User:Artemis gryllaki/Project Proposal

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Project proposal

Artemis Gryllaki . 14-11-19 . XPUB

What do you want to make

I want to develop a series of informal research meetings and workshops to explore and discuss the suggestions, urgencies and potentials of feminist tech initiatives. In parallel, I will work on the tools and methods to document and publish these collective sessions, which carry stories, testimonies, memories, conversations, and technical skills.

I am interested in making public and creating a public for issues around the gender exclusions caused by a stereotypical male, geek culture in tech-based environments and the need for feminist groups to form tech communities that encourage collective knowledge production and Do-It-Together practices in inclusive and diverse environments.

Workshops:
I will get involved in existing feminist tech initiatives that push the boundaries of technological circles, in order to include gender-diverse people, amateurs, or others who have experienced low or high levels of exclusion. I also intend to organise gatherings for discussion and cooperation, inviting people who are already involved or are interested in being involved in technology and the processes of shaping it. I believe in physical space meetings towards creating temporary, or long-term communities and creating bonds of trust among the participants. Furthermore, I regard these meetings as starting points for exploring and developing skills in information technologies in the context of free/libre and open-source software (F/LOSS) movements. Why F/LOSS? Because open access to technological knowledge and practices is a precondition if we are willing to explore personal and collective freedoms which point towards technological sovereignty. Feminist hack/tech communities adopt the values of F/LOSS and open-hardware movements by suggesting and practising the engagement with technology, supporting the right of everybody to use, study, share and improve it. During the workshops, I want to test various practices such as free software tutorials, DIY and DIT fanzine making, collective reading and annotating, story-sharing, sound recording, etc. I will propose a variety of collective activities as methods to open up discussions, share personal and collective challenges, learn from each other and amplify vulnerable voices.

Documenting, archiving and publishing:
Another part of my project is to experiment with how the collective knowledge and memories produced in physical space gatherings can continue to “live” so that they can be revisited in the future, encourage other relevant projects, inspire others, and remain open for doubt or debate. I want to try different digital or analogue tools and techniques to document, curate, and distribute material from the workshops. Why are multiple access levels (from fully public to fully private) to different kinds of information useful or necessary? How difficult is it to maintain this knowledge protected in our unstable and fragile community networks? In my thesis, I will raise these questions and look at the methods and tools used by existing feminist tech initiatives such as the /ETC (Eclectic Tech Carnival), which face these challenges.

How do you plan to make it

Since the beginning of my research, I have started drafting various ideas for workshops in the context of the already mentioned topics. I am in the process of testing different possibilities of structuring the gatherings and I am working on hackpacts to try out methods and tools that I can use during the collective sessions.

Prototypes:
In October I travelled to Athens to participate in the Eclectic Tech Carnival (/ETC), a feminist tech international annual event, which was the trigger that activated me in researching this subject. Together with Angeliki, my fellow XPUB colleague, we conducted a story-sharing workshop, inviting women and trans, non-binary, intersex persons, active in the tech world, to share and discuss their experiences of exclusion. The content of this session was used to create a small collective fanzine which we presented during the Zine Camp at WORM.

Stories-etherpad.gif Xperiences.png


Apart from organising this story-sharing session, I also participated in many other workshops, got inspired, met and talked with people, trying to become aware of the difficulties feminist collectives face while organising such an event. All my memories from this event are an inspiration for my next steps in this project.

  • Basic mail server
  • Hardware crash course
  • Security puzzles
  • Performance

During my project, I am also going to interview several participants and initiators of feminist tech gatherings. I plan to publish the interviews together with the documentation of the workshops I will conduct, to create a playful and diverse archive that speaks about the contribution of feminist tech communities towards building more egalitarian spaces of practising technology and culture.

Timeline

Sep-Oct: Define the subject of my thesis, articulate the project proposal and draft rapid prototypes that can help my research; participate in Eclectic Tech Carnival (/ETC) in Athens, organise a discussion session there with Angeliki, gather material from other workshops and discussions; start documenting and experimenting with it as a case study.

Nov-Dec: Finalise thesis outline and project proposal; read and write texts, relevant to the topics I have suggested in my thesis outline. Continue prototypes; interview people from feminist tech communities and work on publishing methods. Communicate with individuals or groups of people in Athens to organise a local feminist tech weekend there. Draft Py.rate.chnic workshop for January.

Jan-Feb: Perform Py.rate.chnic workshop; plan other workshops, interviews and experiments.

Mar-April: Keep organising workshops; wrap them up in a final project; define the best way to present my research process in the grad show.

May-June: Finalise project; prepare final presentation.

Why do you want to make it

My interest in researching issues related to gender and technology came as a natural continuation of my personal experiences. Since my early adult years, I got involved in activist movements in Athens, as a response to the social disruptions resulting from the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The groups I was part of focused on pointing out social exclusions in terms of race, ethnicity, social class, and gender. Our political practices of resistance had not changed much since the '60s and '70s; we were very skeptical towards new technologies and their use for surveillance, control, and oppression by power institutions.

After moving to the Netherlands and in parallel with my studies in XPUB, I also started working as a junior developer for an IT company. As a female amateur developer, without official training, I struggle a lot to prove myself among my male colleagues who constitute 90% of the employees. I also find it hard to fit in their talks, where what matters the most is the ever-developing code, which produces more efficient, flawless programs.

Technology and progress are often presented as neutral processes. However, I think that it is crucial to ask: who is being served, for what purpose, and at what social, economic and environmental cost. If we choose to ignore such questions, it will be unlikely for us to understand the impact that technologies we use everyday have on our lives and behaviours, or if there is any possibility to change the current conditions.

When I got familiar with F/LOSS movements, I got inspired by their proactive attitude. For me, they offered a potential in the direction of changing the processes of developing technology. Following discussions in forums and conferences around free-software development, I was surprised to see how few women are present in these circles. I am curious to understand why this happens, and if we can reverse this situation. Throughout my research, I try to interact with people with similar questions, learn from them and participate in communities that work on relevant projects.

Who can help you and how

XPUB tutors, by giving feedback on my ideas, providing references for relevant projects and helping with my prototypes.
XPUB peers, by discussing the development of my project.
Angeliki Diakrousi, with whom I will develop some workshops together.
Manetta Berends with her work on feminist projects has useful references and experiences to share.
Lidia Pereira is helping me with editing texts I write and gives me feedback on my proposals.
/ETC crew is a great resource for information, inspiration and interviews.

Relation to previous practice

During my previous studies, I investigated the concept of the commons from an autonomous Marxist perspective, looking at the reasons why people meet and form communities to produce, protect and share their commons; in the material world, such as urban commons, or the immaterial world, such as knowledge commons. As a contributor to political groups in Athens, it would be a fortunate possibility for me to get the chance to enrich Greek activist communities with the skills and knowledge I acquire during my research on feminist hack practices.

My first attempt to develop a workshop was at the third Trimester of the first XPUB year. With my fellow students, we structured the workshop "Marginal Conversations" (2019), exploring the potential of collective reading, annotating texts and performing our annotations. After being involved in the special issue "the Library is Open", and attending other workshops during the Urgent Publishing conference, I concluded that participating in workshops is a very vivid way to acquire and share knowledge and initiate conversations.

Relation to a larger context

Sharing knowledge and skills within communities, debating to raise awareness on contemporary political issues, are my main fields of interest. I chose to research a topic around technology and software since it is a big part of my everyday life; not only as an amateur software developer but also as a millennial woman, living her everyday life in the post-digital era.

I think that the process of learning and producing knowledge collectively shapes a highly social and political form of action towards making knowledge common, against individualistic, career-making, ever-developing tech production. I believe that strengthening the commons, teaching each other, and documenting our collective work, can become an inspiration for other communities.

References

Coleman, E. G. (2010) ‘The Hacker Conference: A Ritual Condensation and Celebration of a Lifeworld’, Anthropological Quarterly, 83(1), pp.47–72. [online]
Available at: https://research.steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/005/553/83.1.coleman.pdf [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Coleman, E. G. (2013) Coding freedom: the ethics and aesthetics of hacking. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Constantvzw.org. (2014) Are You Being Served? → Summit_afterlife.md. [online]
Available at: https://areyoubeingserved.constantvzw.org/Summit_afterlife.xhtml [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

/ETC. (2019) ETC2019. [online]
Available at: https://eclectictechcarnival.org/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Gnu.org. (2009) What is free software? - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation. [online]
Available at: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Light, J.S. (1999) ‘When Computers Were Women’, Technology and Culture, 40(3), pp.455-483. [online]
Available at:http://www.jstor.org/stable/25147356 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Plant, S. (1997) Zeroes and ones : Digital Women and the New Technoculture. New York: Doubleday.

Toupin, S. (2014) ‘Feminist Hackerspaces: The Synthesis of Feminist and Hacker Cultures’, Journal of Peer Production. [online]
Available at: https://www.academia.edu/24232869/Feminist_Hackerspaces_The_Synthesis_of_Feminist_and_Hacker_Cultures_2014_ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Ullman, E. (2013) Close to the machine : technophilia and its discontents. London: Pushkin Press.

Ullman, E. (2018) Life in code: a personal history of technology. New York: Picador.

Wajcman, J. (2004) TechnoFeminism. Cambridge ; Malden, MA: Polity.

Inspiration

Anarcha Server
Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology
Are You Being Served?
Eclectic Tech Carnival
Ethertoff
Feminist Autonomous Centre for research
Geek Feminism Wiki
Gender Changers Academy
Homebrewserver.club
Networks of One's Own: three takes on taking care
Just for the record
Tactical Tech Gender and Technology Institute