**I can move this over to a comment if desired once our ‘weekly’ slot is posted, but I thought I’d get the ball rolling for our discussion this week 🙂
I found D’Ignazio and Klein’s paper very clear in its goals, organization, and self-reflexivity. They do a good job of applying intersectional thinking to their analysis which, as we have discussed in class, is often easier said than done. Keeping visualization in mind, I am interested in continuing to think about how situated knowledge might work to render design teams and their ideologies visible where they often are not. One place where this article most clearly dovetails with Chun’s is in the discussion of female design and production teams.
I am interested in Peter Hall’s term critical visualization, and its expansion by Marian Dörk, on which D’Ignazio and Klein write:
In both feminist HCI and critical information visualization, researchers have introduced design principles that attempt to draw attention to how knowledge resides in specific bodies (disclosure/self-disclosure, embodiment), how power is distributed throughout the design process (empowerment, advocacy, ecology) and how to include more voices and alternative perspectives in the design process, as well as the experience of the resulting artifact (participation, pluralism, plurality).
These are all principals that I strive to include in my own work. Self-disclosure is a fascinating term to meditate on in relation to DH and the body: does this mean self-disclosure of privilege and/or bias, of oppression experienced, of hiring practices, of hierarchy and ability? As someone not geographically-minded, I am excited by the possibilities presented by Mei-Po Kwan’s feminist visualization + mapping: “Her design principles include grounding mapping practices in women’s everyday lives and political struggles, as well as incorporating qualitative and narrative components into spatial representations.” While likely not literally what is meant by this, how amazing would a Google Maps extension be that tells you “Turn left at the corner where you were standing when you read the email that you got that job you wanted”? Geography is almost always emotionally bound, for me.
D’Ignazio and Klein’s “design process questions” would be so easily and vitally integrated into almost any academic or creative field. Such a simple statement that I had never really considered, but love: “Information design processes often start with data, but a feminist approach would insist that they begin by working backwards to surface the actors (both individual and institutional) that have laboured to generate a particular dataset.” Yes. Of course!
The question they pose that I’m stuck on, and would welcome anyone’s input on: “When do values often assumed to be a social good, such as “choice,” “openness,” or “access,” result in disempowerment instead?”
Two points Chun repeats that stood out most to me are that “The computer—that most nonvisual and nontransparent device—has paradoxically fostered ‘visual culture’ and ‘transparency’” (27), and that “Programming languages inscribe the absence of both the programmer and the machine in its so-called writing. Programming languages enabled the separation of instruction from machine, of imperative from action” (30).
I don’t think that Harry Reed’s assertion that “The ‘mastery’ of computing can easily be understood as ‘suffering’” (32) has gone away in recent years. Chun’s excellent discussion of whether programming is a clerical activity or an act of mastery (32) gives way to a nuanced look at the historically invisible presence of women in programming. It is curious that computing is so often gendered as a male endeavour…here Chun illuminates the ways in which Wrens and machines were treated indistinguishably, as if both women and computers exist to respond to the ‘mastery’ of a male programmer’s instruction (the description of a computer sounding “like a roomful of knitting needles” (34) is a nice nod towards the degradation of women’s work and ‘weaving’, too). In my mind, this piece speaks perfectly to McPherson’s “Why are the digital humanities so white?” in its skillful deployment of computing histories with social and cultural inequalities.
After having watched only the first episode of Lain, some of my first concerns were surrounding the tone of suicidal ideation coming from the ‘voice’ of the dead girl inside the computer. Language such as “I’ve only left my body” and “soon everyone will understand” is encouraging Lain (and other girls at her school) to kill themselves, with some promise of life in cyberspace. Would anyone like to weigh in this; has anyone watched beyond the first episode? (I admit I did read the Wikipedia page for the show…I’ll check back here later in the week).