A Map for Cyborgs

Donna Haraway’s manifesto (for cyborgs… she has others as well) quickly became a staple feminist text. The ideas she raised in this 1985 publication have been endlessly discussed in the 30 years since. In my online, exploratory breakdown of this influential work, I attempt to lay out a map for navigating the ideas (or at least some of the ideas) that Haraway first addressed. Try out the game.

“Who’s It Gonna Be?”: A Digital Essay

A screenshot of the game’s structure, created on Twine

Play: Who’s It Gonna Be? A Digital Essay presented through Twine.

The boundaries between technology and romance are getting harder and harder to locate, what with the advent of popular dating apps and an increasing number of video game dating simulators. Here to celebrate this queerness, I’ve created a Twine game that connects the research I’ve done on these blurred boundaries in a rhizomatic fashion that’s just perfect for DH. In this game, you’ll find me considering a number of ways that digital scholars have approached this issue, as well an offering of my own (sort of my own… it’s appropriating).

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Danah Boyd on Media Literacy

Watching clips from danah boyd’s recent talk (“What Hath We Wrought?”) at the SXSW EDU conference had me worried. It’s ironic, however, in that my worry turns out to be a product of how these clips were framed by Goldie Blumenstyk, a writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Lessig and the Grindr Economy

IKEA Effect: I made a *slight* modification to the Grindr logo ALL BY MYSELF.

Copyright law has never seemed so interesting and relevant. Thanks, Lessig. In Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, Lawrence Lessig ultimately argues that copyright, as it currently stands, must be reformed. He portrays it as an archaic form of the law that no longer makes sense (questioning it ever did) in today’s digital climate, hindering both creativity and the economy more broadly.

In analyzing current copyright laws, Lessig identifies an important distinction between two forms of economic trade. There are commercial economies—the ones my mind immediately goes to—in which “money or ‘price’ is a central term of the ordinary, or normal, exchange,” i.e. those transactions in which monetary exchange is expected. I’ll pay you this much for that. In juxtaposition with this form of trade are sharing economies. According to Lessig, “Of all the possible terms of exchange within a sharing economy, the single term that isn’t appropriate is money.” He gives the example of a friendship to illustrate this idea, saying that there are certain expectations that you can have of a friend (“Spend more time with me!”), but the second you demand money in exchange for your friendship, “the relationship is no longer a friendship.”

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YouTube Ephemera, YouTube Nostalgia

Hannah More’s “The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain” was widely known and satirized in 19th-century England.

As a vestige of a Victorianist, I’ve often found ephemera studies to be fascinating. This began, I think, during my MA when I was studying the readership and publication history of Christian tracts in 19th-century England. Leah Price’s How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain had just come out, and in this work, she specifically examines the ephemeral quality of Christian tracts, portraying them as widely produced and distributed (by a pious upperclass) and then less widely read (by a lower class, involuntarily recipients). Yet, these texts still made a significant impression in Victorian culture; references to more “popular” tracts were widely known and easy to identify. In their rapid spread and equally rapid discarding, the tracts might be thought of as both ephemeral and viral.

Ephemera and the quick surges of popularity they produce become even more pronounced when observed in digital form. Mimicking our own fleeting interests and the identities they help to construct, digital ephemera seems equally tied up in changes, nostalgia, and sometimes-intentional erasure.

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“Be that Dad!”: A Daddy Tutorial

For this week’s post, I decided to do a tutorial of Dream Daddy (DD), the dad dating simulator video game that I’ve brought up a few times in class and in my blog post from three weeks ago.  I found a number of relevant connections between this particular video game and the Fox article we read (“Reimagining the Avatar Dream: Modeling Social Identity in Digital Media”).

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Weaving, Coding, & Storytelling: A Conversation with Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya

The conversation below with Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya  began at a workshop last month called “Weaving to Code, Coding to Weave,” which was Rodriguez Sawaya led alongside Renata Gaui. Both women are designers, weavers, coders, and recent graduates from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch. After the workshop, I got in touch with Rodriguez Sawaya in hopes that she’d be willing to expand on some of the ideas she’d introduced me to. She very generously agreed, and the following conversation serves as a preview for her wonderful insights on coding and weaving, how these technologies incorporate unique modes of storytelling, and the opportunities for empowerment that they might offer women.

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Weaving to Code, Coding to Weave: A Workshop

This post provides background for and a preview of an interview I’ll be uploading later this week.

My little weaving was a little pathetic. My little coding wasn’t very impressive either. But the ideas being expressed and the connections between these acts and the potential for better understanding spaces for women’s empowerment made my sad little productions seem much grander than they really were.

Last week, I attended a workshop on Stony Brook’s campus called “Weaving to Code, Coding to Weave.” The event was led by Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya and Renata Gaui—designers, weavers, coders, and recent graduates from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch. According to the workshop’s promotional flyer, participants would “learn about the art of weaving to illustrate how the binary system works.” During the three-hour event, Rodriguez Sawaya and Gaui walked us through p5, a JavaScript library designed with artists in mind, and also taught us the basics of weaving. Continue reading

Hauntings at the Murder House

In “Haunted Data, Transmedial Storytelling, Affectivity,” Lisa Blackman explores what she calls a hauntological method. In this, she draws upon Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters, highlighting how a “ghostly trail of haunted data” can emerge when the type of connectivity that Gordon discusses is brought to bear on digital narratives.1 Through the creation of the video posted here, I decided to explore this hauntological method in a very literal way.

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  1. Blackman, Lisa. “Haunted Data, Transmedial Storytelling, Affectivity: Attending to ‘Controversies’ as Matters of Ghostly Concern.” Ephemera: theory and politics in organisation. 2017.

When Gay Porn Births a Meme

Adult films aren’t generally known for their well-crafted scripts, but sometimes the dialogue is so over the top, it can’t possibly not go viral.

Private Lessons 3 opens with Jake (Jake Porter), a private chef, arriving at his client’s house. With his arms filled with groceries, Jake is welcomed at the door by Jaxton (Jaxton Wheeler), who has arranged for Jake to make a salad for his wife (Nikki V), but somehow Jaxton has missed the fact that Jake is marketed as a “naked chef.” Nevertheless, he decides to go along with it, and in the middle of the sexual acts that ensue, Jaxton’s wife returns home from work. Oblivious, she begins to eat the salad that Jake has prepared and makes small talk with the two men who are positioned on the other side of the kitchen counter. Suddenly her suspicions are stirred: “You don’t have a shirt on. […] Wait a minute. You don’t have pants. Are you guys fucking? Are you serious? Right in front of my salad? You guys are fucking gross!”1 Jaxton’s wife leaves in disgust and the two men decide they might as well finish what they’ve started.

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  1. Right in Front of My Salad? – Official Free Gay Scenes – Men. https://www.men.com/scene/42291/right-in-front-of-my-salad/?joinscene=13371. Accessed 11 Feb. 2018.
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