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...
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,...
Forging a New Medium Together through Open Knowledge

Forging a New Medium Together through Open Knowledge

Most of us are familiar with the concept of open source and open hardware. An open project implies that source code and hardware schematics are released under a license which allows modification, re-use and re-distribution for free. But the value of making fully open software and hardware goes beyond the simple use of a particular technology. Makers of open software or open hardware do so in order to guarantee the freedom of other creators to participate in technological innovation. When you buy software or hardware which are not open ( i.e., closed source) you’re not actually buying the technology. You’re only buying the right to use it. We have seen many technological firms release open SDK (software developer kits) or API (application programming interface), but that is not the same as producing an open technology. Again, what an SDK or an API provides you is the right to use “part” of a technology. The actual technology is kept hidden under the hood, in ways that constrain your creativity, your ideas and your work. This is where the philosophy of open culture comes into play. Projects like Arduino, LittleBits, Adafruit and Makerbot are great examples of technology makers enabling people to create freely, contribute to one another’s projects and build on a vast and constantly growing network of knowledge. What we are doing at XTH is an expansion upon the open knowledge and methodologies created through those communities. Our contribution is to drive and shape a new field in biocreative expression, experiences, interaction, and technologies. We believe the open source/open hardware community will enable the emergence of a new medium,...
Why we have chosen to invest in our community

Why we have chosen to invest in our community

Here we are, it’s 2016. In the past months you have not heard from us, and we want to thank you for all the email you sent us, either to ask us when the XTH Sense will be ready to buy (very soon! more on that later next week), or simply to show your support. It is so much appreciated, and we need it! We have been a bit absent online because it has been an intense period, not only of work, but of reflection too. We have been actively seeking funding from investors and tech incubators. While we keep receiving enthusiastic feedback and very useful insights from insiders, eventually, our conversations always end up with a clash of values: “Your product is great, but you’re not going to earn increasing profits by making a product only for creatives.” We can see the point and agree. To our eyes, however, the fundamental assumption is wrong: we are not here to make increasingly high profit margins, and we want don’t want to make only a single product to sell out to a major corporation. Of course, we want to build a sustainable company, yet our vision is more expansive. We want to build a movement and a new medium around a deeper understanding of our relationship to the body and technology. Investors seem not to trust this aspirational goal. So we have been reflecting upon this, a lot.  We had a kind of existential crisis, and we finally took a decision. We are going back to the roots of the XTH Sense project with renewed energy and more mature ideas....

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