I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ed Chang, one of our illustrious HASTAC Scholars and a veritable quick responder! According to his HASTAC profile, Ed is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in English at the University of Washington in Seattle. His main areas of interest are technoculture, digital humanities, cultural studies, queer theory, literature, video games, role-playing games, and popular culture. His dissertation is entitled “Technoqueer: Re/con/figuring Posthuman Embodiment and Subjectivity” and analyzes the technological mediation of bodies and subjectivity via literature, cyberpunk, and video games, particularly focusing on how cyberspace and body modification technology provides alternative and radical articulations of sexuality, gender, and race.
He is the lead organizer of the Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate working group (http://bit.ly/dqlF4E), which is supported by the Simpson Center for the Humanities, and was one of the hosting bodies of the current HASTAC Scholars Forum, Press Start to Continue. He is a member of the Critical Gaming Project @ UW (https://depts.washington.edu/critgame/wordpress/).
Ed graduated from the University of Maryland with his BA in English, a BA in Classics, and his MA in English. He has taught at the university level for over twelve years and is the recipient of the 2009 UW Excellence in Teaching Award and the AAC&U’s 2011 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award.
So you could get all of that on your own, by poking around the HASTAC site. Here are some questions that Ed hasn't answered anywhere else:
What's your favorite weird corner of the internet?
Other than reading the blogs and forums at HASTAC, of course, I'm pretty much a dilettante and omnivore when it comes to poking around the Internet. Current faves include George Takei's facebook page, imbibing nostalgia at The '80s TV Theme SuperSite, watching LARPing videos on YouTube, and reading The New York Times and Washington Post online.
What is one thing you wish technology did better?
Better is probably not the word I would use: Smarter? Thoughtful? Playful? More inclusive? One the one hand, I want to see technology better address cultural formations and difference, social justice, and embodiments. In other words, I think technology, in general, is wonderful and instrumental in a lot of ways. But I think our relationship to technology could be better--maybe that's the phrase. I'd like to see a more thoughtful and analytical understanding of the ways technology get used or naturalized in our lives, bodies, and world and how technology itself is never neutral or inert.
What is broken on the 'net, or your devices, or digital media in general, that would be better if it was done another way?
I would like to see all of these things continue to embrace play and diversity (in all senses of the word) and creativity and innovation that is not defined (solely) by commodification or gamification. These things are incredible opportunities, but they can also be leveraged for problematic purposes. I'd like to do less 'throw technologies' at a problem and more 'what technology is appropriate' and 'how is this technology integrated' and 'why'? I don't just want to become a better shopper or a more productive information miner. I want to see the radical potential all of these gadgets and whizzbangs can offer.
What is a hole in tech today, and what could it be doing better, and how?
In my own work, I look at the intersection of technology, race, gender, and sexuality. Today, especially, technologies--from computer and communication tech to body modification and biotech--have become integral in our understandings of and definitions of race, gender, and sexuality. Most of these understandings get translated into the vernacular as stereotypes or deterministic ideals. As I have said above, technology needs to better address its cultural and ideological impacts and we need to better understand our relationships to technology.