Noble writes evocatively about the effect of search algorithm biases on users — in this case, young black girls who will find that Google searches for “black girls” do not lead to books about black girls or communities in which young black girls might connect, but instead pornography as the top results. Noble investigates how search engines can actually maintain unequal access and representation, yet are such a foundational aspect of modern life that they are often unquestioned. She also notes that commercial interests often subvert subvert a diverse or at least realistic range of representations.
Clack’s work is foundational in this area, and her published work is some of the earliest to explore inclusivity in metadata. In 1973 the author conducted a seminal research study which concluded that subject analysis for African American studies resources was seriously inadequate and that the area was neglected in research. Twenty years later the author revisits the issues relative to the adequacy of subject analysis for African American studies resources. Specifically, Library of Congress subject headings are examined against the capabilities of online catalogs to retrieve materials relating to this body of literature. The conclusion drawn is that improvements have been made but that problems continue to exist. Prescriptive measures for resolving the remaining problems are offered.
A Google search for a person’s name, such as “Trevon Jones”, may yield a personalized ad for public records about Trevon that may be neutral, such as “Looking for Trevon Jones?”, or may be suggestive of an arrest record, such as “Trevon Jones, Arrested?”. This writing investigates the delivery of these kinds of ads by Google AdSense using a sample of racially associated names and finds statistically significant discrimination in ad delivery based on searches of 2184 racially associated personal names across two websites. First names, assigned at birth to more black or white babies, are found predictive of race (88% black, 96% white), and those assigned primarily to black babies, such as DeShawn, Darnell and Jermaine, generated ads suggestive of an arrest in 81 to 86 percent of name searches on one website and 92 to 95 percent on the other, while those assigned at birth primarily to whites, such as Geoffrey, Jill and Emma, generated more neutral copy: the word “arrest” appeared in 23 to 29 percent of name searches on one site and 0 to 60 percent on the other. On the more ad trafficked website, a black-identifying name was 25% more likely to get an ad suggestive of an arrest record. A few names did not follow these patterns. All ads return results for actual individuals and ads appear regardless of whether the name has an arrest record in the company’s database. The company maintains Google received the same ad text for groups of last names (not first names), raising questions as to whether Google’s technology exposes racial bias.
Sweeney, L. (2013). Discrimination in Online Ad Delivery. Communications of the ACM, 56(5), 44–54. arXiv.org version available online.
Archivists have long recognized the inherent historical and social mandate in preserving stories of those who endured violence at the hands of the state. Examples of this responsibility include archivists who recorded public tribunals in post-apartheid South Africa, documented stories of Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during World War II, and acquired collections of 1960s civil rights activists who experienced military intervention while fighting to end segregation. These endeavors align with the historian Howard Zinn’s call for archivists to “compile a whole new world of documentary material” about the lived experiences of marginalized populations and communities. Drawing upon Zinn’s charge as well as scholarly literature around community archives, social justice, and human rights, this article describes the joint effort of community organizers and professional archivists who collaborated to establish a community archive for victims of police violence in Cleveland, Ohio. The archive, A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, provides a sustainable, autonomous means for Cleveland residents to share their first-hand accounts of police violence in the region. The authors will narrate the archive’s conception and development as well as advance the archive as a post-custodial model for other grassroots organizations protesting various forms of state violence.
We set out to assess one of the commercial tools made by Northpointe, Inc. to discover the underlying accuracy of their recidivism algorithm and to test whether the algorithm was biased against certain groups.
This case study describes a project undertaken at the University of Minnesota Libraries to digitize materials related to African American materials across the Universities holdings, and to highlight materials that are otherwise undiscoverable in existing archival collections. It explores how historical and current archival practices marginalize material relevant to African American history and culture, and how a mass digitization process can attempt to highlight and re-aggregate those materials. The details of the aggregation process — e.g. the need to use standardized vocabularies to increase aggregation even when those standardized vocabularies privilege majority representation — also reveal important issues in mass digitization and aggregation projects involving the history of marginalized groups.
Moya Bailey shares her experience collecting Tweets using the #girlslikeus hashtag and how she incorporates ethical practices when researching vulnerable communities, specifically trans women of color. Although this is not specifically a code of conduct, Bailey provides an explicit case study for how to be respectful, collaborative, and center a community’s needs over the researcher’s needs.
Digital information can bridge age-old gaps in access to information in traditionally underserved areas of the world. However, for those unfamiliar with abundant e-resources, their early exposure to the digital world can be like “drinking from a fire hose.” For these audiences, abundant metadata and findability, along with easy-to-use interfaces, are key to their early success and adoption. To hasten the creation of metadata and user interfaces, the authors are experimenting with “crowd cataloging.” This report documents their work and Maron’s Lo-Fi to Hi-Fi metadata pyramid model guiding a developing metadata initiative being pursued with the eGranary Digital Library, the technology used by Widernet in a global effort to ameliorate information poverty. The Lo-Fi to Hi-Fi model, with principles adapted from technical design processes, aligns with research that has shown that community-based librarians are better poised to identify culturally congruent resources, but many require significant training in metadata concepts and skills. The model has students crowdsource “lo-fi” terms, which domain experts and information professionals can curate and cull in “hi-fi” to enhance findability of resources within the eGranary while simultaneously honing their own computer, information and metadata literacies. Though the focus here is on Africa, the findings and practices can be universalized to eGranaries around the globe, if successful.
In this introduction to Documenting the Now collaborative project, Summers provides background about the urgency and need for this type of open source application, especially for the Black community. He outlines two main goals of the DocNow project: 1) Create an open source app “that will allow researchers and archivists to easily collect, analyze, and preserve Twitter messages and the Web resources they reference;” 2) “Cultivate a much needed conversation between scholars, archivists, journalists, and human rights activists around the effective and ethical use of social media content.”