Monday, February 20, 2012

Call for Papers: Anarchism and Disability

Yes, i know it's been a (very) long time since i've posted anything on this blog. I have had a lot of other things in my life, and writing that isn't for a specific target has had to take a back seat. I might revive this blog to some extent soon, but i think i'd now need to make some fairly major changes to it to be happy with it as a representation of "me"; there are issues of trying to create a "real-name" public profile that i need to figure out how to factor in before starting blogging regularly again.

Anyway, i thought i'd share this here, as (if anyone still has this blog in their RSS readers) it's somewhere to put it out, and the easiest place i can think of to put it online for easy linking...

Call for Papers: Anarchism and Disability

2nd Anarchist Studies Network Conference: “Making Connections”
Loughborough University, U.K.
3-5 September 2012

Dear Colleagues,

This call for papers is for a Disability and Anarchism strand within the 2nd ASN conference. More details on the full conference can be found at http://anarchist-studies-network.org.uk/

We believe that disability as an axis of oppression in capitalist society has been paid relatively little attention by anarchists and other radical theorists (outside of the relatively small and insular field of Disability Studies, which in the UK has largely been dominated by Marxists and, more recently, post-structuralists), and that it is of potentially vital importance for the anarchist movement at this point in history, both because disabled people are at the sharp end of the current attacks on freedom and equality by the ruling class in the UK, EU and elsewhere, and because analyses of the politics of disability, and of wider society from a disabled standpoint, have urgently needed fresh insights to offer to revolutionary activists and theorists.

Issues that we would like to see covered by this session include (but are not exclusive to):

- analyses of the centrality of wage-work and "productivity" in Western society from anarchist and Disability Studies perspectives
- inclusion and exclusion in education and how this intersects with anarchist and related movements for radical educational alternatives
- the Disabled People's Movement as a liberation movement and its relevance to contemporary anarchism
- possible anarchist responses to the current demonisation of disabled people and dismantling of state welfare support for disabled people by governments in the UK and elsewhere
- the intersections of drug prohibition, the prison industrial system, and psychiatric and other medical-institutional systems, and radical critiques of statist drug liberalisation
- examining the unexamined disablism in anarchist and other "radical" spaces and activist practices, and how these could benefit from greater inclusion of disabled people and consideration of their
particular experiences of oppression.

We initially envisage the format of this session as two panels of relatively short paper presentations (depending on space and time available and number of paper proposals), followed by an open, non-hierarchically facilitated discussion. However, we would be open to other suggestions of possible structures, particularly in regard to increasing the accessibility of the session to a greater variety of participants.

Abstracts of 250 words detailing your proposed presentation or discussion should be submitted by the 31st of March 2012. For submissions and more information please contact:

Steve Graby: sgraby@googlemail.com

Anat Greenstein: anatgr78@gmail.com

Jess Bradley: education@ssdp.org.uk

Monday, June 13, 2011

The end of the Ouch! forum, and thoughts about online community

The news has recently been announced that the BBC Ouch! messageboard will be closing next month, as part of a wider reorganisation of the BBC website (which in turn appears to be motivated primarily by cuts to BBC funding). I have very mixed feelings about this - the BBC Ouch! site was my first real point of entry to the disabled people's community, and directly instrumental in both my development of a "legitimate" political identity as a disabled person and in connecting me with people involved - and thus enabling me to get actively involved myself - in disability rights activism, including the Disabled People's Direct Action Network. When the Ouch! forum first started, it felt like an incredibly vital and vibrant community of (mostly, but not exclusively, UK-based) disabled people and allies, discussing political issues, analysing TV and other pop culture through a disability lens, and forming community that extended (although i didn't get involved to that great an extent in that part of it) well beyond the internet and into the "real world" - many lasting friendships, and possibly even long-term relationships, were forged through it, despite the BBC-imposed restrictions on posting any sort of personally identifying data (which people often managed to get round through posting links to their blogs or other sites, or arranging "Ouch meet-ups" at "real-world" disability-related events (such as London's Liberty Festival, which i believe was founded around the same time as the Ouch! website).

(Lisybabe, lilwatchergirl and The Goldfish are among those other (ex-)Ouchers whose blogs i'm aware of. I believe that Screw Bronze, Rolling Around My Head (formerly Chewing the Fat) and the now inactive, but still online, Gimp Parade are all other blogs that i discovered through the Ouch site, all of which in turn led me to many other disability blogs that i read and follow now. There are also several other people who i now count as friends in "real life" who i originally met, directly or indirectly, through Ouch.)

However, there were a lot of very problematic things about the Ouch forum - as well as the BBC-imposed restrictions, which steadily got harder to get round over the years as moderation policies became stricter, there were many posters with strongly regressive views (some of whom were probably just trolling, others of whom seemed genuinely politically opposed to the idea of disabled people's community), and an anti-intellectual and anti-political community attitude which, while never universal, was present to some extent from the beginning, and gradually got stronger and stronger over the years, particularly in the form of opposition to "argument" or discussion of disagreements and the idea that, as a community, the forum ought to be "supportive" of its members to the point of refusing to problematise anything, but to play a "support group"-like role of "listening without criticism" - which is something i've never got on with in pretty much any context, and found particularly frustrating and irritating in this context. Over the 5 years or so that i regularly read the Ouch forums, most (though not all) of the more politically/analytically-inclined posters drifted away, and (at least from my perspective) the quality of the discussion - or at least my interest in it - declined to the point where i found attempting to seriously express my opinions there impossible (which, incidentally, was one of the things that led to me starting this blog). There was also rampant abuse of the "report post" system (by which anyone could click on a button to report a post by someone else as "offensive" and get it automatically "hidden" until it was reviewed by the BBC moderators, who often permanently removed even posts that had no "offensive" content).

I think the "last straw" that made me decisively stop actively participating in the Ouch! forum was the increasingly patronising "concern for welfare" attitude of the BBC moderators increasing to the extent that any frank discussion of issues like depression, suicide or mental health impairments became pretty much impossible, as any mention of certain "keywords" would result in automatic posts from the moderators appearing and urging people to contact "professional" helplines rather than discuss such things online - even if the discussion was a political one about (e.g.) the legalisation of assisted suicide. I think (although here i *might* be getting confused with another forum) that a regular poster was banned for talking frankly about suicidal feelings, and another had a post censored for quoting a disablist term of abuse that was shouted at hir, and was so upset by the censorship that they never came back. I also remember great anger at the boards being closed over the Christmas and New Year holidays - a time when many disabled people are at their most isolated and in need of online contact with others - due to the unavailability of BBC staff to moderate them, and despite claims on the website that the boards were open "24 hours a day, 365 days a year".

There were various attempts during the lifetime of the Ouch messageboards to set up alternative online communities not subject to BBC moderation, often by people who were unfairly censored on the Ouch messageboards, but, as far as i'm aware, none of them lasted very long. I don't know if any of these have been or will be revived now in light of the Ouch boards' closure, but i do think that the Ouch boards, flawed and imperfect as they were, filled a niche not adequately filled by anywhere else on the web, and will leave a vacuum that could do with being filled by something else (and preferably something not subject to the same sort of paternalistic restrictions as a BBC-hosted site).

Coincidentally, the idea of starting an online discussion community around disability and related issues (not necessarily filling *exactly* the same conceptual space as the Ouch site) is one that i have been toying with again recently. My partner and i (i've just realised i don't think i've really said anything on this blog about the fact that i've been in a relationship for around 8 months now - which is part, though certainly not all, of the reason i've not been blogging much in that time period) attempted, with a couple of other people, to set up a discussion group called dis-connection, which met monthly in Manchester, with the aim of bridging the divide between activism and academic discourse in the fields of disability and mental health, but have semi-given up on the project after difficulties with finding accessible venues, few people coming, and discussions not really evolving in the way we originally hoped they would - at the last meeting, we discussed possible strategies for relaunching/reinventing the idea, including an online discussion community (either in the form of a forum or a mailing list/listserv type structure). Considering this, i'm seriously thinking about taking the opportunity of the void left behind by Ouch and setting up a forum - but i'm wondering about whether, given how the internet has evolved and changed over the last near-decade (if memory serves me rightly, the Ouch forum was started in 2002 or 2003), the forum/messageboard format is still one that people are interested in...

Forums - including Ouch as well as several others, such as various anarchist/anti-capitalist/DIY culture and music-related sites - were a very major part, if not pretty much the centre, of my online life for several years - from when i first gained access to the net in 2001 until at least 2005, although it's harder to say when they stopped being so central because the transition from spending most of my time online posting on forums to spending it (or aiming to spend it) mostly blogging and reading blogs was a drawn-out and gradual one - there were definitely still a few forums that i was regularly checking, if not actively posting on, around 2008, but i haven't really posted on forums as a personal/social thing for at least 2 years now. My perception of how the web has shifted its focus has been first from forums/messageboards to blogs, probably some time around 2006-7, and then over the last few years from blogs to "social media" like Facebook and Twitter (with Facebook in particular seeming to have taken over the role that many of the more social/chat-oriented forums used to for a lot of people who spend a lot of time online) - but that may simply be my perception based on my own journeys through cyberspace, and not have much relationship to how many other people have perceived the evolution of the internet. (I'm also vaguely aware that there was a shift to messageboards/forums themselves from things like chat rooms and listservs, that mostly occurred before i got online - although listservs seem to have had a kind of renaissance in the form of things like Google and Yahoo groups, which work kind of like a hybrid between forums and mailing lists.) Certainly, many people on the Ouch messageboards seem to be strongly expressing a dislike for Facebook/Twitter-style social media and a preference for the messageboard format - but i don't know whether that's reflective of the wider online public...

(this xkcd comic from 2007, and its updated version from 2010, are interesting viewing here...)

So - i welcome comments (even though i'm not sure, given how little i've posted here in the last year or so, if i even have any readers any more - all the comments i ever get seem to be spam nowadays...) - if you're reading this, would you welcome, and would you post on, a discussion forum about disability, covering both theoretical and practical issues? How would you suggest it should be structured? And are you aware of any existing "replacements" for Ouch, or any other active disability forums out there in the Web? (Debates about the nature of online community, and whether it ought to be "supportive" or "argumentative", and experiences of setting up and maintaining forum/messageboard communities, are also very welcome...) Are messageboards still a major part of the internet (if indeed they ever were), or are they now hopelessly antiquated - and, if they are, what has replaced them?

(I note that the "Disability News" page, the other part of the Ouch! site that i continued to check regularly even after i stopped reading, let alone posting on, the messageboard, and which was one of my main sources for news items about disability (from the BBC and elsewhere), has already disappeared, seemingly without much discussion of its passing and presumably as part of the same BBC reorganisation. If anyone knows of any other disability news aggregators out there, i'd be very happy to know about them. Thinking about it, gathering disability-related news stories could also be part of the role of a messageboard/forum type of site...)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Does anyone know who wrote this?

A friend in London is trying to find out who wrote the piece below called "On autistic levels of functioning". She thought it might have been written by me, but it wasn't, so to help boost the signal, so that it can be properly quoted and attributed, i'm reproducing it here. Did you write it, or do you recognise it from somewhere else?

(If you wrote it and object to it being reproduced here, let me know and i'll take it down and, if appropriate, replace it with a link or something.)

(I thought it could possibly have been written by Joel Smith, formerly of thiswayoflife.org, whose website seems to have totally disappeared, but that's just conjecture based on writing style. I'm also looking for another piece by him, called "Walking While Autistic", to use in a conference paper, so if Joel is reading this, or anyone else is who knows of a way to contact him, please let me know.)

On autistic levels of functioning We can all agree that to properly fight for our rights as autistic people, that we have to put forward out own perspective on what autism is and what it means to be autistic, one that challenges the notions put forward by the medical establishment. If we instead accept the medical ideas behind autism then we will end up agreeing, to a greater or lesser extent, to our continued marginalisation. One of the most important issues here is about levels of functioning - low-functioning versus high-functioning, and the related issue of Aspergers Syndrome versus 'classic' autism. Exploring this topic shows why it is so important to challenge conventional views of autism.

Conventional thought sees Aspergers Syndrome and 'classic' autism as related but different things. People with Aspergers are seen as having many autistic traits, but not the global learning and communication that people with 'classic' autism have (or rather supposedly have). In fact, Aspergers is frequently seen as implying high intelligence. Therefore, conventional thought sees the possibility that people with Aspergers could in most cases quite easily become part of society, and indeed may due to their intelligence and strong interests be particularly useful to society and develop useful specialist skills. On the other hand, people with 'classic' autism, whether deemed 'high-functioning' or 'low-functioning', are widely seen as being much more disabled, and having much less potential for independence or contributing to the world.

We'll leave aside the fact that all this stuff about measuring people in terms of how much they are able to 'contribute' as opposed to 'be a burden' is in itself deeply prejudiced. Instead, let's concentrate on the point that these divisions are actually artificial stereotypes - labels placed on people by the medical establishment to divide people up into those deemed 'less' or 'more' disabled. In accepting these, we are going to accept the argument put forward by, for example, Treating Autism and their allies, who argue that 'high-functioning' autistics and Aspies are not really that disabled and are therefore not 'really' autistic, as opposed to their 'low-functioning' children, who will need treatment in order to have a decent life.

In fact, there is no clear division between Aspergers and autism, and equally no clear division between high and low functioning. Autistics can be very high-functioning, or very low-functioning, it's true, but they can be simultaneously high and low functioning in different ways. There are cases of severely autistic people who have ended up, for instance, working for a university department (Amanda Baggs now at MIT on a p/t basis, Michelle Dawson on a regular and fully contributing (but unpaid?) basis, or on the governing board of organisations (Larry Bisonette at AutCom) demonstrating that the severity of the autism is not a barrier to being able to participate. Both individuals, incidentally, are firmly pro-neurodiversity in their outlook. Undoubtedly, autistic people have differing needs, with some being unable to talk and look after themselves, and others having no such difficulties. However, there is no point at which autism becomes too severe to be included in our movement.

Finally, another issue should also be considered. Of those labelled 'low-functioning' and whose ability to deal with the world appears to be genuinely compromised, how much of this is due to autism and how much to the way society reacts to it? If the reaction of society to a severely autistic person is to write them off and decide they have no capacity to develop, or worse, to pathologise whatever abilities they do have, it's very likely the end result will be a psychologically wrecked human being. We have all seen the pictures of the Romanian orphanages where unwanted children were dumped by their parents - some of these children showed clear signs of being deeply disabled, yet in many cases were only suffering from neglect. In our society, autistics frequently suffer depression, self-loathing, mental illness, behaviour problems e.g. aggression, and so on. These are not part of the autism itself, but the result of society's oppressive and discriminatory practices towards people on the spectrum. Prof. Rita Jordan, in a paper published on the AWARES website, argues that autistics should be said to have an Autistic Spectrum Condition, irrespective of severity, until they come into contact with a hostile society, at which point it becomes an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. I think this may be a much better, more 'liberationist' model to adopt than that of low and high functioning.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A quick one: Disability & Society free to download for the next few days

I've been busy. Proper posts *will* be coming soon (as he always says...)

In the meantime, here's a quick announcement that i found out very, very late: the journal Disability and Society (which is basically the most important journal in academic Disability Studies) has been free to download for all of April 2011 - which means there are another 2 days of free access to academic articles on disability, from many of the most famous acdemics in the field, going all the way back to 1986!

I'm rushing through it and trying to download everything that interests me now to sort through at some point in the future - annoyingly, it doesn't seem possible to download whole issues at once, so i'm having to go through each one and pick out articles. I'm not downloading absolutely everything, but if anyone reads this after Saturday and sees anything they want but can't get without paying for it, it's worth dropping me an email in case they have it. I'm particularly concentrating on articles that have anything to do with autism, learning disability, education (including school-age and higher education), disability activism, disability and sexuality, institutions and deinstitutionalisation, psychiatry/anti-psychiatry, and conceptualisations of disability as identity.

(Of course, if you have a university affiliation, academic journals are usually free to download anyway, but this could be really useful to anyone who (like me) doesn't currently have one...)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

More upcoming conferences

These are a few months ahead, but the deadlines for abstracts are soon (28th March for the July conference at Warwick and 4th April for both the conferences in September)... I'm hoping to go to all of them, and *possibly* to submit abstracts to them, although i'm not sure if i will a) think of things to write about and b) get round to submitting them before the deadlines. Anyway, i thought that, if anyone in the UK is reading, they might be interested...

Event: Postgraduate Disability Research: A Critical Space to Engage ~ An Interdisciplinary Disability Research conference

Date: Wednesday 13th July 2011

Venue: University of Warwick, UK

The event is sponsored by the British Sociological Association (BSA) as part of a series of events for postgraduate students, therefore postgraduate student researchers working in the broad field of disability are invited to present at the conference. Internationally renowned academics Professor Dan Goodley, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Professor Carol Thomas, University of Leeds, have been confirmed as keynote speakers.

The event is FREE to attend for British Sociological Association (BSA) members and £25.00 for non-members.

Critical Disability Studies: In concluding his ground-breaking work mapping the terrain for critical disability studies, Goodley (2011 p.157) asserts: ‘while critical disability studies might start with disability, they never end with it’. Whilst the journey might well be non-linear, along the way ‘intersections’ are encountered and engineered which ‘connect disability studies with other important agendas of class, feminist, queer and postcolonial studies’ (p.157). The literatures and debates surrounding disability continue to expand and diversify. And yet, these flows are happening against economic, social and policy backdrops which serve to further challenge the potentials for change. There is then, ever more, a need to open up spaces for transdisciplinary debate about the position and future(s) of critical disability studies. Postgraduate students addressing and engaging with these issues and debates are part of the vanguard of this work.

Conference aims and objectives: Critical Disability Studies is an emerging subfield within the UK, but collective and collaborative spaces within which to explore and interrogate its options are infrequently opened up. This conference will bring together postgraduate students, disability activists and professionals/practitioners to explore some of the key questions which connect to the embrace of a critical perspective to disability research. In particular, what kinds of critical disability researchers might we ‘be’ and how should critical disability studies research be ‘done’?

Issues and themes: We welcome papers that address issues, agendas and debates which take, at least broadly, a critical disability studies approach.

Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

Concepts and their Re/Conceptualisations: ‘disability’, ‘impairment’, dis/ableism, as well as approaches based upon models, theories and ideological standpoint positions;

Performances of Power: artistic, cultural, political, poetic, ritual; protest and activism; violence/non-violence; politicized and contested spaces

Histories and Historical Ontologies: globalisation; colonialism and the postcolonial; empire; industrialization; materialism; gender; ethnicity; sexualities; time and memory.

Difference and Dialogue: single impairment through to collective disability identity emphases; identity; intersectionalities; diversity; subjectivities; individualism; normalisation

Bodies: impairment; embodiment; self and others; performativity; corporeality, materialization; discursive/transgressive/queer bodies; gendered/raced/classed/sexed bodies; cyborgs and hybrids

Action, Motivation and Practice: choice, desire, dependence/independence/co-dependence; freedom/constraint;

Methodology and methods: examples and experiences of empirical research taking approaches such as: critical; emancipatory; participatory; emerging;

Please submit a 300 word abstract or poster proposal accompanied by a 100 word biography to the conference organisers, Kirsty Liddiard and Simon Blake at criticaldisabilityspace@gmail.com.

Presentations must be no longer than 30 minutes inclusive of 10 minutes for questions. We would also like to welcome the submission of research posters. Posters must be between paper sizes A3 – A1.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 28th March 2011.

Click here for more information or contact the organisers: Kirsty Liddiard k.liddiard@warwick.ac.uk (University of Warwick) and Simon Blake lqxsb2@nottingham.ac.uk (University of Nottingham)

Event: Transformative Difference: Disability, Culture and the Academy

Date: Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th September 2011

Hosted by: Centre for Culture and Disability Studies, Liverpool Hope University

Brief description: It is now widely recognised that a critical engagement with disability has the power to transform how we research and teach in a range of disciplinary areas – from education to medicine to the humanities and beyond. At the same time, conceptions of disability (and ability) are constantly changing, with shifting attitudes, new models, and the work of activists and educators to create a more equal society. This multidisciplinary conference seeks to explore how disability may function as a “transformative difference” in the academy, as well as how changing attitudes towards disability might have an impact on a range of subject areas. Keynote speakers include: Prof. Len Barton; Prof. Fiona Kumari Campbell; Prof. Dan Goodley and; Prof. Stuart Murray.In particular, the conference will explore the following issues:

* How might an engagement with the difference of disability challenge, enrich, or transform work in particular disciplines?
* How do changing attitudes towards and perceptions of disability affect research, teaching, and scholarship in different fields?
* How does the inclusion of a Disability Studies perspective transform disciplines which have not traditionally embraced this standpoint?
* What are the challenges of, or barriers to, engaging with disability (and Disability Studies) in disciplines that have not traditionally done so?

We welcome submissions for research strands or panels, group or individual papers and presentations in alternative formats. Suitable topics may include, but are not limited to:

* Disability and education (including teacher education, early years, further/higher education, and teaching and learning in Disability Studies)
* Disability and the humanities
* Disability in the sciences and social sciences
* Disability studies, medicine and health sciences

Abstracts (max 250 words) with a brief biography (max 150 words) are invited for submission by April 4th 2011. Papers from postgraduate students are especially welcome.

Enquiries to: Irene Rose at Liverpool Hope University: rosei@hope.ac.uk

Event: Critical Disability Studies Conference *Theorizing Normalcy and the Mundane* Conference 2011 *FREE!*

Dates: Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th September 2011 ~ 10am-4.30pm each day

Venue: Geoffrey Manton Building at MMU, Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5GD.

Hosted by: A *FREE!* conference co-hosted by the Research Institute of Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), University of Chester, University of Iceland, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and Sheffield Hallam University.

Brief description: This two day conference builds upon the first, and hugely successfully. ‘Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane’ conference held in May 2010. It brings together an international group of researchers and calls for papers which will address diverse issues including:

* exploring the cultural and political production of normalcy
* addressing our obsession with reason and rationality
* connecting ableism with other hegemonies including heterosexism, racism and ageism
* analysing the barriers and possibilities of the mundane and extraordinary
* deconstructing new pathologies and ‘abnormalities’

Confirmed keynote speakers include Deborah Marks (Leeds, UK), Anat Greenstein (MMU, UK) and Fiona Kumari Campbell (Griffith University, Australia).

Our aim is for this conference to be as inclusive as possible. We welcome activists, undergraduate and postgraduate students, practitioners and academics to join us.

In the spirit of an eco-friendly conference, registered delegates will be sent an e-pack. Details of accommodation near the venue will also be sent to delegates.

As the conference is free, lunch and refreshments will be available for purchase at the University, if you wish. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements so we can make the restaurant aware of delegate requirements.

* Deadline for paper abstracts: 4th April 2011
* Deadline for attendance: 22nd August 2011

For the sake of ease, we are keeping the original email so please email abstracts and attendance to normalcy2010@hotmail.com

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Call for short stories by autistic authors

Once again, life events have prevented me from writing the "proper" blog posts that i have been intending to. This is getting seriously annoying. Hopefully, i will have some proper writing finished within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, i thought some readers (if i still have any!) might find this interesting (I thought about entering it myself, with a humorous autistic take on Lovecraft-style cosmic horror, but i think the 3000 word limit may be an unsurmountable barrier for my long-winded writing style...):

Call for submissions – Autistic authors from around the world!

Help us revitalize the short story!

(Please send or re-post this for all interested parties)

Emila Murry Ramey and Jody John Ramey, authors of the book Autistics’ Guide to Dating, are proposing to edit a short-story collection for our publisher, containing short-stories written by Autistics from around the world. We are looking for talented, vibrant authors to be a part of this potential project through Jessica Kingsley.

You do not have to be a published author to participate. The value of this project is that it will provide evidence that culture has impact on Autistic people, and that culture cannot be separated from the Autistic person when making claims about that individual. This is a project by Autistics, for Autistics, and those who love them.

We plan to submit the book proposal to Jessica Kingsley as soon as we have a number of stories selected for the project. We would like people to submit work as soon as they are ready. An author may submit any number of short stories for consideration, but submitting work will not guarantee that it will be selected. This call for submissions will expire 31 March 2011. Extensions on this deadline may be made on a case by case basis.

Summary: Short-story, any genre, any subject, English language, less than 3,000 words, by authors on the autism spectrum.

Submit story in a file saved as a .doc, and attach to the email. Also include the text in the body of the email message. Send to autistory@gmail.com and include as much contact information as possible so we can locate you to sign a publication contract. Please include your country of origin and country of residence if that is different. If you are not residing in your country of origin, please give a brief bio telling us how long you have been there. Any questions or queries, just email us and let us know. We’ll try to get back to you as soon as we can.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Updating my blogroll

In my aim to get into regular blogging again (i have ridiculous numbers of unfinished drafts in dark corners of my hard drive that inertia (with a little help from a life that has been considerably busier - for good reasons - in the last few months than in the previous few years, and from various temporary computer problems) has prevented me from turning into finished blog posts...) i have decided to go through my blogroll and weed out dead links, blogs that no longer exist or have changed URL, etc - and have discovered in the process that quite a lot (possibly even the majority) of my blogroll is at least somewhat out of date - so, this is going to be an ongoing process...

As quite a few bloggers that were on my blogroll have stopped actively posting, but their blogs still exist online and still contain some very valuable writing, i've created a new blogroll section called "No longer updated, but still worth reading", into which i've moved the likes of FWD/Forward, Here Be Dragons and HackAbility. (As an aside, i was quite upset by FWD's very abrupt and un-warned-of ending, and in particular by their decision to permanently remove the ability of commenting on all their existing blog posts. Comment threads are actually the thing i value the most highly about the whole internet... but i will get round to writing about that properly at some point...)

(There are also quite a few blogs which haven't updated for a long time but - like this one in the last year or so - are or have been very infrequent anyway, and thus it hasn't quite felt fair to move them into that category. If there are any remaining in other sections of my blogroll that anyone reading knows are permanently inactive, let me know and i'll move them.)

A few blogs also seem to have disappeared from public view altogether: SexAbility and The Rett Devil both seem to have changed status to "invited readers only" (which is a shame, as both were great blogs containing some awesome and powerful writing, but of course is the prerogative of their owners), while Joel Smith's blog "NTs are Weird" (aka "This Way of Life", former URL http://thiswayoflife.org/blog/) seems to have disappeared altogether and its address taken over by an (interestingly autism-themed) advertising site.

A few others, notably Questioning Transphobia and Bird of Paradox, have changed URL, and i've updated those both here and on my RSS feed.

Anyway, aside from being an acknowledgement of changes, this is also a call for anyone reading (if anyone is still reading!) to recommend me other active blogs that cover similar ground to me and/or those i already link to - as i'm aware that, having been mostly out of the blogosphere for a while, there are likely to be excellent blogs i haven't discovered that have started up while i have been away...

Comment here if you'd like me to link to you, or if you spot a broken link/log that has changed URL/etc that i haven't!