EFECT (Experimental Feminist Ethical Collaboration Tools/Technologies)

In this SSHRC PDG (Partnership Development Grant), we are creating a network by establishing new collaborative processes. We borrow strongly from our work with FemTechNet to work collaboratively, in community, with open resources and with distributed power.   Our overarching goal is to understand the methods needed for teams working in ICT/M (Internet, communication, technology and media) environments, that will enable diverse membership and participation; ethical, just and fair collaborations, and the production of diverse and broadly representative media content. In the process, we have come to centre work that developes a just set of ethics for use in teams in all spaces where media, technology and collaboration is taught or employed—from educational environmental to business and governmental spaces. An ethical foundation is crucial if we are to create communities where we are all invested in the process and outcomes, rather than just collaborations that may end with their projects.

Background and Goals

The project reflects on research done to date (including the FemLed project (Stein, Westecott, Gardner) that showed why women, racialized/visible minority women and non-binary women find ICT/M spaces to be uninviting and inhospitable. We respond to this enormous problematic, proposing to develop a set of ethical collaborative methods and toolkits that reflect a common ethics of justice and equity based collaboration.  Key to this work that we tackle cultural practices of domination and oppression that prohibit entry to diverse peoples into these ICT/M educational and work environments and then prohibit their success, retention and promotion and, in turn, tend to create media and technology content that is violent, misogynistic, and non-representative.

Experimental and Process Based

This is an experimental network. We are committed to disruptive ideation that requires working in a messy space where we together develop process and intended objectives. As such, Efect’s work is process based; as we discover, we then together evolve this network. Hence, we constrain to work to constrain the objective of our network and our project, and to develop ourselves with our partners as ac community.  Part of our method is to work as members of communities, with community based organiations most affected by violence; we seek in this community based work to generate understandings and together craft appropriate tools and kits as resources for those wishing to enter and already training or working in these ICT/M spaces.

Pod Structure of our Network & Current work

Structurally, we have organized ourselves into “pods” that function together as a collaborative network. Pods are run and managed locally and communicate back to the network monthly.   Currently, some pods are working to tap our team and partner resources to share “expertise” with our network.

From December to March 2017, we have engaged in a a series of Dialogues, Workshops and Game Experiences. these include:

  • Anti-Oppression workshop (METRAC: Wendy Komiotis & Shequita Thompson);
  • Dialogue with feminist entrepreneurs on the nature of innovation/ entrepreneurship/catalyzing/incubation (Valerie Fox & Ana Serano);
  • Coding 101 Workshop (Engels & Melissa Sariffodeen (Ladies Learning Code));
  • (Upcoming) FemTechNet Dialogue on pedagogical practices we hold as educators and as FemTechNetters (Maria Belen Ordonez);
  • FemBot Dialogue on open and transparent peer review practices and their feminist toolkit on privacy and online safety (Bryce Peake); and
  • Feminist Grow a Game Problem Solving Experience (Emma Westecott & Paula Gardner).  

After this phase is completed, we, as a network with sort out the findings and determine the types of reports/methods/toolkits/etc. we might offer to help those marginalized to find ways to get access and to help those in power (in industry/education) to realize how to invite and support access.   

Currently our Pod in Edmonton (Mo Engel & Megan Farnel) is working on our Efect website design and messaging. We are also compiling an extensive Annotated Bibliography (Kasci Shewan & Paula Gardner) of methods and approaches that share ethics that inform our network; this will become a searchable database.  As well, the Manifesto Pod (TL Cowan & Pratt Singh), is creating an Ethical Manifesto for Collaboration/Community Building, interviewing all the members of the network and experts beyond to compile our shared ethical platform; this we expect will form the ground by which we further inform our network  process and create our goals.

We also have two regional team pods—Toronto and Montreal. Both of these pods are contributing resources to the Ethical Manifesto for Collaboration/Community building, the annotated bibliography and the dialogue/workshop. We plan to eventually translate these collected these resources into our methods and media toolkits. Our plan is that we can execute those kits in one of two ways: either through creating extended production projects with a local group or via weekend based rapid prototyping workshops where we challenge ourselves to create media to meet a goal over a long weekend.  

Our Toronto pod is working with METRAC and a community of marginalized youth associate with METRAC. We are seeking to address their local issues of access and understand what it would mean to address a local problem through a collaborative and ethical approach; we might decide, for example, to make a game to address various forms of violence and bias and prohibited access they experience.

The Montreal pod is facilitated by Carrie Rentschler and Sandra Gabriele and includes Nathaniel Layway. They are working on issues of how to train boys/men in anti-violence and engaging with local groups there to contribute resources. The Montreal pod may choose to create a media project with a local group or they might choose to hold rapid prototyping sessions in Montreal.

Stay tuned for updates!