Quilting infrastructures

From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

Quilting infrastructures


The prevalence and seamless integration of Big Tech into everyday life makes its disentanglement from it hard to imagine. However, building imaginaries that conceive of digital collective life starting from principles of solidarity and non-extraction are more important than ever in the face of increasing planetary damage. Artist-, community- or activist-run servers have historically provided the space for collective dreaming and action that can formulate other understandings of sovereignty; they respond to their proximities through situated approaches that are informed by their own patterns and habits.

Community, art and transfeminist servers create different user subjectivities by implicating the users in the running and the maintenance of the services they use, thereby giving them agency over the tools that are being shared and maintained. Users not only are part of both 'the re-creation and maintenance both of the community and the infrastructure' (Niederberger, 189).

Niederberger, Shusha. "Calling the user: interpellation and narration of user subjectivity in Mastodon and trans*feminist servers". APRJA Volume 12, Issue 1, 2023: 177-191. https://aprja.net//issue/view/10332/1987

Special Issue 23

Taking reference from collective formulations such as the Feminist Server Manifesto and A Transfeminist Server Wishlist, SI23 carries on questions of service, divisions of labour, promises of infrastructure, seemingly untouchable standard languages, (un)comfortable scales, seamfulness, and many others.

In this special issue, we will look at trans*feminist, art and community servers from different perspectives, highlighting the seamful processes that run through them and bring patches, tools and practices together. Together we will be working with the notion of quilting as methodology and conceptual framework, considering quilts as multi-layered structures that are built from a patchwork of different fabrics and have visible seams which bring together a variety of textures and materials.

The focus on seams reminds us that infrastructures are often built in relation to each other, and rarely from scratch. They "often collide: their seams are visible in their many edges, endings, and exclusions. [...] As a guiding metaphor, seams draw our attention to those places where multiple infrastructures are stitched together to achieve fleeting, nonstable, even ephemeral moments of alignment." (Vertesi, 268)

Together, we will take stock of the servers we surround ourselves with, or are surrounded by, and we will stitch a collective quilt of server connections, processes, interfaces and interventions. In this process, we will make public the innards of the labour, collective processes and decisions that are integral to community-run servers through various interventions, while reflecting on the implications of opening up these shared spaces to a public. We will dedicate time to learning from the early developments of community servers all the way to more recent work, each with their own specific contexts, scales, motivations and politics. In this process, we will also pay close attention to the reasons why some of these projects end, and the traces that continue to exist beyond the limits of promises, labour capacities and budgets.

Vertesi, Jean. "Seamful Spaces: Heterogenous Infrastructures in Interaction". Science, Technology, & Human Values Volume 39, Number 2, 2014: 264-284. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43671176

How does this work

Every week during Prototyping, you will work on making and expanding a web quilt. Building on the idea of a web ring, a web quilt will be made, through which one can navigate using keyboard arrows, buttons or swiping gestures, going UP/LEFT/RIGHT/DOWN, to visit different web pages. We will start with making userpages on chopchop and adding them to the web quilt. In the following weeks pages will keep being added to the quilt, based on the outcomes of weekly assignments, the Word Quilt or exercises from SI classes.

Together we will look at XPUB's self-hosted server, Chop Chop, and the constellation of servers within which it exists. In small groups, you will collectively build a web quilt of various interventions on the server(s) which will open up and make public the infrastructure, networks of solidarity, labour and social interactions within the server(s).

Guest editors

Alice Strete (1991, RO/NL) is an artist and researcher interested in the intricacies of food systems and everyday technologies. Her work involves collaborative media art and self-publishing practices, and explores topics from feminist free software technologies to the socio-politics of food. She is a member of Varia collective and board member of Biobulkbende food cooperative in Rotterdam. She works mainly in collaboration with other artists and practitioners and values self-organised solidarity networks.

Cristina Cochior is a researcher, designer, and code practitioner. Recent project constellations she’s been part of include Vernacular Language Toolkit (VLTK), Digital Solidarity Networks, Bots as Digital Infrapunctures and Digital Discomfort Working Group. Her work revolves around situated software, the role of technology in community self-governance, and digital knowledge organisation and transmission; together with other members of Varia, she works on collective, non-extractive digital infrastructures.

Pad index


Kick-off - WEEK 3

Monday 15 January, 10:00 - 17:00

  • morning to afternoon (10:00-15:00): Kickoff with quilted lunch
    • 10:00-13:00 introduction to the trimester
    • 13:00-15:00 a quilted lunch - consisting of a potluck with an exercise
      • A potluck is a communal gathering where each guest contributes a different dish of food to be shared. Please bring a dish that you would like to share with others, and that has a significance for you.
  • afternoon (15:00-17:00): extra prototyping session with Manetta, Check in with chopchop! Jupyter + HUB introduction

Pad of today: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-150124

Tuesday 16 January, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Manetta and Joseph (until 15:00) in the Aquarium

  • morning + afternoon: Introduction prototyping SI23 + What is a web quilt?

A webquilt (or web quilt) is a collection of websites linked together in a quilt structure, and usually organized around a specific theme, often educational, social, cultural or artistic. They were popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, particularly among amateur websites.

To be a part of the webquilt, each site has a common navigation bar; it contains links to the previous and next sites. By selecting next (or previous) repeatedly, the user will eventually reach the site they started at; this is the origin of the term webquilt.


Assignment for next week: Make your own userpage on chopchop (https://hub.xpub.nl/chopchop/~YOURUSERNAME) as part of the quilt

Pad for today: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI23-tuesday-prototyping-01-16

Wednesday 17 January, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with Steve, Lidia and Marloes

  • What: introduction to Word Quilt (a continuation of Wordhole)


  • Reading: Fragments of Fritsch, K., O’Connor, C. and Thompson, A.K. (eds) (2016) Keywords for radicals: the contested vocabulary of late-capitalist struggle. Chico, CA: AK Press.
  • Shelf: https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/shelf/101



What's Up With The Cloud? - WEEK 4

Monday 22 January, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina, and presentation by Marloes

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-220124

Tuesday 23 January, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Joseph in the Aquarium

  • morning: server power consumption and performance measurement
  • afternoon: [HTML]+[CSS]+[JS]

Assignment for next week: make a tile about this weeks input.

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-230124

Wednesday 24 January, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Lídia.

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-240124

Server tours - WEEK 5

Monday 29 January, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina

  • morning: community servers, trans*feminist servers, examples, server tour of rosa
  • afternoon: exercise on aliases, exercise with oracle
  • reading fragments from:
    • Feminist Server Manifesto
    • A Trans*feminist server wishlist

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-290124

Tuesday 30 January, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Michael in the Aquarium

Around: Murtaugh, M. (2021) Torn at the seams: vernacular approaches to teaching with computational tools, https://vltk.vvvvvvaria.org/w/Torn_at_the_seams:_vernacular_approaches_to_teaching_with_computational_tools

  • morning: Torn at the seems, on feminist methods in artistic technological practices
  • afternoon: vernacular tools prototyping session on imagemagick + processing

Wednesday 31 January, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Marloes

Pads + wiki pages:


Hosting with others - WEEK 6

Monday 5 February, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina

  • morning: hosting as cultural practice as well as technical
  • afternoon: decision making protocols, self-organisation, consent concerns, codes of conduct, taking stock of chop-chop, exercise in setting up a server game
  • reading fragments from:
    • Markus Krajewski - The Server

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-050224

Tuesday 6 February, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Joseph in the Aquarium

  • morning: performing routing algorithm (for example the Dijkstra's algorithm is (or was) used for community networks to make routes for all the devices in the network https://ir.cwi.nl/pub/9256/9256D.pdf)
  • afternoon: sound in the browser (web audio API) (more [HTML]+[CSS]+[JS] & a little bit of bash)

Assignment for next week: Make a tile about this weeks input and connect it to the quilt

Pads: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-060224 + https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-060224-plotting

Wednesday 7 February, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Lidia

  • What: annotating and feeding into Word Quilt
  • Reading:

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-070224

Weaving, quilting, patchworking - WEEK 7

Monday 12 February, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina

  • morning: Weaving, quilting, patchworking
  • afternoon: kick-off collective thinking about the publication
  • reading fragments from:
    • Janet Vertesi - Seamful Spaces: Heterogeneous Infrastructures in Interaction https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0162243913516012

Tuesday 13 February, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Manetta in the Aquarium

  • morning + afternoon: quilty text adventures in Python

Assignment: make a text adventure that resonates with one of the topics discussed so far this Special Issue. Install it on chopchop so the others can work with it as well.

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-prototyping-13-feb

Wednesday 14 February, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Steve

  • What: orientation towards publication
  • Reading: no reading this week, digesting what has been read.

spring break - WEEK 8


Monday 26 February, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina

  • morning: group check in
  • afternoon: individual tutorials

Tuesday 27 February, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Joseph in the Aquarium

  • TBA (probably something with Python)

Wednesday 28 February, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Marloes

  • What: Writing as quilting, a (creative) exercise.
  • Reading:
    • t.b.c.


Monday 4 March, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina

  • check-in with group work

pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-04032024

Tuesday 5 March, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Manetta in the Aquarium

Wednesday 6 March, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Lidia

  • What: line editing and proofreading
  • Reading: tba



Monday 11 March, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina

  • individual tutorials

Tuesday 12 March, 11:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Joseph in the Aquarium

  • morning (11:00-13:00): Permacomputing Aesthetics talk with Aymeric
  • afternoon: TBA

Wednesday 13 March, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Steve

  • What: editorial work - texts for launch (make mock up and rehearse space in aquarium)


Monday 18 March, 10:00 - 17:00

With Alice and Cristina

  • check-in about group work, prepare launch

pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-18032024

Tuesday 19 March, 10:00 - 17:00

Prototyping with Manetta in the Aquarium

  • morning + afternoon: SI support

pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/si23-prototyping-march-19

Wednesday 20 March, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Marloes


Tuesday 26 March, 10:00-17:00

Prototyping with Joseph in the Aquarium

  • morning + afternoon: SI support

Wednesday 27 March, 11:00 - 17:00

Methods class with: Steve, Lidia, Marloes

  • What: Editorial work
  • Reading: no reading


Thursday 28 March, SPECIAL ISSUE LAUNCH, 10:00-22:00

at Varia