Ada Lovelace day – empower the women!

Today is Ada Lovelace day all over the world. It is a day that we celebrate excellent women in technology – and I am sure that if you google Ada Lovelace you will find thousands of tales of phenomenal women in blogs and on twitter, and maybe a tribute or two on YouTube. This is wonderful! But it is not how I am going to commemorate Ada Lovelace day. I want to talk about the other side – the darker side of technology that takes power away from women (and men and children too).

I want to start a conversation about the uses of technology in domestic abuse. Using the Internet allows victims of domestic abuse (DV) to reach out to others to get help, plan their escape, or even just to receive information and to inform. But the same technology traps cookies, saves browsing histories and can allow your abuser to stalk you through email (both by reading yours or sending you email) or GPS. In a recent survey of 479 DV victims aged 15-74, 25% of those had their browser history monitored. 24% had been repeatedly threatened, insulted or harassed by email. 18% had their email monitored. Did you see those numbers? At least 1 in 4 victims had technology used against them as a tool to continue abusive patterns.

Why do I bring this up on a day that we celebrate women in technology? Because an overwhelming number of DV victims are women. And an overwhelming number of those are exposed to the affordances of the Internet as a tool of abuse. So my celebration today is more a call to arms. We need strategies for keeping ourselves safe online to percolate through our school, our shelters, our book circles and cafe chats until they become part of the popular knowledge. Not only to protect ourselves from the rare boogey monster lurking in the chat room, but for the much more prevalent threat of the boogey monster in our beds.

For those of our friends in the States, check out The Technology Safety Project developed by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Abuse. They really are doing amazing things at the WSCADV. They get that the answer is not to not use the tools, but to empower the victim to use the tools well.

On Ada Lovelave day, I want to celebrate all women in DV relationships that dare to use technology as a tool towards freedom and as a tool to heal. You rock. Now, share with your friends your strategies for doing it safely.

Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities

I am currently doing some working on cyberinfrastructure/e-science for the humanities that will hopefully turn into an article relatively soon. I am interested in conceptual cyberinfrastructure as well as actual implementations and critical perspectives on the discourse of cyberinfrastructure and e-science for the Humanities. There are some interesting tensions here: models based in the sciences and engineering (seemingly being part of a ‘new’ wave of infrastructure discourse of funding), the epistemic commitments of some of the models being put forward (e.g. a library and collection centric model), sometimes uncritical matching of computing and visualization resources and grand visions/hope for considerable impact in the humanities, and a downplay of existing /cyber/infrastructure in the Humanities (or pointing to the simple ‘digitalization’ of existing resources).  One of the good things about the cyberinfrastructure and e-science discourse is a broader sense of what is incuded in infrastructure – more context if you want (middleware, people etc).

Here are some resources:

Revolutionizing Science and Engineering through Cyberinfrastructure. NSF. 2003. Atkins et al. Pdf available here.

Our Cultural Commonwealth: The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 2006. Pdf available here.

The Future of Scholarly Communication: Building the Infrastructure for Cyberscholarship. Workshop report. NSF, JISC. William Y. Arms and Ronald L. Larsen. 2007. Pdf available here.

Cyberinfrastructure For Us All: An Introduction to Cyberinfrastructure and the Liberal Arts. David Green. Academic Commons. 2007. Part of a special issue on the topic. Available here.

“Changing the Center of Gravity: Transforming Classical Studies Through Cyberinfrastructure”. Digital Humanities Quarterly issue. Available here.

“The Institutional Challenges of Cyberinfrastructure and E-Research”. Clifford Lynch, Educause. 2008. Available here.

Exploring E-science: An introduction. Nicholas W. Jankowski. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 12(2), 2007. Special issue theme. Available here.

Needs of the 3D Visualization Community. Anna Bentkowska-Kafel. 2007. Pdf available here.

Digitial Humanities Centers as Cyberinfrastructure. John Unsworth. 2007. Available here.

Scholarship in the Digital Age. Information, Infrastructure and the Internet. Christine L. Borgman. 2007. MIT Press.

Scientific Collaboration on the Internet (MIT Press 2008). Olsen et al.

Of course, I am very interested in actual implementations as well, and in the article I use HUMlab as a case study. I did quite a bit of work on cyberinfrastructure a couple of years ago. Here is a talk at UCSD from 2006 (Cyberinfrastructure Institute) for instance: “Bringing Cyberinfrastructures together:Studio spaces, multiplex visualization and creative interaction” – stream and slides. Also, the current expansion of HUMlab is very relevant in this context and not least actual use. Being away right now I missed the the Independent game evening event. Reports very welcome as as well as photos! Also, if anyone knows about additional useful cyberinfrastructure/e-science resources for the Humanities (or more generally), feel free to comment/contact me.

humanities centers and digital humanities centers

Interesting comparison from the Scholarly Communication Institute 6 (SCI 6 2008, pdf version of the report here):

Thus SCI participants arrived at two corresponding challenges that suggested a common approach. For traditional humanities centers, the challenge is to move from being “symptoms of deferral” into “agents of change,” continuing to be intellectually aggressive while grappling with the full implications of new media for the humanities departments and disciplines. And for digital humanities centers, it is how to achieve a desirable level of stability with respect to personnel, technical infrastructure, and funding, while remaining flexible and engaging with the broader humanities community. In addition, participants concurred that both types of centers share the common goal of mainstreaming the intellectual achievements and new modes of communication, fostered in centers, that take advantage of new media, for the greater benefit of research and teaching. These conclusions suggested areas around which collaborations could be formed.