A personal reflection

(The full version of this post can be found at averydame.net)

I am, at the moment, procrastinating; if I were being properly productive, I would be hip-deep in research, watching long stretches of vlogs while taking notes, coding for specific content and comments.

However, I and my subjects are currently “seeing other people” (at least in my mind). No unethical contact (fucking or otherwise) is going on, but there are days where it certainly feels like it. My advisor describes ethnographic field work as “attentive hanging out,” but sitting with vloggers for (in some cases) hours on end feels more like an endless string of terrible dates with someone who can’t stop talking about themselves. Continue reading →

Various Housekeeping Notes

Note the First: As part of my effort to make use of my long-dormant website, I’ve shifted over my blog to my personal domain, averydame.net. I’ll probably cross-post my next few posts to both blogs, but I’ll e permanently moved over there by the end of the year.

Note the Second: New QWB episode out – Episode #3: Revenge of the Return of the Queers With Beers: On callout culture in online social justice circles and political critique in indie games.

Write Your Representative: The Trans* Self on Film, Part 2

Screenshot from vlogger Dominic Scaia's vlog "Shirtless at 2 and a half weeks."

As I noted at the end of Part 1, key to the idea of broadcast television networks as harbringers of minority acceptance was the belief in the power of networks to reach a mass audience and articulate a “legible” (U.S.) nation. Yet this belief proved increasingly facile, as audiences proved far more “active” media consumers. So new technologies ideally would come to take the place of broadcast networks as the medium for creating new social relations.

YouTube, with its mixed model of content delivery and social networking, fits the bill of these “new” technologies, confounding the more traditional broadcast television model. Not that YouTube hasn’t taken pains to draw the connection for users between their service and broadcast networks: up until some point in 2009 YouTube’s slogan (referenced in many an academic article) was “Broadcast Yourself.” It implied that you, yes you, could be just like a broadcast network, reaching thousands—or millions in the case of a lucky few—every minute. Continue reading

Write Your Representative: The Trans* Self on Film, Part 1

Bono with Becoming Chaz's directors, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato.

(I feel like I should have a disclaimer on each post that my titles will inevitably be unselfconsciously pretentious, because I myself am so in real life. Makes me primed to be great at academic writing, though.)

During the media press junket prior to the release of Becoming Chaz, I joked that when I inevitably watched it, I’d have to resist from playing the Trans Documentary Drinking Game, lest I get alcohol poisoning.[1] While I sincerely wanted Bono to pull off something different (my standard for the best “trans” documentary being the fantastic STILL BLACK), my hopes weren’t high. And though I admit it was a bit presumptive on my part, turns out I shouldn’t have had hopes at all.

For a viewer versed in the Way of the Trans Documentary, Becoming Chaz is neither new nor revelatory. Sebastian’s review at Autostraddle encapsulates the documentary’s key problem in his title: “About a Boy or About a Body?” The camera fixates on Bono’s body, viewing it as the ultimate exteriorization of his internal self—a supposed perfect model of inverse Cartesian dualism on display. And on a private trans-focused community I belong to, the response was equally lukewarm. Such mixed feelings-to-downright negativity prompted a member ask an important question, one that (seemingly) inevitably accompanies the release of trans* memoirs and documentaries: “What is it about all of the public transmen that doesn’t represent your experience?” Members offered many different responses, all of them equally valid.

Continue reading

Queers With Beers Ep #2 Now Out!

This month’s topics: parsing community-specific language, in this case cisgender/cissexual, and the tircks/tropes of giant robot anime.

Listen to the episode, and if you like it enough, head over to Facebook and click on that like button.

Building a Vlogger Network on YouTube: A Visualization

One of the problems I’ve run across in working with YouTube is that its social network elements are tied us with its primary function as a platform for user-generate content (UGC). This content is also primarily user-filtered, based around the idea of “tags.” Presumably, a YouTube user “subscribes” to another’s videos because of the content.

On YouTube, unlike other social network sites (SNS), participants aren’t always “primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network” (boyd and Ellison). Especially in the case of a special identity-oriented community as trans people are, users are specifically seeking (in some cases) “latent ties” based on an offline connection. These ties are what allow transmale vloggers to call their connections a “community,” even though they’re really a small network within a larger networked public.

However, before I embarked on my critical reading of vlogs, I wanted to get a sense of what this network might look like – so I did.

Continue reading

PSA on “A Billion Wicked Thoughts”

Because I just saw a friend mention considering teaching it in his class, I feel it’s of value of make a post here.

For anyone considering teaching or using in research A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire, the latest book by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, please first read the Fanlore Wiki compilation page of audience response to the survey in question, as well as the “theory” espoused by the books authors.

The surveys used in the book were not IRB approved by any university Human Subjects Committee, and the authors clearly failed to meet basic Belmont Report guidelines of acting with Respect for Persons, Beneficence, and Justice. This failure is, I think, especially damning in light of how those with how non-normative gender identities and sexual orientations have been exploited and used by academic researchers for their own gain.

If anything, this book, and the response to it, should be an illustrative lesson in why thinking long and hard about IRB approval for internet-based research is incredibly important. I know I still agonize over it.

Friends don’t let friends teach unethical research.

(Fanlore link fixed. Thanks, Ariel!)