Helen Taranowski

MA Project:
Publishing Feminist Voices in and through Technology

Critical Rationale

I am interested in design as a form of critical inquiry into the role of technology in our lives, especially where this reinforces the gender and diversity biases which plague our offline world.

Taking into account the historical issues in the gender-technology debate, the current socio-technological situation, feminist practices and principles, and the methods of publishing in a post-digital world this project proposes the creation of a publishing platform for women with an interest in and/or researching into gender and technology; a space for critical analysis, reflection, discussion, action and activism. The aim of this platform is for readers to respond to the content, to connect and share ideas. To create an ongoing conversation to be carried through future issues of the publication, creating a living archive of feminist technology discourse.

Taking as its point of departure the development in the early 1980s of the second wave feminist publication, Women and Computing Newsletter, the project examines a selection of gender and technology discourse from 1981 to the present time, foregrounding the historical gender-technology narratives and the dissonance between male and female representation in the technology field.

The project also considers the friction between print and digital publishing leading to the multifarious publishing methods currently available. In our post-digital era, combining and exploiting the assets of both print and online publishing provides the ideal situation for a publication that not only gives voice to feminist technology discourse but also incorporates feminist values, such as equality, collectivism and being non-hierarchical, in its design and distribution.

A feminist research methodology has been adopted, placing women's voices at the centre of the project outcome. The research and the project outcome have been strongly influenced by the Women and Computing Newsletter, and the feminist technology theories and writing of Judy Wajcman, Melanie Stewart Millar, and Emily Chang. These invaluable sources have all encouraged feminist debate and critique of technology and its masculinised narrative. The publishing practices and theories of Paul Soulellis, Michael Bhaskar and Alessandro Ludovico provided the foundations for this publication and the use of digital technologies to assist in the amplification and dissemination of the publication's content.

Beyond traditional graphic design, the project also occupies a space within the technology field facilitating discussions around technology, gender, diversity and ethics. Additionally, it raises the interesting question of how to incorporate feminist principles into graphic design and publishing. A feminist publishing model has been proposed and will be explored through continuing research and within future issues of the publication.

The final design outcome exists as a print publication and website, also a DAT website to allow copying and sharing directly via the peer-to-peer network. A PDF of the publication is available to enable readers to download/print a copy of the publication and build their own offline archive. Distribution will be to contributors, universities and feminist libraries, alongside online promotion to connect with new readers and encourage future submissions.

Critical Context Paper

Research Portfolio

FVT website