BLT: Best Lesbian Thing of the Week

Kat Skiles, creator of Lezgettogether.com, recently started a program called BLT, Best Lesbian Thing of the week for her online social network for lesbians and queer identified lovers of women. In the program she features ‘awesome’ projects that women have created, ranging from cultural to political, through a Q & A that evokes the creator’s personality. Last week, Over & Out, the film I wrote, was featured!  See content below:

 

THE BEST LESBIAN THING OF THE WEEK

Name: Kelsey M. Brannan

Current Location: Washington, D.C.

Title: As a graduate student, I have many titles – creative thinker, writer, ethnographer, fillmmaker, and media designer.

So, you’re a world famous filmmaker. Tell me more.

World famous is saying a little too much, ha ha. My passion has always been telling stories and/or finding information that is hidden and making them visible. In a way, Over & Out, is a queer romantic comedy about lesbians and technology that I felt had not been seen by the UCSB community (I wrote the film as an undergrad in 2010 at UCSB). I felt as though the quality of films being made in my undergraduate film program did not meet the high level of film theory and history we learned in the classroom. I kept seeing the same heteronormative story being told — about male heros winning the girl or a the classic story of a poor student struggling to make it by. How come students were not writing stories that sought to challenge perspectives? I felt that it was time that a lesbian romance made its way to the screen. So in a sense, I made Over & Out as an artistic mode of activism, and as a part of what I do now as a graduate student researching lesbian community development practices – which is – making the invisible, yet important queer support systems and practices, visible and noteworthy.

Has your movie making rendered any bling (trophies, awards, etc.)?

It’s come a long way! It got best picture and best cinematography at the GU Film Festival. But it’s also gone International at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival in Australia and I have since received requests from the Mazipatra Queer Film Festival in Prague, the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in Russia, and the Queer Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Portugal! In the US, it has proudly been a part of the Outrageous: Santa Barbara Queer Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and the Theorizing the Web Conference at the University of Maryland.

What are your films like?

My films are quirky, funny – but I also love to be informative and educational.

Give us the skinny. What’s the very best film you’ve ever created? Which one is your favorite?

That’s easy. Over & Out. It’s the only fiction I’ve written that’s been a success – the others have been fun documentaries – but nothing compares to the personal touch Over & Out has brought to my life and the LGBTQ Community.

What did you do before this grand adventure?

Video Editing, interning in LA, trying to find a community of queer filmmakers to share my passion with.

What’s your dream job? Let’s say you can do anything. Live anywhere.

It would be awesome to be the Media Manager/Designer consultant for all the LGBTQ businesses and non-profit in DC. I graduate next May from my MA program – and I hope to make it reality!

What did you want to be when you were a kid? Did you want to be Steven Speilberg?

Ha ha, no sorry Steven, I didn’t want to be you. I actually wanted to be an architect. I love home design – and today I especially like thinking of the ways we can change the typical home design to be more queer – what other spaces can we create that have never existed? After my calculus class in High school I realized math was not my passion so I went to media instead!

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I’ve been out for a little over 3 years now. I came out when I was 20 to my parents over video chat just after landing in Australia to begin my study abroad experience. I tried to tell them before, but I was afraid. It was hard at first, especially coming from a Christian family that is not necessarily aware of the LGBT community. But every day is easier, and they still have as much love for me, as they did before I came out. They are truly an amazing and supportive family.

Who’s your queer hero? Queero, if you will.

Donna Harraway. She wrote “A Cyborg Manifesto”

What LGBTQ stereotype annoys you most?

I mostly hate the stereotypes that are predictable in Hollywood films like the character Jules, played by Julianne Moore, in The Kids Are Alright. Yes, of course, she is questioning her sexuality to hook up with the sexy “blood” father that walks into their lives. In the film, I felt as though they made the lesbian figures weak and confused which I’m sure happens to some people. But in a film that has massive influence, it makes a bigger impact on the way everyone perceives lesbian relationships. I know so many different lesbians in the community from varied socio-ecomonic statuses (SES) and ethnic backgrounds. How come their stories never make it to the Hollywood screen? Why is it always the middle-aged, high SES white women that do?

What is your favorite queercentric film created by someone else?

We are the Mods. It’s super cute. I saw it in 2010 at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival in Australia. It’s a future length, good-feel drama.

What do you wish you’d known ten years ago?

That DC is the place to be.

What person would you most like to meet?

Rachel Maddow, I’d like to hear her personal story.

What was your first job ever?

Sees Candies. I packaged, decorated, and sold chocolate at the local mall. I wore the granny outfit: white apron, white tights, and black shoes. Hilarious.

What was your favorite childhood cartoon?

I loved Doug and Hey Arnold!

What’s your very favorite part about East Coast living?

My favorite part of East Coast living is being close to everything. NY is only a 3 hour bus ride and Rehoboth Beach is an 1.5 hour drive away . The West coast – where I am from is spread apart. Also, compared to California, the economy, especially in DC has it’s perks.

How can members of LezGetTogether.com help you succeed?

As a part of my current research on female identified lesbian and queer development in DC, I’m currently writing a grant for funding to make a documentary that traces the roots of lesbian community development in DC. With Lez’s help, as well as others, I want to tell the DC lesbian and queer story. This means I need video interviews with leaders and participants in the community. The goal of the documentary is : (i) to understand how social media functions in the DC lesbian community, (ii) what barriers still exist in the community (e.g. segregation) , (iii) to empower and give a voice to the experienced organizers and community members of DC present & past, and (iv) identify future successful strategies for LGBTQ community development practices. Email me kels.bran@gmail.com if you are interested! Call me, maybe…

Information about Over & Out available at www.overandoutfilm.com

 

Absent Sex/Present Desire

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On June 15, Ausente (Absent) (dir. Marco Berger, 2011) played at the Carnegie Institute for Science Theater in Washington, DC as part of the Reel Affirmations LGBT Xtra Film Installation series leading up to 2012 Reel Affirmations LGBTQ Film Festival in November. This Spanish psychological drama brilliantly exhibits a lustful homosexual desire between a young student, Martin (16) and his swimming instructor, Sebastian (37). I was one of the only gay females present in the crowd of gay men at the screening, yet the sexual tension exhibited between the two characters even had me on edge. This film intelligently used the “gay” gaze (see endnote #1) to grab hold of all audience members, no matter what their sexuality.

Ausente opens with extreme close up shots of Martin’s naked body, as fragments of his body — his arm, leg, a portion of his ear, groin, and eye — fill the screen. It is not until a male voiceover asks Martin his weight and other health-related questions that it’s made clear that Martin is having a physical examination before his after-school swim class. Throughout this disorienting introduction to Martin’s character, the viewer gets the sense that Martin is still in the process of discovering his body “parts,” and more importantly, his sexuality. This is also underscored at several moments in the film when Martin repeatedly “checks himself out” in the mirror. Martin’s homosexuality becomes evermore evident during the opening locker room scene, where Martin cannot help but look at all the other boys undressing around him. His gaze towards the phallus is intense, forcing the viewer to embody Martin’s eagerness to see what lies beneath.

Pretending to have unluckily caught a piece of glass in his eye during swim class, Martin’s swimming instructor, Sebastian, offers to take him to the doctor to check it out. There seemed to be nothing wrong with Martin’s eye, so Martin casually asks him to take him back to school to meet his friend for a sleepover. Upon arrival at the school, Martin already crafted up a “web of lies” about why he cannot return home and convinced Sebastian to let him stay the night at his house.

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Sebastian Sensing Martin’s Presence

The night in which Martin sleeps over at Sebastian’s house is a long, suspenseful and sleepless night. The film cuts back and forth between the two men sleeping in separate rooms. Martin, on the couch, and Sebastian in his bed. At one point during the night, Martin, unable to control his sexual emotions any longer, walks into Sebastian’s room and gently touches Sebastian’s leg while he is in deep slumber. Stirred by Sebastian’s sudden movement, Martin leaves abruptly, unable to take his desire further. The following day, Sebastian discovers that his parents were up all night looking for him. This is when Sebastian realizes what real intentions the boy had, a hope “that something would happen” between them. Sebastian’s infuriation with the boy manifests itself in newly emerged homosexual desires to sleep with Martin. When Martin unexpectedly dies in a freak accident, Sebastian’s nature becomes increasingly disturbed.

Sebastian’s sadness at losing the boy is conveyed through several flashbacks. But as Sebastian reflects on his moments of ‘opportunity’ with Martin, the viewer wonders whether or not they are Sebastian’s dreams or diegetic flashbacks. The film plays with temporal order to convey the sense of guilt that overwhelmed Sebastian’s life following the loss of a boy he could and should have loved. Many storylines are left open-ended, and one begins to wonder whether or not Sebastian and Martin ever did kiss or have sex. The gaps in the plot and Sebastian’s continued desire for the boy after his death, however, are what keep the audience interested.

The externalization of Sebastian’s inner struggle with homosexual desire on the cinematic screen reminded me of Freud’s thesis in his book, Civilization and Its Discontents: the notion that humans must repress their deeper pleasures to fit the rules and laws of society. Sebastian was forced to hold back his sexual desire for Martin not only because his school would fire him, but to respect his devotion to his girlfriend. It is important to note, however, that as much as the audience desired to see Sebastian and Martin have sex, if the audience did, then the pleasure of hide and seek that occurred between the two characters throughout the film would have been lost, and ultimately so too would have been the interest of the viewers. Thus, although sex was ausente, the attention of the desire was most certainly not.

Kelsey Brannan is the Social Media Manager at the Reel Affirmations Film Festival and also doing her M.A. thesis on female LGBT community development practices in DC  at Georgetown University.

Endnotes
1. Like the male gaze (see Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”), but used between two men.

Related Links
Reel Affirmations LGBT Film Festival XTRA:http://www.reelaffirmations.org/xtra.php Melbourne Queer Film Festival:  http://supermarcey.com/2012/03/19/mqff-12-absent-ausente/
Movie Reviews – Gay Themed:http://alternatesexuality.blogspot.com/2011/07/ausente-spanish-absent.html
Gender Bender International Festival: http://www.genderbender.it/eng/dettaglio.asp?id=440

 

Paper Up, Grindr Surveying and Geolocating Sexiness

The semester here at Georgetown is finally over and I have the time to catch up on my extra-curricular activities! Finally had the chance to put together the paper I presented on April 14, 2012 for the Theorizing The Web Conference. If interested in reading you can view here.

The Prezi that accompanies the talk is below:

Where The Girls Go (WTGG) features Over & Out

Where The Girls Go launched in 2008 by Alexander smith as a social calendar for queer women. Since it’s creation it has turned into one of DC’s hottest queer cultural blogs and guides for queer women. Last month, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Sarah Marloff, the editor-in-chief, about the queer romantic comedy I wrote last year, Over & Out. Check it out!

 


Studying Like An Artist

© Pagani, A visualist, photojournalist, abstractist, and fine artist

“The Best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” – Linus Pauling

Prezi, an online presentation software tool, is now commonly utilized in both the academy and out. Unlike the structure and linear flow of  traditional presentation softwares like Powerpoint and Keynote, Prezi offers a new, non-linear, and interactive way of producing knowledge. Despite the Prezi learning curve, such as learning how to use the zoom tool, edit text (e.g. change size/color), adding shapes, and selecting a path/organization of your presentation, Prezi gives the user more creative freedom over the form and content of her presentation. Prezi skills take time to learn and are best developed by doing. Over the course of this semester I have created several presentations for both my seminars and my conference talks using Prezi. Prezi gave me the freedom to build a unique and creative narrative from a blank canvas, however,  through the design process that I discovered something much more fulfilling about Prezi: it’s ability to make me study like an artist. By building a visual presenation of my argument from scratch (literally Prezi starts out as a blank canvas), I was able to (re)formulate and rethink the weaknesses in my argument, which later helped the overall quality of my paper. The follow question dawned on me, if Prezi can help me better develop my presentational arguments visually, then could it also help me study for exams as well? In order to test out this hypothesis, I made myself an online study guide for one of my core graduate classes in the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program, CCTP 506: Fundamentals of Technology. (See Below)

The Prezi functioned as a space where I could embed and aggregate multiple media that reflected the course material. Not only did I use text, images, and diagrams that illustrated the core concepts of the course, but Prezi, as a medium, allowed me to insert videos (from youtube) that further underscored the themes. Utilizing the web’s database of knowledge by “searching” and embedding the seach results in the Prezi underscores how the “search” function on the internet can be a very productive study tool.

It is also important to note that the process of creating a Prezi is by no means linear; it is one of the most exploratory, dynamic, and artistic ways of studying I have encountered. I started out by typing out various points from my notes, adding random images that related to the content, and drawing basic shapes and arrows to organize my thoughts – this was very much like the “sketch” phase of creating art. In the second phase, I started to group concepts together -structure started to form. The third and final phase involved lots of (re)design, mapping, and organization. Questions I asked myself: What concepts best belong together? How can I connect them to make sense? What path or order should they go in? This last phase is the most important because it brings everything together and forces the students to think about the course content relationally.

 

Once Prezi’s learning curve is overcome and the functionality of the tools are mastered by students I believe it can be a very helpful tool to assist student learning and writing. Not only is Prezi a great tool to make presentations, but it is a great way to construct a virtual and interactive flow chart of an argument for an essay or a study guide for a final. Showing students how to simply use a digital tool is one thing, but by letting them be creative with the different ways they could use the tool is can be much more fruitful. This  underscores one of the key milestones of high-impact learning practices: meta-reflection. Asking students about the process of design creation in Prezi will force them to think about how the tool itself is shaping their understanding of the course material. In addition, by creating a visualization of “thinking” it forces one to think about how other audiences, from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, will perceive the these images. Prezi, afterall, is a public presentation tool, unless you pay an annual fee for a private account. How clear is the message? Are the connections logical? Or are the connections illogical for a particular reason? I’d encourage students at the high shoool, university, graduate levels to all use Prezi to implement thought and ideas. It is almost like creating art, sketching, outlining, filling in the lines, adding paint, and then your final touches. We need to remember that writing is an art and Prezi demonstrates this. It’s time to teach our students how to study like artists.

Here is a useful Prezi Tutorial Handout

 

Student Reflections on Google+ In The Classroom

At the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), I’m currently working with Professor Sigman, a Professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, and two of my fellow colleagues in the Teaching, Learning & Technology Initiative (TLT). The initiative brings together staff members from CNDLS and Gelardin New Media Center to help faculty generate projects that use technology to advance particular learning goals and instructional interactions. Google+ is one of the many technologies (e.g. Dipity Interactive Timeline projects & Zotero for bibliographic research) Professor Sigman used during her fall undergraduate OPIM 257: Database Management course to enhance the classroom experience. Part of the goal of the TLT initiative is to assess the learning outcomes of the technology from the students perspective. In addition to an in-class written survey, our TLT team felt that creating a student reflection video about Google+ would provide a more detailed insight to the student’s perspective on the use of the technology. After all, the assessment of digital literacy is hard to quantify.

Here is the video:

I asked the students the following questions during the interview:

1. Did Google+ enhance the classroom room experience? (We want your honest opinion)
2. Did Google+ Help with community building, outside the classroom?
3. Last semester G+ was not part of the grade. Did making it part of the grade change the way you use the tool?
4. Do you have any other suggested uses for G+ in the classroom?
5. Would you like to use G+ in your future classes?
6. Do you think the new interface has helped you interact with students more in the classroom? How so?
7. This semester, are you using any of the tools that were introduced in OPIM 257?

I was impressed with the student feedback and suggestions they had for future uses of Google+. One of the students suggested that Google+ would be a great way to form a archived bibliography and share it within a research circle on Google+. Another student suggested that it would be useful to share Google Docs to people in circles as well. Special thanks to the students that participated in the video! For more information about TLT visit the TLT website: http://tlt.georgetown.edu/

Visualizing Community: Designing & Creating Queer Female Space in DC (Working Title)

This semester in Professor David Ribes’ Ethnography & Archival Research: A Grounded Theory Approach course I have been studying the way local factors specific to DC, such as professionalism, leadership, money, resumes, and spatial gentrification, inform how LGBTQ-identified females negotiate, construct, and perform their online & offline identity. This project is turning into my thesis project, which has five goals: (i) to understand how social media (online space) functions in DC’s female LGBTQ community, (ii) identify & visualize invisible tensions and connections between existing networks, (iii) empower and give a voice to community leaders that create online space, (iv) discover opportunities for better community development, and (v) to bridge and create more reciprocity between the academy and the community. This research about the DC female LGBTQ community is a fragment of a larger set of (micro)practices within the field of work that explores the way LGBTQ identified individuals use social media tools to seek pleasure, express their identity, and “meet” up in urban spaces. I specifically seek to unpack the important factors that exist in the discursive properties of DC’s community and whether or not the online social tools, designed to brings queer identifed individuals together, actually translates into physical “offline” bodily interactions.

Charmaz, "Constructing Grounded Theory," Main Text for Course

Grounded theory involved collecting data, coding data, memoing, sorting, theorizing(Abstracting codes), and writing. It does not have to be in that order, of course, but grounded theory involves constant analysis and immersion – going back to the data and then going back into the field to cross-sample emerging codes. Over the course of the past 4 months I’ve studied/observation several sites (i) online websites, DC LGBTQ SNS sites, DC LGBTQ online social calendars, and facebook pages, (ii) physical spaces, I’ve attended a variety/diverse mix of ‘lesbian’ events in DC, (iii) personal interviews, I’ve interviewed ~12 female dc leaders that were involved in creating online/offline LGBTQ spaces. I will continue to visit these sites over the course of the next year as I write my thesis project. One of the most useful methods for my research has been “co-presence.” Anne Beauleiu (2010) refers to co-presence as the ability to investigate many sites at once as there is no longer just one site of knowledge production, but values and ideas emerge across highly mediated and distributed networks, and in this case networks produced by lesbians in DC. It was also important for me to establish co-presence in the community, as a member myself, by posting on the sites and making sure the community members were aware of my project and its goals.

 

Sample Questions to my respondents:

(i) What inspired you to create the sites?

(ii) What have been the major challenges in maintaining the site’s presence?

(iii) What are your goals for the community in DC?

 

Rather than overlaying queer theory or other forms of scholarship overtop these sites, I let the theories/emerge from the sites. I didn’t fully know what my research question was until about the beginning of March — the urban local factors, such as resume & gentrification, emerged from my respondants themselves — and became important parts  of the way they went about planning and creating events for the community.

Terms – Queer females? Lesbians? LGBTQ – What Terms to Use?

This paper moves away from the traditional textbook definitions of what lesbian and queer means, and highlightst the way media, specifically online networks, impose a prescribed meaning of what or should be defines as “gay “lesbian” “queer.” Several of my respondents use “lesbian” and ‘Queer’ to refer to their sexual identity, but in order to not exclude particular identities I will refer to my respondents as female LGBTQ members. Moreover, defining identity is not the goal of this paper, but instead it seeks to reveal the important aspects that make up the DC LGBTQ community by examining both online & offline sites.

Just in the past 6 years, 5 majors female LGBTQ websites have emerged to help diversify the scene and create spaces that are more inclusive.

“Community” Goals from respondents:

“Now there is a lot more regular stuff going on, you start seeing the same people out at all the events…It’s my goal to have a scene where its an actual community and not just people at bars.”

“Because the truth of the matter is, that going out and meeting people at clubs is fine and dancing is fun, but I don’t know if it really gets to the guts of what a community is, where you are meeting older people that can mentor you.”

Going about creating an “inclusive” and “safe” community space, however, is not easy, and by no means linear. Three major themes have developed, from my research, which requires that women work within the existing (i) politics of DC to (2) create spaces both online & offline in order to gain (3) visiblity to create consistency (See Figure below).

 

Visibility

Visibility includes fashion/appearances, as well as the aesthetics of the online space. One of my respondents notes, “It’s kind of just the next step in the process of people becoming more comfortable with being out in general.” There is now a “queer” design movement, in which, women are trying to use design to not exclude, but include everyone, no matter what sexuality. This means moving towards design that throws away the presence of the rainbow “signifier.”  Yet, in offline spaces you still have people segregating into community events based on race, class, and style. One respondent notes, “I have friends that go to their events, I don’t because that is just not my type of crowd.”

Politics

In terms of Politics, female LGBTQ members have to work within existing powerful LGBTQ organizations in DC to gain a voice – most of their sites and events are produced as their “side jobs” – thus money is a huge concern. Becoming a successful leader in DC, means that females need to network and show up at events regularly to gain trust from existing LGBTQ members. A respondent notes, “There is defnitely a lot of challenges, and I think one of them is being a young feamle business owner, whether you are gay or straight, it doesn’t really matter…I was literally out 4-6 days of the week, always out showing my face, always introducing myself to people…it felt like establishing those relationships with people that are very well connected in the community.”

Space

DC is a transient city – people move in and out. As a result, it is hard to create established female LGBTQ spaces when people are in constant flux. In addition to “physical” spatial movement, several of my respondents agreed that another reason why it is hard to create a consistent and inclusive lesbian space is due to set “lesbian” spatial metaphors. For example, “nesting,” the term for coupling up with a partner and becoming “invisible from the scene” is one of the spatial behaviors. Also, living outside the city, in Maryland & Virgiina is another factor. There are also geographic reasons, such as women only going to parties within a region of DC, Black parties (NE) and White parties (NW). However,  the latter segregation is starting to change through the emergence of these inclusive social networking sites.

This research is will a work in progress and this summer I will doing independent studies to further explore the history of LGBT politics. Next question is: How has the macro-history of LGBTQ politics in DC and urban gentrification informed the micro-practices of curent LGBTQ community development DC? This will involve more archival research, but will not mean that I will discontinue my co-presence and interviews.

I’d love for any comments or suggestions on my work so far 🙂 I’m currently working on thesis proposal and IRB approval for future data.

 

 

 

 

Surveying and Geolocating ‘Sexiness’ @Theorizing The Web

This past Saturday (4.16.12) I presented my paper, “Grindr: Surveying & Geolocating Sexiness” at the Theorizing The Web Conference in College Park (UMD).

Drawing from Sigmund Freud’s book Civilization and Its Discontents and Michel Foucault’s concept of space and power, this paper examines how Grindr, an all gay male location-based social network application for mobile phones, is altering the space and time of sexual relationships and the way users signify or survey their sexuality. Grindr, as a heterotopic space of otherness, is able to surpass the limits of Victorian ideology by liberating sex from the confines of the home. However, it also controls and represses the individual’s desire for physical sex through the censorship imposed by the culture’s super-ego (governmentality) and the guilt produced by the ego (self-surveillance). In other words, Grindr  lets gay males  “grind” or “digitally cruise” to find each other via mapping technologies that were originally designed by the state to track and monitor people for the sake of national security. The concept of governmentality, a monitoring process that creates a hegemonic regime based on self-normalization, becomes immediately intertwined with sexual desire.  What are the implications of this? How does desire change when it is linked to surveillance?

Instead of focusing on marginalized queer communities, Grindr: Surveying and Geolocating Sexiness, examines how dominant male-male desire, a social group that is often critiqued for marginalizing other queer identities, e.g. trans and queer-identified women, is marginalized and repressed by Grindr’s design. Following Foucault’s concept of reverse discourse, political and visual resistance to compulsory heterosexuality, I pose the following question: how much power of resistance does Grindr give to gale male sexuality? Does can one perform resistance and enact homosexual liberation within software that is designed to exclude and objectify male bodies? What are the implications of a software that is promoted to liberate, but ultimately discriminates? This paper is part of larger cultural discussion of what the users of Grindr ultimately desire and how this desire is regulated and maintained by civilization’s desire for control.

The prezi presentation can be viewed here:

Issues of privacy are immediately brought to the forefront. One cannot “Grind” or digital cruise Grindr profiles in private. Gay male identities on Grindr have to be censored, “maintained, and “mapped alongside the world” of heterosexual or ‘normal’ life. Grindr has provided an platform for gay males visibility that has been historically been denied, but the representations of male bodies that are visualized (re)render homosexual desire according to government-backed surveillance practices. Grindr will always be a public, and not just public in the sense of public space, such as “Grinding” or searching for men at the bar, but public to anyone that has access to a mobile device. For example, anyone with an Apple iPhone can download Grindr and can take a screenshot of the profile and post it on the web. This is evident with the emergence of a Tumblr website, called Douchebags of Grindr, with the tagline, “all your douchebag needs from the profiles of Grindr Tumblr censors. Long live the public web.” The website features screenshots of male profiles that were taken and (re)labeled to highlight the way the men enact governance on one another, by managing their profiles through identification and categorization (e.g. age, photo, location). In my discussion of the Tumblr parody of Grindr I explore several of these “douchey” profiles to show governmentality distorts desire and ultimately has the power to discriminate and “out” men in public space.

Paper References: References_Grindr2012

Talk at STGlobal a Success!

Yesterday, March 3oth, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in downtown DC, I had the privilege to join other scholars in conversation about the latest research within the Science & Technology Studies (STS) field at the ST Global Conference (12th Annual).

I was on the Human Rights, Science and the State panel along with two other scholars: (i) Philip Egert (phD c candidate) from Virginia Tech, who presented the talk “An exploration of the Relationship Between Sxcual Gender-Based Violence and Disasters,” and (ii) Steve Casazza  (MA Candidate ) from George Washington University, who presented a talk called “Army of Automatons: Where Science fiction becomes science fact.”

My talk was entitled, ” Indigenous Homelands: “closing the gap” with Two-Way networks.” It explored the multiple tensions between Australia’s reconciliation campaign, the Australian government’s development agenda, and local indigenous development practices within the Northern Territory, Australia.  I used network theory to explore new frameworks for change. You can view my presentation here.

Professor David Ribes, one of my advisors at the Communication, Culture, & Technology (CCT) program at Georgetown, was the moderator for the panel. He did an excellent job finding synergies between three talks that were not completely different topics. If STS ever met poetry – David Ribes, achieved it. His follow up question beautifully revealed how each of our talks attempted to “open the black box” of technology, which is the idea that we must uncover controversies that are often hidden from view and explain how artifacts are chaped by and connected to larger soci-technical processes (e.g.  role of designer, users, etc). In the case of my talk, the “black box” was the way in which Australia’s reconciliation campaign tends to cover up the deeper rooted political problems through cultural projects that promote harmony between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. I got some great feedback from several scholars and I hope to publish this with the Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal soon.

The entire conference pushed scholars in the field of STS to change how we think about development in a world that is now suffering from overpopulation, decentralization, and multiple digital divides. It it is time that new transformational development policies and justice frameworks emerge that account for these new contexts.


The Technical Skills Divide

This Prezi Presentation I put together regarding the way various variables, such as gender, age, education, and Internet use, affect a person’s Internet Skills.

The presentation is based on the following articles:

van Deursen, A. J. A. M., & van Dijk, J. A. G. M. (2010). Internet skills and the digital divide. New Media & Society13(6), 893-911. doi:10.1177/1461444810386774 link vanD2010.pdf

van Deursen, A. J. A. M., van Dijk, J. A. G. M., & Peters, O. (2011). Rethinking Internet skills: The contribution of gender, age, education, Internet experience, and hours online to medium- and content-related Internet skills. Poetics39(2), 125-144. doi:10.1016/j.poetic.2011.02.001 link vandeursenvandijk2011.pdf

Hargittai, E., & Shafer, S. (2006). Differences in actual and perceived online skills: The role of gender. Social Science Quarterly87(2), 432-448. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2006.00389.x link hargittaishafer2006.pdf