Web exceptionalism: gender

As part of the fellows program at the Berkman Center this semester is a weekly discussion period that has the theme of Web Exceptionalism, the "belief (or attitude) that the Web is a significant break in the course of history, fundamentally changing institutions, norms, behaviors... It is not always proposed as a rigorous hypothesis, but is often expressed in an optimism (and occasionally pessimism) that in the Age of the Web, we have opportunities for deep change." My contribution questions the presumption that the "open" Web is a more equitable space with respect to gender. My concern is whether the ethos and rhetoric of free and open content communities suppresses responses to, or even leads to, discriminatory or alienating speech.

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