64 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2018
    1. Immediately many people will object that this is too hard, too implausible, contradictory to human nature, politically impossible, uneconomical, and so on. Yeah yeah. Here we see the shift from cruel optimism to stupid pessimism, or call it fashionable pessimism, or simply cynicism. It’s very easy to object to the utopian turn by invoking some poorly-defined but seemingly omnipresent reality principle. Well-off people do this all the time.
    2. One way of being anti-anti-utopian is to be utopian. It’s crucial to keep imagining that things could get better, and furthermore to imagine how they might get better. Here no doubt one has to avoid Berlant’s “cruel optimism,” which is perhaps thinking and saying that things will get better without doing the work of imagining how. In avoiding that, it may be best to recall the Romain Rolland quote so often attributed to Gramsci, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” Or maybe we should just give up entirely on optimism or pessimism—we have to do this work no matter how we feel about it. So by force of will or the sheer default of emergency we make ourselves have utopian thoughts and ideas.
    3. It’s important to remember that utopia and dystopia aren’t the only terms here. You need to use the Greimas rectangle and see that utopia has an opposite, dystopia, and also a contrary, the anti-utopia. For every concept there is both a not-concept and an anti-concept. So utopia is the idea that the political order could be run better. Dystopia is the not, being the idea that the political order could get worse. Anti-utopias are the anti, saying that the idea of utopia itself is wrong and bad, and that any attempt to try to make things better is sure to wind up making things worse, creating an intended or unintended totalitarian state, or some other such political disaster. 1984 and Brave New World are frequently cited examples of these positions. In 1984 the government is actively trying to make citizens miserable; in Brave New World, the government was first trying to make its citizens happy, but this backfired. As Jameson points out, it is important to oppose political attacks on the idea of utopia, as these are usually reactionary statements on the behalf of the currently powerful, those who enjoy a poorly-hidden utopia-for-the-few alongside a dystopia-for-the-many. This observation provides the fourth term of the Greimas rectangle, often mysterious, but in this case perfectly clear: one must be anti-anti-utopian.
    4. For a while now I’ve been saying that science fiction works by a kind of double action, like the glasses people wear when watching 3D movies. One lens of science fiction’s aesthetic machinery portrays some future that might actually come to pass; it’s a kind of proleptic realism. The other lens presents a metaphorical vision of our current moment, like a symbol in a poem. Together the two views combine and pop into a vision of History, extending magically into the future. By that definition, dystopias today seem mostly like the metaphorical lens of the science-fictional double action. They exist to express how this moment feels, focusing on fear as a cultural dominant. A realistic portrayal of a future that might really happen isn’t really part of the project—that lens of the science fiction machinery is missing. The Hunger Games trilogy is a good example of this; its depicted future is not plausible, not even logistically possible. That’s not what it’s trying to do. What it does very well is to portray the feeling of the present for young people today, heightened by exaggeration to a kind of dream or nightmare. To the extent this is typical, dystopias can be thought of as a kind of surrealism.
    5. These days I tend to think of dystopias as being fashionable, perhaps lazy, maybe even complacent, because one pleasure of reading them is cozying into the feeling that however bad our present moment is, it’s nowhere near as bad as the ones these poor characters are suffering through. Vicarious thrill of comfort as we witness/imagine/experience the heroic struggles of our afflicted protagonists—rinse and repeat. Is this catharsis? Possibly more like indulgence, and creation of a sense of comparative safety. A kind of late-capitalist, advanced-nation schadenfreude about those unfortunate fictional citizens whose lives have been trashed by our own political inaction. If this is right, dystopia is part of our all-encompassing hopelessness. On the other hand, there is a real feeling being expressed in them, a real sense of fear. Some speak of a “crisis of representation” in the world today, having to do with governments—that no one anywhere feels properly represented by their government, no matter which style of government it is. Dystopia is surely one expression of that feeling of detachment and helplessness. Since nothing seems to work now, why not blow things up and start over? This would imply that dystopia is some kind of call for revolutionary change. There may be something to that. At the least dystopia is saying, even if repetitiously and unimaginatively, and perhaps salaciously, Something’s wrong. Things are bad.
  2. Oct 2018
    1. Traditional Marxism finds it impossible to imagine the self-abolition of the proletarian class because it treats labor as a category outside of history, rather than one produced by capitalism itself. By making labor into a category of capitalism, Postone does not mean to make the nonsensical claim that previous societies have never involved labor, but rather that these societies did not conceive of what we call labor as labor, as expressions of an undifferentiated productive capacity. This conception only arises with the general commodification of human activity, once work becomes something bought and sold on the open market. Peasants did not conceive of their work in the fields as fundamentally separate from work in the kitchen garden, from work fixing their domicile, taking care of children, or hunting game. Nor was the line between these activities and play or diversion so firmly drawn. Postone, therefore, attempts to denaturalize and estrange labor in much the same way that LeGuin denaturalizes prison in the passage described previously. Why is it that spending time with a child in one context might be something you do for fun, in another a familial obligation, and in yet another paid work? What would it mean to live in a society in which nothing people did took the form of labor, but merely appeared as a spectrum of voluntary activity, some of it pleasant, some of it tedious, but none of it a job?
    2. Schoolchildren are often given Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s phrase “suspension of disbelief” as a simple way to evaluate the success or failure of fantastic literature. Were you lulled into taking for granted the talking dragon and magical elves because of the otherwise “relatable” content? LeGuin should be thought of as doing something similar: effecting a communist suspension of disbelief, a suspension first and foremost of capitalist disbelief in the possibility of communism. To do this, she has to induce disbelief in the institutions of capitalism, to display them not as “how things are” but “how they’ve been made to be.”
    3. In capitalism, structures of technological advancement are the precondition of development, but in the Hainish universe, those civilizations that have the most powerful technologies use them sparingly, and organize everyday life in a manner that looks, from our perspective, to be highly traditional, based on handicraft, ritual, and religion. In such societies, scientists might spend their mornings building gates with hand tools and their afternoons working on machines for teleportation. The most highly technologically mediated societies, conversely, tend to encounter problems of resource depletion and pollution. Free development for each and all implies voluntary change, but this need not mean a constant technical transformation of the built environment and everyday life. In the Hainish universe, human society has moved in directions that can only be understood, from the standpoint of technological growth, as movement backwards or sideways, branching out in innumerable directions.
  3. Sep 2018
    1. Now an impoverished Marxist cultural critique suggests that such encounters between people, qua humans with richly diverse lives, are the very opposite of — or further, directly opposed by — the alienated encounters underwritten, if not compelled, by money. You see this kind of argument when people say “the ‘sharing economy’ is an oxymoron that has nothing to do with sharing because people are lending their underutilized resources for financial recompense.” However, what has always seemed to me most interesting about many ‘sharing economy’ platforms is not that they are spaces outside of commercialism, but rather ways of affording a re-embedding of economic exchanges in social relations within commercialism. When I ride-share or home-share, there might be money changing hands, but the actual experience of the ‘service’ is of two people (when there are face-to-face encounters) who cannot entirely withdraw into prescribed roles of employee and customer. This is why these ‘sharing economy’ experiences tend to be awkward, in ways that I have tried to argue are in fact deconstructive of the monolithically abstract idea of capitalism.These moments underline that there can be ‘sharing’ within economies, that relations between strangers do occur at levels or in ways beyond what is covered by their monetization. Service designing, it seems to me, is precisely the pursuit of these forms of sociality that exceed commercialism even within commercial interactions. This is the quality that a well-designed service encounter will manifest, a quality that will differentiate such a service from other less-designed ways of managing or engineering services.Service designers should therefore be expertly sensitive to these emergent and sometimes even resistant socialities. Designers should understand that at the very core of their practice is all that is concealed by excessively capitalistic perspectives: the hidden labor of informal economies; the emotional and aesthetic labor provision that service interactions compel from providers without adequate recompense; the satisfiers that make care work rewarding beyond their inequitable pay scales; the moments of delight involved in the comfort of strangers. All of these, it should be clear, are political, sensitivities that acknowledge oppression and exploitation via gender, race and class.All this is why service design is never just the design of this or that service, but part of the wider project of redesigning work and generating sustainable livelihoods. For instance, service design is not tangential to current debates about the roboticization of jobs. Service design is unavoidably involved in Transition Design, toward or away from meaningful work, or rather perhaps toward or away from quality ways of organizing the resourcing of new kinds of society.
    2. Product designers tend to aim to create tools that should be appreciated in their own right for what they help accomplish — what the philosopher of technology, Albert Borgmann calls a focal thing. These well-designed products are valued for what they enable someone skilled to do with them. The service designer is less concerned with developing a refined product, valued for its versatility or finesse, and more concerned with a material means to an end, an enabler of a service interaction. This means that those products need to be more ‘alive’ to the needs of the participants in the service. They need to be less present in their own materiality, and more automated or responsive, directing the interactions between the service co-creators.This means that service designers must have a particularly acute sense of the agency of things. All designers understand the weak forces — affordances — that the forms of things exert on users in the appropriate contexts. For service designers, these forces must be more dynamically deployed because the point is less the products themselves and more the experiences they enable but even at times direct. Compared to a product that will be used regularly, and perhaps diversely, by an owner, the touchpoints that service designers design need to be more subservient to the overall experience. They should be more sensitive to a diversity of users and use cases on the one hand, but more focused on accomplishing just this or that transition in the service journey. This means that they tend to be more animated by intention than the artifacts conventionally produced by product designers. But paradoxically, this makes them less materially present as things. A product within a service pro-duces, leads forth, by being more of a sub-ject, something underlying the process, rather than an ob-ject, something jutting out with physical presence.
    3. To accomplish these goals, service designers make use of the same power that all designers deploy and that are particular to design compared to other expert professions but that the history of non-service design has tended to ignore or fail to comprehend. Design is always the design of things, of useful things for people. To be useful, a thing must communicate or influence or force its users to interact in particular ways. You cannot design a tool that will accept any kind of input. So though modern designing has mostly focused on the design of physical products, the nature of the decisions that a designer makes about the forms (and contexts and systems) of things are completely driven by attempts to sculpt the social practices involved in using those things. I use this metaphor of sculpting to indicate that design is a process of removing materials to create the negative space to be filled by certain kinds of interactions.Service design’s focus on people-to-people coordinated interactions therefore emphasizes the obverse of artifact design. All service design is still in every case still design of things, or in the terminology of service design, touchpoints — products and environments, but also communications and interactive screens. Service design is just more oriented toward the sequences of interactions between people that can be afforded by a network of designed things.
    4. Service design at its best is an expertise in forming how people interact without directly instructing them as to what to do to get paid. But precisely because what service design brings to service management is an attention to these other ways of inducing certain kinds and qualities of interactions, service design should begin with an acknowledgement of its baseline power, that which it should always seek to avoid enlisting to effect a design. This then is why I insist on calling this practice Service Design and not Design for Service.
  4. Aug 2018
    1. Marcus Vitruvius, the classical Roman architect, defined architecture in proportion to the human body—an ideal building, as he saw it, had to reflect the ideal dimensions of a man. Today such anthropocentric design, indeed male-body centered design, seems irrelevant, perhaps even irresponsible, as the magnitude of our self-inflicted environmental disasters poses fundamental challenges to architects and designers. If the human body was the correct proportion for architecture for Vitruvius, what should the scale of design be that addresses today’s environmental challenges? Climatic change, species depletion, and oceanic pollution are worldwide problems. What is left of Vitruvius’s ideal of human reach has stretched to new global scales and millennial time frames. How can architecture conceptualize a planet on which humans have become involved in vast geological forces?

      Framing a post-humanist question for architecture. What would this mean in service design?

    1. The focus on details and delight can be traced to manifestos like Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, which propose a dogmatic adherence to cognitive obviousness and celebrates frictionless interaction as the ultimate design accomplishment. Users should never have to question an interface. Instead, designers should anticipate and cater to their needs: ”It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.15”A “mindless, unambiguous choice” is not without cultural, social and political context.
    2. But addressing problematic internal culture of design teams is not enough. As an industry we must also confront the real-world socio-political outcomes of our practice. If we accept a code of conduct as necessary, we must also accept a code of outcomes as necessary. We must create ethical frameworks to evaluate our work at all stages, especially once it is alive in the world. Our lack of ongoing critical evaluation of our profession means that design continues to reinforce a harmful status quo, creating exploitable systems at the expense of societies.
    3. It is critical that user experience design must begin to deconstruct the outcomes of our collective body of work, especially as tech becomes more embedded and less visible or more easily ignored. Saitta writes, “All infrastructure is political; indeed, one might better say that all politics is infrastructural; we ignore it at our peril.”
    4. Beyond better design paradigms, designers must look beyond the field, toward practices that directly criticise or oppose their work. In particular, security research and user experience design have significant practice and goal overlap and this relationship is often antagonistic. Both fields primarily focus on the systems of wide-scale interactions between users and technology, but the goals of the two fields are diametrically opposed; design is to create the best possible experience for a user, security is to create the worst possible experience for an attacker. By focusing of the outcomes of the two fields, it’s clear that security research is a form of user experience design. Design should reciprocate, and become a form of security research.
    5. Design is inherently political, but it is not inherently good. With few exceptions, the motivations of a design project are constrained by the encompassing platform or system first, and the experiences and values of its designers second. The result is designers working in a user hostile world, where even seemingly harmless platforms or features are exploited for state or interpersonal surveillance and violence.As people living in societies, we cannot be separated from our political contexts. However, design practitioners research and implement systems based on a process of abstracting their audience through user stories. A user story is “a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it23.” In most cases, user are grouped through shared financial or biographical data, by their chosen devices, or by their technical or cognitive abilities.When designing for the digital world, user stories ultimately determine what is or is not an acceptable area of human variation. The practice empowers designers and engineers to communicate via a common problem-focused language. But practicing design that views users through a politically-naive lens leaves practitioners blind to the potential weaponisation of their design. User-storied design abstracts an individual user from a person of lived experience to a collection of designer-defined generalisations. In this approach, their political and interpersonal experiences are also generalised or discarded, creating a shaky foundation that allows for assumptions to form from the biases of the design team. This is at odds with the personal lived experience of each user, and the complex interpersonal interactions that occur within a designed digital platform.When a design transitions from theoretical to tangible, individual user problems and motivations become part of a larger interpersonal and highly political human network, affecting communities in ways that we do not yet fully understand. In Infrastructural Games and Societal Play, Eleanor Saitta writes of the rolling anticipated and unanticipated consequences of systems design: “All intentionally-created systems have a set of things the designers consider part of the scope of what the system manages, but any nontrivial system has a broader set of impacts. Often, emergence takes the form of externalities — changes that impact people or domains beyond the designed scope of the system^24.” These are no doubt challenges in an empathetically designed system, but in the context of design homogeny, these problems cascade.In a talk entitled From User Focus to Participation Design, Andie Nordgren advocates for how participatory design is a step to developing empathy for users:“If we can’t get beyond ourselves and our [platforms] – even if we are thinking about the users – it’s hard to transfer our focus to where we actually need to be when designing for participation which is with the people in relation to each other25.”Through inclusion, participatory design extends a design team’s focus beyond the hypothetical or ideal user, considering the interactions between users and other stakeholders over user stories. When implemented with the aim of engaging a diverse range of users during a project, participatory design becomes more political by forcing teams to address weaponised design opportunities during all stages of the process.
    6. ‘Mindless and unambiguous’ is only true for those who have both the cultural context to effortlessly decode an interface, and the confidence that their comprehension is solid. Not only is this dogma an unreasonable constraint, it also frequently fails.
    7. Weaponised design – a process that allows for harm of users within the defined bounds of a designed system – is faciliated by designers who are oblivious to the politics of digital infrastructure or consider their design practice output to be apolitical.
  5. Jul 2018
  6. Jun 2018
    1. In “Getting Real,” Barad proposes that “reality is sedimented out of the process ofmaking the world intelligible through certain practices and not others ...” (1998: 105). If,as Barad and other feminist researchers suggest, we are responsible for what exists, what isthe reality that current discourses and practices regarding new technologies makeintelligible, and what is excluded? To answer this question Barad argues that we need asimultaneous account of the relations of humans and nonhumansandof their asymmetriesand differences. This requires remembering that boundaries between humans and machinesare not naturally given but constructed, in particular historical ways and with particularsocial and material consequences. As Barad points out, boundaries are necessary for thecreation of meaning, and, for that very reason, are never innocent. Because the cuts impliedin boundary making are always agentially positioned rather than naturally occurring, andbecause boundaries have real consequences, she argues, “accountability is mandatory”(187). :We are responsible for the world in which we live not because it is an arbitraryconstruction of our choosing, but because it is sedimented out of particular practicesthat we have a role in shaping (1998: 102).The accountability involved is not, however, a matter of identifying authorship in anysimple sense, but rather a problem of understanding the effects of particular assemblages,and assessing the distributions, for better and worse, that they engender.
    2. In her analysis ofcomputer-based work, Susanne Bødker (1991) has discussed the shifting movement of theinterface from object to connective medium. She observes that when unfamiliar, or at timesof trouble, the interface itselfbecomes the work’s object. At other times persons work asshe puts it ‘through the interface’, enacted as a transparent means of engagement with otherobjects of interest (for example, a text, or an interchange with colleagues).
    3. Finally, the ‘smart’ machine's presentation of itself asthe always obliging, 'labor-saving device' erases any evidence of the labor involved in itsoperation "from bank personnel to software programmers to the third-world workers whoso often make the chips" (75).
    4. Chasin poses the question (which I return to below) of how a change in our view ofobjects from passiveand outside the social could help to undo the subject/object binaryand all of its attendant orderings, including for example male/female, or mental/manua
    5. Figured as servants,she points out, technologies reinscribe the difference between ‘us’ and those who serve us,while eliding the difference between the latter and machines: "The servanttroubles thedistinction between we-human-subjects-inventors with a lot to do (on the onehand) andthem-object-things that make it easier for us (on the other)" (1995: 73)
    6. A case in point of the politics of difference within sociomaterial assemblages isoffered by Chasin (1995), who explores identifications across women, servants andmachines in contemporary robotics.
    7. One consequence of thisposition is a more radical understanding of the sense in whichmateriality is discursive (i.e., material phenomena are inseparable from theapparatuses of bodily production: matteremerges out of and includes as part of itsbeing the ongoing reconfiguring of boundaries), just as discursive practices arealways already material (i.e., they are ongoing material (re)configurings of theworld) (2003: 822).Brought back into the world oftechnology design, this intimate co-constitution ofconfigured materialities with configuring agencies clearly implies a very differentunderstanding of the ‘human-machine interface’.
    8. The trope of configuration animates another study of surgical practices by MargunAanestad (2003), who focuses on the labors (carried out predominately by women)involved in aligning a complex sociotechnical environment for the conduct of so-called‘minimally invasive’ or ‘keyhole’ surgery. The latterrequires, among other things,displacing the direct gaze of the surgeon and attendant practitioners from the interior ofthe patient’s body– formerly achieved only through a correspondingly large incision– to aview mediated through camera and video monitors. Aanestad’s analysis follows thecourse of shifting interdependencies in the assemblage, as changes to existingarrangements necessitate further changes through what she names thein situwork of“design in configuration” (2). She emphasizes that, incontrast to views of technologydesign as the province of (predominately male) ‘inventors’ located in research anddevelopment labs, the ongoing work of design takes place in the worksite, and isaccomplished by actors rarely recognized as designers.. Moreover, her analysis makesclear again how in such a setting the capacity for action is relational, dynamic andcollective rather than inherent in specific network elements, and how the extension of thenetwork in turn intensifies network dependencies.
    9. The feminist orientations of these studies add crucial sensibilities to thereconceptions of agency under development in STS more broadly. First, feministresearchdisplaces traditional preoccupations with abstracted and decontextualized formsofknowledge in favor of particular, specifically situated practices of knowing in action.Second, feminism directs attention always to the labors (particularly those previouslyignored) that are an essential and ongoing aspect ofsociotechnical assemblages and thecapacities for action that they enable. And finally, feminist research orients us not only torelations and symmetries among persons and things, but also to the politics of difference.The boundaries that constitute things as separate and different are treated not as pre-given, but as enacted, and practices of boundary-making and the enactment of differenceare inevitably political.
    10. Medical ethics and accountability, sheargues, need to be founded not in thefigure of the rational, informed citizen but in theconditions for the maintenance of those crucial relations that configure identities andselves, and that might allow them to be reconfigured in desired ways.
    11. agencies involved in the sustenance of vital bodily functions areprogressively delegated from ‘the patient’ as an autonomously embodied entity, to anintricately interconnected sociomaterial assemblage, and then back again.
    12. its role in bringing archeologists’ perception into theservice of a particular organizational/bureaucratic endeavor, that is, professionalarchaeology.
    13. A rich body ofempirical studies have further specified, elaborated, and deepened the senses in whichhuman agency is always inextricably tied to the specific sociomaterial arrangements ofwhich we are part.These studies provide compelling empirical demonstration of howcapacities for action can be reconceived on foundations quite different from those of anEnlightenment, humanist preoccupation with the individual actor living in a world ofseparate things. Insofar as we see the politics of technology to be based in fundamentalassumptions about where agency is located,and whose agencies matter, these approacheshave at least the potential to work as powerful allies to feminist projects. In particular,these scholars align with feminist theorizing in their emphasis on the always relationalcharacter of our capacities for action; the constructed nature of subjects and objects,resemblances and differences; and the corporeal grounds of knowing and action.
    14. Feminist research practices are distinguished by the joining of rigorous critique with acommitment to transformative engagement
    15. Must those not presentlyidentified as creative be shown in fact to be inventors in order tobe fully recognized? Thisquestion suggests that we need to pay close attention to the tensions and contradictionsthat arise when we adopt a strategy that distributes practices previously identifiedexclusively with certain people and places (for example, with privileged white menworking in elite institutions of science and technology) across a wider landscape (one thatincludes women). In distributing those practices more widely, they are givencorrespondingly greater presence. A counter project, therefore, is to question the valueplaced on innovation itself. The aim is to understand how a fascination with change andtransformation might not be universal, but rather specifically located and with particularpolitical consequences for women, both in termsof the possibilities that are available tothem, and the visibility of their already existing contributions.
    16. Recent research on the actual work involved in putting technologies into usehighlights the mundane forms of inventive yet taken for granted labor, hidden in thebackground, that are necessary to the success of complex sociotechnical arrangements.
    17. While not all of the authors and works cited would identify asfeminist, they share with feminist research– in my reading at least– a commitment tocritical, but also reconstructive engagement with received conceptions of the human, thetechnological and the relations between them.
    18. Barry proposesaview of inventiveness as “an index of the degree to which an object or practice isassociated withopening upquestions and possibilities ... what is inventive is not thenovelty of artefacts in themselves, but the novelty of the arrangements with other activitiesand entities within which artefacts are situated. And might be situated in the future” (p. 4).He suggests further that there might actually be an inverse relation between the speedofchange, and the expansion of inventiveness– that “moving things rapidly may increase ageneral state of inertia; fixing things in place before alternatives have the chance ofdeveloping” (p. 6). I have made a similar argument (Suchman 1999)with respect totechnology innovation under the banner of ‘artful integration,’ attemptingto shift the frameof design practice and its objects from the figure of the heroic designer and associated nextnew thing, to ongoing, collective practices of sociomaterial configuration, andreconfiguration in use.

      I think this is an important point, that relates to a statement from the Acceleration manifesto:

      1. Given the enslavement of technoscience to capitalist objectives (especially since the late 1970s) we surely do not yet know what a modern technosocial body can do. Who amongst us fully recognizes what untapped potentials await in the technology which has already been developed? Our wager is that the true transformative potentials of much of our technological and scientific research remain unexploited, filled with presently redundant features (or pre-adaptations) that, following a shift beyond the short-sighted capitalist socius, can become decisive.

      http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/05/14/accelerate-manifesto-for-an-accelerationist-politics/

    1. In the first question posed above – (there may be a document (or documents) in an archive with the potential to bring down a government. If this hasn’t happened yet, does that record have power?) – the latency of the archive-as-content is assumed. In other words, there’s always the possibility that somewhere in the repository is the single, golden item that will reveal itself as ‘the one’ – whatever that may be – and then the injection of agency, the transition from inherent to active power occurs, as Mike notes. More broadly though, I think there’s an ‘imagined’ power in archival repositories. Not only on the basis that they are often mythologized as the store of potentially ‘golden’ items, but also in the way that they allow communities to potentially imagine themselves as communities. This is Benedict Anderson’s thesis – that to be part of a group there needs to be a range of shared or widely accepted attributes and/or elements that the group imagines themselves all sharing – and the archival repository, although it doesn’t feature in his work, I think is a key to fulfilling this role. And in this role, it’s not about the one item, series or accession, but the very existence of the thing called an archive that is key. It has its mysterious ways, supported by a range of cool stereotypes (cardigan, ‘dust’, things ‘lost only to be ‘discovered’, ‘reading rooms etc…) which help to establish the archive as more than a thing, and all those attributes help to give it the air of mystery. If you need something, it’s likely to be ‘in the archive’. Even if you don’t, there’s safety in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, has carefully archived it. And it’s that mythologising I think that creates a peculiar type of archival power, at once active and activated, latent and potential.
    2. One aspect of such discussions is that power – whether assigned or inherent – is often treated as an actual or potential property of a discrete thing. But, looking at Annelie’s post, particular phrases stand out: Windschuttle engaged with archival documentation records were accessed and interpreted the Ngarrindjeri hold an extensive archival collection All are relational. They describe relationships between people (or groups of people) and records. Annelie approaches this idea with the following: “ultimately someone needs to be there to engage with the records and therefore assign power.” Taking this a step further, to understand power we need to understand the ways in which things interrelate. This doesn’t have to be engagement with the records (in the sense of access and use). An organisation which prevents access to its records (or destroys them) by doing so produces and reproduces structures of power. Power here is not something inherent to things, or assigned to things by agents, but the product of complex systems involving things, their relationships, and their contexts.
    1. The archival community needs game changers and iconoclasts. In some areas we need to directly challenge the established order and refuse to accept some practices and institutions as they currently stand. We need to show a willingness to adopt a DIY approach based on necessity; and we need to push ourselves forward, so we are seen and heard standing up for what we believe in (even those of us who consider ourselves introverts). Bring in the Clash or the Dead Kennedys and you get a strong sense of political and social justice. With Patti Smith comes a fusion of genres. With the Ramones at their best comes a stripped back, short, sharp shock. With riot grrrl comes a refusal to accept oppression based on gender, sexuality or class.

      This contains a some pretty good ideas around what 'a hacker in the archives' or 'archive hacking' might be.

    1. we must not place the burden of safety on users in terms of who is responsible and who suffers the consequences
    2. STRONG COMMUNITIES GIVE RISE TO MORE CONSENTFUL TECHNOLOGIESWhen attention is paid to relationships, stronger communities result. This is the case in physical communities as well as digital. Users and makers can strengthen their communities and improve consent therein by asking:• How can we better protect each other? For example, is there a technical way to have other community members see and respond to harassing messages, so the person who is targeted does not have to deal with the barrage alone?• How can we hold each other accountable as a community? What are some community-based strategies for addressing non-consensual actions that work on the roots of the issue?• How can we better support and uplift each other? How can we normalize asking for consent on our platform?Small changes can make a big difference when we add a little friction to pathways used for abusive behaviour, and when we make it easier for people to help each other. For example, new users might have a quieter voice until they’ve been around awhile, or messages mentioning you could be downvoted by your friends so you won’t see them.
    3. police and prisons are key vectors of violence in daily life.
    4. Community accountability is a community-based strategy, rather than a police/prison-based strategy, to address violence within our communities. Community accountability is a process in which a community — a group of friends, a family, a church, a workplace, an apartment complex, a neighborhood, etc — work together to do the following things:• Create and affirm values & practices that resist abuse and oppression and encourage safety, support, and accountability• Develop sustainable strategies to address community members’ abusive behavior, creating a process for them to account for their actions and transform their behavior• Commit to ongoing development of all members of the community, and the community itself, to transform the political conditions that reinforce oppression and violence• Provide safety & support to community members who are violently targeted that respects their self-determination1What would a community accountability approach to digital communities look like?
    5. Some people have called for police departments to become more knowledgeable about current technology, and for lawmakers to create harsher punishments for people who are committing violence online. But the problems with this approach mirror those that are rampant in enforcement of sexual assault laws.
    6. AN EQUITABLE ITERATION PROCESS“Fail faster” is a maxim of application developers these days. It means putting something out into the world quickly and responding to user feedback in future iterations. This is a great way to optimize the value of your application to your users, by starting with something simple and experimenting until you get the right features.Unfortunately while this process can increase positive impacts, it does nothing to diminish negatives impacts. The fail faster approach experiments not only with features but also with the lives of people using those features. Consider the release of the Alexa app for Amazon Echo, which did not allow for blocking calls or texts. This raises immediate red flags for anyone who has been doxed or stalked, and may have directly lead to harm for Alexa users. It isn’t enough to iterate features in response to harm — we must also iterate the process that lead to those features being released. What would that process look like if it was centered around the privacy and security of survivors of violence? Of people from communities that are regularly subject to state surveillance?
    7. We have found that asking people directly, as one would in a physical interaction, is a strong practice. How might your experience of the Internet shift if people who had access to your digital body, whether in the form of photos or contact information, were to check in with you from time to time about it? What technologies would we need to build to help us manage ongoing and direct consent processes?
    8. Platforms like Google are incorporating periodic check-ins with users about what they’ve consented to, which is a good start.
    9. If we can’t make it safer then we can acknowledge the remaining risks and educate users about them.
    10. IDEAS FOR TECHNICAL MECHANISMSA technique called differential privacy1 provides a way to measure the likelihood of negative impact and also a way to introduce plausible deniability, which in many cases can dramatically reduce risk exposure for sensitive data.Modern encryption techniques allow a user’s information to be fully encrypted on their device, but using it becomes unwieldy. Balancing the levels of encryption is challenging, but can create strong safety guarantees. Homomorphic encryption2 can allow certain types of processing or aggregation to happen without needing to decrypt the data.Creating falsifiable security claims allows independent analysts to validate those claims, and invalidate them when they are compromised. For example, by using subresource integrity to lock the code on a web page, the browser will refuse to load any compromised code. By then publishing the code’s hash in an immutable location, any compromise of the page is detectable easily (and automatically, with a service worker or external monitor).Taken to their logical conclusion these techniques suggest building our applications in a more decentralized3 way, which not only provides a higher bar for security, but also helps with scaling: if everyone is sharing some of the processing, the servers can do less work. In this model your digital body is no longer spread throughout servers on the internet; instead the applications come to you and you directly control how they interact with your data.
    11. We can do better. By designing the system so certain things are impossible, we lower the trust barrier for that system.
    12. Non-technology folks can contribute to building consentful tech by:• Holding the platforms we use accountable to how they use our data• Advocating for consent-focused policy and legislation • Intervening in development processes through community organizing (petitions, demonstrations, etc.)• Signing on to platforms that are consentful • Learning more about code, policies, and legislationTech folks can contribute to building consentful tech by:• Advocating for diverse teams• Opening up design & development processes to people who those who are vulnerable to harm• Working towards a culture of consent in our companies and organizations• Mentoring newcomers, particularly those who are often excluded or marginalized from mainstream tech communities• Growing our knowledge on concepts like collaborative design processes and intersectionality • Consistently reviewing our development processes
    13. Can people consent to Specific things in this system and not others? Can people select which aspects of their digital bodies they want to have exposed and have stored?
    14. Are people Freely giving us their consent to access and store parts of their digital bodies? Can potentially harmful personal information about a person be displayed or stored without their consent? Does our system allow for Reversible consent? How easy is it for people to withdraw both their consent and their data?How are we fully and clearly Informing people about what they’re consenting to? Is important information about the risks a user might be exposed to buried in the fine print of the terms & conditions?How are we making sure that the consent is Enthusiastic? Is there an option not to use this technology, which means that people use it because they prefer to use it?
    15. There are many ways to make technology more just and equitable, and consent is one important consideration. Non-consentful features and interactions can be minor nuisances for some people, but can be very harmful to others. When Facebook introduced photo tagging, anyone could tag you in a photo, whether or not you were okay with it. For some users, that could lead to embarrassment if the photo wasn’t particularly flattering. But for other people, the harm could be much more serious. For trans users, tagging photos from their pre-transition lives without their consent could lead to them being outed, which can have consequences for employment, housing, safety, and more.In response to user outcry, Facebook eventually implemented a process by which users can approve tagged photos. However, it required a critical mass of complaints to make this happen. And, Facebook still stores photos that are tagged with your face in its database, which informs its facial recognition algorithms. Whether you consented to being tagged or not, Facebook has a 98% accurate idea of what your face looks like.
    16. With our digital bodies, there is also more to consent than a “yes” or “no.” As our physical bodies become increasingly interlinked with our digital bodies, harm can’t be prevented by trying to avoid technology. And harm can’t be justified because someone checked a box that said “I agree to these terms and conditions.”Instead, cases like those on the previous page point to a need for a cultural and technological shift in how we understand digital consent, as well as a political shift in how we advocate for control over our digital bodies. We want to offer up the idea of consentful technologies to help us move toward this. Consentful technologies are applications and spaces in which consent underlies all aspects, from the way they are developed, to how data is stored and accessed, to the way interactions happen between users.We use consentful instead of “consensual” because the latter implies a singular ask or interaction. Consentful technology is about a holistic and ongoing approach to consent
    1. Person.prototype is an object shared by all instances of Person. It forms part of a lookup chain (that has a special name, "prototype chain"): any time you attempt to access a property of Person that isn't set, JavaScript will check Person.prototype to see if that property exists there instead. As a result, anything assigned to Person.prototype becomes available to all instances of that constructor via the this object.

      This seems closely related to the concept of Instance Variables in Ruby http://www.railstips.org/blog/archives/2009/05/11/class-and-instance-methods-in-ruby/

  7. May 2018
    1. Haraway’scontribution was to propose that rather than simply rejecting the cyborg figure, feministsmight actually reclaim it and explore its different possibilities. Among other things, sheargued that the cyborg could represent the life-affirming and enabling possibilities of closecouplings between people and machines. For it to do so, however, she urged that the studyof those connections include consistent attention to the labors that are inevitably required inorder for human-machine
    2. interactions to succeed. To the extent that those labors are obscured, humans disappearand artifacts are mystified.
    3. Donna Haraway’s famousintervention with respectto the figure of the ‘cyborg’ (1985/1991)
    1. Negative values included when assessing air quality In computing average pollutant concentrations, EPA includes recorded values that are below zero. EPA advised that this is consistent with NEPM AAQ procedures. Logically, however, the lowest possible value for air pollutant concentrations is zero. Either it is present, even if in very small amounts, or it is not. Negative values are an artefact of the measurement and recording process. Leaving negative values in the data introduces a negative bias, which potentially under represents actual concentrations of pollutants. We noted a considerable number of negative values recorded. For example, in 2016, negative values comprised 5.3 per cent of recorded hourly PM2.5 values, and 1.3 per cent of hourly PM10 values. When we excluded negative values from the calculation of one‐day averages, there were five more exceedance days for PM2.5 and one more for PM10 during 2016.
    1. The standards, which are set out below, are legally binding on each level of Government, and must be met by the year 2008.

      In what sense are these standards "legally binding" ? Are their fines or means for people to have polluters shut does if they contribute to these standards being violated? It's not clear what is meant by this.