John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Digi-Chix: Writing with 'tude


Some of the most interesting Art and Journalism I've seen on the net comes from women.  If you've clicked-through some of my links in blog entries on Thunderstorms, you know this too.  I'll save the eye-candy for another time and just point out a book of reference on the subject that I happened to name Digi-Chix, entitled Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture, and two inspiring Digi-Chix.

Amazon review: Most writing on cyberculture is dominated by two almost mutually exclusive visions: the heroic image of the male outlaw hacker and the utopian myth of a gender-free cyberworld. Reload offers an alternative picture of cyberspace as a complex and contradictory place where there is oppression as well as liberation. It shows how cyberpunk’s revolutionary claims conceal its ultimate conservatism on matters of class, gender, and race. The cyberfeminists writing here view cyberculture as a social experiment with an as-yet-unfulfilled potential to create new identities, relationships, and cultures.

Annalee Newitz is a regular contributor on AlterNet and whose articles I always make a point to read.  To me, she is the Borg Queen of Digi-Chix, and I say that in the most admiring way.  Her commentary on cyberculture is spot on and comes from her respected work with the cyber-rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group I've admired for almost a decade.

I could easily comment and fill up an entire year's worth of blog just on the issues about which Annalee writes in her articles.  I thought I'd introduce you to another new member of my Digi-Chix, first.  I found her article while doing some online research on workers' conditions in India.  Mari Marcel Thekaekara is a journalist whose insight and bravery in the face of the powers-that-be in India follows in the tradition of Arundhati Roy.  Read.

Journalist - Mari Marcel Thekaekara
Shock. Outrage. Middle-class morality suitably scandalized. The reactions were predictable. Even Mari Marcel Thekaekara wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a co-operative of sex workers – and in Communist Kolkata (Calcutta) of all places, where co-ops are usually of the Party, for the Party and by the Party.  Then she went to find out for herself.

As I enter the building the first thing that hits me is the sheer, raw woman power.  The office is a noisy, bustling, activity-filled place.  A few men, mostly behind desks – but the women are unmistakably and completely in control.  There are 60,000 women sex workers who are part of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC).  The name sums it up – durbar meaning ‘indomitable’, ‘unstoppable’.  Whoever thought that up was brilliant.  Listening to the women’s stories I am filled with admiration for their guts, their spirit and the manner in which they carry on with their lives, cheerfully and matter-of-factly.  There is no self-pity, no whining.  Theirs is a precarious, fragile existence often filled with violence and uncertainty. I see women with scars, knife slashes and burn marks.  Yet they take everything in their stride.  I am intrigued by their pride, the in-your-face attitude, especially in the context of India – a hypocritical society not known for its political correctness, much less its tolerance or sympathy.

"How did Durbar start?" I ask.

Continue reading: Sex Workers with Attitude by Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Annalee Rocks!
I decided to watch M. Night Shyamalan's latest highbrow horror-nerd movie, The Village, for reasons I can't properly explain.  I think it had something to do with the vague sense of doom I always experience when the Federal Communications Commission starts bending the electronics industry to its will by issuing gold approval stars to certain companies and not others.  In case you missed out, last week the FCC issued a list of 13 high-definition TV recorders (including several made by Sony, a new TiVo, and Microsoft's latest Media Player) that are authorized for the marketplace because they "protect digital broadcast television from the threat of mass, indiscriminate redistribution."


What that means is the FCC won't allow the sale of H.D. recorders that don't recognize a little watermark in the H.D. signal called the broadcast flag. The flag stops the indiscriminate consumer from making digitally perfect backup copies of HDTV programs by fucking up the digital output on your favorite Sony or TiVo device. Maybe we should issue a rule to rename the FCC. We could just add a few more letters and call it the FCFCC, or the Federal Communications for Cash Commission. Then we wouldn't need to wonder why the only "approved" technologies come from giant megacorporations.

Continue reading: Fear is Good by Annalee Newitz




Posted at 10:26 pm by John Furie Zacharias

 

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