Class Reflection

very inspired by all the thinking and work around computing as a medium for people coming together. mutual aid, community-owned infrastructure, mesh networks, technology stewardship and maintenance.

thinking about how to bring these concepts into mainstream possibility or everyday people’s use of technology and how to demonstrate the gathering, maintenance, and empowering capabilities of technology.

pi is alive!

project ideas

  • evolution of community memory?
    • what would a household computer look like?
  • homegrown servers
    • communal server garden thing
  • what does digital localities look like? how do you create digital neighborhoods?
  • natural protocols?
    • things like solar protocol
    • what makes computers and servers feel more natural? what makes them feel more human?
  • web ring evolution and forums:
  • build your own protocol (spring 83-esque)
  • what is the carrier bag theory of fiction for the internet and databases?
  • zine for all of these analogies
  • sousveillance — the danger of keyboard apps, how to make local-first things?
  • folk lore — how to preserve the lore of digital spaces?
    • communal archival

computing shrines

project work time

Free-write the nodes in your network in list format. Who/what has a place in your network? Nodes could include: people, institutions, places, materials, communities, constraints. You don’t have to be too precious about what is considered a node. 5-10 min

  • Robin Sloan
  • Ivan Illich
  • Bret Victor
  • Ursula Le Guin
  • Ocean Vuong
  • Verses
  • Reboot
  • Coda
  • Jacky + Raymond
  • Jess + Humphrey
  • my laptop
  • twitter / internet friends
  • terminal
  • my website
  • my phone (as eye, as ear, as paperweight)
  • my hands
  • the sun, the moon, the stars, celestials
  • rituals (looking for the moon, looking for doors)
  • found objects

Draw by hand arrows between them to describe their relationship to one another <10 min

Draw the nodes and their dynamics in a way that makes sense spatially to you.

Redraw to account for hierarchy, power, and what changes over time (as applicable)

Class presentation

from viola he

from alexa “Click here to see my cats” wifi network to pull up the webpage this class is a collective dreaming and collective hallucination

  • #ideas/writing dreaming and hallucination as a means of speculative imagination

why do people like to archive? field notes on being a creative 02 (the art of collecting)

  • reversal of power when creating something
  • the act of archival
  • museum vs. library
  • archival vs. “archive” or “done”
  • submission vs. contribution
  • remembrance / dedication vs. accumulation (what’s a better word for the endless accumulation that is typically associated with money)
  • surveillance vs. sousveillance
  • #phrases house of chirping
  • #phrases underemployed financially vs. overemployed with time
  • #phrases grow our internet
  • “complex technology is magic”
    • magic is real to us: collective goals, heal from trauma, technology is just “the human interface with the world”
    • act together to achieve “meaningful” goals
    • what is the internet and what is technology? it’s not the cables it’s what we understand how it does and it’s potential
    • “without human beings the internet is just a bunch of cables” - Sammie


connecting to my raspberry pi setup!

Session 8 2023-05-11

free write time for how to reach consensus / enter these interdependent relationships

  • where does this occur outside of traditional living / community situations… corporate work environments and “volunteering” to organize social things or non-critical stuff for morale that is then not rewarded or accounted for. this kind of transactional environment makes consensus or giving hard. also in the “modern” living situations where living solo in a luxury studio is becoming more trendy, we’re isolating away from even having the opportunity to practice consensus. even seeing people live together in a tech (capitalist-centered mentally) hub like SF is that the roommate relationships rely on explicit structures and transactions to dictate how you share space together.. I wonder about how to create the environment that allows for structures that put more trust in people. especially in tension in my mind right now as actively dealing with a partner’s roommate that refuses to share space and wants to claim communal space solely for themselves. even the language reflects a lot of “right” and “deserve” that feels domineering and reminds me of how you must behave to climb career ladder, where intimate relationships are poisoned with transactional calculations hidden behind the smiles. so on one side a lot of structures and spaces where community gather where it feels like so much conflict is generated and on the other side, these collectives or gatherings that feel magical in balancing individuality of each person while also providing the ecosystem for freeform imagination
  • oren is working on potluck, a mutual aid / gifting matching app for matching people with the things they need so people are giving away things and get specific things in return. The key is to add an invisible person who wants everything so that the algorithm incentivizes making as many trades as possible
  • sammie working on recycling elf bar batteries to make a solar rig..

Session 5 2023-04-14

Radical Friends reading

  • Selasi, who moved between three continents growing up and whose grandparents hail from four different, distant countries, says, “Don’t ask me where I am from, ask me where I am local”. To answer the question, she proposes we look at our rituals, our relationships, and the restrictions that we face. When we find people that share these things with us, we have found where, and with whom we are local. We have found “our people”.

    • translocality: feeling like we belong to multiple differing communities simultaneously
  • Silvia Federici notes that through the concept of the commons, “the history of the class struggle can be rewritten so that the indigenous peoples’ resistance to colonial expropriation… can be described as a complement to struggles of anti-intellectual-property programmers in the free software movement.

project brainstorms

  • using a bunch of aliases is a way to plain-text “encrypt”

mutual aid

solidarity-based practices. transformative potential

  • all about agency rather than charity ( As Fred Moten said, “the shared practice of fulfilling needs together as a kind of wealth distinguishing and cultivating the wealth of our needs, rather than imagining that it’s possible to eliminate them.”

Paul: “it challenges me to pivot my own practice, away from the institution: towards collective work, radical unlearning, the redistribution of resources, and communal care. From my work ->> to our work”

diagramming as a means to decentralize and invite more autonomy rather than blocked on centralizing places

what does it look like?

Session 4 2023-04-07

  • class projects
  • examples of local infrastructure and sanketh kumar is here from
    • local message board
    • crowdsourced crisis mapping
    • protect communications (Firechat in hong kong, which was a mesh network on the move)
  • “doing it together” — alice yuan zhang responding to and challenging it
  • sanketh and their work with local infrastructure
    • set up mesh networks for rural communities in india, focused on empowering young women having them make radio.
      • gave them too much freedom had to shut down because girls had relationship with people out of village
      • found out how much dependence on wifi there is and how out of touch the government is (to receive rations, need biometric verification)
    • scavenging for hardware from trash
    • having to find the right kind of hardware and firmware — libre router
      • open hardware project needs to be explored—most hardware still comes from taiwan and china.
      • this is very dependent on scale for cost. arduino completely open but raspberry pi is not (and made cheap because of grants and large donations)
    • false assumption that if you know how to use internet and phone you can use computer
      • right click / copy paste are one of the most basic features in computer
      • people did not know what copy and paste is
      • people don’t know what a computer or server is
      • most of the energy is spent on this computer literacy
      • big thing is you need to cater your local hardware to your supply chain
    • to what extent can you do DIY and what are you compromising?
      • we see makerspaces popping up but this culture is already present in the villages. how can you help kids get more engaged with these traditional crafts?
        • handicrafts x DIY hacker culture
        • 3d printing is mostly plastic stuff — we have abundance of natural materials and of people who have knowledge about how to make these crafts
        • e.g. field recorder in purses—frees people up to tinker around with the actual technology
        • coin booth calls saved from the junk market and made into crafts to set up in homes
        • wifi network as a publishing means set up where they store rice
        • (leftmost) aluminum zinc with silver inlay, when you boil zinc alloy with local soil in one particular spot, it turns black
          • site-specific, situated object??
      • you have to go to these remote villages and see what they’re doing with craft
      • letting nature be your mold via beeswax, and just pouring brass into that
        • collaborating with nature, firewood burning the brass
      • indian culture is very oral rather than text-based
        • and when central government took over, all the non-text-based cultures were basically erased.
        • quilt of internet comes about via natural spread from your village out rather than from the top down
      • lot of hierarchy and baggage from being a person who has all the autonomy for creating the network, share the info, and ask for grants
      • whats happening in community networks / villages is that they are dependent on these city guys who come in but there is a massive attempt to fully make it community-owned, to obviate yourself from the equation
      • principle of community networks should be that there is no outsider owning the network
      • communities collect to thresh grains together. engineer will come in and create asymmetries
      • #questions how do you create asymmetric, speculative outcomes without asymmetric results? ^0kz981w
      • cowde is a play on “kaudi” (traditional fabrics made up of scrap material)

Session 3 2023-03-30

Session 2 2023-03-23


  • Ursula Le Guin on Technology: responding to people’s critiques for writing “lo” or not “hi” science fiction because she doesnt talk about the tech that people are used to
    • “Technology is the active human interface with the material world.”
  • Technology and Ethos by Amiri Baraka: what does black (unoppressed) technology look like? how can you imagine new forms without even the oppressor’s spirit weighing on you?
    • “The new technology must be spiritually oriented because it must aspire to raise man’s spirituality and expand man’s consciousness.”
    • i sense some tension here between the necessity to imagine new forms free from the oppressor’s spirit (which seems to be everywhere) and meeting people’s immediate needs.
      • “Heart work and shared struggle can transform and move a group closer to liberatory movement. The guides, tools, and technologies have never done that with the same impact as the former in my experience”
      • maybe it comes from focusing on the spiritual and just being together in communion and what imaginative futures emerge from that?
  • Decolonizing Design by Ahmed Ansari: on the theory that no universal concepts (culture, beauty, etc.) exist (universal ontology). Rather, they are defined in hyperlocal (community and time) contexts, and are “fluid and protean, subject to change, often through political contestation and struggle.” He proposes cosmontologies as an alternative “constellations of ontologis that structure the ways in which human communities make sense of the cosmos they exist in.”
  • always already infrastructuring

the real world of technology

Session 1 2023-03-16

  • beauty of telephone poles
  • Ingrid burrington the structures beneath (infra) another thing we only notice when it stops working, gets in the way, or is not designed for us
  • “to depend on each other is to become infrastructure” - from alice yuan zhang

Collaborative meaning-making