FemTechNet Launches Video Dialogues about Labor, Sexualities, Infrastructures, and Race

FemTechNet Launches Video Dialogues about Labor, Sexualities, Infrastructures, and Race

(September 20, 2013)—FemTechNet, an international network of hundreds of feminist scholars and educators, is launching the first in a series of Video Dialogues on Monday, September 23. These video dialogues—between leading scholars, artists, and activists—focus on key themes, such as Labor, Sexualities, Infrastructures, and Race. The series is a response to public calls for more high-quality video content from faculty for learners around the world as an alternative to the lecture format.

The first dialogue is between Professor Judy Wajcman(pronounced WISE-mun), author of the foundational 1991 book, Feminism Confronts Technology, and Anne Balsamo, Dean of the School of Media Studies at The New School, a leader in media studies, and a scholar and media-maker whose work links cultural studies, digital humanities, design thinking, and interactive media. Balsamo headed up the team that is working with The Names Project to create a digital version of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Professor Wajcman is currently Head of Sociology at the London School of Economics. She was President (2009-2011) of theSociety for the Social Studies of Science(4S).  The Video Dialoguesare provided by FemTechNet for viewing and discussion by interested members of the public and participants in the initial Distributed Open Collaborative Courses (DOCC 2013).

The DOCC is being offered at 16 institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada from September through December 2013. All of the DOCCs being offered are organized around the topic, “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology.” A major aspect of the DOCC is that shared learning resources are free and accessible to those beyond the classroom. The FemTechNet Commonshosts a space for Self-Directed Learnersthat invites those not formally enrolled in or teaching a current courseto engage with this material.(Interested people can join the FemTechNet Commons by registering on the site.) Learners will participate in designing and directing their own experience with DOCC 2013 materials and with others on an interactive Google+ site.The San Antonio FemTechNet ¡Taller!, for example, is a community-based group in that Texas city, meeting regularly to view and discuss the Video Dialogues. Mass FemTechNet, organized out of Northampton, MA, is a regional workshop of DOCC 2013 offered for the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. (Contact MassFTN@gmail.com) Self-Directed Learners may connect via these platforms to make and share projects and videos, blog posts, and/or attend online office hours with various DOCC instructors.

Another distinctive aspect of the DOCC is that nodal institutions are connected via electronic networks, but may tailor the course to the specific interests and goals of each campus or group. This approach challenges the one-size-fits-all standardized model of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  Every DOCC participant can partake of shared resources to the extent that they wish, and faculty and students are encouraged to contribute to the archive. For example, the Digital Futures program at Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) in Toronto received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada) to host a special roundtable of key feminist scholars in technology studies to be held Sept 27. The roundtable features Dean Anne Balsamo (The New School) moderating a conversation among Janet Murray, Georgia Institute of Technology; Brenda Laurel, California College of the Arts, Graduate Program in Design; Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University; and Shu Lea Cheang, Independent Multimedia Artist. Thus OCAD U will offer their students face-to-face interactions with these leading figures as well as produce two Video Dialogues with the roundtable participants that will be shared on the FemTechNet Vimeo channel.  The Ohio State virtual classroom in Second Life, Minerva OSU, is also screening the Video Dialogues.

Ten more Video Dialogues will be released, one each week through December 2. In addition to those mentioned above, the other dialogue topics are: Place, Difference, Bodies, Machines, Systems, Archive, and Transformations. A nationally renowned team of scholars identified the themes for the Dialogues. The final DOCC 2013 Dialogue, “Transformation,” featuring Donna Haraway in conversation with Catherine Lord and Alexandra Juhasz, was filmed on Sunday, September 15, at theLaguna (CA) Art Museum, as part of the events connected to the posthumous show, “ex-pose,” celebrating the work of feminist artist Beatriz da Costa, who was known for work on science, medicine, technology, and politics that encouraged participation of the public in “citizen science.”

Follow the conversations on Twitter @FemTechNet, #FemTech and #DOCC13





Dr. Sharon Irish

Graduate School of Library and Information Science

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

shrnirish@gmail.com; 217.766.2411


Dr. Anne Balsamo,

Dean, The School of Media Studies

New School for Public Engagement

annebalsamo@gmail.com; or 415.336.3138


FemTechNet Commons site:  http://femtechnet.newschool.edu/

Self-Directed Learners site:  http://femtechnet.newschool.edu/selfdirectedlearners/

Self-Directed Learners interactive site:https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102819821160046892301

San Antonio FemTechNet ¡Taller! site:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Antonio-femtechnet-taller-Dialogues-on-Feminism-Technology/1407936279418801

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