"Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess." – Donna Haraway

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The Trust Challenge | Addressing Anti-Feminist Violence Online

via The Trust Challenge | Addressing Anti-Feminist Violence Online.

Check out (and please vote for!) FemTechNet’s proposal to develop educational materials for addressing online harassment. The proposal reads,

Members of FemTechNet, a collaborative feminist network, propose to curate best practices and educational content for communities responding to anti-feminist violence online. This curated collection will be published as an open-access digital book, utilizing the Scalar platform. A year-long schedule of in-person and virtual events will support the creation, dissemination, and use of this resource. Our collaborators include industry professionals, local and national non-profit groups, networked advocacy communities, and U.S. universities and colleges.

And then, when you are done with that, considering coming to visit UT Dallas in February when Anita Sarkeesian will be speaking as part of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology speaker series.

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Upcoming Panel on Transgression, Gender Disturbance, and Feminist Sci-Fi Futures at #NWSA2014:

I am very excited to be presenting at the National Women’s Studies Association Meeting, Nov 13 – 16, 2014. Below you can find our panel description and abstracts of our individual talks.

Conference Theme: Feminist Transgressions Subtheme: Technologizing futures

Panel Title: Transgression, Gender Disturbance, and Feminist Sci-Fi Futures

Keywords: Intersectionality, Technology, New Media

Science fiction and other speculative genres engage technological imaginaries to problematize social ills and elaborate possibilities for change. Historically associated with men ─ dominated by white cis male authors and related to so-called “masculine” subjects of science and technology ─ science fiction has been troubled with colonial, sexist, and transphobic content. However,  feminist, queer, third world women, and women of color authors and artists also mobilize the conventions of the genre for critique, activism, and imagining new worlds. This panel brings together early career academics working in diverse areas of critical media and technology studies as scholars, activists, and makers. The panelists offer intersectional, queer, and transfeminist readings of literary and new media texts that emphasize their relevance to contemporary political and social issues including gender and sexual identity, neocolonial police states, reproductive rights, and others. The panel explicitly addresses the conference theme of “Feminist Trangression” by analyzing disruptive feminisms in literature, new media, and real-world activism. These texts subvert generic conventions to perform transformative critical interventions. Offering a multi-layered approach to “Technologizing Futures,” this panel examines media and genre as technologies themselves that are often used to enable but also sometimes fight against white cisgender heteronormative futurity. It explores material technologies ─ including both existing technologies/platforms (Youtube, Twitter, music videos, and video games) and imagined future technologies (robotics, androids, and clones) ─ that offer critiques of how feminist technologies can subvert and disrupt hegemonic futures. (more…)

Lingerie that Monitors “Emotional Overeating” Reveals More than Skin

tweet alerting me to the Microsoft bra, with an image from the article

Tweet about the Microsoft Bra

Earlier this week, Twitter user @s_hardey tweeted at me that Microsoft is working on a high-tech bra. The tweet came on a Tuesday, which is my busiest teaching day. Before I got a chance to check it out, it got buried in my mentions.

But today…today is an unexpected work-at-home day thanks to winter storm Cleon. So when I saw this PolicyMic article in my Tweet stream, it reminded me that I had never followed up on Sarah’s tweet and gave me the chance to check it out.

Microsoft Has Invented a Bra That Discourages Women From “Emotional Eating” – PolicyMic.

Nina Ippolito is responding to a research team’s project that used a phone app to track the relationship between women’s emotions and eating habits and then tried to use the app to intervene before emotional eating could occur. The intervention came in the form of a message that suggested deep breathing exercises. The third stage of the project developed a prototype bra that tracked the emotional state of the wearer based on vital signs. The data gathered by the bra did not result in an intervention. Instead, the purpose was to see how well the vital signs aligned with emotional state. The paper does not seem to indicate how the bra might eventually be connected to a strategy of intervention. Would it buzz? Shock? Connect to the wearer’s phone and the app? It’s unclear.

Ippolito’s critique of the Emotional Eating bra raises many interesting questions. Like Ippolito, I find myself hesitant about the researchers’ choice of which women’s health problem to solve. I suspect that emotional overeating is a problem for which the researchers felt that their wearable device presents a plausible solution. However, the device has problematic potential for policing women’s emotions and bodies in a culture that is already quite adept at doing so.

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Aside

Oh yeah, we have a Facebook page.

I don’t think I ever posted here that I started a Facebook page for The Spiral Dance a few months back. I use it to post interesting articles or news about which I don’t have time to write fully fleshed out posts. Hence, it is updated much more frequently than the blog.

There have been some good conversations there so far. I invite you to check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/thespiraldanceblog

Tangible Harm? This is so Much Bigger Than One Tweet About Quvenzhané Wallis

I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes when I heard that Seth MacFarlane was hosting the Oscars. I don’t “get” Family Guy. Not even the Star Wars episodes. When Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did an amazing job at the Golden Globes, the prospect of MacFarlane hosting the Oscars seemed like an even worse choice. Rather than watch alone, my partner and I made a few dishes named after cheesy movie title puns and had a few friends over. As a result, I pretty much stayed offline much of Sunday. MacFarlane was predictably awful, but watching was made better by doing so with friends.

I signed on to Twitter this morning and it turns out that MacFarlane wasn’t the worst thing about the Oscars this year. Instead, the worst thing has been the media’s treatment of Quvenzhané Wallis. Where to begin?

Well, this rundown of the situation by Arturo García at Racialicious is a pretty good background primer.

As others have pointed out, white child actresses have never been subjected to this kind of treatment. The tweet from The Onion was reprehensible. After the apology, as people continued to discuss the incident, the following appeared in my tweet stream:

apology-tweet

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The World’s First Tablet for Women? Oh, honestly!

ePad Femme

ePad Apps as shown in multiple recent news stories about the tablet. It is worth noting that this is not the home screen shown in the EuroStar Group’s brochure.

The name “ePad Femme” is evocative of all sorts of imagery. Just last week, during Creative Lab time, the Fashioning Circuits students and I were imagining a menstrual pad that would alert you when it needed to be changed. However, “ePad Femme”  refers to a tablet device from The EuroStar Group that is being marketed as “the world’s first tablet aimed exclusively at women,” I have to insert an exasperated sigh here. I could point you to other posts where I’ve addressed similar issues: “Whose Idea of Bliss?” that addresses the HTC Bliss phone that was designed for women, or “Droid’s Hypermasculine advertising” in which I analyze the Droid commercial that pits femininity and technological prowess against one another. But let’s dig a little deeper. (more…)

Congratulations to Limor Fried!

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225213#

Congratulations to Limor Fried of @adafruit for being named Entrepreneur of 2012 by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Be sure to watch the video interview.  My favorite moment is when she says, “The more we help people by teaching them and showing them how to be creative on their own, the more they’ve rewarded us by being great customers and also being part of our fun community.”

Moving the Field Forward: Privileged Places and Inclusive Spaces

conference-logo

Last week I attended the Media Places: Infrastructure | Space | Media conference at Umeå University. The conference was sponsored by The Peter Wallenberg Foundation and universities of Umeå, Stanford, and Lund. The conference was invite-only and I was honored to be asked, not only to attend, but also to give a short presentation as part of a panel on “Moving the Field Forward.”

This was the second conference I attended this semester and each was an interdisciplinary approach to a narrowly focused topic. I really like this format. Media Places had only one track of sessions, so it was great to know that everyone saw the same things and heard the same ideas. This made for frictionless conversation and “networking” as we gathered during breaks and meals. It was as painless as networking can possibly be.

As I mentioned above, I was asked to participate in one of the panels. Patrik Svensson asked myself and two other “junior” faculty members to speak to the issue of moving the field forward, and if possible, to tie it into the conference theme. What follows is a recreation of my talk from my notes. I actually had to edit some of this out on the fly as I was bumping up against the 8-minute time limit. Since I can’t remember what I cut, I’ll just include it all here, as I initially rehearsed it:

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Sony’s 4-breasted PSVita Ad.

It sounds like some kind of weird gamer rating system, doesn’t it? Which would also be…problematic. But in this case, Sony has released a print ad in France that compares the latest model of the PS Vita to a women with four breasts, the extra pair appearing on her back. Behold:

Double-sided playthings

C|Net’s Michelle Starr gets right to the heart of the issue with this Sony PSVita ad. She writes, “Please, stop using us as bait to dangle in front of your heterosexual male demographic in order to sell toys.”

Sony reps in various markets have responded with the defense that the ad is not running in [insert market name], which raises the issue of cultural context.

I’m not sure how well that defense works. First of all, are we certain that women in France would not also find the ad offensive? I am not suggesting that the cultural context is not different. But I think anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that this is a celebration of the female body and sexuality. The extremity of the depiction makes the woman into a headless (i.e. brainless, speechless, expressionless) plaything.

Second, it seems like a company with a global customer base should be interested in courting that customer base, no matter where they are. As we see over and over again, companies can no longer control the context in which their messages are received. There may no longer be any such thing as running an ad only in France.

(Nod to my students in “Embodied Identity in Digital Society” for bringing the ad to my attention.)

Droid’s Hypermasculine Advertising: A Whole Lot of Violence in 31 Seconds

Sexism in Tech Ads | Feminist Law Professors.
Thanks to Feminist Law Professors for blogging about this and Jessie Daniels (@JessieNYC) for tweeting about it (and introducing me to a new blog too!). Be sure to check out the link on Feminist Law Professors to their list of other sexist tech ads.

What really strikes me in this particular ad is the tension between the construction of technological hypermasculinity and the disavowal of femininity. We’ve seen a similar masculine/technological vs. feminine/decorative binary played out in multiple arenas. One of my favorite examples is a parody done by a British sketch comedy show that features a computer for women that has a lipstick holder and tissue dispenser (I can’t find the link for the life of me. Please comment if you know the video to which I’m referring! Update: the skit was from the show Look Around You, Season 2, episode 5 and introduced the world to the “Petticoat 5,” the first computer for women).

The nature of this commercial, however, seems to be particularly violent. Here’s a short list of reactions to the imagery and tone. I apologize for the bullet format but my to-do list was overflowing even before I saw this video and felt compelled to comment upon it:

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