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On speaking "for"

Anne Dalke's picture

By 5 p.m. on Friday, post as a comment here a description of the culture you will speak "for" during next week's panels:  a group whose lives or work circumstances shaped, or were impacted by, an interesting intra-action of science w/ one of our other three categories: gender, information, or technology. (For a list of possibilities we brainstormed on Monday, see kgould's class notes--thanks, k!) In your post, describe the group for whom you will speak: when did they flourish, where did they flourish, and in what context? Who was their constituency, or audience? Why do they matter? (We need it early so we can figure out --and let you know--on Friday night what questions you'll be addressing/collaboratively designing a skit in response to....)



Riki's picture

this could even be you!

I will be representing a group of people called neurotypicals. They flourish everywhere, all the time, especially in situations that involve social interaction. They can communicate and share information very easily with other neurotypicals. They matter because they are the standards to which all other minds and behaviors are measured.


aybala50's picture


For this second set of panels I would like to represent immigrants who are coming into the United States. I am interested in the interaction of not only science and technology within this immigrant culture, but also in the native population and the psychological effects of all of this on both "groups". The immigrant population was mainly from the European continent for a long time, and then the area spread to the rest of the world and now the United States of full of a variety of immigrants from different location around the world. The number of immigrants have also increased drastically and data indicates that by the year 1950, whites will no longer constitute the majority of the US population. 

Oak's picture

Female Science-Fiction Writers

when did they flourish, where did they flourish, and in what context? They have been flourishing almost as long as sci-fi has been flourishing.

Who was their constituency, or audience? Their audience is typically young adults, though many people appreciate sci-fi.

Why do they matter? Science fiction uses a lot of metaphors, and looking at the metaphors used by female sci-fi writers can tell us a lot about women's relations to science.

Marina's picture

deaf community

I will be speaking for the deaf community and the deaf culture that exists within this community. The deaf community does not see their condition as a disability and instead sees it as different way of experiencing humanity. Their condition affects the means through which they communicate and share information which is mainly accomplished through sign language. The deaf community is proud of it's history especially since sign language was proclaimed a true language with it's own grammatical structure which motivated the deaf community to rally for the legitimacy of the deaf culture and position itself as a linguistic minority. 

ekthorp's picture

DFTBA! Nerdfighters as a Group

 John Green, a young adult fiction writer, and Hank Green, an environmental blogger, started a vlog called Brotherhood 2.0 in 2007. Since then they have garnered 480,734 subscribers. A community has formed around them, and their support has created huge gatherings and events. The name of the community who follow John and Hank Green has been named Nerdfighteria, and the members have worked to do amazing things. It is incredible the way this group of people have come together to raise money for charities, host conferences, and create artwork. I will be representing this group. 

rubikscube's picture


I will represent the group of present day music composers. I'd like to explore the interaction of musical content and its meaning, and what composers think of these concepts. Music itself is a science, but information can be expressed through a score and through aural music. These composers may have a small audience since not many people have direct experience playing new music, but the audience can be extended to all that hear their music. Present day composers are changing the way we think of music, and they are important in changing the future of the discipline and study of music as a whole.

kgould's picture

I'm going to look into

I'm going to look into "gamers" as a group.

They flourish today, as millions of people all over the world become deeply involved with virtual worlds and realities. Because this group is huge and global, I've decided to focus on American gamers (men and women), young to full-grown adults.

Gamers matter because video games are becoming not only a huge part of our culture and a huge part of sales all over the world, but because "gaming" has turned into a social activity, LAN parties are popular and frequent, and because it is provided a brand new space for people to change, evolve, and develop as a community.

Amophrast's picture

Question: shin1068111 said

Question: shin1068111 said that he would be looking into gamers as well, but specifically video gamers. Do you intend to include other kinds of games? (card games, tabletop, LARP, board games...?)

fawei's picture


 I'd like to represent the scientists behind the Human Genome Project. The project, which started in 1989, involved efforts from several different countries and institutions with the goal of mapping the human genome. Research is still happening (interpreting data, some sequences difficult to view,) but a mostly complete genome was released in 2003. Knowledge of the genome useful for a number of reasons, especially in the field of medicine for predicting/treating genetic diseases. One major criticism of the project though, was that companies, or even groups of researchers, to demand high prices could demand high prices for the potentially life-saving information.

I'm sure there are other benefits/criticisms that I'm not recalling (or weren't mentioned in my high school biology class.) Alongside movements that seem to reject ideas such as biological determinism, the HGP might be interesting to look at.

merlin's picture

First Humans to Use Tools



At some point, early bipedal primates developed the ability to pick up sticks, bones and stones and use them as weapons or tools for killing small animals, cracking nuts, or cutting. This behavior was a primitive use of technology. Bipedal tool-using primates date back as early as 7 to 5 million years ago.

By 2.4 million years ago Homo habilis appeared in East Africa: the first known human species, and the first known to make stone tools.

Tool use required a larger brain, which required a larger skull, which required a female to have a wider birth canal for the baby's wider skull. But the female could no longer run as well, so the babies had to be born sooner and require a longer period of dependence on the mother for care. THis created societies in which groups remained stationary and could not migrate as much. Males had to go out and hunt for food while the females cared for the babies. This created even more of a dependance on tools to compete with other humans. 



phreNic's picture

Victorian Era Prostitutes

 Prostitutes in the late 19th century England were subjected to legal and medical intervention in the name of keeping the empire safe.  Unwilling to have the men in the military examined for V.D., a serious problem for the armed forces, laws were passed that any woman (prostitute or lower class) who was suspected of being infected was required to submit to a medical exam.  

They mattered because the technology and the science were available to alleviate a social and medical problem, the spread of disease, but instead by application or prohibition of science and technology, the government  imposed a policy that put the burden solely on  women.  These laws would contribute to the outrage that would bring together the lower and middle class feminists of that day.

cara's picture

Guiyu, China

I think for the next panel, I would like to represent the inhabitants of the town Guiyu, China. While we've spent an extensive amount of time talking about the effect of technology on it's users, both negative and positive, we haven't really discussed what happens to our technology afterwards. Computers are constantly advancing, newer molds constantly rendering their predecessors obsolete. In fact, according to Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council,  "we throw out about 130,000 computers every day in the United States."

A large amount of this excessive 'e-waste' generated in "first world countries" are shipped out to poorer countries, where it contaminates the drinking water and air. A town that has been profoundly affected by e-waste is Guiyu.

kelliott's picture



 A subgroup of the Beat Generation, Cyberpunks are a group of science fiction writers who focus on "high tech and low life." The word "cyberpunk" first appeared in a short story by Bruce Bethke and is literally a fusion of the words "cybernetics" and "punk."  Writers of this genre used elements of the "hard-boiled detective" and "postmodern prose" to describe the often nihilistic underground side of an electronic society." Though the term wasn't coined until the 1980s, Cyberpunk literature is thought of as the antithesis of the often utopic stories of the 1940's and 50's. Cyberpunk authors used their works to call readers into action, expressing a sense of rebellion through blurring the lines between fiction and reality. The Cyberpunk counter-culture and their works are still visible in a large amount of postmodern literature. 


vgaffney's picture


 I plan to represent psychiatrists as a group of scientists in the 21st century. As medical practitioners specializing in the field of psychology, they operate within an interesting intermediary position between the social sciences and the hard sciences. Psychiatry as a specialization in medical practice did not come about until the mid nineteenth century—relatively new direction of scientific energy. The number of insane asylums increased during this century—as well as the number of patients seeking treatment. It wasn’t until the 20th century that psychiatry really developed into a field with a biological/anatomical approach. Other scientific fields—physics, chemistry—play into the field in addition to biology. For example: neurotransmitters (neurology), neuroimaging (physics), psychiatric medications (involving a number of scientific approaches), and the influence of genetics. The field also raises important ethical questions, which has led to the “anti-psychiatry” movement which claims psychiatry is too fixed within the hard sciences, resulting in poorer care and quality of treatment on a social level—even more so than other physicians, psychiatrists must tread between the scientific and the social. Additionally there are historical accounts of abusive psychiatrists which used the field as a means to control their patients (such as leaders in totalitarian regimes). There are great social and scientific implications which arise from this discipline.

Hilary_Brashear's picture


I would like to represent the group of modern day midwives in the US.

Midwives have been around for hundreds of years and were the main way women used to give birth. With industrialization and enlightenment a division between surgeons, who were considered more modern, scientific and male, and midwives who were considered "folk medicine" and female. Today about 5% of the births in the US are attended by midwives, according to The US also has one of the highest infant mortality rates of industrialized countries. The major difference? 75% of European births are attended to by a midwife. 

The stigma that midwives are not as "serious" as doctors still exists in the United States and I would like to represent the practicing midwives in the United States who challenge that stigma.

spreston's picture

Facebook users

Like Apocalipsis, I would like to represent Facebook users.  I want to look at who this group is and how it is changed with the evolution of facebook.  Social networking, which utilizes technology to connect people and act as a forum for people's social lives, has changed so much for it users in the past decade.  I am hoping to learn more about what this group of people as a whole represents for our society.

J.Yoo's picture

Redditors! is an open source social news website, combining internet memes, social interaction, and leading news.  Posts are listed by 'karma', a system in which users vote on a post, giving it either 'good karma' or 'bad karma'; the posts with the best karma reach the front page.  I'd like to represent the reddit users, also known as redditors. has been calls itself the 'voice of the internet,' and is used by many as their main source for current events.  Redditors sometimes post for a particular audience (IAMA... AMA posts give a brief bio about the poster, then open the floor for questions), but the post is open for everyone to comment on, the good and the bad.  Because the redditor base is so large, you can easily find cutting news before it hits the mainstream, or further insights on current events and information (Japan articles are some of the most frequently posted for the past week).

Redditors offer their own, biased opinions on whatever you post, but since the site has pretty liberal ideals, this is usually (mostly) uncensored, giving the audience a way to check facts against the media.

jlebouvier's picture


I was thinking about what we consider new technology and how it changes very day. Then I started to think about ten years ago, and even earlier, how many of the pieces of techonolgy we use daily were beyond imagination. This made me think of the Wampanoags who lived around Plymouth/Cape Cod around the time of the Mayflower landing (so looking at the 1620s). Out of nowhere they were introduced to both new technology and diseases. I think it be interesting to look at a group who was on the negative recieving end of Western technology and who lived in such a different time than ours.

MissArcher2's picture

Patients (Victims?) of Dr. Kermit Gosnell

Inspired by Anne's prompt to think about local groups, I'm interested in speaking for the women who sought late-term abortions from Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. He is currently facing charges for the murder of a woman who died of an overdose of anesthetics prescribed by Gosnell and for the murders of seven viable babies killed after live births. It is believed that he killed hundreds of live babies over the course of his 30-year practice. This issue has raised a lot of questions about abortion laws and accessibility. What made these women turn to Gosnell? Do they have anything in common demographically? In this case, their status as women (in particular, pregnant women) relates directly to the kind of abortion science/technology they are able to receive. For instance, I find it moving that the woman who died was a refugee from Bhutan who is thought to have lived in the US for a mere 5 months prior to her death while Gosnell is estimated to have made $1.8 million in the last year. 

leamirella's picture

Doctors at the Lovelace Women's Hospital

I'm going to represent the doctors at the Lovelace Women's Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'd be curious to see why people would choose to come to a women's hospital (much like some of us chose to come to Bryn Mawr College, an all women's college) rather than a regular hospital. From what I've read so far, I feel as though it is because there are more procedures offered for especially for women. However, I'd like to look in further and see if there is some sort of sociological reason why.

shin1068111's picture

Video gamers

Group: Video Gamers

when did they flourish, where did they flourish, and in what context?
: The history of video gaming is not very long. However, the population of video gamers has been significantly increasing since the development of computer and video games. They are all over the world, but video gaming is bigger in East Asian countries than any other part of the world.

Who was their constituency, or audience?
: I would say the audiences are other video gamers or themselves.

Why do they matter? (We need it early so we can figure out --and let you know--on Friday night what questions you'll be addressing/collaboratively designing a skit in response to....)
: Video gamers are group of people who exist due to the development of technology, but they are creating some concerns on mental health and the change in their social behavior. People sometimes even relate video game playing with crimes. It would also be interesting to talk about the difference between professional video gamers and amateur video gamers

Hillary G's picture


          The group I will speak for on the panel is the X-Men. The X-Men are from a fictional world in which the “X” gene is a genetic mutation that can cause supernatural abilities in a relatively small amount of people. This becomes a problem in their society, because people without the gene fear the mutants. Science plays a big role in their lives, as one of the main plot points is a controversy over whether the mutants should be “cured” using modern medicine. The government spreads false information and propaganda to the people to promote the idea that the mutants are diseased and that it is their duty to the human race to contain them. Despite this, the X-Men still use their biological phenomena to aid the human race when Magneto tries to overtake them.


I haven’t seen the film in a while but I actually plan to be watching it this weekend (coincidentally) so I’ll have it fresher in my mind. I feel like I could go a lot of directions with it, since their lives are definitely impacted by science, and I could even connect them to gender, technology, AND information. 

Franklin20's picture


 For the panel, I would like to represent the youtube community.

The youtube community is an interesting one in that its a fairly covert community.  On the surface level, youtube seems to be a forum for people to simply post videos which is what its original purpose was when it was founded in 2005.  Now, however, youtube has evolved into a more substantial social media outlet.  Not only do Youtubers make videos for themselves, they also make videos for their subscribers, respond to other videos that have inspired them, form collaborative youtube channels with other people who they might not have even met, etc.

I am most interested in the way that youtube has formed a definitive community without having the overt community aspects such as facebook.


Apocalipsis's picture

Facebook Users!

Describe the group for whom you will speak:  As a sociologist, I will represent Facebook Users.

When did they flourish? Where did they flourish? In what context? Who was their constituency, or audience?

Founded in 2003, it was originally intended for Harvard students. Shortly after it began to flourish as it expanded to other Boston area colleges, Ivy League colleges, then nationally towards high school students and eventually to anyone over the age of 13. Facebook is now global and users are located across all seven continents.

Why do they matter?

Facebook has changed the landscape of social networking, marketing, and overall popular culture in its use of media.


tangerines's picture

Art School Students!

As I began thinking about our second panel, one of the texts for my other cross-over course with Anne served as inspiration: Generosity by Richard Powers. So, I will represent art school students as my group. In my humble opinion, this is a group which has flourished throughout history, all over the globe, in many different contexts. Art is limitless and can take virtually any shape, so "learning" art and how to create it is an interesting contradiction.

Their first constituency/audience would be the group of teachers/artists whom they admire and with whom they study. And I think that art students matter because in many ways, art is the most direct, honest combination of creation and critique that humans possess. They are also relevant to this panel because art students study many different technologies and use them to create their art; also, their use of information and technology has evolved over time in tandem with scientific advances.

Amophrast's picture

Published as a post here:

Published as a post here: /exchange/node/9756

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