Ah, nothing like a day of made-up, sportsball jingoism 🤮

In a line with the kind of work I'm doing in my general research, which I engage most deeply in my dissertation— which I talking more about below— here's a start at something I've been thinking about lately:

Alison Kafer (https://iupress.org/9780253009340/feminist-queer-crip/), Joshua Earle (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=Jd_s4EsAAAAJ&hl=en), Jillian Weise (https://www.google.com/search?q=%22jillian+weise%22+%22cyborg%22) , Ashley Shew (https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=98S5m5kAAAAJ), and others (myself included; see below) have talked a lot about how the cultural imaginary of "the cyborg" should never have been disconnected from the history of disability and how while Haraway's work did a lot of very important things, it still could have benefited from a more careful engagement with the real live people today who live entangled lives with technology. As I've often said, the foundational myth of the cyborg is a story about space disabling us all, and one about the process of adaptation to an environment which fundamentally wants to do us harm, and we've talked about the fact that the stories we use to orient ourselves future pick up this thread, as well.

Some have talked about the idea of reading the history of Disability and Technology as stretching back to even the mythcycle of Hephaestus, the artificer of the Greek Gods who was, himself, an amputee, either causing or as a result of his being cast from Olympus, as it is variously told. Hephaestus' birth was the result of an asexual reproductive revenge plot by Hera; Zeus then birthed Athena from his own head after a tryst with Okeanos in retaliation. Two children born of the same fight being the gods of artistry, craft, craftiness, and technological knowledge is interesting in and of itself, but that's another conversation. This one is about how in some versions of Hephaestus' story, he was kicked out of Olympus by Zeus for trying to free her after Zeus locked her up after she tried to kill Herakles, and this casting down caused him to become injured to the point of needing to amputate his hand and boot. But in other tellings, he was cast out ***because*** his hand and foot were injured.

That is, in many versions of the story, Hephaestus was kicked out of heaven ***Because He Was Disabled***.

And then, after that— when he had learned secrets of magic and honed his artificer's knowledge and created a whole new area of skill and technology— ***then*** he was found favourable in the gods' sight and brought back in to design them weapons and armour and tools and fancy toys. When the disabled god was found to have special knowledge— was found to have developed special knowledge so that he could adapt to a world that actively hated and punished him for being disabled— and when that special knowledge was considered useful to the other gods, ***then*** he was allowed to come back around. And it is notable that in some versions of the Hephaestus mythcycle, his response to this realization is a giant "Fuck You" and a determination to stay in his workshop forge; y'know, the place that he would have set up and adjusted exactly how he wanted and needed it in order to do the work that he loved.

Tables the right height, benches the right length, tools in exactly the proper relational arrangement to be optimally useful to his needs? Yeah. And let's not forget, helpers he designed specifically to facilitate and complete the work.

I've talked about the Greek myth of Hephaestus and his automata as one of the foundational stories of "artificial intelligence" and "robotics," before; I bring it up in some talks and I've written about it a little online, to show that the history of "AI" has always been bound up in our myths and magic and our fuzzy-bordered ideas of creating minds that we then treat as servants. But something that hit me this week, and which you can probably see coming now, in light of the above, is that the story of Hephaestus clearly demonstrates that the historical and foundational myths of "AI" have their roots in disability and assistive technology.

The automata were all crafted either as gifts for gods or royalty, or explicitly as helpers for Hephaestus himself, and were said to feel human emotions. This being the case, there's something of an important tension in thinking through both the liberatory and oppressive aspects of what the automata were and were for, in terms of both facilitating Hephaestus' adaptation and accessibility, but also being rendered as enslaved minds within a slaveholding culture.

Again: The founding stories we have told ourselves about automated systems and created nonhuman minds are entangled stories about treating minds as mere tools, and of disabled and otherwise marginalized people's lived experiential knowledge being devalued until it's useful to non-disabled, privileged people. So if it's surprising that we should find those confused and disappointing threads in our contemporary discussions on the topic of "artificial intelligence," then it is only so because at over 2800 years later, you'd think we'd've had time to learn better.

(this is a segment from my newsletter, and if you want to read more of it, it's here: https://tinyletter.com/Technoccult/letters/technoccult-news-the-days-of-swine-and-roses)

I'm going to this on the 10th of december, it's an event run by Geeks of Social Change -- is anyone else going?? Would be great to meet you there!


Welcome, fellow human. I would like to understand your ear geometry.

Unfortunately I have to stop actively working on #Metatext for a while due to health issues. I really wish I could implement Mastodon 4 features and squash every bug, but it's not possible for me to do so right now.

I know the app has become important to a lot people, so I'm open to a new maintainer who can carry on its values of privacy and accessibility taking it over if there's interest and a fit. Email info@metabolist.org if you (or your organization) are interested

Anyway, reminded of this because not many men apply to come and work with us, and we were talking about why that might be.

Is it because we're currently an all woman team? Or because we have the words "feminism" and "care" in our company values (against, as it happens, a hot pink background, but I like to think we're beyond that now)?

Or all of the above?

It is, of course, entirely possible I just answered my own question.


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In our team meeting today, I was reminded that we once received a job application from someone that included the sentence, "This looks like a great job, but I looked at your website and what's all this 'Feminism for the 99%' nonsense?", which is certainly a confident approach.

Anyhow, all of this is to not to say that point-to-point information networks necessarily end up as monopolies, but that there are definitely economic forces that push in that direction that have to be considered in designing networks, crafting regulations, and — when commerce comes into play — structuring markets. Even email, everyone's favorite example of decentralization, is now facilitated by a small cartel of rich commercial providers. 15/

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Absolute binfire of UK politics 

A positive side effect of more or less checking out from UK political news on Twitter is that I'd missed that Matt Hancock is now in the running to be - and yes, this is actually what it's called, in this completely normal country - King of the Jungle theguardian.com/politics/2022/

supporting this call for worker-owned Mastodon/#Fediverse moderators' co-op from @schock🧵https://mastodon.lol/@schock/109383950563020172 & @hrheingold. I've experience moderating, & with co-ops; am in social.coop, suggest as model & incubator, see @ntnsndr article https://wiki.social.coop/How-to-make-the-fediverse-your-own.html

Thinking of Ruth Schwartz Cowan's More Work for Mother today as I move some things around at home, and how my instinctive urge to hang pictures and bring colour and fill empty surfaces with things just makes more spaces where dust will accumulate and need to be cleaned away.

🕸️ 📘 Hi, I'm a scholar* who wrote a book about #FLOSS & #hacking cultures holding "diversity" conversations 🖥️ 🌈

One take-home from that work is that EuroAm #FOSS communities' frameworks for thinking abt #gender inclusion were far more sophisticated than their analysis of positioning wrt #race & Global North-South relations. Sharing bc some may need reading on hegemonic #whiteness in #fediverse : https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691192888/hacking-diversity

*white settler cis woman #HackingDiversity #Mastodon #racism #commodon #STS

@nickcolley @rachelcoldicutt I think that should be done carefully. I picked Qoto as my initial instance, only to realize afterwards that I'm effectively shadow banned from parts of the Fediverse because of it.

If niche communities want to defederate, that's one thing. But if larger instances defederate, it creates fragmentation of the overall community.

But generally, I don't think new users have a good way to know which parts of the community they will have contact with, let alone why, when they join an open instance. I think that's a really bad thing and it's also only weakly correlated to managing abuse.

@evan @markallerton @ks

As a Black person, simply signing up for a Mastodon account can expose you to vile racist slurs and threats of violence. Most Mastodon users are one popular toot away from discovering that their instance mods are either unwilling or completely unprepared to deal with this.

Because a centralized whitelist was abused in a cynical attack years ago, the fediverse kinda gave up on that idea, and has been very resistant to it ever since.

@rachelcoldicutt This brings into view a question about solidarity and in the end, what we might accept as our own accountability for broader standards of conduct and content.

Put briefly, can the "fediverse" concretely enabled by implementations of ActivityPub allow assemblag.es to directly assist neighbouring communities, either with labour or resources, by doing more than defederating from malicious instances? If not, is this design adequate or one that should be adopted or adapted?

@Are0h here 'tis -- still a draft, feedback welcome! I quoted your point about safety concerns in the Introduction and the last paragraph about whiteness fighting to assert itself in the last section on "The view from 2022"


One bit of anti-doomscrolling friction I'm noticing on Mastodon is that the longer post length (and, I think, the formatting of links in the mobile app I'm using) seem to make reading a lot more effortful, somehow? Almost as if, physically, I can't cast my eye over my feed in the same way as on Twitter/Insta.

We want to help small councils get their very own .gov.uk domain names.

Would you like to help with that?

Apply online at https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/digital-outcomes-and-specialists/opportunities/18573

Boosts & LinkedIn shares appreciated 👍

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assemblag.es is a Mastodon instance for people interested in thinking creatively and critically about technology, in the broadest sense. The only requirement is that you keep to the code of conduct! Note: we've paused new signups for a few days while we deal with the #twittermigration influx - please do request an invite, but be aware that for now functions more like a 'waiting list' than a knock on the door, until our numbers stabilise again :-)