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Starting a Blog Updating on the Ongoing Lab Activities

Welcome to the blog component of the Just Feminist Tech and Scholarship Lab.

I'm starting this blog to create a log of ongoing lab activities. 

I (Ketchum) officially began this lab in the Spring of 2020 after receiving a SSHRC Insight Grant (# 253028, entitled Disrupting Disruptions: The Challenge of Feminist and Accessible Publishing and Communications Technologies 1965-present).

That first summer the lab (and I ) focused primarily on 3 projects: 

1) Report on the State of Resources Provided to Support Scholars Against Harassment, Trolling, and Doxxing While Doing Public Media Work and How University Media Relations Offices/ Newsrooms Can Provide Better Support

The report is available here: https://medium.com/@alexandraketchum/report-on-the-state-of-resources-provided-to-support-scholars-against-harassment-trolling-and-401bed8cfbf1 and at the pdf is available through the project website: https://publicscholarshipandmediawork.blogspot.com/p/report.html

2) The manuscript for Engage in Public Scholarship! A Guidebook on Feminist an Accessible Communication.

The book is now all finished besides some layout stuff with the press and indexing. It is forthcoming Spring 2022 via Concordia University Press. It will be available for free in open access format and also in paperback!

3) The zine: How to Organize Inclusive Events: A Handbook for Feminist, Accessible, and Sustainable Gatherings. 

The goal of this handbook is to provide event organizers of all levels with the tools to make their events accessible, sustainable, and exemplify social justice principles. Whether you are new to organizing or highly experienced, this handbook provides frameworks and practical tips to create inclusive events. There is a special section on online/virtual/cyber events. It was published June 2020 and is available at: https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/8060.

That summer was also spent converting all of my courses to an online format for a virtual/zoom fall semester. I made my GSFS 200: Introduction to Feminist and Social Justice Studies course available in podcast form with transcripts for accessibility. (NB: In the fall 2021, the course was mandated to be online again--so I updated all of the transcripts and audio lectures). The course is open to anyone in the world: https://introtofeministstudies.blogspot.com (and the 2020 version is archived on soundcloud). So while my teaching work isn't part of the lab work, it's worth mentioning here because the podcast and transcript output is related to some of the lab's goals.

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Ongoing work has been keeping the speaker series going (which by December 2021 will have been 50 events). For more info on the series (free, virtual during the pandemic, and professionally live captioned): https://www.feministandaccessiblepublishingandtechnology.com/p/schedule-of-events.html. There are recordings of past events and a podcast version of some of the talks available on the website.

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In the late fall of 2020 and winter 2021, I got to shift some of the lab activities towards some of the larger historical projects.

My research assistants and I began to contact all Canadian and American feminist, lesbian, technology, computer science, and social movement archives to inventory what materials existed around the key aspects of the relationship between feminism and Big Data, the Internet, and AI. While this sounds vague at the moment, it was in part of a fact finding mission to see more what would be possible with the resources available to us. Thanks to Adi Sneg, Amy Brant Edward, Mohammed Odusanya, and Meera Raman for taking on the initial steps.

In some ways this exercise has made me interested in eventually creating a repository/ archive of more of these materials. There really is a dearth of materials directly thinking through feminism and gender in computer science and tech archives -- part of this is because of the digital nature of materials but also how the materials are collected (one of the reasons I applied for a Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Archives Management during the summer of 2021 and will start taking one class a term beginning winter 2022).

Since the pandemic is still ongoing (and the workload of finishing the Engage in Public Scholarship! book and also finishing the manuscript for my book Ingredients for Revolution: American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses 1972-2022-- the scholarly book based on dissertation research)-- plus of course teaching 7 classes a year, supervising students, running the honours program, and running the speaker series), I haven't been able to jump into these new digital archival materials yet and I haven't been able to visit the physical archives yet (even though this is a huge part of the Insight Grant proposal). 

In the winter I started working on some more of the tech history projects and began co-writing with 3 of my students. PhD candidate and lab member Nina Morena and I co-wrote the article “AI, Big Data, and Surveillance Zines as Forms of Community Healthcare.” We are still (8 months later) awaiting the feedback from peer review. Sophie-Ogilvie Hanson and I explored surveillance, gender, and the voice from a feminist musicology perspective. Even though that project is now on pause, it produced a useful literature review for the lab. Kari Kuo and I have been wittling away on a project on Tech Wizards and Cyber Witches-- a project especially close to my heart and with roots in one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I Robot, You Jane. 

Of course , the winter meant more teaching on zoom-- that was also the semester I got to teach my Feminist Technologies, Futurities, and Worldmaking course (syllabus is here: https://www.alexketchum.ca/p/syllabi.html)).

The winter was when I was getting the peer review feedback on the public scholarship book and finishing it. Spring was copyediting and the summer and fall have been layout.

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For the spring and summer, I wanted to dive into some projects that brought a bit more joy/ were fun.

After seeing a fun tweet by Laine Nooney about an issue of Byte Magazine, I did a mini detour and wrote a piece for Atlas Obscura on kitchen computer history. I've been working on a more flushed out academic article on the topic-- with the research help of lab members Zoe Tolon and Hyeyoon Cho that I am hoping to finish by the end of fall 2021/ early winter. I also am working with Hyeyoon Cho on a project about Korean virtual pride parades. 

I also curated, as part of my "experiments with public scholarship" projects, a physical and digital exhibit on Queer Cookbook History, with the assistance of lab member Jacqueline Tam. I also wrote a chapter and made an art piece for an edited volume about LGBTQ food and nutrition on the recipe for queer cookbooks. The digitized version of the exhibit is available here: http://www.historicalcookingproject.com/2021/08/digitized-whats-recipe-for-queer.html It has been fun to work with the Archives Lesbiennes du Quebec and the Archives Gaies du Quebec on this project and do some vernissage events: http://www.historicalcookingproject.com/2021/09/reception-of-recipe-for-queer-cookbook.html I've also gotten to work with them and PerverCit√© on other events: such as the gay bookstore history event. I also used the end of summer/ early fall to wrap up some commitments on food and Instagram writings-- that chapter is coming out in the spring 2022.

Those projects, teaching, the speaker series, and some more Ingredients for Revolution stuff has been pretty dominant in the fall of 2021, in addition to other activist and volunteer work. 

One of the speaker series grants I applied for in May was unsuccessful so I am now ramping up for a flurry of grants to fund the winter part of the series and hopefully another Connection Grant (for the January deadline). 

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Today we launched the beta version of The Cyberculture and Social Justice Directory: http://www.cybercultureandsocialjustice.com. I'm excited to dig back into the archival work with this project and hopefully can do some research trips later in the winter and spring. 

I will be turning my attention to that project a bit more (and documenting it here)- as well as actually finishing writing up the kitchen computer research -- and hopefully writing up the tech wizard project (which I have really gone overboard on the research stage with a sprawling word doc of over 140 pages of single space notes). 

This tweet summarizes part of the motivation behind the new projects on these tech histories. 

 

In some ways I could summarize some of this work as aiming to understand the conflict between the dream of the internet (and other technologies) vs the reality- and folks (primarily feminist activists) trying to make it work for them.

I am not committing to any schedule of posting, but I am interested to use this space to think through projects a bit-- a kind of transparency behind the lab activities and research choices that I haven't had with these tech projects as much (and something I really have enjoyed with the Historical Cooking Project in the past).