the structure of the site,
  • deletion discussions,
  • possible violations of the civil code and banning,
  • policy (see the notice boards on the policy items),
  • offering advice about sources etc,
  • or the various Wikiprojects.

Help create and sustain the community

  • welcome and work with new members (TeaHouse),
  • identify and address vandalism,
  • work to build consensus by participating in talk conversations,
  • vote for various high-level positions, or
  • serve on one of the various administrative committees.

Be Bold! Create a Wikipedia Page and Skip the Review

I’ve had the pleasure of talking with new editors (I, myself, am relatively new) about Wikipedia editing, both at our WikiStorm event at THATCamp Feminisms this spring and via social media. In my academic circles, which includes a number of medieval and early modern scholars, it’s become pretty popular to edit pages. We have a lot of knowledge to contribute and I’m delighted to see so many people adding to Wikipedia.

One issue that has come up repeatedly is the review process – you can create a new article and submit it for review, which takes an agonizingly long time given the backlog. Or, you can follow the Wikipedia advice to “Be Bold” and just publish that article right away.

This post offers a step by step guide on how to publish, rather than submitting your article to queue of dispair. You can also find much of this information on Wikipedia’s own pages on the topic.

First step – log into your Wikipedia account. Don’t have one? Create one!

To demonstrate the process, I first needed to decide what I’d be writing on. I’m an early modern literature and history of science scholar and I focus on creating Wikipedia pages that provide information on women writers in both literature and natural philosophy (early sciences). So I was looking for an early modern/18th century writer who did not yet have an entry. A simple search of Wikipedia using the authors list at the Women Writers Project revealed that there were no existing articles on either of Margaret Holford, or her daughter, also named Margaret Holford.Image

Knowing that there are no existing pages, I then clicked on the red link circled in the image below to create a new page.

Image

Which brought up the following screen, where I was able to create the new page:Image

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 2.28.24 PM

Now, you can edit here, but it’s worth using your user Sandbox to draft, revise, and even receive feedback on your new page creations. Rather than make the page, live, here, I had already drafted it in my user Sandbox. The first image to the right here is my empty Sandbox, then below it is the draft in progress. You can (and should!) use the preview function to see how your pages look along the way.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 3.08.57 PM

Among the benefits of using the Sandbox is that you can revise your content, formatting, and citations at length. You can save the draft and come back later, when you’ve finally gotten your hands on that critical book, without risking having uncited material on the live page. Once you’ve refined your content to your satisfaction, you can then copy and past the entire field into the Create page.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 3.13.30 PM

What I’m doing here in the image on the right is copying and pasting the content from my Sandbox into the Create page. Note that above the image line there is a preview of the page and then, if I scroll down, there is a Save/Preview button.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 3.13.40 PM

Hit Save and Voilà! A page on Margaret Holford (the Elder) exists!

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 3.13.57 PM

Now,  this is really short page – I really should have more quality content here, but I wanted to get a demo up fast. So I need to flesh out the content further. Beyond that, the usual next steps for me are to link this page to any relevant existing pages, including those of Margaret’s family. I’ll also likely want to create a page for Margaret the younger and to connect the two pages. But both of those items are work for another day.