Category: #tooFEW

No More Excuses

Male colleagues whom I respect, read, think with and sometimes disagree with: it is time. Time to see gender equity (at the very least) and our much touted inclusivity be realized. As a feminist I think dissensus is necessary and disagreement can be productive. I don’t want to hide our many differences. But it is time to stop behaving as if there aren’t any/enough/enough good women working in the fields that fall under our “big tent.” There are no more excuses for having an all-male panel, an all-male editorial board,  an all-male DH qualifying exams reading list, an all male anything.

Hearing that people have a hard time coming up with examples of women who program, women who have published in DH, women to be on grant or advisory boards, women who can be invited as featured or plenary speakers – some of us have gathered together and made a set of resources. There’s the Build a Better DH Syllabus, Build a Better List of Code Experts, and now Build a Better Panel. You have over 100 280+ women from across the globe, representing a range of disciplinary and methodological approaches. We have all manner of intersectional identities and ranks represented in our lists. Soon you’ll have info on where you can contact those folks in order to invite them and learn from them. We will be building a speaker’s bureau and you can find more information there as well.

There are no more excuses. You know we are here and that we do damn fine work. Going forward, all-male panels can only be construed as a choice, not an issue of ignorance. We have been busy building the communities we want to see within DH,  and now we’ve taken time from our research, our teaching, our lives to pull together information for you – now it’s your turn to do your part.

Call for Proposals: Feminist Debates in DH

Colleagues, we invite your contributions to a proposed third volume in the Debates in DH series, which was inaugurated by Matt Gold and is now directed by Gold and Lauren Klein. This series will continue the first volume’s commitment to open access and peer-to-peer review.

In order to propose a piece, please send an abstract and a short (2 page) vita to Jacque Wernimont and Elizabeth Losh at jwernimo (at) asu (dot) edu no later than July 15th 2015. We know this is a fast turn around and we will accept revisions to accepted proposals until 8/15. Please write “Feminist Debates in DH” in the subject.

We invite abstracts that engage with the ideas/themes articulated in our proposal (below); we are open to collaborative and non-traditional authorship models and are committed to a feminist frame that is decolonial, anti-racist, and queer and trans inclusive. As with the initial Debates in DH volume, we welcome pieces in traditional and new media scholarly formats.

From our proposal
“A number of theoretical turns in media and technology studies in recent years have produced a fundamentally different model of computational media that draws the attention of critics to its material, embodied, affective, labor-intensive, and situated character. Rather than present digital culture as the realm of virtual, disembodied, and highly rational interactions predicated on labor-saving technologies and universal design, these critics emphasize how the slick interface of the two-dimensional screen may ultimately mask messy infrastructures and invisible labor.

As Lev Manovich has famously pointed out, the screen both displays and screens out. By following the conventions established by humanities computing in the seventies and emphasizing what could be called “the digitized humanities” rather than a broader and more inclusive “digital humanities” that encompasses every day born digital genres and interrogates the politics in which they are produced, it is possible to reify oppressive cultural norms. In other words, maintaining a focus on remediation of the page could also preserve the filtering mechanisms – the screens – of print culture.”

We are interested in grouping sections that might look like: “Code,” “Program,” “Access/Discipline,” “Archive,” and “Play” in order to provide an arena to facilitate dialogue and promote intersectional inquiry, but we are not limited by those topics.Topics could also include mobile computing, tracking/wearable devices, circuit bending, and other digital interventions that incorporate insights from human-computer interaction, critical making, and values-centered design.

Please keep in mind that following in the tradition of the first Debates in DH, the production time is relatively rapid. Our schedule is as follows and is subject to press schedules:

Accepted Abstracts due: August 15, 2015
Essay Submission Deadline: December 15, 2015
Peer-to-Peer Review: December 2015 and January 2016
Editor’s Review of Peer Review/Summary Letter: End of January
Revisions Due: March 1, 2016
Production-ready Manuscript to Minnesota: April 1, 2016.

Press review and production process
Book and open access publication April 1, 2017

Please remember that at this stage we are soliciting proposals for a volume that will undergo review through both the University of Minnesota Press (including outside peer review) and the peer-to-peer review process. Acceptance of a proposal is not a guarantee of publication – that said, we do have the enthusiastic support of the series editors and are confident in our collective ability to create a volume that is compelling. We look forward to hearing from you!

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

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.

Not (Re)Covering Feminist Methods in Digital Humanities

NB: this is a new title for my short position paper that was part of the Excavating Feminisms panel at DH2013. I’m a participant in Early Modern Digital Agendas at the Folger Library in DC and unable to be also in Nebraska. I was lucky to have Miriam Posner read on my behalf. I should note that I kept this intentionally short and polemical because we designed our panel to spur a larger discussion.

My initial proposal for this position paper asserted that “feminist theory seems to be woefully absent from digital humanities interventions, despite the number of literary archival project that began from a feminist impulse of one sort or another.” In the intervening year since I wrote that proposal, my thoughts on this have shifted a great deal.

In a piece in the forthcoming issue of DHQ, I discuss the difficulties of describing any particular DH project as feminist. The challenges arise not from a lack of feminist engagement in digital humanities work, quite the opposite is true, but rather in the difficulty tracing political, ideological, and theoretical commitments in work that involves so many layers of production.

Put rather simply – the systems and networks from which DH projects arise are wickedly complex. Perhaps a bit more contentiously – the complexity of those networks has enabled narratives of digital humanities that elide the feminist work that is foundational to the field.

A feminist scholar might consider the workflows and organizational structures of DH projects, networks of authority and expertise engaged and produced by the project, or the interface or data structures.

Or a scholar might think in terms of content, canon revision, and historical recovery. This last area is perhaps the most traditional approach to understanding DH work as feminist – gender-based digital projects afford users the thrill and affirmation of having “women’s countless contributions to Western culture and society made visible.”[1] There is little doubt that such projects make texts available for reading, research, criticism, and teaching in ways that the print industry is increasingly unable to do.

But to focus on recovery of content is to miss the absolutely elemental feminist contributions to technical and human infrastructure with digital humanities.

Today’s session is a roundtable and we’ve agreed to put forth a position in our short papers. Here is mine: the familiarity of recovery-style projects has focused attention in unproductive ways, both in terms of our understanding of individual projects and in the ways we talk about what DH is and what it is missing.

Recovery – in both the colloquial and legal senses suggests a return of something lost or perhaps of a person restored. But feminist work within digital humanities and its related disciplines has not gone missing, it is not lost, nor has it been languishing in some metaphorical sick-bed. Quite the opposite is true – feminist making, thinking, tinkering, and critiquing have been vibrantly part of our development of interfaces, databases, markup standards, usability assessments, archive building, and technology theorizing.

If we think that feminist intervention has been lost or perhaps absent, it is only by way of origin tales and disciplinary histories that actively dis-member the field. Does this mean that we shouldn’t push for more – more feminist critique, more feminist making, more feminist engagements? No – I want to see a great deal more.

But I think we do ourselves a great disservice if we articulate the feminist position within DH as one of lack – that is an imaginative recreation. One that fails to engage in the difficult task of understanding how and to what ends we locate feminist work within digital projects. One that rewrites the history of our fields as “man and his tools” – in effect, creating the very effacement that feminist scholarship seeks to redress. Arguing that we need to recover the work of feminists and women within the many interdisciplinary zones that constitute digital humanities re-covers /covers up the long and lively history of engagement, creation, and critique that is already there.


[1] Susan Fraiman. “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens—With Help from a New Digital Resource for Literary Scholars,” Modern Philology, August 2008, 142-48

Access and the LA Makerspace

This is one of series of guest-posts by Beatriz Maldonado, who is working on a 3D printing + literature research project this summer.

LA Makerspace Imageis a non-profit community space located in the Los Angeles Mart Building. According to their website, their mission “is to provide a place where youth can make and learn alongside adults and where members can work on their own projects while learning new, unique maker skills through our workshops, on-going interest-based programs, mentorship, and peer learning environment.” I became very excited the day my professor told me about LA Makerspace and the workshops that it hosts about 3D printing, computer programming, and other amazing technological opportunities. It all sounded so inspiring and revolutionary that I immediately looked up their website for more details.

As I was searching through the LA Makerspace’s website, I found the Calendar of Events, and my stomach instantly dropped when I saw the cost of a day pass workshop: $20. I thought, “well this is OK, because I would be learning about some high tech stuff…” But it didn’t take long for that first feeling of disappointment to return; I thought “but with fifteen dollars I could buy lunch for my family, or buy groceries, or fill up my mom’s car for once.” What’s more, the fact that my family has not gone to the Getty Museum because of their intimidating $15 dollar parking pass requirement meant that I couldn’t, in good conscience, attend any of the LA Makerspace workshops. There is just something about double digits that petrify my family and myself. However, I managed to find a free event on the same day my professor first mentioned the organization.

Planning to attend an LA Makerspace Workshop

Before I left Scripps to head to the workshop, I planned the public transportation routes I would take. The workshop was held on a Wednesday – the day when my mom takes my brother to his soccer practice, after picking him up from school and making dinner for the family first, of course. I did not want to complain about the time the event (from 6-8pm), because I was already grateful that the event was free. However, I knew that this time (in which all these other events were happening) would complicate things for my mom at the moment of picking me up. Worse still, before leaving I noticed that my phone was dying, which was problematic because my phone is the only way to contact my mom. When my mom goes out of the house and I am out of the house, and my phone is not working … well let’s just say chaos is the most likely outcome. With my phone not working and her busy schedule already set, I was a bit anxious about how I was going to reach her when the event was over.

Feeling out of Place

When I finally reached the location, I was more than surprised to find it in the LA Mart. Not that I had ever been inside the Mart, but it was interesting to find this building located a block away from the local community college, Los Angeles Trade Tech, and right across from the Blue Line subway. This is, in some ways, my neighborhood. Really, the location seemed relatively accessible. I was very happy for that fact…until I entered the main lobby.

Everything looked creative when I got there…I loved the space of handmade toys and devices, the various books on the table that linked to what Prof. Jacque and I had been working on (such as 3D Printing). I looked around for a couple of minutes…and then I felt distinctly out of place. I did not really have a particular motive or goal to accomplish; I was there to experience the space and its resources. Friendly faces and smiles welcomed me, but none motivated me to strike up a conversation. When I headed to the back of the office, I saw a mother and her son talking to one of the members of the makerspace. I tried to tune into their conversation for a bit, but I really could not follow what they were saying. I wanted to chime in and ask a question.

Suddenly, I began to feel a wave of many emotions. I felt as though I did not belong there. I felt alone and small. I felt jealous because I saw a mother and her child there interacting with one of the workers. Whenever people ask my parents what I am doing over the summer, their response remains as “my daughter is working at her university” because they do not fully understand what research means. As a result, I’m not accustomed to discussing my work – even though I am proud of the research my professor and I are working on. That mother and son were sharing their exploration of technology – my parents and I don’t have the same kinds of moments over my research.

I gathered my courage and started talking with someone about the 3D printers they had there. After a while, she let me know that the free workshop I was there to attend was outside. I headed down to the parking lot for the workshop, and I have to admit that my sense of not belonging did not get better from there.

Everyone was white. That seems a bit direct and perhaps inappropriate – but that was the first thought that came to my mind. I did not see a person of color, other than, well, myself. I did appreciate how polite everyone was. They encouraged me to make my own creative crafts there and to use a material called VELCRO because the craft could stick to the LA Makerspace Mobile Van they had. ImageI was embarrassed because I did not know what Velcro even was. The only arts and crafts I had ever come across consisted of colored construction paper with squiggly scissors and glue. After cruising around the materials table twice, not even taking 10 minutes, I knew I wanted and needed to go home. Seeing that my phone was dead, I had to figure out my way back. It wasn’t hard, but my mom had been anxious not knowing where I was.

“It was fun,” I replied to my mom when she asked how it went. And I had not lied, I just felt…uncomfortable. I started thinking about how accessible LA Makerspace is on the one hand, but the access is invisible for those in the neighboring communities. The LA Mart is in one of the most diverse areas of Los Angeles. I remember going by the LA Mart building with my family, but never really knowing what was inside. I had never known about it until my professor mentioned it. Nor am I likely to be back inside anytime soon given the costs for workshops. It is in my neighborhood, but not part of it.

I know that many of my friends from the same neighborhood search for free events, like the one I attended. I understand that as a consumer/user/visitor, I have to be ready to make the journey to take advantage of free events – it’s great that LA Makerspace has some events that my friends and I can attend. At the same time, I am trying to figure out how the community and spaces like this can work together and to understand the importance of spaces like this one having free events available. I find myself asking: Why must we attend and learn about ‘making’? How could community members contribute to the space and its work?

My experience has taught me that accessibility is a complicated idea. There were limitations as much as there were chances to learn and interact with others. Free events must exist to create the space available for everyone no matter what. But this isn’t just about cost – it is necessary to recognize other factors in place such as date/time and transportation in order to make resources really accessible to a wide range of people. My time at the Makerspace gave me a new awareness of things I had never thought about before (such as making a craft and sticking it onto a moving vehicle). I may have left too early to discover how I could give back or involve myself more, yet I knew I would not have done the contribution humbly. I didn’t feel at home. The exposure to this type of environment seemed so invaluable, but I feel that some of that value wasn’t accessible to me.

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.