Recent Posts

The Presentation of Self in Job Applications: Lessons Learned

Recently I gave my first job talk. I didn’t get the job. However, I did get some valuable insight into professionalization, aspects that I had not encountered before as a grad student. Many excellent academic professionalization blogs offer helpful advice on the dos and don’ts of the campus visit and the job talk. But, rarely as novices in the academe, do we get tips on how to present our scholarship to a hiring committee that is as interested in our work as testing the rigor of our thinking. I want to share some lessons I learned that might be helpful […]

“The Matriculating Indian and the Uneducated Negro: The Curse of Ham on Campus” – Craig Wilder’s Black History Month talk

“The Matriculating Indian and the Uneducated Negro: The Curse of Ham on Campus” – Craig Wilder’s Black History Month talk

On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, the MIT Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) held a Black History Month reception with a talk by Craig Wilder based on his new book, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities.  His talk, titled “The Matriculating Indian and the Uneducated Negro: The Curse of Ham on Campus,” started with the story of the Curse of Ham and what it represents in American colonial history.  His book, which was originally intended to be a short article from a 2 month research project but turned into an 11 year, […]

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – Session 3: DATA

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – Session 3: DATA

Saturday, February 22, 2014  |   MIT Organized by Renée Blackburn and Mitali Thakor, doctoral candidates in the MIT Program in History, Anthropology, + STS.  Feminist theory in STS has critically engaged questions of scientific ideology, institutional power, difference, and epistemology –- attending not only to gender but also race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, ability, postcoloniality, queer theory, and more… “Gender Binaries and the Ideological Affordances of Data Activism” J. Nathan Matias, MIT Nathan has been trying to develop new algorithms to increase diversity online.  At the moment, he is dealing with gender binaries to show how women are still an underrepresented […]

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – KEYNOTE

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – KEYNOTE

Saturday, February 22, 2014  |   MIT 12:45-2:15PM – LUNCH + KEYNOTE Introductory Remarks: Michael M.J. Fischer, Professor of Anthropology and STS, MIT By way of introducing Kim Fortun, the featured keynote of MIT’s Gender and Technology Symposium, Michael Fischer talks about the ways in which feminist studies and poststructural feminist studies have influenced Kim’s work.  One method of analysis is playing with scale based on the first wave of feminist analysis, which focused on the role of women to give them recognition and voice.  By using the affordances of feminist post-structuralism, playing with scale can also shift the balance […]

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – Session 2: SEX + BODIES 

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – Session 2: SEX + BODIES 

Saturday, February 22, 2014  |   MIT Organized by Renée Blackburn and Mitali Thakor, doctoral candidates in the MIT Program in History, Anthropology, + STS.  Feminist theory in STS has critically engaged questions of scientific ideology, institutional power, difference, and epistemology –- attending not only to gender but also race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, ability, postcoloniality, queer theory, and more… 11:00AM-12:30PM – Session 2: SEX + BODIES  “Online Moral Economy of Sex Selection in Women’s Club, Turkey” Burcu Mutlu, MIT Burcu looks at the moral economy of sex selection in the anonymous women-only online forum known as the Women’s Club.  By analyzing 541 […]

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – Session 1: LABOR

MIT Symposium on Gender + Technology – Session 1: LABOR

Saturday, February 22, 2014  |   MIT Organized by Renée Blackburn and Mitali Thakor, doctoral candidates in the MIT Program in History, Anthropology, + STS.  Feminist theory in STS has critically engaged questions of scientific ideology, institutional power, difference, and epistemology –- attending not only to gender but also race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, ability, postcoloniality, queer theory, and more… 9:15-10:45 AM – Session 1: LABOR  “Who Was the User? Gender on the Personal Computing Frontier” Joy Rankin, Yale University “Careful attention to how user defined themselves and were defined by others illuminates the gendered ways of personal computing.” In this talk, Joy highlights […]

Facebook’s New Gender Options

Facebook’s New Gender Options

On Thursday, Facebook announced the launch of 50+ gender identifier options that users can select from, as well as three preferred pronoun choices (her, him, or them). This change to user preferences made official what many users had been previously experimenting with or “working around” on the site. Alex Schultz, director of growth at Facebook, was quoted stating “Really, there was no debate within Facebook about the social implications at all. It was simple: Not allowing people to express something so fundamental is not really cool so we did something. Hopefully a more open and connected world will, by extension, […]

Image credit: Nathan Ensmenger.

Nobro Computing

In a blog-post on Difference Engines week ago, Lilly Irani wrote: By analogy, maybe there’s a feminist STS project that could take similar form [to the People of Color in European Art History Tumblr that she'd been reading] . Women in computing advocates (e.g. Anita Borg Institute) often use the presence of women in computing history as the exception that proves the possibility. I’ve been frustrated for a while about the way well-meaning computing institutions deal with gender in computing by simply attempting to include women (future, present, and past) in the already gendered mold of the contemporary computer programmer. Here’s […]

under the Darjeeling fog

under the Darjeeling fog

Here’s an initial effort to add some content on food production to the blog. This post is a departure from my usual myco-centrism. I visited the tea plantation in 2012 (I was also researching wild mushroom production in the region). This was written for a small newspaper in Kolkata, but never saw the light of day.  So now you get to enjoy it!     As we descended the hill covered in waist-high shrubs, factory workers wasted no time in questioning our motive. “Tea tourism,” we replied. We were, in fact, not only at the tea estate in the interest of learning […]

Actually, Alan Turing Did Not Invent the Computer

Actually, Alan Turing Did Not Invent the Computer

  That’s the bracing headline of Thomas Haigh’s article on Alan Turing that appears, appropriately enough, in the latest Communications of the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery, the premier organization of computer scientists). Since the article is under a paywall, I want to bring out some of its best points.  The first is that the pioneers of the then-emerging discipline of computer science did not want their science to be about building computers (which was seen as the task of electrical engineers), but rather about something more.  And therefore they  reached out into the past and extracted Turing’s first 1936 […]