Fembot — The Proposal

Fembot is a new concept for multimodal publishing on gender, media, and technology. Fembot refers to three overlapping entities: 1. A collective of scholars, organized as an institute, who will share responsibility for the construction and implementation of a Fembot website, which will provide a platform for collaboration, publication, and distribution; decisions regarding its governance structure; and editorial and review responsibilities; 2. A publication that will feature new research on gender, media, and technology twice a year; 3. A yearly symposium (organized face-to-face or virtually, depending on levels of funding) that will allow Fembot members to share new research, to discuss issues related to the institute and the journal, and to brainstorm about innovations, collaborations, and new approaches to Fembot’s mission.

Feminist scholarship on gender, new media, and technology is currently published in traditional, print format, peer-reviewed journals, remaining largely inaccessible to those who do not have access to university libraries. This project stands at a crossroads in humanistic and social scientific research and the forms of academic publishing and communication the academy has long depended on. The limits of older modes of scholarly publication and communication are evident in the following: they do not generate or facilitate the innovative and collaborative approaches that studying new media and technology require; their conventional review processes can take several years; and the products of these modes of scholarly publication and communication are costly and often inaccessible to a wider audience (particularly for international scholars).

The mission of Fembot is to provide a venue in which scholars can receive feedback about works-in-progress from other feminist scholars that will allow them to revise their material for wider publication. At the same time, Fembot will serve scholars professionally by providing digital tools that will allow them to assemble empirical evidence about the distribution and impact of their work (e.g. lists of website hits and citations; links to citational indices in the field; reviews; etc.). And perhaps most importantly, Fembot will also be an open access publication, utilizing open source software and offering its materials free of cost to the public.

Fembot is a new concept for multimodal publishing on gender, media, and technology. Fembot really refers to three overlapping entities: 1. A collective of scholars, organized as an institute, who will share responsibility for the construction and implementation of a Fembot website, which will provide a platform for collaboration, publication, and distribution; decisions regarding its governance structure; and editorial and review responsibilities; 2. A publication that will feature new research on gender, media, and technology twice a year; 3. A yearly symposium (organized face-to-face or virtually, depending on levels of funding) that will allow Fembot members to share new research, to discuss issues related to the institute and the journal, and to brainstorm about innovations, collaborations, and new approaches to Fembot’s mission.

Fembot will showcase feminist scholarship on new media and technology and, at the same time, it will work toward establishing new and sustainable models for review, evaluation, publication, collaboration, and distribution. Mindful of the role that peer review plays in hiring, tenure and promotion, Fembot will provide portfolios so that contributors can keep track of citations and comments, thereby providing quantitative data on the impact of their publications on scholarship in the field. In addition, Fembot will provide active peer review for contributors, treating contributions as works-in-progress and thereby allowing scholars to take advantage of the collective knowledge of the full Fembot institute. Fembot will produce thematic issues on specific topics, organized by editors drawn from members of the Fembot institute with research interests and expertise in a particular area (one issue might deal exclusively with social networking; another with games; a third with web design, etc.).

A recent ITHAKA faculty survey (http://ithaka.org/about-ithaka) underscores the contradictory nature of faculty attitudes toward using new technologies for communication and dissemination, particularly the fact that “a fundamentally conservative set of faculty attitudes continues to impede systematic change.” Fembot aims to be that change, at once providing a multimodal platform for collaboration, peer review, publication, dissemination, and other functions as deemed necessary and desirable; while at the same time persuading institutions of higher education of the rigor of the research it promotes through a documented review process, the collection of data and qualitative information regarding the quality and impact of its research, and an open source approach toward documenting and sharing its organizational and technological practices.

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2 responses to “Fembot — The Proposal

  1. Pingback: ICA in Boston: Lines of Dialogue | mélhogan

  2. Hii Carole
    Sarah Kember here. I love this. Can I play?
    Met with Paula Gardner last week. When she’s back she’ll catch you up. We hatched a plan that sounds very much like this.
    We should talk

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