a feminist technology blog

Month: August 2007

SXSW Panel Picker is out

As I wrote about previously, I proposed a panel on status in social media at SXSW. There are a ridiculously huge number of proposed panels this year, and I’m doing all I can to get mine picked!

So please vote for me. You can find it directly at this link, or by searching for “marwick” or “status” in the search bar.

My September resolution is going to be blogging more often. This year, instead of making one New Year’s resolution that I would forget about by January 15th, I decided to do twelve one-month challenges. January’s was no shopping (succeeded). February was no candy, cake, ice cream, etc.: this was impossible and I failed spectacularly mid-month. March I quit smoking (I have, for the most part, kept up with this resolution). April through June are sort of a blur… July I quit eating meat, which wasn’t very difficult, and this month I’ve been going to the gym every day. I highly recommend this as a resolution technique, by the way– you can suffer through any possible resolution for thirty days and some of the good habits might stick.

I am studying for exams full-time right now, so haven’t been thinking much about technology outside of whatever it is that I’m reading presently– I’ve spent most of the summer studying gender and consumer culture, which has been a really refreshing break. Now I’m working my way through the canon of cyberculture studies, I expect more tech and feminism related things to spring to mind. For example, I just finished reading Rhiannon Bury’s book on female-only fandoms, which includes a lengthy hashing out of the debate on embodiment/disembodiment. While Bury’s explanation is quite lucid and clear, it reminded me of how tired I am of having the same debates over and over again:

  • Is online communication “better” or “worse” than face to face communication? Neither: that’s a normative value judgment; they afford different types of behaviors. Besides, the online/offline schism isn’t that simple.
  • Are online communities “real” communities? What’s a real community? Is it your city block? Your academic department? It depends on the features of the community and the members of the community more than it does the communication medium. I’d also be very surprised to find active internet communities nowadays where none of the participants have ever met each other personally, and where all the community interaction only exists “online”.
  • Online communication is people talking without being judged on gender, race, class, or ability. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. “Not being judged on gender, race, class or ability” is another way of saying “assuming a normative white male heterosexual middle-class subject, and getting annoyed when anyone offers up opinions or experiences different from this. See: the preponderance of gender harassment on Slashdot or Digg, and the homophobia and racism expressed in YouTube comments.

I like to think that most of us have moved past these discussions, but early cybertheory and 1990’s cyberutopianism still has a strong hold on the popular imagination.

ANYWAY! This fall, I’ll be at AOIR, I may be at the Microsoft Social Software Symposium (it’s a week before my exams), and I will definitely be at the the social media conference that the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies at the University of Tokyo is putting on in November. That’s right– I’m going to Japan! I’m really excited about this as I’ve never been to Asia, plus my department is footing the bill, which is even more exciting.

Back to reading!

Link roundup for August 18, 2007

Summary of the turn-of-the-century conception of women as independent, educated wage-earners, and how it tied into the radical feminist movement of the time.

Entire book on imagery of the “New Woman”. Focuses on specific paintings as texts, but includes masses of useful historical information.

Link roundup for August 11, 2007

Good, useful syllabus on the sociology of advertising.

Link roundup for August 9, 2007

Big $$ for innovative research in computer science / UI.

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