Increasingly shaped by and for GAFAM, software production has gone through fundamental changes that impact how computing and our society is organized. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have always been important for the functioning of public and private organizations. However, the turn to agile production with services based on current computational infrastructures (e.g., clouds, personal devices, (sensor) networks) is different in that it organizes computing in a way that increases dependencies on the tech giants and their economic underpinnings. These dependencies bring about significant changes that affect people, institutions and our common infrastructures (e.g., health, education, transportation, energy). These changes require a deeper understanding and a broader reflection as we implement digital services in all aspects of life using computational infrastructures dominated by GAFAM.
+ Femke Snelting
The infrables are a creative practice to turn anecdotes of infrastructural shifts, into stories and fables. In this way, they narrate negative use-cases and un-fixing bug reports as a solidary praxis. They are collective articulations of what extractive digital infrastructures are, and what they are doing. Infrables identify oppressive infrastructures or tools, but they crucially incite re-imaginations of other infrastructural realities. What infrables can we tell to take-down cloud narratives and undo their violences?
Dennis de Bel
Ancient and not so ancient infrastructures that are being reused for computing purposes.
(Wikipédia) Sloyd (Swedish slöjd), also known as educational sloyd, is a system of handicraft-based education started by Uno Cygnaeus in Finland in 1865. The system was further refined and promoted worldwide, and was taught in the United States until the early 20th century. It is still taught as a compulsory subject in Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian schools.
The "bootleg library" is a particular, situated social infrastructure. It operates from the understanding that the library is a collection; a collection of the texts contained within it, and the readers collected around them. A reciprocal, self-reflexive relationship between the texts and the readers produces sociability. A bootleg is an homage, an unauthorised copy of a source publication; bootlegging is a strategy by which texts are diversified through use and multiplied in form, resisting singularity and representing readers.
Temporary Indexing is an experimental tool for printing, reading and sharing our personal library collections. It makes PDFs of print-ready catalogue cards from database files produced by installations of Calibre. It is intended to be used in "print parties", social events where we make indices and share our collections in an intimate, one-to-one setting. The tool encourages us to read and edit our libraries as an index made in a moment of printing, sharing, meeting, reading, making public.
as the structure
Using the Life-cycle assessment as the structure for this work session, we will highlight artistic-hacktivist-makers practices, along this linear system of production and consumption, and in doing so, give a comprehensive overview of projects addressing the impact of Information and Communication Technologies.
This discussion will span from addressing environmental, social and political issues related to planned and perceived obsolescence, techno-colonialism, techno-propaganda, consumerism, and more… coming from a variety of practitioners.
Marloes de Valk
There is a rich diversity of terms, concepts and practices in existence, related to lowering the environmental impact of network infrastructure. In this worksession we'll work on a mapping of these terms, through the construction of an 'executable glossary': a glossary in which each entry describes a term but also includes steps towards implementation. We'll start with a brief overview of some key concepts and practices, to give an idea of the diverse thinking informing the infrastructures that are being developed, maintained and repaired. Together, we'll add, modify, visualize and (re)structure. Instead of static definitions, we'll try to show changes in use throughout time, what words 'do', including contradictions and contested meanings.
During the session we'll stick to low-tech ways of working, using network and computing only when needed. To think through the idea of making the entries executable, we'll look into pattern languages, through an introduction of the work of Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein (1977), and the influence their work has had on computing (the wiki for example) as well as urban planning and more. As a contrast, we'll briefly discuss the approach to the power of language in 'Keywords for Radicals' by Fritsch, O'connor and Thompson (2016) which in turn builds on Raymond Williams' 'Keywords' from 1976.
The outcome of the session is the start of an executable glossary in which each entry strenghens the others, together forming a strong counternarrative: alternatives are possible and already exist.
Pour parler ou montrer quand même quelque chose qui ne nous parait pas directement présentable, il existe diverses parades. Dans les paroles rapportées d'Héraclite, au lieu des idées – invisibles par nature – viennent ainsi des images qui nous les font voir telles que celle, fameuse, de l'écoulement d'un fleuve. De nos jours, au lieu de serveurs informatiques – quant à eux pourtant en principe visibles – on rencontre l'image d'un nuage, le cloud. Un fleuve n'est pas une idée et un nuage n'est pas un serveur. Dans les deux cas, de l'un à l'autre il y va même d'une différence foncière, d'un gouffre dont on ferait bien de questionner l'enjambement. Dans un cas, dans l'autre, qu'est-ce que cet imprésentable qui justifie au départ la parade, la parure, l'apparat de la représentation ? Les idées d'Héraclite sont-elles imprésentables au même titre que les serveurs informatiques ? Peut-on se passer de représentation ? Sinon, à quelles conditions la représentation convient ?
Mining the Cloud
Julie Boschat Thorez
Mining the Cloud is a practice based exploration of the origin, evolution and spreading of the metaphor of the Cloud in computing. For this research, the online archive of Wired was investigated, to find out the The choice for Wired as a support for textual analysis was based on its instrumental role in spreading the ideas from the Silicon Valley into the wild, as Keith White or Fred Turner pointed quite a while ago already. The result of this work is a short publication reflecting on our experiments, and research.
This is a collaboration with Manetta Berends and was made possible with the support from the Stimuleringsfund.
Electronic wastes weigh more than the Chinese Wall. Digital technology is playing an increasingly important role in overcoming planetary limits, far from the immateriality it is sold as. Resource extraction, pollution or energy consumption: the environmental consequences of servers, cables or terminals are growing every year. This session will be an opportunity to put words, images and data on the real impacts of digital technology and to present some levers.
The representations used in our interfaces and digital objects give a misleading vision of what the web and techniques associated with the cloud actually do. The words, functions, pictograms or even images chosen participate in an immaterial, fluid and frictionless vision of the digital world. Voluntarily or not, they make these impacts invisible. We propose to share our first experiments on the subject followed by a "digital safari" to capture in our interfaces the graphic and lexical forms and symbols that contribute to an invisibilization of the technique. A discussion on possible alternatives to these choices will close the session.