images of the world and the inscription of

"Mundo autónomo, o sea, con leyes propias, con contradicciones propias, donde la exigencia es alegre y la paciencia duradera, donde aún no te has recuperado de la frase que acabas de escuchar cuando llega el siguiente golpe, la siguiente idea o emoción, idea y emoción, que tanta generosidad quepa en un par de cuerpos y que comprendamos, al mismo tiempo, que ciertas cosas no pueden enseñarse, sólo pueden aprenderse."  (de Miriam Martín sobre Où gît votre sourire enfoui?, Pedro Costa, 2001)


let’s first get things done

: on division of labor and practices of delegation in times of mediated politics and politicized technologies

4th of August, 2014
Thinking together /  Osthang Project
Darmstadt, Germany

"How can we live together? This is the very simple and fun (if not challenging) question that the participants of the Osthang Architecture Summer School will be asking this Summer in Darmstadt, Germany. The program will come to a closure with a nine day(!) public forum titled “thinking together” curated by Berno Odo Polzer. As Berno writes:
“«Thinking Together» is focused on rethinking future modes of living together in a pluricentric world, so it is a transdisciplinary platform for political imagination: ‘political’ because it is concerned with the way in which we organize the spaces, practices and lives that we share, locally as well as globally – ‘imagination’ because it is aimed at forming new ideas and imaginaries about how to do so.”

Be it in getting out the call for the next demonstration on some “cloud service”, or developing a progressive tech project in the name of an imagined user community, scarcity of resources and distribution of expertise makes short cuts inevitable. But do they really?

The current distance between those who organise their activism to develop “technical infrastructures” and those who bring their struggles to these infrastructures is remarkable. The paradoxical consequences can be baffling: (radical) activists organize and sustain themselves using “free” technical services provided by Fortune 500 companies. At the same time, “alternative tech practices”, like the Free Software Community, are sustained by a select (visionary and male) few, proposing crypto with 9-lives as the minimum infrastructure for any political undertaking.

The naturalization of this division of labor may be recognized in statements about activists having better things to do than to tinker with code or hardware, or in technological projects that locate their politics solely in the technology and infrastructures as if they are outside of the social and political domain. What may seem like a pragmatic solution actually re-iterates faultlines of race, gender, age and class. Through the convenient delegation of “tech matters” to the techies or to commercial services, collectives may experience a shift in the collective’s priorities and a reframing of their activist culture through technological decisions. The latter, however, are typically not open to a broader political discussion and contestation. Such separation also gets in the way of actively considering the way in which changes in our political realities are entangled with shifts in technological infrastructures.

We want to use this day to resist the reflex of “first getting things done” in order to start a long term collaboration that intersects those of us with a background in politics of society and politics of technology." (Seda Gürses)

Together with Seda Gürses, Femke Snelting & Miriyam Aouragh

+ info on Thinking together here


publicación: Teknokultura "entre dos siglos"

"Este libro reúne una selección de los trabajos publicados en la revista digital Teknokultura en conmemoración de sus trece años de existencia. Los textos incluidos en esta “antología” muestran la diversidad de temas, cuestionamientos y debates que Teknokultura ha albergado y fomentado desde su aparición en 2001. Se han quedado fuera muchos otros también importantes que forman parte del esfuerzo de crear un foro de discusión sobre asuntos de tecnología que deje de una vez por todas de concentrarse en el aparato y el estrecho ámbito de sus usos particulares para atender las maneras complejas en las que la tecnología como sistemas de significación reestructura la vida social, económica, política y cultural. Invitamos al lector a transitar por estas páginas con la expectativa de suscitar suficientes inquietudes como para continuar la discusión, así como acción política y social más allá de ellas."

+ info: catarata.org


gendered Turing tests and strategies for concealing and identifying gender online

"In the prelude to How We Became Posthuman, N. Katherine Hayles describes two different variations on the Turing test. The most famous one, the one many of us may know, involves a person using some kind of computerized chat interface to talk to either a computer, or a human in another room. It is the task of the test subject to determine, from conversation, whether their interlocutor is human or machine. Passing the Turing test has long been seen as one of the holy grails of artificial intelligence. When computers are able to pass as human, the argument goes, one of the distinctions between humans and computers dissolves.

Hayles also describes another Turing test. This one starts in the same way as the previous, with a human participant talking to someone in another room through a computerized chat interface. But in this one, the discussion partner on the other side is definitely human. The goal of the participant is, instead, to determine whether their conversation partner is male or female. If this second Turing test has similar stakes to the first, Hayles asks, does an ability to fool the participant negate the gender of the human on the other side? (...)

There's a huge spectrum of ways that gender is represented, discussed, made an issue, or turned into infrastructure on the internet. Different platforms construct gender as an issue of varying importance. In some software development communities (on mailing lists, in IRC), it's generally considered impolite to ask people for personal details that they're not readily volunteering. A comment raised by this is the idea that many women don't get noticed or counted because they don't mention or make obvious their gender, because the default or un-gendered stated is considered to be male. If someone does not make it explicitly clear that she is a woman, she is assumed to be a man. If someone makes it explicitly clear that they are something other than simply a woman or man, it starts a discussion, which may or may not be welcome to the person who has accidentally instigated it. So on one side of this spectrum, there's communities where disclosing gender is not structurally necessary and speculation is entirely a private activity by individuals; on the other side of the spectrum, there are platforms like Facebook, where including a gender is a required activity in profile building, and where the default is man or woman, unless you choose to start writing in an answer, and then there's an authorized list of possibilities. Gender is built into the bedrock of Facebook. We take for granted that we can find out what gender someone is on Facebook. Moreso, we take for granted that we can find out what gender someone is, in general."

+info: http://www.constantvzw.org/site/Gendered-Turing-tests.html