RT @PaperWhispers@twitter.com

The work @Sistah_Space@twitter.com does to give refuge to Black people experiencing domestic abuse and to campaign for cultural competency training for government bodies is vital to resist racism in UK. Here is their fundraiser to purchase a refuge. Tell Everyone!


🐦🔗: https://twitter.com/PaperWhispers/status/1597957964920676352

I'm absolutely not advocating for real name policies or reduced privacy. It's an act of respect for the people you engage to situate yourself in some kind of context.

If that's hard to understand, then imagine how it looks if you message someone you've never engaged with before? It looks creepy as hell. So rather than pushing all the labour back onto others, it's nice to do share the effort out and make things better for everyone in your community.

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If you've never had to pay much attention to how other people treat you online (and I hate to generalise, but I'm going to guess that - if that's the case - you may be able-bodied white CIS man with certain immigration status) then maybe you don't have much insight into all the hidden labour that others have to do to minimise exposure to unsafe behaviours.

And there is, let me tell you, a *lot* of hidden labour.

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Hi hi hello *please can you fill out your bio with _some_ information about yourself*, esp if you are man who likes to regularly drop into people's mentions and messages AND you have a non-real name username.

Not being able to see people's social graph on here makes it very difficult to situate people in context, esp when they don't explain who they are.

If you are releasing "open" data to help people who are struggling with the cost-of-living, putting it on a 22MB+ web map is not really thinking about those people. That 22MB page load would cost 23p on my PAYG data and that is before interacting with the map. More web developers could do with having regular experience of limited data/bandwidth.

Blast, does anyone remember the name of that website which is/was (I hope it does still exist!) basically a public repository of all these AB/multivariant tests done at scale for various patterns/features?

Search keywords are killing me rn 😫

Online Safety 

A blog post from me about relying too much on technology to sort out online harms, which may or may not relate to - *waves arms* - recent comments about the online safety bill


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

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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 :-)