Organization for Transformative Works: What We Believe

The Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is “a nonprofit organization established by fans to serve the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms.” Here it provides a model values statement showing how one community, rooted in a primarily female culture, views the importance of preserving its history and archive. Also useful for considering the ways that some community archives, in this case of transformative fan works, may require firm knowledge of copyright and fair use law — see the section on Legal Advocacy for more. Pairing OTW beliefs towards transformative works with readings on the privacy and intellectual property needs of other marginalized communities would be particularly fruitful, showing the complicated role of privacy and intellectual property in community archives.

June Mazer Lesbian Archives

The Archives, originally called the West Coast Lesbian Collections, was founded in Oakland California, in 1981. Six years later it was moved to Los Angeles by Connexxus Women’s Center/Centro de Mujeres. The Archives acquired its present name after the death of June Mazer, in honor of her work as a community activist and invaluable supporter of the Archives.

The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives remains the only archive on this side of the continent that is dedicated exclusively to preserving lesbian history and to guaranteeing that those who come after us will not have to believe that they “walk alone.” The Archives is committed to gathering and preserving materials by and about lesbians and feminists of all classes, ethnicities, races and experiences. Included are personal letters and scrapbooks, artwork, manuscripts, books, records, newspapers, magazines, photographs, videotapes, flyers, papers of lesbian and feminist organizations, private papers, and even clothing, such as softball uniforms from the 1940s and 50s.

Hundreds of lesbians and feminists have been inspired to donate artifacts of their personal and collective histories. The Archives encourages all lesbians to deposit the everyday mementos of your lives so that others can discover them in the future. The privacy of any donor is protected to whatever extent she desires.

In 1989, the archives earned 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and received donated space from the city of West Hollywood, where it remains today. The mission of the Mazer Archives is to collect, preserve and make accessible lesbian, feminist and women’s queer history as a means of providing a link among all generations of lesbians; to develop social activities, educational events, opportunities and programs that promote historical awareness; and to provide research and resource facilities.

The all-volunteer staff of the Mazer Archives not only keeps the doors open, but also helps to make lesbian communities and others aware of our history through speaking engagements, the Archives’ newsletter, In The Life, (no longer in publication), and special programs and exhibits.

Missed Connections: What Search Engines Say About Women / Safiya Umoja Noble

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.

Noble, Safiya Umoja. 2012. “Missed Connections: What Search Engines Say About Women.” Bitch Magazine, 2012. https://safiyaunoble.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/54_search_engines.pdf.

“Free as in sexist?” Free Culture and the Gender Gap / Joseph Reagle

This article is particularly valuable when discussing stereotypical and default modes of collaboration and communication within technical communities. Reagle focuses particularly on gender, but the framework laid out here also has resonance for technical development involving other underrepresented communities.

“Despite the values of freedom and openness, the free culture movement’s gender balance is as skewed (or more so) as that of the computing culture from which it arose. Based on the collection and analysis of discourse on gender and sexism within this movement over a six–year period. I suggest three possible causes: (a) some geek identities can be narrow and unappealing; (b) open communities are especially susceptible to difficult people; and, (c) the ideas of freedom and openness can be used to dismiss concerns and rationalize the gender gap as a matter of preference and choice.”

Reagle, Joseph. 2012. “‘Free as in Sexist?’ Free Culture and the Gender Gap.” First Monday 18 (1). http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4291.

Finding Gender-Inclusiveness Software Issues with GenderMag: A Field Investigation

Gender inclusiveness in computing settings is receiving a lot of attention, but one potentially critical factor has mostly been overlooked—software itself. To help close this gap, we recently created GenderMag, a systematic inspection method to enable software practitioners to evaluate their software for issues of gender-inclusiveness. In this paper, we present the first real-world investigation of software practitioners‘ ability to identify gender-inclusiveness issues in software they create/maintain using this method. Our investigation was a multiple-case field study of software teams at three major U.S. technology organizations. The results were that, using GenderMag to evaluate software, these software practitioners identified a surprisingly high number of gender-inclusiveness issues: 25% of the software features they evaluated had gender-inclusiveness issues.

Burnett, Margaret, Anicia Peters, Charles Hill, and Noha Elarief. 2016. “Finding Gender-Inclusiveness Software Issues with GenderMag: A Field Investigation.” In , 2586–98. ACM Press. https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858274.

Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression

In this video, Noble discusses Google’s harmful and dangerous search engine results –especially when searching terms such as “girls” and “Black girls” – and how these searches reify oppressive narratives about identity markers. She describes her methodology for collecting and analyzing these search engine results, which are dealing with advertisement algorithms and what narratives are seen as “profitable.”
Noble, Safiya Umoja. 2016. “Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression.” presented at the Personal Democracy Forum 2016, New York City. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRVZozEEWlE.

#transform(ing)DH Writing and Research: An Autoethnography of Digital Humanities and Feminist Ethics / Moya Bailey

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.

Bailey, Moya. 2015. “#transform(Ing)DH Writing and Research: An Autoethnography of Digital Humanities and Feminist Ethics.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9 (2). http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/9/2/000209/000209.html.

An Archive of Their Own: A Case Study of Feminist HCI and Values in Design / Casey Fiesler, Shannon Morrison, Amy S. Bruckman

Fiesler et al. conduct a case study on Archive of Our Own (AO3), an online fan fiction archive website, to demonstrate how to implement Bardzell’s Feminist HCI into practice. Using a series of interviews and exploration of the site, the authors explore how AO3’s design centers around participation, pluralism, advocacy, and more. Although AO3 is not the perfect platform for every user and some of the study’s participants explained why, AO3’s design and careful policy-making reflects feminist values and advocates for empowerment for a diversity of fanfiction writers. This article provides a specific series of design choices that reflect these values.

Fiesler, Casey, Shannon Morrison, and Amy S Bruckman. 2016. “An Archive of Their Own: A Case Study of Feminist HCI and Values in Design.” In CHI ’16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2574–85. Santa Clara, CA. https://caseyfiesler.com/2016/02/09/an-archive-of-their-own-a-case-study-of-feminist-hci-and-values-in-design-chi-2016/.