Gender equity will shape the future of our bodies and technology

Gender equity will shape the future of our bodies and technology

The statistics of women in technology as well as digital media related industries are shamefully low. The game industry alone only employs about 2.9 percent woman in leadership roles, and other sectors are not terribly dissimilar. Hardware start ups are by far the most notorious for being skewed in terms of gender ratios and outright hostility to women. To bring attention to gender inequity, numerous articles have surfaced to highlight that the percentage of computing jobs held by women in tech has actually fallen over the past 23 years as the technology sector has grown and pervades our daily lives. One study showed that in 2013, just 26% of computing jobs were held by women in the U.S. alone, which was down from 35% in 1990. Since the 1980s, we have also been witnessing a steady decline of women in computer science even though the percentage of engineering jobs for women are supposedly on the rise. While well-meaning conferences and pioneering organizations focused on fostering gender equity and training for women in technology are rapidly emerging to rectify this increasing gap, what continues to fascinate me is the absence of a robust discussion of alternative genres and product diversification. Rather than envision how we might design technologies differently from a women-centered point of view, much of the mainstream attention emphasizes fitting into a pre-existing system and approach to technological development. We continue to dress in drag when we could instead pro-actively shape the discourse and re-humanize our relationship to future technologies. Why? My hunch is that if we go all the way back to the forking moment post World...
Be Biocreative: How will you use the XTH Sense?

Be Biocreative: How will you use the XTH Sense?

Wow! March has been like a time warp. We’ve been having lots of fun driving around Berlin, London and New York gathering case studies of musicians, researchers, animators, dancers, virtual reality creators, even kids, using the XTH Sense to enable us to better understand the various ways our community might interface with our new biocreative instrument. We’ve come away pleasantly surprised and genuinely heart-warmed by all the ingenious ways people envision integrating the XTH Sense into their creative and research practice. One thing all the interviews had in common was a sense of awe and wonder when they heard their raw muscles sounds with headphones for the first time as they began to slowly move and re-attune themselves with their bodies. For composer & cellist Illay Chester, experimenting with XTH Sense was “very curious, like entering a different dimension, a whole new world, and its right there inside of you.”  Dancer, Susanne Eder, was amazed that the instrument could make the tiniest movement of her muscles perceptible, which restored “an open and natural child-like sense of play” to her often over-disciplined practice. And researcher, Pedro Lopes, observed that in contrast to the barriers he typically encounters with other tracking or biomedical devices, it was refreshing that “everything is completely transparent, and you can dig into any layer of the raw data and code.”  Here’s what media & sound artist, Andrew Demerjian had to say: http://www.xth.io/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/andrew_clip.m4v Over the next few weeks, leading up to Kickstarter, we’ll be announcing two great opportunities for our community to shape the future of the XTH Sense. Be on the look out for a short survey next...
Biomedia, a new medium that restores human connection

Biomedia, a new medium that restores human connection

In our last post, we claimed we were driving the creation of a new medium of expression: biomedia.  This week, we thought we’d share where it came from and how it connects to our larger vision. Eugene Thacker coined the term biomedia to show how biology is becoming the new media. Thacker says that the body is the medium and its biology is the message. He uses this idea to examines how bioinformatics uses DNA to perform computations. Echoing the cybernetic easy slippage, he sees a confluence between genetic and computer codes, between informatics and biology. Thacker views the scope of biomedia as a way to restore the materiality of our bodies. He suggests that we do not use computer technology in the service of biology, but rather that we understand the expression of our body more fully by using computers look at, and use, the body biology. At XTH, we are extending Thacker’s notion of biomedia. With our approach to body technology, we are creating technologies that create real-time, dynamic interaction with computers using the physiological processes of our own bodies. We are creating a direct connection between biology and media. In contrast to the current direction of the wearable market, which views the body as purely data to track, measure, and analyze, our XTH Sense™ is a “bio-expressive technology”. It reveals the human body as more than data. The XTH Sense amplifies inaudible sounds that characterize each of our own bodies. It re-establishes our intimate connection with ourselves, and with one another. It lets us share human experience through our bodies. By redefining Thacker’s idea of biomedia,...

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