- Digital Scholarship Group - https://dsg.neu.edu -

Foundational Readings

We will be actively developing this list over the duration of this project (Fall 2016-Fall 2018.)

This list is just a small selection of our most-consulted items. Our full bibliography is available in our public Zotero group [1]. If you are interested in joining our Zotero library to add additional resources, please contact us [2] to request access.

To suggest new resources for this list, please add to our Crowdsourced Bibliography [3] under “Suggested Readings.” Even if you don’t have specific readings in mind but think we need to further develop particular topics or fields, please include those under “Topics for Further Exploration.”


Foundational Readings

Bardzell, S. (2010). Feminist HCI: taking stock and outlining an agenda for design [4]. In CHI ’10 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1301–1310). Atlanta, GA.

Bardzell uses examples from feminist theories and practices in disciplines that revolve around design and user experience (i.e., architecture, gaming, etc.) as catalysts to think further about how feminist theory can be implemented in and ultimately change HCI, especially in theory, methodology, user research, and evaluation. Bardzell comes up with a “constellation of qualities” to transform how designers think about HCI through a feminist lens, or as she refers to it, “feminist interaction design” (1308).

Billey, A., Drabinski, E., & Roberto, K. R. (2014). “What’s Gender Got to Do with It? A Critique of RDA 9.7.” [5] Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 52(4), 412–421.

The RDA catalogues gender according to the male/female binary. The authors argue for a removal of gender cataloguing, especially when the controlled vocabulary falls into this binary; part of the problem with labeling gender is the choices are based on physical and name markers. This cataloging which reinforces problematic notions of gender as stable and legible. One potential loss for not cataloguing gender identity is losing the ability to group people by gender. The authors, however, argue that researching groups by gender continues to privilege the gender binary, instead of representing queer identities. Being aware of the complex and fluid nature of gender identities contradicts the need to catalogue gender.

Sadler, B., & Bourg, C. (2015). Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery [6]. Code4Lib: Special Issue on Diversity in Library Technology, 28.

Sadler and Bourg argue that libraries are never neutral and, therefore, should do work to problematize and subvert harmful cultural biases and information organization in library discovery. They use Bardzell’s Feminist HCI as a framework to provide suggestions and examples for digital projects and larger projects that incorporated social justice in their design.

Carter, R. G. S. (2006). “Of Things Said and Unsaid: Power, Archival Silences, and Power in Silence.” [7] Archivaria, 61(61).

Useful for succinct synthesis of major strands of thought in historiography, critical theory, and archival science regarding power and silences in the archive. Those interested in an even deeper exploration may explore sources (Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, etc.) mentioned. Also touches on the tension between records kept in primarily oral cultures versus records recognized as archive-able (i.e., documentary records from primarily literate/print cultures) in the Western European archival tradition. Finally, proposes that some communities may refuse to “be archived” and use silence as a form of resistance — a point important for our work in Design for Diversity.

Christen, K. (2015). Tribal Archives, Traditional Knowledge, and Local Contexts: Why the “s” Matters [8]. Journal of Western Archives, 6(1).

Archivist scholars argue that it is not enough for collections to be inclusive of cultures and voices, but make “structural changes” in which Indigenous people still have ownership over their texts and stories. This notion of ownership, though, becomes less defined when Indigenous cultural artifacts are collected by institutions; when a non-Indigenous culture “owns” Indigenous artifacts, it is crucial to create a system of ownership that empowers the Indigenous communities. Local Contexts has created the Traditional Knowledge (TK) license which renegotiates ideas of ownership and copyright that is flexible and more individualistic the needs of particular cultures.

Cooke, N. A., Sweeney, M. E., & Noble, S. U. (2016). Social Justice as Topic and Tool: An Attempt to Transform an LIS Curriculum and Culture. [9] The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 86(1), 107–124.

The GLIS at University of Illinois held a townhall meeting to discuss issues around race and privilege; this townhall meeting led to focus groups and then reading groups, encouraging further discussions about diversity. The main products of the town hall were new extracurricular reading groups and an entirely new course focused around social justice issues. Cooke et al. offer strengths and failures of these additions. For example, unlike a traditional classroom setting, the reading groups were neither scaffolded nor run by a professor; in order to encourage constructive dialogue, the authors suggest that facilitators use “partial intervention.” As for the courses, social justice theory became a foundational theory within the curriculum, which encouraged discussions about power, privilege, and the dynamic between academia and the community. Some students view the course as unpractical or have differing opinions from the theories read; the emotional labor that professors experience needs further exploration.

Drabinski, E. (2013). Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction. [10] The Library Quarterly, 83(2), 94–111.

Drabinski looks at activist catalogers who focus on “correcting” certain classifications and knowledge organization systems; the problem with the notion of “correctness,” though, is it reinforces the notion that these knowledge systems are universal and erases the fluidity of knowledges produced by the social, political, and temporal. Drabinski advocates for LIS practitioners to use a queer lens while working with users and information; a “queer perspective on classification structures sees categories as discursively produced and historically contingent” (101). Drabinski offers examples of potential implementations of queer practices into cataloguing. She provides three main recommendations: 1) knowledge systems can be designed for users to both visibly see the constructed-ness of classifiers; 2) LIS practitioners can encourage users to participate in conversations about revising classifications through workshops, conversations, the actual design, or other pedagogical tools; and 3) information science curriculum can focus on classification work as “critical reflection,” not just “correcting.”

Fiesler, C., Morrison, S., & Bruckman, A. S. (2016). An Archive of Their Own: A Case Study of Feminist HCI and Values in Design. [11] In CHI ’16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2574–2585). Santa Clara, CA.

Fiesler et al. conduct a case study on Archive of Our Own [12] (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.

Jules, B. (2015, November). Preserving Social Media Records of Activism [13]. Presented at the Diversity in the Archives: Preserving Ephemeral Activist Culture, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Libraries.

Jules argues that social media has been crucial for documenting and disseminating social activism, especially for Black communities. After the Watts Rebellion’s 50th anniversary, Jules decided to research how much primary material about specific rebellions were available; the results, not surprisingly, were slim. For the digital #BlackLivesMatter collection that Ed Summers and Jules put together, they archived almost 45 million Tweets to document and preserve primary source documents about police encounters. The problem with recording these images, Tweets, videos, and other documenting materials, though, is surveillance culture may put advocates and people who show up to rebellions at risk.

Matienzo, M. (2015, November). To Hell With Good Intentions: Linked Data, Community and the Power to Name [14]. Keynote presented at the LITA Forum, Minneapolis, MN.

Matienzo explores the argument that metadata, archiving, and linked data are never neutral; naming holds power and can reinforce problematic narratives about gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and more. He specifically challenges the myth about linked data as completely accessible and democratic; linked data can harm the communities which are mis- or under-represented, especially because corporations hold control over linked power and these communities cannot influence change. He offers several articles and projects as models for productive and ethical cultural heritage practices.

McPherson, T. (2012). Why Are the Digital Humanities So White? or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation. [15] In M. K. Gold (Ed.), Debates in the Digital Humanities (pp. 139–60). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

McPherson reflects on two experiences that reflect the disconnect between digital humanities and other modes of inquiry around race, gender, class, etc; instead of focusing on how to rupture oppressive infrastructures, conversations around tool-building and coding focused on how to build infrastructure. The answer to why the digital humanities are so white lies in this disconnect as well as the “effect of the very designs of our technological systems.” McPherson looks back at the 1960s, a time when UNIX (the basic philosophy/foundation for modern operating systems) was being developed as well as the center of the Civil Rights Movement; she provides a compelling argument that these two extremely “different” camps are actually interdependent.

In the explanation of their vision for the UNIX, Kernighan and Plauger argue that modularity should be a priority; only the input and output should be visible to the user while the inner-workings, or the actual transformation process from point A to point B0 should not. This modularity resonates with liberal colorblindness; the “lenticular logic,” or fragmented lens, during the mid-1900s demonstrates how race is visible through its absence. “The emergence of covert racism and its rhetoric of color blindness are not so much intentional as systemic.” McPherson calls for a mergence of the two conversations that have continued to avoid each other: those on the side of technology might find new ways to understand culture, while those on the side of race discussions should “analyze, use, and produce digital forms.”

National Museum of the American Indian. (2014). “Repatriation [16]” and “Repatriation Policy [17].”

“Repatriation is the process whereby specific kinds of American Indian cultural items in a museum collection are returned to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Native clans or villages, and/or Native Hawaiian organizations.”
This policy details who can be part of the repatriation process and what this process looks like. Provides an example for how to create a specific policy to demonstrate commitment to respecting Indigenous peoples and cultures.

Nowviskie, B. (2016, April 29). everwhere, every when. [18] nowviskie.org [19]. Presentation at Insuetude, Columbia University, New York City. Retrieved May 16, 2017.

Nowviskie begins this talk by asking the question “where and when do Black lives matter?” in information sciences; she looks at Afropolitanism (space) and Afrofuturism (time), focusing on Afrofuturism; it is “self-possesed” and centers around the past, present, and future of blackness and locating/telling stories of the future while never forgetting the past. She advocates the need for digital cultural heritage systems affordance – a White-dominant field – to decolonize archives and “design for agency” so that Black communities and cultures as well as other marginalized communities have control over their stories and archives, their “philosophical infrastructure.” Instead of merely designing for inclusion, design for progress and spaces/places where Black lives are everywhere and every when.

Srinivasan, R., Becvar, K. M., Boast, R., & Enote, J. (2010). Diverse Knowledges and Contact Zones within the Digital Museum. [20] Science, Technology, & Human Values, 35(5), 735–768.

The authors conducted a collaborative research project on how multiple local expert communities interacted with and reacted to objects held within multiple museums. The ethnographic research conducted in this study demonstrates the need for museums to collaborate with local communities as well as a method for implementing this collaboration. The study showed a disconnect between how objects were presented and recorded and the local experts’ experience and knowledge about the objects (this disconnect is visualized on page 753); the two main disconnects were found in the narrative the Zuni communities and museums constructed about these objects as well as an absence of the use and practice of these objects in the museums. The authors advocate for working within this disconnect to find better ways of representing objects, or viewing museums as “contact zones” in which multiple experts – not only the traditional museum “Expert” – can collaborate. One method for negotiating this disconnect is to make visible the different meaning objects have in different contexts; designing digital spaces to host digital objects allow for this visibility (746).

Summers, E. (2016, February 16). Introducing Documenting the Now — Documenting DocNow [21]. MITH: Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities: News, Research

In Summers introduction to this collaborative project, he 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.”