Technology in politics and the matrix of oppressions

DRAFT! Work in progress! Feedback welcome -- please use the threads at the bottom of the page

an early draft, with a more explicit focus on gender and technology, of what turned into the Hashtags at #polc09 presentation for the Politics Online 2009 conference opening keynote session on "Cognitive Evolution and Revolution: How the way we use technology is changing us and what that means for politics". Interesting stuff, and a good basis for a future presentation -- jon.

Technology in politics and the matrix of oppressions
Jon Pincus (@jdp23)
April 20, 2009
Available online at ....

2Techmeme news: guys writing about guys quoting guysTechmeme's version of the news: guys writing about guys talking to guys A snapshot of Techmeme's summary of a discussion about Twitter. At the time, the majority of Twitter's user base was female. All the articles listed are by guys -- and almost exclusively quote guys. More here. More on biases in Techmeme and Memeorandum's "objective" algorithms here.

Question: how many people use Memeorandum or Techmeme?

("Ask the president" question)
Voting on a question from "Ask the president", sponsored by The Nation, Washington Times, and Personal Democracy Forum.The information-rich UI is overwhelming to many people, and has no instructions. Without mobile phone access, and a limit on how many times each IP address can vote ruling out shared machines, there's no effective way for people who don't own a computer to participate. Only one of the top 10 questions was submitted by a woman. Context here.
4Different activity profiles for men and womenDifferent activity profiles for men and women

From Laura Beckwith et. al., Gender HCI: What about the Software?, IEEE Computer
gender HCI (human-computer interaction) studies how software relates to gender differences. interesting early result: "It appears that the females perceived inappropriately low self-efficacy, which inhibited their use of a new feature and in turn prevented them from receiving its benefits. In effect, their inaccurate assessment of ability became a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Question: how many are aware of work in Gender HCI?
5"Our team", from VC General CatalystVenture capitalist General Catalyst's nearly-all-male teamWho decides what software gets funded? Jen Nedeau's Diversity FAIL on's Women's Rights blog has more.

covers of Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Black Feminist ThoughtTechnology tends to recreate and reinforce existing interlocking dimensions of oppression: gender, race, class, age, ableism, ...

Does it matter?

What are people doing about it?It's a good question to keep in mind about all the presentations you see during the conference. Who's being marginalized? Are campaigners, activists, and analysts conscious of these issues, and making an effort to ameliorate the problems?

It's also something to apply in your own work going forward.

Research background:

From the blogosphere ...

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