Everything is interdependent, everything is constantly resurfacing, all is intersectional. We live under and manufacture the systems in which we coordinate, engage, and exchange. How do we step back and realize the abundance of these partnerships? How do we honor and nurture the links we have within and between ourselves, and with that of nature? At the same time, ‘connectivity’ is a nebulous space—the internet has become a go-to messaging platform and human right. Disconnect from the internet has proven to be disastrous. Today, we witness acts of gentrification and redlining offline and online. The infrastructure & laborers that connect us to the internet are often obfuscated. What does equity in internet access look like?
Connectivity is about our relationships with technologies and one another through the environments it has shaped. This raises questions of emergence, ecosystems, systems, interdependency, power, and access.
When we move towards handmade acts of intention and ways of being on the web, we turn to its most human parts. Oftentimes the technology we engage with is commercial and works outside of our self-interest. How can we design and nurture our own spaces and to reclaim agency over our data, platforms, and tools? We want to investigate and learn the principles and technical skills behind cozy skills from programming, archival, to sewing. Making what you need and what the people closest to you need is the most powerful thing you can do — what is small at scale can be incredibly powerful. When we create folk technologies, we shape it more carefully for the people we love.
What experiences, practices, and rituals have emerged in the digital space? How do we respect the labor put into technologies—focusing first and foremost on the people that we’re shaping technology for?
Labor & Intelligence
Innovation is nothing without people. Tech workers make the industry possible, but have not historically been the decision makers behind our technologies—it’s time to interrogate this imbalance, the conditions of our industries and technologies, and turn to the tech worker. From call center workers, IT technicians, contractors, content moderators… it’s time to consider whose labor we value.
Machine intelligence is far from new, but it’s more pertinent than ever. As AI treads on the realms of creativity & authorship, we must carefully reconsider who we deem as technologists and the ways our technologies proliferate. Moreover, the exploitation of human labor often powers these machines. How can we constructively find a grounds for ethical uses of machines when we’ve long devalued our laborers?
We have always been building technology for people. To shape a tool is to shape a future that we want humanity to partake in building. That is an act of love.
Can we not only reclaim technology as a tool for liberation — can we reinvent it to be a space for care? How might we shape offline & online networks of care? Can technology be ‘soft’, gentle, and kind? ‘Tenderness’ might be one of the last adjectives we think of when asked to describe computing — which is why we’re interested in prompts, reflections, and methods to craft a more empathetic, consensual, and purposeful web that nurtures love rather than hinders it. With tenderness comes theories and practices of ethics, care, and consciousness against over-optimization, callous “move fast, break things” mindsets, capitalism, and technosolutionism.
In the end, thinking about technology and tenderness invites us to reimagine our relationship with computing from a personal level—as computing has always been personal.