Issue 9 of Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology brings together an array of nuanced and intersectional discussions around current topics of significance to research on gender, technology and new media. The articles in this issue offer critical explorations of topics ranging from
- digitizing knowledge
- the construction of femmescapes through blogging
- the “dadification” of games
- the erasure of gendered labor in the building of digital book collections
- and engagement with a queer futurity that foregrounds race and gender through alternate forms of (post)humanity.
These articles foreground the complex nature of categories of gender, race, class and geography as these play out in digital contexts, weaving visible material and digital embodiment in and out each analysis. The physical body is never far away in these authors’ discussions of online texts and non-human objects (such as the AI bot Bina48). Each article carefully navigates the in-betweenness of digital complexity. Overall as a collection the articles tackle important concerns around simultaneous erasure and surfacing — of gender, race, labor, body — while negotiating contextualized publics and politics of identity.
Issue 9 extends Ada’s tradition of bringing together writers from diverse interdisciplinary backgrounds who critically explore and surface issues of race, labor, gender and queer futurity in digital cultures. For example, “Bina48: Gender, Race, and Queer Artificial Life” is a creative exploration of race, AI, and gender performed in writing. The performative writing allows the author of the piece, Shelleen Greene, to reveal contradictions around “immortality” coded through artificial intelligence. Even as the AI is designed to look like an African American woman, contradictions in relation to their embodied histories and contexts reveal what Greene describes Bina48’s radical “possible hybrid, future constructions of self” not through conventional tropes of embodied transcendence, but through “her convergence of cybernetics, queer, and racial emancipatory politics.”
In their article on digitizing books, Anna Lauren Hoffman and Raina Bloom critically examine the Google books project noting how the project recontextualizes local and historical processes of library practice. There analysis of how the project erases the gendered work contributions to the building of library collections over time should alert us all to think through issues of labor in historical context as we rush to build digital humanities archives globally. The layered, embodied and contextual nature of archive building risks being rendered invisible when brought into digital contexts. Hoffman and Bloom note how this happens in the case of Google Books through “overcoming localized practices” that include “removing collections of books from contexts traditionally informed by gendered work and subjecting them to the technical rationality of Google.” This erasure of women’s work and localized practice through digital platforms is not new and this article shows us how this very dynamic continues to play out in the context of Google books. The article also introduces a discussion of a feminist ideology of access through librarianship by calling attention to this gendered labor of library work and asking for a rethinking of what access means.
In their essay on “Editing Diversity In: Reading Diversity Discourses on Wikipedia” Maggie MacAulay and Rebecca Visser use Sara Ahmed’s On Being Included to advance the discussion of the dearth of diversity on the online encyclopedia, building on important conversations across Ada issues about the politics of knowledge.
In “Critical Blogging: Constructing Femmescapes Online,” Andi Schwartz uses Gordon Brent Ingram’s concept of “queerscapes,” or a network of queer spaces that enables queer survival (1997, p. 29) and van de Sande’s prefigurative politics (2013) to argue that femme blogs are an important aspect of “femmescapes,” or networked public spaces that allow for performances of queer femininity and celebrations of practices associated with it.
In “Daddy Issues,” Gerald Voorhees explores what he describes as the “dadification of digital games,” which he identifies as the increasing popularity of father figures. His comparison of fatherhood in The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite reveal how these games feature varying constructions masculinities, with significant implications for feminist theory and politics.
Gajjala, R., Stabile, C. & (2016) Introduction: Issue 9. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No.9. doi:10.7264/N3KW5DBJ
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