Anne Balsamo

Online Learning Summit

By Alexandra Juhasz, Pitzer College

FemTechNet, collaborative makers of “the anti-MOOC,” were graciously, no I’d even say studiously received by leaders of the bellies-of-the-beast at last weekend’s Online Learning Summit, hosted by Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford (the great research institutions who put money and a spotlight on what would first be the year, but quickly the boondoggle of, the MOOC.). President Hennessy of Stanford started us off by indicating that the Massive of MOOCs should really be rethought as the moderate; and Open ended up generating a host of problems people hadn’t quite predicted (particularly the great differences of skills, knowledge, and attention of the masses who came; demonstrating “a dynamic range of ability.”)

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Upcoming Video Dialogues

L to R in front row: Maria Fernandez, Anne Balsamo, Lisa Nakamura,
in back row: L to R: Kara Keeling, Wendy Chun, and Faith Wilding

The Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) contributed this week’s dialogue on Difference, just recorded and edited this last month with Shu Lea Cheang and Kim Sawchuk moderated by Sara Diamond.

Shu Lea Cheang and Kim Sawchuk, and moderated by Sara Diamond.
–>Hat’s off to Katie Kotler for dedicating an enormous part of her graduate school hours to taping and editing this video, and figuring out the upload issues all in short time!

At Brown University, March 2013 L to R in front row: Maria Fernandez, Anne Balsamo, Lisa Nakamura, in back row: L to R: Kara Keeling, Wendy Chun, and Faith Wilding

Next up is a dialogue on the Body, just recorded at The New School, featuring Skawennati and Heather Cassils moderated by T.L. Cowan. That video will be launched October 21. At the end of October, we will launch Machine, done at Brown University last March (2013) with Kelly Dobson and Wendy Chun.

Editing, transcribing, captioning–it is all coming together! The first captioned videos should be ready next week…never as fast as we’d like, but we are moving in the right direction.

Canaries in the Coal Mine

By Ellie Brewster

We spent most of our first session talking about the Anne Balsamo / Judy Wajcman dialogue, although we did go off on a few tangents. We meet in Second Life at the Ada Lovelace Library, on the Ohio State Virtual Campus, (image courtesy of Sharon Collingwood).

Most of us are information workers, and there was a vigorous nodding of avatar heads when we discussed this quote from Wajcman:

“in creative industries, or whatever terms you use for these kinds of industries, that people are working extraordinarily long hours, they’re not unionized, they’re a perfect example of the blurring of private time and time for their employer, although they are self-employed and don’t think of it this way.  In old terms, we would think of it as very exploitative labour relations.”

I liked Wajcman’s analysis of the importance of reputation and autonomy for these kinds of workers — I think that many people are willing to give up a lot to be working outside the control of large corporate structures, and I think we should be very careful in examining what that means. We talked about this for a while, and wanted to do more on skilled, unskilled and deskilled labour.

FTN in Second Life

I liked a lot of what Wajcman said. She reminded us that there was a time when people asked questions like “why shouldn’t people who work in workplaces be part of running those workplaces?”  Why, indeed?

The dialogue ended on a positive note. As Anne Balsamo said, one robin doesn’t make a spring, and one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Although we are still dancing around the essentialist point that being female somehow grants us a better perspective on human relations, many agree that a critical mass of females in the upper echelons of power will change our culture.

What the dialogue didn’t bring up, and what I wish we had talked more about in our group, is why women, or anyone, would want to support such a toxic system by striving to succeed in it.  It reminds me of what Audre Lorde said shortly before her death: we race for the cure for cancer while we are drinking, eating, breathing, and bathing in carcinogens. Lorde was critiquing the breast cancer industry, but I think she identified a pattern that we see elsewhere. Can we really change the system by subscribing to it.

In the face of all the problems we have to deal with today, perhaps the breaking the glass ceiling is at least an achievable target. However, I wouldn’t want a focus on corporate success to distract us from other ways to effect change within the workplace.

Our discussion group meets in the virtual world Second Life on Sundays at 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern, and 7pm GMT. Find our island by typing MINERVA OSU into the address bar of the Second Life browser, or use this link to arrive in the classroom (you must have the group “Minerva Guests” activated):
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Minerva%20OSU/189/70/40