…empowering women through photography, technology and listening
Alex Jacoby is the photographer behind vagina vérité. She kicked off the project back in 2000 with a “Call for Models” email to all of her female friends. Everyone had said it was a great idea, and having bought a 2.5 megapixel camera and lights, she was ready to get started.
No one offered to pose. But she was committed. We just had to be able to see ourselves for ourselves. So, she snail-mailed a Vagina First-Times questionnaire, asking about what our mothers told us, what we first talked about with friends, what our first sexual experiences were like… and bit by bit responses came in. Eventually, women who wanted to participate by making a vagina portrait showed up, too.
Over the course of ten years, Alex made over 100 vagina portraits, produced two Vagina Festivals, weekend-long visual and performance art experiences about vagina-related subjects (the first in 2007 and the second in 2008), and worked in an unusually wide range of leadership roles (from B2B Marketing, Key Account Management, Merchandising and Catalog Production to Purchasing and Receiving Operations). More recently, she did a couple of stints handling Operations for technology startups, including Accounting (in USD, Swiss Francs and crypto), HR, Business Systems Analysis, Sales and Finance Operations, Product-Dev Project Mgmt, and Financial Modeling for VC Pitch Decks). The second startup was building a blockchain-based application. This is where the next phase of the project became clear.
Not only do we still need to see ourselves for ourselves, but we also need to hear each other and learn from each other. Access to female bodylife information, experiences and services should be easy to get and safe to contribute—not with us being treated as digital soylent green by the service provider whose mission is not aligned with ours, but as self-sovereign agents of our own data and information. We need to replace Google Search with a service based on an open-source index that is designed for universal access and individual safety. She calls it the Bodylife Library project.
The Bodylife Library project’s mission and scope
The Bodylife Library project aims to provide any person, organization or website with access to an endlessly growing body of knowledge, contributed one-by-one by each of us, at our own discretion, via a secure and open method, designed specifically to help us live empowered, healthy, and happy bodylives.
Its scope includes the development of an indexing ontology to standardize how we store women’s bodylife information, experiences, and services, and a searchable catalog to improve how we access it.
Initially, it will be a centralized prototype that will enable us to better understand the needs of individuals, organizations and websites, and to begin collecting data with the intrinsic intention of ongoing access and interoperability with other systems and individuals. As decentralizing technologies for storage, processing, governance, identity and reputation emerge, we’ll move into that space, and begin interacting as agents of our own data and building for a democratized internet experience.