My GIST Portfolio

% of reading done: 90

# of classes missed (2): 3(?)

amount of class participation (scale of 1-5): 4

9 regular weekly web postings (exclusive of  all the “special” ones listed below): Yes

postings of class summaries (2): Yes

postings proposing your panel presentations (2): Yes

postings re: suggestions for how to “fill in the gaps” on our class reading (2): I can only  find 1 on Serendip

on-line mid-semester evaluation (1): Yes

in-class panel presentations (2): Yes

4-pp. on-time on-line projects/multi-media “events” (3): Yes

final on-line 12-pp. project/multi-media “event” (1): Yes

writing conferences (2): Yes

final in-class “performance” of your learning (1): Yes

posted write-up about  that presentation (1): Yes

2-3 pp. self-evaluation (1): Yes

complete portfolio (1): Yes - online here!


            At the beginning of this course, few of the topics we have discussed were things I even thought about—I had no idea there were so many genders/sexualities, I did not think about what constituted information, I strayed away from anything Science-related, and I took technology for granted but did not explore it further.  At the end of this course, I have a much greater appreciation for each of these topics and the inescapable entanglement of all four!  I am very pleased to have read and explored more about gender identity because I think that before coming to the Tri-co, if not before taking this class, I might have dismissed some of the identities we learned about as “weird.”  Although I think I may still be guilty of using gender binaries, I feel like I am on my way to erasing them and trying to be more open-ended to all lifestyle choices without the need to categorize them.

            I am also coming out of this class with a much greater appreciation and a little bit of apprehension about the power of technology.  This class has illuminated the great ways in which technology can change and shape our lives.  Before, I took all of my gadgets for granted.  I also had not given much thought to the potential of technology to merge with humans…this thought is still a little scary to me but I guess I’ll see what happens in the next 60 years!

            This class has also shown me how unbounded learning is…many of topics we discussed in class were confusing at the time.  I never knew exactly how I felt about many issues.  Outside of the classroom, however, my ideas and opinions often became much clearer.  I think this is due to the fact that many of things we studied are such a big part of everyday life and taking a step back and trying to fit them into the world around me helped me solidify my ideas!  I liked this because in other classes, math in particular, I often leave the class and stop thinking about it completely until I sit down to do my problem set….when am I ever going to take a derivative in real life, though?  I liked the applicability of this class to the world around me.

            I put a lot of thought and effort into my web postings and into my essays.  One thing I learned about myself is that when I write online, I am much more casual.  I am still trying to figure out whether this allows me to think more fluidly or whether it makes my ideas more jumbled.  I tried to explore the use of blogs and videos and embedding photos more as I progressed with my papers.  I found I also got frustrated because I would have to spend three hours just trying to figure out how to do something on the computer rather than actually creating content, but I am coming out of the class with a much better understanding of how to publish on the internet.  It was a new thing for me to have my ideas posted on a public forum and it made me much more comfortable with becoming part of an online community.  I think that in my writings in this course, I have learned to be much more exploratory…trying to think about questions that I do not have an answer to.  In this class, I enjoyed that freedom but as a result, I think some of my work my have wandered a little bit.  Overall, I am happy with my posts and my essays because they were a new way of thinking and exploring my thoughts.

            In class, I was much more active in small group discussions than in the large group.  Although I contributed to the large group on occasion, the big class size often overwhelmed me.  Throughout the class, however, I became more comfortable with contributing to the large group and I am very proud of this!  In small group discussions, I was very active and it gave me a chance to voice my ideas to my classmates more thoroughly than I would be able to the whole class.  I really appreciated the time we had to talk in small groups and get to understand our classmates’ ideas better.  Online, I also grew a stronger identity throughout the semester.  At the end, I was having so much fun responding to people’s posts and reading all of my classmates’ ideas!!  I was skeptical of Serendip at first but I came to love it and I think I provided some interesting posts to spark conversation as well as thoughtful responses to my classmates’ posts.

            Thanks for such an eye-opening class – I really enjoyed it!


For our end of the year presentation, our group decided to play Mafia, a game in which a “town” of people, including townspeople, mafia members, and an inspector, must vote on which townsperson committed the last murder (full rules belo We wanted to play this game to see how people gather their information.  Because their eyes are closed during the “murder,” the townspeople must base their decision on information they gather through the town meetings - how can one separate lies from real information?  It was interesting to watch the class play this game because the first person to get killed was the inspector - the member who actually knew who a mafia member was!  The mafia members were able to convince the rest of the group that the inspector was very suspicious.  I thought this exercise showed the arbitrary nature of what we treat as “information,” since what we take as fact is often based on heresay.  This game also got me wondering about the role of technology in creating information.  With computers and the internet at our fingertips, it is much easier to communicate to one another and to research any subject that sparks our curiosity - but how much of that information is true?  This game has got me wondering how reliable any information in this day and age can be!  Although the game as it played out in class was a little bit more hectic than we expected, I still think it was a valuable experience.


Basically, there are three roles you may take on: Townsperson, Mafia, or Inspector
Before we begin the game, we will pass out cards: whoever gets a King will be a member of the Mafia, whoever gets a Joker will be an Inspector, and the rest will be townspeople.
In our game, we will have 3 mafia and 1 inspector.

Then, night falls and everyone must close their eyes.  When directed, the 3 Mafia open their eyes and decide who to kill.  They must agree on who to kill by pointing until they all agree.
The then close their eyes.  The inspector is instructed to open his/her eyes and is allowed to point to one person who he/she thinks is a member of the Mafia.  The Moderator will nod or shake his/her head accordingly.

Day comes and everyone opens their eyes.  The Moderator announces who has been killed and then all of the live players must talk and decide who they think the Mafia is.  Once the group agrees by a majority vote, the player they vote is part of the Mafia is out of the game. 

The townspeople win if all the Mafia are cast out of the game.  The Mafia win if they succeed in killing all the other players.

If this is confusing, you can read more detailed instructions at

Making Sense of Noise and Information

Please enjoy my final web event here:

"Bloodchild:" A Story of Humans and Technology?

This interpretation of Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” is really interesting to me. After voicing this interpretation, Hilary asked whether this story might show a deeper bond between humans and technology. That is, do humans develop feelings and love for their own technological tools?

                        In “Bloodchild,” the Tlic are completely dependent on the Terran – without the Terran they would not be able to procreate and would die out as a species. This dependence on Terran suggests the Terran would have the power; after all, the Tlic need the Terran to survive. Similarly, humans in the modern nations need technology. Can you imagine a bank or grocery store or college running without computers, phones, and other technologies? From this lens, humans are cast as the Tlic and technology as the Terrans in “Bloodchild.”


 Image from

                        This image depicts the dependence displayed in “Bloodchild.” Just as the baby Tlic need the Terran body for nourishment in developing, this human baby needs technology (a phone and a bluetooth device) for his nourishment. This depiction brings up an interesting question: is the relationship between humans and technology simply one of dependence? Do we just use technology for our own advancement or do we develop feelings and a bond with the technology we need so much?

                        Looking at “Bloodchild” helps answer this question:

 “T’Gatoi and my mother had been friends all my mother’s life” (4).

                                               “T’Gatoi was not interested in being honored in the house            

                                                she considered her second home” (4).

“We [Terrans] were necessities” (5).

                        “I was first caged within T’Gatoi’s many limbs only three minutes after my birth. I tell Terrans that when they ask whether I was ever afraid of her” (8).

                                                            “Back when the Tlic saw us as not more than                                                                         convenient, big, warm-blooded animals” (9).

“‘You’re [Gan] just her [T’Gatoi’s] property’” (18).

                        I picked out these quotes because they reveal many dimensions of the relationship between Tlic and Terran. T’Gatoi shares friendship with Gan’s mother. She thinks of his home as her second home. In the afterward, Butler calls this story “a love story between two very different beings” (30). Applying this to our human-technology metaphor, humans and technology are capable of friendship and love. I decided to think about whether this is true in my life.  I think that I have developed a relationship that is more than just dependency with some of my electronics. For example, my old blackberry, which broke from some water damage, is still in my desk drawer, next to my pens, stapler, tape, etc. It is no longer useful as a phone, but I cannot part with it because it was my beloved blackberry. Even though I do not depend on it any longer, I cannot part with the memories I have with that phone. So, it may sound strange, but I do think that the Terran-Tlic relationship evolving into more than just dependency parallels a real relationship between technology and humans. To see if other people agreed or not, I Facebook chatted a friend:

Me: soooo….question……

do you feel like you are dependent on technology? i.e. your computer, phone, etc.?

Grace: hiii


wheni broke my phone by dropping y phone in the toilet i like couldnnnt survive

Me: do you think that it is more than just a relationship of dependency? For example, do you feel a connection to technology that could ever be described as a friendship?

Grace: i am def just dependent

no friendship for me

but it is a security thing

                        This shows a disagreement between Grace and me about whether humans and technology have any kind of “partnership” (a word Gan uses in talking to T’Gatoi”, but it reminds me of how the Tlics once saw Terrans merely as animals to be used. Although some may still see technology as a tool that we can use without developing any deeper relationship with, “Bloodchild” predicts that this will change. This seems likely to me, especially as technology is progressing and developing more of an ability to “think” (think of Watson on jeopardy, a machine that shows technology becoming closer to humans, able to compete and even beat humans). 

                        In “Bloodchild,” T’Gatoi still has the control over Gan: she can “cage” him in her limbs and exerts control over him throughout the story. In the scene where Gan holds the gun, however, we see the possibility that Gan could overpower T’Gatoi. This makes me wonder about the ability of technology to overpower humans. Although humans may have created technology, might it become more powerful than us? And have the ability to kill us? After all, Watson beat humans at jeopardy. If humans and technology are integrated, as we explored with Michael Chorost, would humans still be in control?

Image from

                        I thought this image provided some perspective on my questions. From this image, I take that as humans become dependent on more advanced tools, we are devolving rather than evolving. The fourth man in the image looks most powerful to me. Standing upright, he looks powerful. The modern man, hunched over a computer, looks little more evolved than the ape—he appears almost back to being on all fours! While I disagree that technology takes us back, I think that this image provided an interesting perspective. Here is another image that I thought disapproved of human dependency on technology:

 Image from

                        I think this image illustrate that while technology can help us advance, it is extremely important that we do not become completely dependent on it because technology, like everything else, has the ability to fail. If I cannot function when I drop my phone into a puddle or my computer crashes, I will not be able to live a flexible life. In reading “Bloodchild” from a perspective of the Tlic-Terran relationship as a Human-Technology relationship, I have taken an important lesson: while it is fine for me to love and have a partnership with my technology, I should not completely depend on it. I hope that, unlike T’Gatoi, I do not come to rely on my technology in order to survive. In this way, I see “Bloodchild” as both illuminating a deeper connection between humans and technology and also as a warning of not becoming so dependent on technology that I cannot survive without it or that it may be able to overpower me.


"A real relationship? A friendship?"


Submitted by Anne Dalke on Sat, 04/30/2011 - 2:28pm.


In many ways, though you explicitly ground your essay on an interpretation made by several of your classmates, you are harkening back here (though you doesn’t acknowledge this!) to the ideas explored @ the beginning of the class, when Andy Clark said,

"My body is an electronic virgin.   I incorporate no silicon chips… but I am slowly becoming more and more a cyborg.  For we shall be cyborgs not in the mere superficial sense of combining flesh and wires but in the more profound sense being human-technology symbionts: thinking and reasoning systems whose minds and selves are spread across biological brain and nonbiological circuitry."

You are tracing here the ways in which we are dependent on— and therefore inevitably vulnerable to the failure of— our technological extensions. I’m actually not sure that you can separate these two phenomena, as you do in your conclusion, where you try both to “illuminate a deeper connection” and warn us against “becoming so dependent.”

There are a number of other ways in which I’d like to see your argument refined. The interpretation by your classmates, on which your analysis is built, says that “humans represent technology, the creatures represent us” in Butler’s story “Bloodchild.” Later you call this a “human-technology metaphor,” even later “a real relationship between technology and humans,” “a friendship,” and later than that you “wonder about the ability of technology to overpower humans.” So what exactly are you tracing here: a representation? a metaphor? a relationship? a friendship? an ability? I have a query, too, about your use of the word “devolution,” which charts less actual change than a judgment on its direction and quality.


Does Linking Humans and Technology Create Reliance?

Something I found interesting in Teknolust was the theme of dependence on others.  Rosetta is dependent on the SRAs in order to live a full life (she can only live the life of a science geek).  In turn, the SRAs are also relaint on Rosetta (shown when they complain when she does not have the time for them). Not until Ruby meets Sandy is she less reliant on Rosetta, yet this just creates a reliance on someone else. The SRAs are reliant on men in order to keep their immune systems healthy.  I think Rosetta is also reliant on men because not until the SRAs see her with a man do they think she can survive on her own.  Both Rosetta and the SRAs absolutely rely on technology in order to communicate (communicate through the microwave). 

What is Hershman-Leeson trying to say about reliance?  I thought it was a little bit strange that as a feminist, Hershman-Leeson did not create a single woman character who seemed like she could make it on her own.  Rosetta is completely confined to being a stereotypical, awkward science geek and while the SRAs (Ruby, in particular) may be viewed as strong women who contradict society’s norms, they get by using sexuality and also display many dependencies. 

Looking at the dependency issues that arise in Teknolust also made me think back to the Chorost excerpts we read.  If humans become more linked to technology, will this just create even more dependence in our lives?  While technological advances make our lives easier in so many ways, each advance makes us less independent.  When we already rely so heavily on phones, computers, GPS systems, etc., is it wise to increase the connection between humans and computers and make us even less independent?  I am nervous that if humans and internet were able to be integrated into one hyperorganism, as Chorost describes, we might lose too much of what makes us “human” now…how would having instant access to so much information decrease our creativity and curiosity to learn on our own?


In response to this idea of

Submitted by tangerines on Fri, 04/15/2011 - 12:22am.

In response to this idea of dependence: something I thought was interesting in the movie was the fact that when the men developed the virus/rash, their computers crashed – “illness” of their computers is mirrored by physical illness. To me this was a clear commentary on our dependence on technology – I think most of us, like leamirella, would be completely lost without our computers/smart phones/etc. Many (if not most?) facets of this class, in fact, would be impossible to achieve without technology – or even if either students or teachers in this class were not computer-literate.

As for the feminist(?) reliance that spreston comments on, I too thought it was weird that this movie seemed to regurgitate stereotypes of women. Ruby, who is comfortable with their sexuality, treats sex like a commodity and has difficulty understanding various human concepts. Rosetta, is awkward, unattractive, sexually repressed, but is intelligent enough to bring her theory on SRAs to life. Perhaps this reliance on sexist tropes is itself a commentary on the human tendency to rely on what we know rather than exploring new possibilities in any field, whether gender/sexuality, science, technology, etc.


Fear of the change

Submitted by shin1068111 on Thu, 04/14/2011 - 10:40pm.

I think the fear that humans have about technology rises from such concern that we might lose too much of what makes us human now as she mentions. Even though it seems reasonable to have such concerns, I believe that there is no reason to fear to lose what makes us human now because we are living in a society where technology changes human lives very fast and we are used to such life style.

I think what makes us human now has been intensely shaped by technology and there is no doubt that no one has predicted the life style we have now with cell phones and internet. Although there were lots of concerns about use of such technology and how it would affect human lives when they were not readily available to everyone, we now cannot even imagine life without computers because we are completely adapted to the technologies we have nowadays.

I have no doubt that human lives will completely change in the near future by technology and it is natural to have fearful emotions toward such changes. However, I strongly believe that we, as humans, will comfortably adapt to such changes because we are so used to advancing technologies.


This is an interesting question

Submitted by leamirella on Thu, 04/14/2011 - 9:09pm.

I really like your question about whether or not technology makes us dependent. Personally, I do not know where I would be without my Blackberry - I didn’t have it over winter break and almost had a meltdown because I couldn’t access my emails on the go. And if my computer were to crash? Yeah, I’d be so heartbroken and unable to function. However, my question is whether or not this dependence is a bad thing. This concept of being “human” is something, that I believe, is constantly changing. I’m not so sure that being “human” means not being interconnected with technology. Technology isn’t an entity in and of itself. We humans created it, use it, like (or in my case, love) it. Its really become a part of us that to say we’re less human by using technology is a little strange to me.

Technology has made things so much more efficient. I wouldn’t be able to get to class on time if it weren’t for the alarm on my phone. (And the alarm on my shelf too…) If there was a possibility of integrating everything and having everything in my head, I’d take it. (And maybe, I’d be able to wake up more easily in the mornings) The instant access to information could work to our benefit - we could train ourselves to use it. I don’t think it would affect our curiousity to learn or our creativity. Sure they would come in different forms but I think they would still essentially be there. I don’t think that having a lot of information doesn’t stop us being curious about things or being creative with what we have.

Reproductive Technology

Alicia Kaestli, in the MIT course on Gender and Technology,

reads Shelly’s text as a comment on reproductive technology…. This theme is similar to feminist’s opinion on reproductive technology in the 1980s and 1990s…  initially uncertain of the effects of reproductive technology…. “patriarchal control of women’s’ bodies achieved through medicine.” Nevertheless, there was enthusiasm in the feminist field about the use of reproductive technologies ….

Juliann Reardon followed the same theme:

Shelley’s text leads into this week’s readings on reproductive technologies. Murphy’s analysis brings to the forefront the dream of Frankenstein - that life can be created without a woman’s nurture and help in development. She warns of the ill effects in the end that can become of life created without women… to try to create life without women demonstrates the control that men would like to have over reproduction ….


Conceiving a Creature

Submitted by m.aghazarian on Sun, 04/10/2011 - 5:01pm.

So is Emmy like a kind of female Victor? She is a woman who attempted to create life without the help of a man…to some extent. Whereas she had her partner’s sperm and he did help her physically conceive, Emmy rejected the motheristic tendencies  that her partner displayed. Through her connection to technology, Emmy was able to birth Ada. There doesn’t seem to be negative effects to life created without men, though there is the fact to consider that Emmy’s partner was incredibly emasculated by Emmy. So in comparison (to the novel), can Emmy truly be seen as a “woman” in this situation when her profit comes in part by a weakening of/lack of men?

I tried searching for a version of Frankenstein with a female Victor and found this:,

In this case, the creature is created accidentally as a part of stem cell research. This seems relevant especially when considering the different controversies surround stem cell research as related to reproduction/where the stem cells are required from.

In general, I do not seem the same conclusions being made in these posts when sex/gender differs


Born of woman?

Submitted by MissArcher2 on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 5:55pm.

 I completely agree with tangerines’ reading of Frankenstein as an exposition of the “hardship, loneliness, and sense of abandonment” surrounding motherhood and childbearing. It’s definitely relevant that childbearing was both routinely life-endangering and a woman’s only option which, once she married, she had no control over. But I want to try to bridge the gap between this view and spreston’s reading, which sees Frankenstein as a warning against creating life in an atypical manner. 

In first reading the excerpt of Juliann Reardon’s post, my mind jumped immediately to Macbeth, in which it is said that no man born of woman can harm Macbeth. Since all men are born of women, Macbeth assumes that he’s invincible, with ultimately leads to his downfall when a man delivered by Caesarean section (and thus not “born of woman”) kills him. Here, as in Frankenstein, we see the consequences of reproductive technologies perceived as unnatural. This would seem to reinforce traditional notions of gender, as spreston suggests, if anything other than natural, traditional childbirth leads to unforeseen consequences. But I don’t think recognizing that Frankenstein is about the importance of natural motherhood precludes the novel from also being about the struggles and hardships mothers and children often faced, as Shelley did herself. What she wanted most was to successfully bear and raise healthy children, thus placing great importance on natural childbearing processes, but that was also what she perceived to be her greatest failure, and so the concept was surrounded by heartbreak and dissociation from society for her. 

One thing is clear: Frankenstein was an intensely personal novel for Mary Shelley and any thread we try to follow from the novel will be magnified in Shelley’s personal life. 


I’m interested by your post,

Submitted by tangerines on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 8:19pm.

I’m interested by your post, spreston, because I had the opposite reaction. I think that for modern audiences (or at least our class), Frankenstein forces us to see exactly what’s wrong with gender binaries and closed-minded ways of thinking. The first time I read the book, years ago, I believed that the question the book asks was “Who is the real monster?” (i.e., the creature or Victor himself?). I do still think that the question is relevant, but I also think that Shelley blames society and its rigid codes for forcing the creature into the role of the monster. I don’t think Shelley was asking us to create a post-gender world; I don’t think she offered solutions at all. Instead, I think the “morals” (for lack of a better term) embedded in the story are meant to question commonly-held standards that we rarely consider, such as gender boundaries. And most importantly, I believe the novel wants us to ponder the true monstrosity of a society that privileges people based solely on appearance.

                In terms of reproductive technology… I’m fascinated by this reading of the novel. I agree that Frankenstein can be read as a book about motherhood/reproduction/the roles of the mother and the child, but I don’t think it’s a cautionary tale of what happens without a woman’s touch. Having done some (admittedly very limited) research on Shelley, her own experiences with reproduction and motherhood are quite depressing. Of the four children she had, only one of them lived into adulthood (the others died before they had reached three years old). Her own mother died ten days after giving birth to her, and Percy, her husband, left his first wife when she was still pregnant with his child. On top of this, Mary’s beloved father cut all ties with her when she refused to follow the rules of “proper” society.

                Basically, for Mary, as for many other women of the day, reproduction sucked. Childbearing wasn’t fun – it might kill you. Rearing children was also not an enjoyable enterprise, since you got attached to a child who would probably die. Motherhood in general, provided your kids survived infancy, wasn’t all that great since it was your only option as a woman. If you didn’t want kids, didn’t pay enough attention to them, or tried to be a mom while simultaneously (gasp) trying to do something else – you were a failure as a woman. Reproduction as a whole was an unpleasant affair inextricably linked with death as far as women were concerned, and the relationship between parent and child could be incredibly difficult. I honestly think that Frankenstein was a critique of the hardship, loneliness, and sense of abandonment surrounding mother and child. Keeping in mind the feminist readings we discussed, I reevaluated the passage where Victor first describes the creature he’s brought to life. Postpartum depression was not recognized in Shelley’s day – but this passage in the book makes me wonder whether Shelley herself suffered from it.


In thinking about creating

Submitted by spreston on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 11:37am.

In thinking about creating life without a woman in this response, the importance we attach to the typical creation of life by a man and a woman is really apparent.  Despite the efforts of many of our readings to erase binaries and to think of gender in the way typical of society, it is hard to think that life can be created without a woman.  Also, if thinking about Shelly’s text as a comment on reproductive technology, it is much more of a warning against creating life in an atypical manner.  Is it possible for creatures created without a woman to become part of society?  In Frankenstein, we see that despite Victor’s creature’s abilities to survive on his own, it is completely impossible for him to become part of any social world.  This makes me wonder whether the “post-gender world” that Kathryn Vogel and m.aghazarian discuss in their posts is possible.  Even with Victor’s creature and the Major, we see gender play an important role.  And as we saw in class with Anne’s discussion of different readings of Frankenstein, the male-female gender roles were important in many.  

I think that rather than erasing gender binaries and advocating new reproductive technology, Frankenstein reinforces traditional notions of gender and makes me wonder what the consequences (as we saw Victor stress over this same thing) of using alternative reproductive technology are.

The Politics of Being a Cyborg

According to Kameron Klauber, in the MIT course on Gender and Technology,

After reading Donna Haraway’s 1985 piece “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” I’ve learned to appreciate the identity of a cyborg as much more than physical.  According to Haraway a cyborg is more in the political realm … because of their relationship to society as well as their rejection or acceptance of societal norms.  In this respect the monster is still not fully a cyborg.  Although he is created by Victor, who then abandons him, the Monster seeks acceptance from society but never succeeds because of his terrifying physical appearance.  He then proceeds to learn to read and speak in order to overcome the barriers that society has built for him.  The monster hopes to transcend his appearance, to conform, to learn the language, and eventually create the nuclear family by asking Victor to create for him a bride. 

By attempting to fit into the box society has deemed the “norm” the Monster is really a rejection of modern cyborgism.  According to Haraway a “cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family”…. From Haraway’s standpoint, ‘women of colour’ are much more cyborgian than Frankenstein’s creature … a “potent subjectivity synthesized from fusions of outsider identities” in a society where often women of colour are the “preferred labour force for the science-based industry” (174). The women themselves are in some ways the technology based on their role in the labor force.  Because they encompass multiple outsider persona’s they are also capable of accomplishing the strongest sense of unity.

As a political entity the cyborg is something that represents a different more radical way of thinking…. The Monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on the other hand is an outsider but does not have radical aspects to his character outside of his gruesome appearance.



Submitted by fawei on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 11:52am.

I have a bit of trouble with the cyborg’s ‘need for community’ too. I think Haraway uses the example of ‘women of color’ because of the double pressures of gender and race on them. We saw in the Dull/West/Banales articles that these are social factors on an individual that actually makes communities less easily constructed/cohesive than groups of white women or men. I’m guessing it is a modern concrete example Haraway was using to illustrate cyborgs in ‘reality,’ maybe difficult to compare to the fictional ‘Frankenstein.’ Women of color are not completely immune to social pressures when they construct their communities, so how is it different from Frankenstein’s monster’s desire to have his companion? It’s assumed he wanted a female companion to establish the ‘model of the organic family,’ but the the reproductive possibilities only seems to come (explicitly) from the head of his creator.

I also have trouble with the definition of what a ‘full’ cyborg might be. There might be an issue of time (on 151 Haraway places her tools, both technological and ideological, in ‘the late twentieth century long after ‘Frankenstein’ was written) or place (‘optimization’ for conditions over universal ‘perfection’ on 161). And with the monster/women comparison, is the type of community desired the chief defining feature of a modern cyborg? If the physical aspect has any say, the monster might be at least a partial example rather than a counterexample…


While I agree that Haraway

Submitted by spreston on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 11:44am.

While I agree that Haraway might say that ‘women of colour’ are much more cyborgian than Frankenstein’s creature, there is one difference between ‘women of colour’ and Frankenstein’s creature that complicates things in my mind: Frankenstein’s creature is completely alone; he has NO community.  ‘Women of colour’ may not try to fit in with society as a whole, but they already have a community with one another.  If Frankenstein’s creature had a community, a female creature like the one he asked for, he says that we would have stopped trying to assimilate with mainstream culture.  He would have completely removed himself and embraced his own community (even if it were a community with only one other creature).  Does this difference, perhaps, make Frankenstein’s creature uncomparable to the ‘women of colour’?



Submitted by aybala50 on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 10:37pm.

The presence or absence of a community is a difference between women of colour and Frankenstein’s creature. However, does this difference influence the relationship these two groups have with being a cyborg? The creature, in my mind, is a part of a community, yet, he is an outsider. He lives on a planet full of humans who have rejected him for his appearance. He does ask for a companion and offer to leave and never be seen again, but why? He wants acceptance? He hopes that a creature, created out of who knows what, will be more accepting of him? In this way he is playing into societies conception of everything. He is accepting his isolation for his physical appearance and he is hoping that someone as “hideous” as himself will accept him because they are the ‘same’. So, it all comes back to being similar, or normal again?  

Facebook: A New Way to Construct Identity

It’s typical for me to come home and immediately sit down at my computer and refresh my Facebook. I have always thought about Facebook as being a time suck, given that sometimes I realize I just looked through 200 photos. After GIST, however, I have begun to see Facebook as a new forum in which users create an identity. With the entanglement of technology into our social lives, do we have more control over our identity or less? An example immediately came to mind. A good friend of mine Kate once changed her Facebook name to “Katie.” Within a few weeks, many of my classmates began to call her Katie rather than Kate, even though she did not change the way she introduced herself or anything else. Are the identities that Facebook users take online what become their identities in the world? Does Facebook allow users to create any identity they want or does it enforce society’s binaries and limits? Is Facebook another example of the endless entanglement in daily life? What kind of information can Facebook distribute and how widely does it distribute this information? Both the class readings and the panels have made me start to reflect on my Facebook usage much more extensively. In fact, going on Facebook and seeing the extraordinary amount of information I have access to so easily is kind of freaking me out! But also making me ask a lot of questions relevant to GIST.

This is how my profile looks to anybody (anybody at all):

 Somebody who does not know me can see a photo of me, where I currently go and have gone to school, all of my Facebook friends, my gender, and even send me a message. Does having the freedom to make this information empower me to create a flexible identity? I can choose any photograph to display. When it comes to gender, however, I am forced to say either “I am female” or “I am male.” This showed to me the first way in which Facebook restricts the construction of identity. Facebook re-enforces the binaries of society. So, even in a cyber-world, a world in which some venues (as we saw in Turkle) provide freedom to take on a new identity, this identity is restricted. And this identity is very defining. If someone mentions somebody who I do not know, I immediately hop onto my computer and Facebook them. Their picture and their information becomes their identity.

In our panel, a few speakers made the distinction between “online identity” and “real world identity.” With social forums such as Facebook, however, I think that these two identities have merged: the Facebook user profile is the user. This melding demonstrates Haraway’s idea of the line between human and machine being erased. This blurring of identities provides a freedom to be who you want in one sense. Despite the freedom to choose what other users see about you, the creation of an identity through Facebook makes me very nervous. Coming into college, for example, I looked at the Facebook profiles of my suitemates. I Facebook chatted them to “get to know them.” Thus, I came into school thinking I already knew the girls I would be living with. Their pictures, their “about me” section, their music likes…these little parts of their online selves became their identity for me. 

This is what I saw of my now best friend Grace:

I decided she was a very serious and mature person. I decided that another of my suitemates was not very social. After Facebook chatting with various hallmates, my notions of their identity were formed completely by their Facebook profile. The judgment of identity that comes from Facebook makes me very nervous. With my suitemates, living with them forced me to get to know them in person. I learned so many different things about them and their personalities that I could never have gotten from their Facebook profiles. With other people, who I don’t see on a daily basis, I fear that most of my idea of them comes from the information that they display on their Facebook profile. 

“Allie Smith and George Martin are no longer in a relationship” appears on my newsfeed. What do I do with that information? If I see Allie in class, do I ask if she’s okay…is it weird that I know this information? By breaking down the boundaries between virtual life and real life, Facebook makes appropriate social discourse in the non-virtual life tricky. There is so much information on Facebook about users’ lives…pictures from what they did on the weekend, wall posts about almost anything. It is often uncomfortable to know information that one would not be privy to if it were not for Facebook. 

If I am so uncomfortable with Facebook’s breakdown of technology and non-virtual life, then why am I still a Facebook user? Why is Facebook my most-visited website? For goodness’ sake, I even write on my roommates Facebook wall and she lives with me!! For one, the easy access to multitudes of information about both people you know and love and those who are mere acquaintances is addictive. The ability to match a name to a face or to check out somebody’s taste in music is hard to give up. And in some instances, Facebook is even necessary. Just as we saw that cosmetic surgery can feel necessary in order to succeed or to have a job, Facebook can be a requirement.   Three years ago, my 60-year-old father came home from work and announced he now has a Facebook. I looked at him blankly. It turned out that his company had required all employees to become Facebook users for “networking.” Looking back at this, it is shocking that a workplace can actually require this merge between life on the internet and life in real life. It took me three years to decide to be Facebook “friends” with my father, but now Facebook is one of my favorite ways to keep in touch with the lives of my family.

For example, my Facebook friendship with my sister provides me a super easy way to see my darling niece Ella as she grows during her first year:

My sister takes a picture on her iPhone, presses a button to export it to Facebook, and within seconds, I am able to see a picture of my niece at the aquarium or a video of her trying to roll over. This kind of access to my familys’ lives, my friends’ lives, and even my acquaintances’ lives is invaluable to me. To me, I also think it shows the entanglement that Barad discusses. Here, Facebook users’ lives become entangled with those of other Facebook users and merge with their lives not on Facebook. Facebook is a forum on which one can construct an identity and this ability provides freedoms. What makes this tricky, I think, is that our Facebook identities cannot be kept separate from our identities in real life. By having an online social forum become such a huge part of lives across the country, the line between machine and human dissolves and the entanglement between technology and social life is completed. While this really scares me, I think that this process is so complete that I would feel like a part of me was gone if I were to delete my Facebook. Perhaps I will take this experiment on and update the GIST class on how my identity would change without my Facebook!

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Taking charge of our on-line identities

Submitted by Anne Dalke on Tue, 04/05/2011 - 11:41am.

As I said in class yesterday, I’m surprised to see all the current postings about the merging of “meat-space” and “on-line” identities, when I thought we’d “done that” months ago, w/ Haraway’s identification of all of us as cyborgs. But I am coming to understand that the specificity of Facebook, and the fact that all of you use it assiduously, is finally bringing the cyborgian lesson home.

What I see you doing here is reflecting on the complexities of this entanglement, which has both positive and negative dimensions for you (and the rest of us): on the one hand, your Facebook “identity is restricted. And this identity is very defining”; on the other, “this kind of access to my familys’ lives, my friends’ lives, and even my acquaintances’ lives is invaluable to me.” On the one hand, “the easy access to multitudes of information about both people you know and love and those who are mere acquaintances is addictive”; on the other, “Facebook makes appropriate social discourse in the non-virtual life tricky,” and “makes you very nervous.” You lament that “our Facebook identities cannot be kept separate from our identities in real life”—and yet it is precisely that entanglement (for example: the immediacy of the reports you get about your niece) in which you revel. That “the Facebook user profile is the user” scares you, and yet feels part of you.

So: I think you need to theorize further, and more deeply, about this complex phenomenon. Barad celebrates our entanglement, not as an obstacle to objectivity, but as a way to understand our agency in the world we live in and study. What might happen to the story you tell here, if you took a similar attitude toward the impossibility of separating on-line from  off-line life? Might that be more productive than experimenting with giving up Facebook altogether (which I think is what you are gesturing toward @ the very end??).

For example: you claim that “When it comes to gender, you are forced to say either ‘I am female’ or ‘I am male’” when creating a user profile. Katie Baratz Dalke, my daughter-in-law and an intersex activist, told me about the petition for Facebook to Have Other Gender Options. One way to “take charge” of your on-line identity —as well as to create a wider range of options for others— might be to sign that petition (?!).

Knowing Margaret Sanger: Do You Have Your Information Right?

I am hopeless with technology, so I could not figure out how to embed the slideshow I made.  Here is the link - enjoy!  To go to the next slide, just click on the arrow that appear on the right of the slide.

the power of the first person voice

Submitted by Liz McCormack on Wed, 04/06/2011 - 4:46pm.

 I enjoyed your slideshow.  Did you figure out how to embed such projects? Worth following up on.

You’ve hit on a good intersection of information, coders and decoders. For me your show raises the question of the privilege of the first person. Might even the first person voice has some agendas embedded in it as well?

Indeed what is “the truth” of a person?  The collective views? or the first person view?

What do you think?