Blog Post

Will the Semantic Web have a gender?

Cross-posted to Difference Engines:

Via maybe maimed but never harmed, Read Write Web reports researcher Corrina Bath?s cautions of gendered ontologies in the Semantic Web.

Too often, ?binary assumptions about women and men are not reflected [upon] or the (gender) politics of [a particular] domain is ignored. Thus, the existing structural-symbolic gender order is inscribed into computational artifacts and will be reproduced by [their] use.?

Bath cites Bowker and Star?s example of how phone books in the USwere first arranged indexed by the husband?s name, reflectingassumptions about the use of infrastructure and truth of Americansocial life at the time.

In the original, longer interviewat Austrian Semantic Web, Bath expands that the stakes of feministontology in the semantic web are two fold. First, what kinds ofrelationships between knowledge objects will be formalized, how willminority interpretations be handled, and what room for contestation ofknowledge obects will there be? Second, and relatedly, will thesemantic web recognize the contingency of truths and the situatednessof ontologies?



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