Author Archives: Jen Hoyer

Week 3 – Power & Institutions

by Jen Hoyer

Looking over the CUNY budget request and financial statements was a good reminder of the incongruities between desire and reality in financial bureaucracy. The CUNY budget request reads like a piece of marketing (which it is). The financial statements, on the flip side, were prepared by accountants as a financial audit. Budget reporting lines don’t match the categories set out in the request. Requests are carefully outlined according to categories that are used to lobby politicians (and curry favor with the public) but that ultimately might not matter to the folks who approve spending.¬†

What this highlights for me is that a funder (in this case, the state) might agree¬†with proposed spending lines — even budget lines that fall into seemingly idealistic or value-laden categories — but that same funder somehow doesn’t have the power to make those same spending allocations what matters in reporting. The auditor’s report has to look for bad debt, depreciation, change in assets and liabilities, etc. If the funder themselves can’t change the system of reporting to match up with how they agreed spending should be prioritized, who does? Who, ultimately, has the power to decide what *matters* in how money is spent — or, have we let “the system” have the power?

I won’t write much here about the grant budgets but would love to talk in class about some key issues these examples raise for me, such as: 

  • what are the types of literacy required to fill out different types of funding requests / grant budgets, and how does that limit who can even ask for money?
  • how do technological systems dictate the way funding requests need to be presented — technological systems that funders might buy into as a “simple” tool for managing grant requests, but that those same funders ultimately can’t control very much when it comes to usability. (for example.)

And finally, because this week’s readings felt…dry…I turned to my favorite tool for being creative with texts — the blackout poetry maker. Here is the blackout poetry I made from the risk statement on page 19 of CUNY’s financial statements.

Blackout poem highlighting the words: difficult, results, risk, fierce, accountability, innovation, transform education, health, safety

Week 1 – Suggestions for the syllabus

by Jen Hoyer

In looking over the syllabus, I’m glad to see Bethany Nowviskie’s writing assigned for week 6. I’m a big fan of confronting the reality of the environmental impacts of digital projects, and while Nowviskie touches on some of this, I’d love to see even material to help us think about how digitization, digital preservation, and digital sustainability is tied up with the climate crisis. Nowviskie references Eira Tansey‘s work with Project ARCC, which plays a key role in this conversation; I also find Stacie Williams’ writing about Sustainable Digital Scholarship really helpful, and Pendergrass et al’s article Toward Environmentally Sustainable Digital Preservation is also a great (open access) read. I think that it’s critical for us to use a lens of climate impact to bring all the nuance we can to conversations about preservation and sustainability of digital work.

In reading the introduction and first chapter of Data Feminism, I was also reminded that part of what constitutes data feminism is re-defining what constitutes “data”; we need to change the terms of “quantification is representation” by broadening the possibilities for representation. In considering the fact that systems of power can only be undone by allowing new forms of data to be represented, and new voices to be heard in new formats, I went back to the syllabus to consider the ways that knowledge is represented in our assigned readings. I’m glad that we’re listening to voices in a variety of forms (video, podcast, academic and non-academic writing; creative projects), but also know that my imagination of what forms we can listen to is constrained by the systems of power that have taught me what to listen to. I’d love to think more about what other formats — performance, poetry, music, visual art — might help us consider the issues we’ll be looking at together.