Feminist Search Tool @Digital Methods Summer School

Notes of the day: https://pad.feministsearchtool.nl/p/FST_dmi_day1


People present:

  • Svenja she/her/they/them, social sciences, gender studies
  • Andre, designer, developer
  • Anja her/she, designer, researcher, community organiser
  • Frauke her/she, citizen science/civic science
  • Lonneke (facilitator) her/she (facilitator)
  • Annette her/she, artist
  • Asli Feminist, film history
  • Jeroen (facilitator)

Retrospective outline of the day:

  • introduction: all participants introduced themselves, by name, background, preferred pronouns, and some preliminary reflections on how they relate to the question addressed “Why are the authors of the books I read so white so male so Eurocentric?”
  • we followed up by introducing the feminist search tool prototype in more detail, the background, the process, the encounters we had while working on it, the actual infrastructure of the tool,… Throughout the day we referred back to moments of learning that derived from the process of making that tool.

Content / Data sets:

  • records of the UU Library (2006-2016)
  • potentially data retrieved from browsing experiments in Amazon book recommendations
  • specific book “recommendations” selected by different invited communities: Urban Collective/Black Archives, KUNCI, Mapping Slavery, Casco, Aphra's Bookclub)

Different directions:

Amazon Book recommendations

One of the learnings from the process at UU Library was that the libary catalog is searched mostly with “known-item”search, whereas “discovery search” (when you do not exactly know yet what you are looking for) happens on other platforms. One directions that we wanted to investigate was therefore to query books in Amazon, and inquiry differences and similarities in different browsers (logged into an Amazon account/not logged in, different countries, different histories).

  • Related to that: Comparison of “recommendations” as a practice: How do recommendations function in different contexts?
  • Pointing at gaps: How to highlight what cannot to be found? “Red link” practice of Wikimedia. (highlighting what is not yet written – what is missing)
  • Bibliographies: Querying our own bibliographies using different methods.


  • We started by associatively searching on Amazon, reading and comparing our results, and discussing our assumptions based on these results. Find the detailed outline of each query here: https://pad.feministsearchtool.nl/p/FST_dmi_day1 (From Line 54 onward “Ways of searching on Amazon”).
  • We started with “Known-item search”, searching for books recommended by Black Archives, and then continued with “Discovery Search”, and analysed the results of searching for the topic “climate change” and “race”, based on the authors gender (according to self-narration), location of publishing, and if the topic was appearing in the title of the book. The results were different according to country/language in which we searched. See more detailed results from line 96.

Feminist Search Tool

  • We looked at different possibilities to query the Feminist Search tool for “Publishers”, to get back a list of all publishers represented in the UU library and in the second step combine this information with a key words search for “Climate Change” and “Racisms”. The results can be found here: https://ethercalc.org/787vu2xntnp5
  • The next step is be to compare the “gender” with “publishers”

Another ideas