Warning: really long post. For a reading list of books, blogs and more which take a critical perspective on tech/data and are written by women, scroll to the bottom, or check out this Twitter list of the women mentioned below!
Recently, I’ve been looking for books* taking a critical angle on technology (taking a broad view - data, the Internet, etc) - and I’ve noticed that many of the most cited ones are by men. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed a few, written by women - like Rebecca Mackinnon’s Consent of the Networked, Astra Taylor’s The People’s Platform, Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, and danah boyd’s It’s Complicated, to name just a few. I liked them especially for being accessible - not full of academic jargon, or reliant upon readers knowledge of complex theories, but rather, efforts to explain and reach a broader public.
The public’s lack of technical literacy and understanding is an increasing problem; from uncoherent and frankly ignorant parliamentary bills being passed, to reckless or irresponsible decisions being made with regards to technology and data. Call me naive, but I think these kinds of books could really help to address that problem among curious adults.
I also realised in my search that almost all of the women authors I came across in this genre are from North America. As someone who lives outside of the US, and works primarily on issues that affect areas of the world outside of the US, this reduces the usefulness and applicability of those books quite considerably. They might be tech-jargon free, but naturally they’re almost all full of cultural assumptions that don’t fit ‘the rest’ of the world.
So, yesterday I took my search to Twitter in an effort to find what I was missing:
Looking for books written by tech-critic women: so far @zephoria, @rmack @OddLetters @BiellaColeman @edenmedina. Suggestions? (esp. non-US?)— Zara Rahman (@zararah) March 18, 2016
But wait. As my friend Maya Ganesh pointed out writing an “accessible” book on these complex topics is quite the luxury, and one in which a very specific publishing industry plays a huge role. She also asked: why books? Great point. If my focus is on accessibility of information then the format of it shouldn’t matter; why should I privilege a medium which is way out of the reach of many incredibly smart thinkers and writings? What about blog posts, media articles, random thoughts shared via social media?
With that in mind, I actually regret specifying “books” in the tweet, but I still wanted to collate all the great suggestions that I received. Note: it’s still very heavy on the North America focus, and I think that’s a combination of my own fault in specifying “books”, along with Twitter-follower bias. It’s very long, so to help you navigate: I’ve started with a list of books + author, followed by a list of individuals who write interesting and relevant articles/blog posts.
Edit- as SedaG points out, focusing this search on technology runs the risk of missing out women of colour who write on race and colonialism and focus on power. Again, I wish I’d broadened out that original search, and I am very grateful they highlighted my error! I’ll bear this in mind for future searches.
I’ve also started this Twitter list, making it easier to follow the work of the people below.
Tactical Biopolitics; Art, Activism, and Technoscience, edited by Beatriz da Costa and [Kavita Philip](https://mitpress.mit.edu/authors/kavita-philip MIT Press
Network Culture: Politics For the Information Age Paperback, by Tiziana Terranova, 2004. Amazon link
Re:Wiring Bodies by Asha Achuthan - available online, series of posts and papers on “a historical research inquiry to understand the ways in which gendered bodies are shaped by the Internet imaginaries in contemporary India”.
Porn: Law, Video & Technology by Namita Malhotra, available online as part of this collection on Internet Histories in India from CIS.
Technology and Society: Social Networks, Power, and Inequality by Anabel Quan-Haase, 2016
Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile by Eden Medina, 2012. Amazon link
Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America, Edited by Eden Medina, Ivan da Costa Marques and Christina Holmes, 2014. MIT Press
Race, Rigor, and Selectivity in U.S. Engineering: The History of an Occupational Color Line, by Amy E. Slaton Amazon link
Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age Hardcover, by Alice E. Marwick, 2013. Amazon link
Networking Peripheries; Technological Futures and the Myth of Digital Universalism, by Anita Say Chan, 2014. MIT Press
Low Power to the People; Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism, by Christina Dunbar-Hester, 2014. MIT Press
Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas Paperback, by Natasha Dow Schüll, 2014. Amazon link
Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance Hardcover, by Julia Angwin, 2014. Amazon link
The Coming Swarm: DDOS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet Paperback, by Molly Sauter, 2014. Amazon link
Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning Man Event, by Katherine K. Chen, 2009. Amazon link
The Undersea Network (Sign, Storage, Transmission), by Nicole Starosielski, 2015. Amazon link $25.00 USD. Note: I love the theme of this book, but I have to admit that I’ve been trying to get through it for months now. It’s definitely on the dense side - very full of information!
Seeing Like a Rover: How robots, teams and images craft knowledge of Mars, by Janet Vertesi, 2014. Chicago Press
Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work Paperback, by Anne Balsamo, 2011. Amazon link
Lots of different ones by Helen Nissenbaum - most recently I read and really enjoyed Obfuscation: A User’s Guide for Privacy and Protest, which she co-wrote with Finn Brunton.
Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture, by Adrienne Shaw, 2014.
Surveillance or Security? The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies, by Susan Landau
Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics, by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest: Between Control and Emancipation edited by Lina Dencik + Oliver Leistert
iMedia: The Gendering of Objects, Environments and Smart Materials by Sarah Kember
The Monsters of Education Technology Kindle Edition, by Audrey Watters
Feminist Surveillance Studies, 2015, by Rachel E. Dubrofsky, Shoshana Amielle Magnet
Zeroes and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture Hardcover, by Sadie Plant, 1997.
Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet , by Sherry Turkle, 1997. (So many more by her too…)
Camgirls: Celebrity and community in the age of social networks by Terri Senft, 2008. (again - lots more available by her linked from her personal site)
[Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet.] by Denise Caruso
In The Age Of The Smart Machine: The Future Of Work And Power, by Shoshana Zyboff, 1984.
Ctrl + Z: The Right to Be Forgotten, by Meg Leta Jones, March 2016.
Doing IT: women working in information technology, by Krista Scott-Dixon, 2004.
The Boy Kings: A journey into the heart of the social network, by Katherine Losse, 2012.
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Dropouts, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form, by Anna Anthropy, March 2012.
The Internet of Garbage, by Sarah Jeong, July 2015.
Close to the Machine: technophilia and its discontents, by Ellen Ullman, 1997.
She’s Such a Geek: Women Write about Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff, ed. Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders, November 2006.
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, by Annalee Newitz, April 2014.
Entrepreneurial Citizenship: Innovators and their Others in Indian Development (provisional title), by Lilly Irani - lots of papers by her
Self Tracking, by Gina Neff and Dawn Nafus, July 2016. MIT Press, $15.95 USD. Note: Gina has a few other books out too, and writings linked from her site.
Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan, due June 7 2016. (in the meantime, there’s lots more by her to read)
Writers / bloggers
- Nanjira Sambuli - @NiNanjira, https://medium.com/@ninanjira
- Nasreen Rajani - @nrajaa, http://nasreenrajani.com/
- Jen Schradie - @schradie, http://schradie.com/research/
- Sara M. Watson - @smwat, http://www.saramwatson.com/
- Maya Indira Ganesh - @mayameme, http://bodyofwork.in/
- Erin Kissane - @kissane, http://incisive.nu/
- Mimi Onuoha - [@thistimeitsmimi]((http://twitter.com/thistimeitsmimi) - http://mimionuoha.com/thoughts/
- An Xiao Mina - @anxiaostudio, https://medium.com/@anxiaostudio
- Tricia Wang - @triciawang, http://triciawang.com/writing/
- Willow Brugh - @willowbl00, http://blog.bl00cyb.org/
- Elinor Carmi - @Elinor_Carmi, http://www.pinkeee.com/
- Sarah Jeong - @SarahJeong, http://sarahjeong.net/about/
- Hibah Hussain - @hibahsays, https://twitter.com/hibahsays
- Kate Darling - @grok_, http://www.katedarling.org/publications/
- Linda Raftree - @meowtree https://lindaraftree.com
- Zeynep Tufekci - @zeynep http://technosociology.org/
- Kate Crawford - @katecrawford, http://www.katecrawford.net/
- Natalie Kane - @nd_kane, http://ndkane.com/
- Tanya Lokot - @tanyalokot, https://tanyalokot.wordpress.com/
- Ingrid Burrington - @lifewinning, http://lifewinning.com/longreads
- Caroline Sinders - [@carolinesinders]((http://twitter.com/carolinesinders)
- Quinn Norton - @quinnnorton, https://medium.com/@quinnnorton
- Malavika Jayaram - @MalJayaram, https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/mjayaram
- Katy Pearce, @katypearce, http://www.katypearce.net/research-2/
- Jean Burgess, @jeanburgess, http://creativitymachine.net/papers/
- Liz Losh, @lizlosh, http://ucsd.academia.edu/ElizabethLosh
- Renée Ridgway, http://reneeridgway.net/
- Pip Shea @shealo, http://www.pipshea.net/
- Tanya Notley, @tattinot, https://westernsydney.academia.edu/tanyanotley
- Lina Dencik, @LinaDencik http://www.jomec.co.uk/blog/author/jomec_dencik/
- Gemma Galdon Clavell, @gemmagaldon, http://ub.academia.edu/GemmaGaldonClavell
- Cathy O’Neil, @mathbabedotorg, http://mathbabe.org/
- Becky Faith, @Becky_Faith, http://beckyfaith.net/
- @so_treu, http://so-treu.tumblr.com/dysaesthesiaaethiopica
- DJ Ripley, @laripley, http://ripleydj.com/
- Black Amazon, @BlackAmazon, http://blackamazon.tumblr.com/
- Asli Telli Aydemir, @aslitelli, https://about.me/asli_telli
- Yeni Medyar, https://yenimedya.wordpress.com/
- Payal Arora, @3Lmantra, http://payalarora.com/Publications.html
- Lisa Nakamura, http://lisanakamura.net/
- Joanne McNeil, @jomc, http://www.joannemcneil.com/
- Christina Xu, @xuhulk, http://www.christinaxu.org/
- Sara Hendren, @ablerism, http://ablersite.org/
- Catherine D’Ignazio, @kanarinka, http://www.kanarinka.com/
- Farida Vis, @flygirltwo, https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/is/staff/viskeypublications
- Deb Chachra, @debcha, https://tinyletter.com/metafoundry
- Safiya U. Noble, @safiyanoble, http://safiyaunoble.com/publication/
- Karen Gregory, @claudiakincaid, https://karengregoryphd.wordpress.com/
- Tressie McMillan, @tressiemc, https://tressiemcphd.contently.com/
- @wewatchwatchers, http://darkmatte.rs/
- Jade Davis, @jadedid, http://jadedid.com/
- Leigh Honeywell, @hypatiadotca, https://hypatia.ca/
- Valerie Aurora, @vaurorapub, https://blog.valerieaurora.org/
- Lauren Bacon, @laurenbacon, http://www.laurenbacon.com/blog/
- Kronda Adair, @kronda, http://kronda.com/
- Chris Martens, @chrisamaphone, http://lambdamaphone.blogspot.com/
- Jessamyn Smith, @jessamynsmith, https://geekchick77.dreamwidth.org/
- Kate Heddleston, @heddle317, https://kateheddleston.com/blog
- Cate Huston, @catehstn, http://www.catehuston.com/blog/
- Sarah Sharp, @sarahsharp, http://sarah.thesharps.us/
- Garann Means, @garannm, http://garann.com/dev/
- Sumana Harihareswara, @brainwane, https://www.harihareswara.net/ces.shtml
- Kelsey Gilmore-Innis, @_K_E_L_S_E_Y, http://nerd.kelseyinnis.com/
- Restructure!, https://restructure.wordpress.com
- Union of Concerned Feminists, @concernedfems
…and so many more.
Places to find more:
- CIS India
- ITS Rio
- ITP / NYU
- Data & Society, NYC
- CIHR, Berlin (disclaimer: last year I was a ‘fellow’ here)
- Berkman Center
- Global Voices Advox
- Tech Salons
- Association of Internet Researchers
- Future Everything
- Media archives of past Chaos Computer Club events
- The Message from Medium
- Association for Progressive Communication, APC
- FemTechNet (so much stuff here!)
- Deep Lab
- Model View Culture
- Geek Feminism
- The Recompiler
- A Partial List of Women in New Media Arts and Design
Big big disclaimer: this list is not complete, and never will be. It could do with a lot more diversity in all senses, but I just wanted to get a first iteration out there. Bear with me, or feel free to add your own suggestions - it’s here on Github, or email me!