FemTechNet publicly denounces the systematic and pernicious harassment of women, feminists of all genders, and transgender people for their participation in digital life. During the last twelve months, people who challenge the lack of racial and gender diversity in gaming and other computing practices have been subjected to organized campaigns intended to disrupt lives and silence voices.
FemTechNet is committed to creating the accessible, open, accountable, transformative and transforming educational institutions of our dreams.
These dreams are imperiled by doxxing, appropriation of work, data and technology breaches, and threats of violence and sexual assault.
Anti-feminist and anti-justice campaigns demonstrate, in the worst ways possible, that the boundaries of website, device screen, and machine are permeable with “real life.” Accountability, collaboration, collectivity, and care are feminist technologies. We activate our network to join the chorus of voices that reject online and offline violence and silencing of women and feminists.
Signatories to date: Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) within the Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC); The Fembot Collective; The Feminist Wire; Hashtag Feminism; International Communication Association, Feminist Scholarship Division (ICA FSD); McGannon Communication Research Center; Wikid GRRLs
Over the past six months Sarah Kember and I have been working hard to develop the Goldsmiths’ University course After New Media with a view to giving it an additional, online presence. Originally a formal option module for Goldsmiths’ University MA students, and comprising the conventional pedagogic media of lectures, seminars, printed reading packs and small cohorts of students, we began to ask what the course might become were it to be made freely available online. Our intention was not to create just another MOOC, but something less proprietary, less branded and ultimately more open; something that, inspired by the work already done by FemTechNet, we have begun to think of as distributed, open-access, and collaborative.
Still from “If It Reads, It Bleeds” (2010) by Joanna Zylinska; courtesy Joanna Zylinska
This project really began two years previously, in late 2012, when, with the assistance of Goldsmiths’ University’s podcasting service, we decided to record the entire series of ten lectures that made up the After New Media course. At the time this was done with no real plan other than to podcast a small selection of lectures using the university’s new iTunes U platform. The three lectures that we eventually made available proved far more popular than we had either hoped or expected and we began to receive enquiries about the remaining lectures and from there the project has spiralled!
This year the course will be available entirely online — we are releasing all ten lectures in MP3 format, adding a number of explanatory texts, including video content and a ‘liquid reader’. The ten lectures (released on a weekly basis between November 10th and February 9th) are available on the Goldsmiths University website, and a more comprehensive course, including video content and slides is available using the iTunes U website and app. There is no restriction on the number of students who can enroll and we are keen to encourage as many participants as possible.
The liquid reader is intended to be a dynamic and constantly changing resource, both entirely open, providing access to publicly available research and editable, enabling students to add to the course with additional links. We actively encourage experimentation in this space and are inviting participants to upload their own responses, which could include essays, articles, video or photography. The reader is entirely open access, although registration is required on the Liquid Books website if you wish to contribute (please include a brief note about yourself in the message box when registering to help us identify After New Media participants and keep spam to a minimum).
After New Media is in essence a ‘media studies’ course, but it builds on and challenges existing approaches — where media are often discussed as separate, discrete objects (television, film, photography etc.) — and moves towards debates on mediation. The course asks what it means to study ‘the media,’ not as separate entities, but as a complex process, one that is simultaneously social, psychological, economic, political and technological. We trace the origins of this question in debates on remediation that are critical of new media teleology and explore its (creative) evolution through a range of philosophical and contextual approaches, particularly those from the field of feminist studies of science and technology.
Throughout this course we explore the inseparability of media and mediation in the context of specific media events, including the global economic crisis (or the Credit Crunch), the search for and ‘discovery’ (or not) of the Higgs Boson at the CERN Large Hadron Collider project, the world’s first face transplant surgery, and the ongoing quest for life on Mars. What, we ask, is the relation between the event and its mediation — do media simply represent such events, or, would it be more accurate to say that these events are performed through mediation? If events are performative and do not entirely pre-exist their mediation, how might we respond to them in our critiques?
In part this course — and our experiment with ‘going online’ — is already an attempt to explore this question and to recognise and respond to our own pedagogy as mediation. An academic course is itself always a highly mediated event, one co-constituted by lectures, seminars, reading packs, text books, students and academics — none of which can be separated out and taken in isolation, and none of which entirely pre-exist the other. The relationship between the event and its mediation is therefore just as complicated here, and the media with which we engage never convey our meaning in an uncomplicated way, never simply representing pre-formed knowledge to ‘passive’ students. For this reason ‘going online’ is far from neutral, it does something to the course, and it does something to ‘us’ as ‘we’ are stopped, paused or skipped over on a participant’s iPad. Going online does not simply mean reproducing the same material on a different platform, but nor does it mean ‘upgrading’, or ‘adding value’ to an otherwise ‘staid’ and ‘obsolete’ method of teaching. Instead, it demands an openness to potential changes and transformations over which we may have little control — as teaching always has. What these changes and transformations will be we have yet to apprehend, but that is the exciting part and we hope you will join us in exploring them.
Our development of the online incarnation of the course, from its origins as a series of recorded lectures to a more vibrant and collaborative course has been heavily informed by the work already done by FemTechNet, and we are therefore delighted that After New Media has now been added as one of the DOCC nodes. After New Media launched on November 10th and you can join us now by subscribing via the iTunes app and by contributing your own material to the liquid reader.
My friend and colleague, Laura Wexler and I had the opportunity to present the DOCC at the EduTech Horizons workshop held at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for members of the International Association of Research Universities (IARU) of which Laura’s school, Yale University, is a member. We were in friendly, interesting, and interested territory even as we presented the project to technologists who weren’t necessarily feminists, and to a truly international crowd with representatives from a significant number of continents and disciplines. Given that internationalization and feminist education are both core values of FemTechNet, it was gratifying to see the enthusiasm in this diverse audience.
I knew we were at home when in his opening address, Professor Lakshminarayanan Samavedham from NUS’ Centre for Teaching and Learning reminded us to think beyond efficiency towards effectiveness in digitally-enhanced education, explaining that by this he meant experiences that were built to be engaging, personalized and authentic, just like the DOCC … (Professor John Traxler, from England’s University of Wolverhampton, a specialist on mobile computing and education, suggested we all stop using the term “technologically-enhanced” and instead dub those efforts not up to speed on technology as “technologically-deficient learning.”) Given this start, Laura and I felt fully supported to share the passionate, active, distributed, techno-feminist, co-production of knowledge at the heart and daily practice of the DOCC.
Rather than a day of boosterism, we enjoyed a well-orchestrated series of long talks where the two other featured speakers exhibited how FemTechNet‘s critiques of technology linked with our feminist theories of pedagogy can sit productively with other schools, methods, and projects of critical Internet analysis and teaching. It was great to discuss the Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC) in a room full of Education scholars: a conversation we should be having as frequently as possible.
It is with grief and shock that FemTechNet marks the untimely death of our remarkable collaborator and colleague, Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz. Within our community of feminist scholars, artists and activists, she was a leader, innovator, and expert. Her work for FemTechNet, collaborating with other instructors and students on our Wikistorming Committee, had deep impact for our community, and will have lasting effect as feminists around the world continue to follow her lead as they add feminist voices, influences, histories, and theories into Wikipedia.
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.”)
My last post, MOOCing the Liberal Arts? concluded with this suggestion: “For those of us in higher education, including our students, our work is to provide MOOC alternatives by using technology, and other means, to improve what we do and to open access to what we have.”
Today, along with four of my students and a visiting scholar, Gabrielle Foreman, we taught our first of seven classes on Technology at the Norco prison. A little background: our class is one of many being offered through the PEP program (Prison Education Program), run through the visionary leadership of Dr. Renford Reese at Cal Poly Pomona. “The overarching philosophy of PEP is to use the resources in the backyard of each of the state’s prisons to make change e.g. university student and faculty volunteers. There is a college within a 15-20 mile radius of each of the state’s 33 prisons. PEP’s goal is to collaborate with these colleges to assist the CDCR in reducing recidivism in the state by 1% by 2015.” Our class “Technology in Prison,” is a seminar connected to the yearly speaker’s series that I run as director of the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry at Pitzer, this year’s theme being Technology. For seven weeks, some of my speakers and students from the seminar will move our inquiry in place to see how our conversations change, and expand, when engaged with a student population denied access to most of the (digital) technologies that those of us on the outside now take for granted.
On Friday, January 31, 2014, Susie Ferrell and I attended “High Impact Practices: Interdisciplinary collaborations and creative connections,” an experiential learning conference at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). We presented on a panel entitled “DOCCs: The Dialogues on Feminism and Technology Project” along with Professor Liz Losh (UCSD) and graduate students Monika Sengul-Jones and Erika Cheng (both UCSD). This was Susie and my third time representing FemTechNet at academic conferences; and this conference certainly didn’t disappoint.
Participants in UCSD conference; photo by Jade Ulrich
Enjoying a much-deserved drink with highly-Twitterate Jessie Daniels (@JessieNYC) after a few days of talk, workshops, and video dialogues in Ann Arbor, Michigan about Feminist Digital Pedagogies, I was discussing with her the changing culture of blogging, and other social media forms in relation to our own ever-changing digital metronomes. Which is a fancy way to say here what I said there: “I always used to blog about conferences, but now it feels like it takes too long to blog; the work is too hard. What’s the deal with this quickening?”
Digital Pedagogies Panel, University of Michigan, L to R: Inderpal Grewal, Laura Wexler, Lisa Nakamura, Maria Cotera
By Sharon Irish, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
On January 22, 2014, I arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, courtesy of Lisa Nakamura, for a two-day event, “Feminist Digital Pedagogies,” that she organized with colleagues at the University of Michigan. Jessie Daniels (CUNY) was not able to make it to Ann Arbor in time to give her keynote—due to storms in New York–but she did make it for a dinner with us that evening.
Dinner with participants in Ann Arbor, Michigan, prior to Feminist Digital Pedagogies conference. L to R: Faithe Day, Andre Brock, Jessie Daniels, Carrie Rentschler, Sharon Irish, Lisa Nakamura, Jessica Moorman