ahorbinski: Emma Goldman, anarchist (play the red queen's game)
I suspect many people have already seen the announcement that the Ada Initiative is shutting down in approximately mid-October. My tweets have said what I feel on the subject, but to repeat at somewhat greater length: I'm proud of what TAI has accomplished over the past four years, and it's been a privilege to be a part of it as an AdaCamp attendee, a donor, an advisor, and last but not least, and far too briefly, a member of the board of directors. I said in my previous post that I was looking forward to supporting TAI's work; that support turned out to be rather in the spirit of "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him," but we made the right decision. For me, the meat of the question is in just two sentences:

We don’t feel like non-profits need to exist forever. The Ada Initiative did a lot of great work, and we are happy about it.

So what's next? As I said on Twitter, I'm looking forward to seeing what the people whose lives TAI has changed do next--and that includes me. For the time being, like Cincinnatus to his farm, I'm going back to my dissertation, and I'm excited to bring what I've learned with TAI to my future and ongoing projects. I'll be around at fandom and open source cons again at the end of this year and into next year; do say hi, and let me know if you want an Ada Initiative sticker--I still have stacks of them.
ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
I'm thrilled and flattered to report, belatedly, that I received a fellowship from UC Berkeley and the Université Libre de Bruxelles to spend two months in Belgium at the end of this year researching the development of Franco-Belgian comics, i.e. bandes dessinées. I was interviewed about my research briefly for the news section of Berkeley's Graduate Division. I spent about four days in Belgium last summer--just enough time to see the BD museum and Bruges, and not much else--and I'm looking forward to going back.
ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
I don't believe I mentioned that I was invited to serve on the reviewers committee for the Inspire campaign, a Wikimedia Foundation effort to increase gender diversity on Wikipedia and its related projects through funding community-proposed efforts. It was interesting to be on the committee side of things, and I certainly learned a lot. You can read more about the grantees and their projects at the WMF blog post.
ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
I'm thrilled to be joining the Board of the Directors of the Ada Initiative as Secretary, starting immediately. TAI is an organization with which I've been honored to associate, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with the rest of the Board and the TAI staff to help contribute to and support its continuing success.
ahorbinski: Tomoe Gozen is so badass she glued her OTW mug to her wrist.  (tomoe gozen would haved loved the OTW)
A stack of playing cards with the OTW fundraising drive dates.
I'm in just under the wire, Tokyo time, with a note about the OTW's first 2015 fundraising drive. It's that time of year again when we ask people to support our work supporting fans and fanworks by donating to the organization. This is your chance to ensure that we're able to continue doing and improving our work, and as someone who's been involved with the OTW for a good long while now, I can assure you that your support is very much appreciated. We've come a long way thanks to you, and thanks to you, we'll keep going even further in 2015 and beyond.

So thank you again, and again, you can donate now.

ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
I went back to California two weeks ago for the Media & Transmission graduate conference hosted by the Center for Japanese Studies, Berkeley. Many thanks to the organizers for all their hard work, and for funding my travel so that I could participate in a conference geared towards a theme that is close to my dissertation. The abstract for my talk, "A Children’s Empire: The Club Magazines and the Prewar 'Media Mix',” is also available on the website, and is drawn from what will eventually be chapter two of my dissertation. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to discuss my research amongst a Japan-knowledable but animanga-context-light audience, and also really enjoyed my fellow panelists' talks. It was a very productive week back, all in all, though I have to admit I'm still jet-lagged.
ahorbinski: kanji (kanji)
This book is probably the first non-fiction Japanese book I ever attempted to read, back when I was on a Fulbright in Kyoto from 2007-08. I was writing about contemporary hypernationalist manga, and Kajii was one of the few writers I could find with my then-resources who talked about wartime manga in depth. I couldn't really read Japanese at the point, but I didn't let that stop me. Seven years later, I read the whole book in a few days, an amount of time which before would have netted me only a few pages, and I can say that part of the problem I had back then is that Kajii's prose is kind of opaque. Unlike Shimizu Isao, he doesn't write in a conversational style, and he uses a lot of uncommon words. So it was still slow going, even now that I'm literate, and it took me about half the book before Kajii's prose style clicked in my mind and I was able to start skimming with more confidence.

I was glad I did go back and read the whole book, because the second chapter in particular caused me to significantly revise my views on Kajii as a critic.Kajii is not rational about Norakuro )
ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)

Shimizu Isao is probably the most famous "manga historian" in Japan, though this book (1999) isn't an academic text, much to my frustration: there are no citations beyond the dates and original publications of the images, and Shimizu displays the usual tics of Japanese scholarly writing that are deeply infuriating to someone trained in the more rigorous American style, especially his habit of making claims about what people thought with absolutely no evidence to back it up, and his habit of going on pointless tangents (such as his talking about his trip to Egypt by way of an introduction to how professional cartoonists portrayed women in the era of imperial democracy).

That said, Shimizu is a giant in the field, and a lot of what he says here (the influence of movies on manga in particular) agrees with things that I have already been thinking and conclusions I have previously drawn from my research. Of course, there's also plenty of things I disagree with him about, most notably in this book his addiction to the empty, outdated term "Taisho democracy" and his conviction that manga has important continuities with the "amusing pictures" of the Edo period. It would be difficult to overstate the degree to which I am opposed to this position, and in my opinion, Shimizu should know better, particularly since he is probably the single most knowledgeable person about prewar comics periodicals anywhere. Oh well.

For further remarks, see the dissertation.

ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
I am so terribly sorry to hear that after 18 years, Borderlands Books in San Francisco will be closing by the end of next month. The news leaked on Twitter Sunday night Tokyo time, and I sat there in shock for a good five minutes when I saw it.

The thing is, Borderlands was never just a science fiction fantasy bookstore. It is and was a community of readers and geeks who were interested in the same sorts of things, and it was extraordinarily welcoming to me. I moved to the Bay Area in August 2010, only a few months after attending my first science fiction fandom convention (WisCon 34, to be exact), and I suspect I first heard about Borderlands through a post on Seanan McGuire's LJ--can you believe that it was only 4.5 years ago that Seanan published her first novel? I sure as hell can't, but the release party for Rosemary and Rue in September 2010 sounded fun, so I hopped on BART and headed over. I think I wandered up and down Valencia for at least 20 minutes before I actually poked my head into the store (this was before they opened the wall between the bookstore and the cafe, IIRC). I remember feeling very awkward, but I had a good time eating mini cupcakes from a bakery I'd never heard of and hearing Seanan and her friends perform music I would have said I didn't like and listening to Seanan read from the book, and Seanan and everyone there was super friendly. She's only one of the awesome people who I've met through Borderlands, who I'm proud to say that I know, and who I know to expect (even more) great things from in the future.

I kept coming back, and though I never had as much time to go to events as I would have liked (blame graduate school) and I never had half as much money to spend on books there as I would have wanted (again, blame graduate school), Jude and Alan and everyone on the staff made Borderlands a place that I was always happy to return to. Part of a conversation I had with a friend there one afternoon made it onto their "overheard in the store" feature on Twitter. I'll never forget how, a year and more ago, I stood in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and searched "science fiction bookstore" on Google Maps on a lark, and the first result that came up was Borderlands. The store was a beacon, and partly because of that, it was able to attract a stellar roster of non-local authors as well as staunch stalwarts like Seanan. It was also partly because everyone there had impeccable taste. I'm even gladder now that the store has been immortalized in Seanan's seventh Toby Daye book, Chimes at Midnight, and I'm unspeakably sad that I won't be able to get back to the store to try to tell everyone there how much it meant to me in person before it closes.

There's no inspiring closing line that I can write for this post. This morning I ordered some books through the store's online service, and I also spent some time reading the WSFS Constitution Article 3, which covers the Hugo Awards. [I believe it would be possible to nominate Borderlands as a "Best Related Work,"] [SEE BELOW] and it would also certainly be eligible for a Special Award from Sasquan, the 2015 WorldCon. I'm not sure how much precedent there is for either, but a Hugo nomination (and award!) of some kind would be the least that Alan, Jude, and everyone at Borderlands deserve for the hard work that went into maintaining what was, in its time, one of the best SFF bookstores in the country. I and everyone else who's ever been there will miss Borderlands so, so much.

ETA: I just had a very informative conversation on Twitter with [twitter.com profile] pnh about the propriety of the idea of the Best Related Work nomination--apparently nominating platforms for BRW is looked upon dimly, although the language of the article is vague enough that it's legal and it keeps happening. (To me this suggests that some kind of explicit Hugos recognition for platforms would be beneficial; one of the things contemplating Borderlands' demise brought home to me was the very importance of platforms, online and off, for fostering the SFF fandom community--but that's another story.) That being the case, I would all the more heartily encourage the Sasquan awards committee to consider Borderlands for special recognition, which it very richly deserves. (I haven't actually looked at the nominations form yet; if there's a write-in or additional information box, I will put this in there.)
ahorbinski: A picture of Charles Darwin captioned "very gradual change" in the style of the Obama 'Hope' poster.  (Darwin is still the man.)
Well, the cat's out of the bag; my friend s.e. smith and I are co-chairing Wiscon 40 in 2016, the 40th iteration of the world's leading science fiction convention held in Madison, WI every Memorial Day weekend.

We'd love to see you there, but in the meantime, we're looking for your nominations for Guests of Honor, as well as general ideas and suggestions, before 5 January 2015.


ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

May 2016

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