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*Annotating a Feminist Internet (AtFI)*

Nancy Mauro-Flude (sister0.tv)

#materialistInformatics

#networkCollaboration

#experientialPedagogy

#feministMethodologies


Introduction

*Annotating the Feminist Internet (AtFI)* is a 2-hour writing session inviting participants to engage in expanding upon a draft set of 10 Arbitrary Working Points to swell the imagination of what a feminist Internet is, and what it could become. A springboard for participants to remap, reconfigure, edit, redefine in a situated performative framework - in relation to one another, reading together is a ritual means to re-read, invoke and re-write. Invited to initially meet on an open-source video platform, an antechamber before ‘opting in’ to the reading circle.

An acknowledgment by the hosts via a spoken word, and accompanying cue cards: acknowledging the guests, hosts and ghosts of ancestors past, present and emerging; the country where the AtFI server rests, and speaking the spaces inhabited by the participants may be a place where sovereignty has not ever been ceded. Subsequently the hosts usher participants through a chat element in a browser address bar. In order to shift from the antechamber through to the main stage, to arrive at the location of the reading circle - a purposely configured Etherpad, an open-source text editor for real time multiple authoring.

A Code of Conduct is bestowed and technical How To preamble is delivered by the host – typed in real time for the participants to read and join. Participants are guided to circulate thoughts as they read and run text in a shared repository. The transition from communicating via audio/visual streaming, to reading and writing in network space, enables a perceptual shift and validates tacit modes of accessing and countering information.


The Recipe

The name/colour identification allocations appear in a horizontal list below the URL address bar in the easy-to-use collaborative word editing environment. Participants who opt out of name allocation appeared as ‘unnamed’. To facilitate the exploration of a cacophony of voices and decentring authorship through cross-over writing methods alongside the development of overlapping individual pieces, comments such as:
‘I just adjusted by colour to differentiate myself… weird…Unnecessary?’
‘its so quiet but also frenetic’
‘I got kicked off mid-sentence and can’t find where I was writing lol’

Substantiate how contributors were reflexive of their experience, as they simultaneously engaged with the ephemeral practises of reading and writing in communion, image adapts working points such as ‘-1’ lime green, dark green, orange and purple); substantiating how beliefs are embedded in acts of writing and how language is implicated in behaviour.
Image 01: Writing the Feminist Internet – working points for the 21 Century v.1 30 May 2020, 1400–1600 AEST. The top of the image for participants’ chosen name identification and a link to the Terms of Participation which includes a code of conduct. This gives an example and a glimpse into how different participant authors choose how to identify themselves: first name, unnamed, art duo brand, declaration of gender pronoun markers and so on. Image credits: Detail Screenshot Session 1 Writing the Feminist Internet – working points for the 21 Century v.1 30 May 2020, 1400–1600 AEST Image: Nancy Mauro-Flude.

Cookware

  • Time Zone Converter
  • An Etherpad – a tool for public collaboration
  • An internet-connected computer device – connected to a monitor and keyboard, installed with a web browser (Chrome/Brave/Firefox)

Ingredients

  • Hosts / Participants
  • A score/script including a ‘How To’ Etherpad presentation and Terms of Participation
  • Cue cards
  • Draft set of 10 working points
  • Code of Conduct
  • Glossary

Tips

  • For best results - it recommended AtFI is preferably hosted on an autonomous feminist server run server, but not essential.
  • Manage expectations in advance and give recommendations to participants willing to work collectively, to nurture a tolerance for ambiguity and have respect for the Code of Conduct. In some cases dependent on context Code of Conduct can be built upon beforehand serving as an ongoing resource.
  • Along with a draft set of 10 working points that elaborate upon the spurious nature of property and ownership and ‘The forgotten female laborers, whose removal from that history is paralleled by the erasure of the work of ethnic or indigenous…coders… technology itself becomes a medium of critical theory… not only as a tool of “social dreaming” …but also as a vehicle for a radical critical… practice… often as a remedy to legal and political disempowerment’ (Hanna Musial 2018, 166–7).
  • It is suggested that a ‘Code of Conduct’ and Glossary are informed by the epistemologies of intersectional and fourth wave feminism to depict the embodied, situated, inexorable, cherished, and radical ways in which the performance enabled participants to conduct provocative frolics on the front lines of text. You may want to build upon the feminist ‘wave’ metaphor and acknowledgethat the undercurrents of nautical lineages come to endure through ‘debt, or inheritance’ (Clarke Mane 2012, 78); a vicarious confluence of flows.
  • It is highly encouraged that an explanation of the vast idea of modern computation was first articulated almost two centuries ago by Ada Lovelace (1842) whose depiction of computing capabilities contained transcendental and symbolic ‘Notes’—align this with Ted ‘hypertext’ Nelson’s stance on programming as a ‘weaving of plans of events (and where they are to take place) – the choreography of happenings’ (Nelson 1987, 40). Lovelace’s (1842) proposition contends that below layers of obfuscation, her revelations endure in the emergence of bio-technical-cultural transformations in the twenty-first century.

Steps

  1. Arrange a two hour duration of time and location with hosts and inform participants (make sure you include different time zones and hemispheres on the planet).
  2. Develop a score/script including a ‘How To’ Etherpad presentation, draft set of 10 working points, Code of Conduct, and a Glossary. Prepared in advance by the hosts – they may be crowd sourced by the participants in advance and could contain computer subculture lingo, or they may consist of ethnographic observations, informed by feminist genealogies that are spectral and manifold, illuminating the plurality agendas that constitute computer mediated interaction. The potency of the mutable ‘points’ lies in their indeterminate stance, where new meanings and enunciations can brew.
  3. Hosts initiate a verbal and written welcome and acknowledgement of the country. Folding in Terms of Participation and introductions: I’m name {waves}, name {waves} I’m name {waves} etc.
  4. Share the Etherpad link and move to the reading circle URL.

Host <PREAMBLE>

  1. Share Etherpad links in the chat for Terms of Participation and Code of Conduct.
  2. Explains about data collection and identity, modes of keystrokes typed and deleted - will become archival documents in the next 2 hours and how participants can choose to remain anonymous.
  3. A ‘How To’ link for latecomers (or people that may want to rehash elements should be visible at the top of the AtFi Etherpad).
  4. Present a ‘How To’ Etherpad so that participants are able to choose a preferred colour and/or name, elaborate how as more users start to edit the document they appear in a list and hence there may be many textual colours according to whom is writing into the working points.
A multi coloured text that responded to the prompts ‘A Feminist Internet…’ in the image we see how participants (denoted by colour and syntax) to riff upon the output from ‘The Feminist Internet is …’ above and below. Transfigure pluralities of ‘Feminists internets are…’; ‘Feminists internets’ which ‘refuses, excels, connects, disseminates, is a mutant, refuses, rejects, WILL EAT YOU’ and so on. where the reader as writer, as conjurer, is faced to think not of communication but rather performances with materialities and related knowledge production in collaboration with the paraphernalia of writerly technologies.
Image 02 Detail: Screenshot Session 1 WtFI where colour play highlights delegitimize authorial authority and composts knowledge production. It alludes to a trajectory that is forking and diversified, a collective quixotic oddity, where many arms work as one, purposely writing in synchronicity and then in the occasional unpredictable asynchronous deviation the mélange of individual and collective participation. Beyond the adoption of a solution for WtFI (2020) could be considered a ruse to reflect upon the imaginaries of a ‘Feminist Internet’ in action, at the crossroads of theoretical interrogation, art practice and feminist webserver technology. Image credits: Detail Screenshot Session 1 Writing the Feminist Internet – working points for the 21 Century v.1 30 May 2020, 1400–1600 AEST Image: Nancy Mauro-Flude.

The ‘How To’ Etherpad Steps

  1. Choose/change your desired name and colour [can change this at any time during the 2 hour event]
  2. To do this click on the “3 people icon” at the top right of your browser page - click on the Colour square to choose your preferred colour and/or name.

As more users start to edit ‘hello’ into the document they will appear in this list and hence there may be many colours according to whom is writing into the text.

<then copy and paste the ‘how to‘ to the Terms of Participation>

The ‘How To’ Etherpad presentation should highlight the ways that individuals could represent themselves within the collective online writing environment. The advice suggests participants enter an author name, and to designate a colour of which both could be shifted and modified, at any time during the activity. Clarification can be made when more users start to edit in the document there may be many colours according to who is writing into the text, as a process that enables the individual subject to be seen as part of the broader collective. Participants may deliberately seek to concentrate on the visuality of typography, forming new compositional properties of words or liberating words from the anecdotal limitations of syntax, in a wayward manner arranging the space beyond lexical norms.

Lead a warm up session for the ensemble - this may include a series of stretches and basic housekeeping Instructions for collaborative writing on a multiple-author writing pad (reminders for how to mute), making sure people have provisions like water, outline the guidelines to keep things flowing, seeding the ground that is open for flourishing, performative explorations into diverse *feminist traditions of knowledge production.

Hosts guide the collaborative writing session where annotations may overwrite, edit, correct, challenge, echo, duplicate, expand, solidify, summarize, nuance, incant… while carving out online space away from imperialist systems, and towards skill sharing, fluidity and multiplicity. Working from the position of an open *feminism that embraces multiplicity, diversity, gender-bending, queerness, unfixed-ness, becoming, transforming, shifting, making space for underrepresented voices, and not privileging our voices in relation to others.

Amidst temporalities, converging hemispheres enabled through a composition of computational networks and web server software. In the spirit of ‘a political project that calls upon us to combat the modern colonial tendency to presume that one framework can be marshaled to account for all the others (Van Der Tuin and Nocek 2019, 820)’. Throughout the two hour duration hosts should gently gauge that light is being shed on the valences and bedlam of technopolitics that circulate beneath the surface of the interface.

Stir up questions about the convergence of media theory, creative art practice and feminist waves to ‘do whatever we know how to order it to perform’ (Lovelace cited in Menabrea [1842] n.d) that serve as a reminder that erasure in the realm of writing and technopolitics is not apolitical, nor ahistorical.

Depending on predelection you may want to reflect on the call for ‘hybrid of feminist activist efforts’ noted by Emma A. Jane, positing towards ‘a recalibrated approach to collectivism’ (Jane 2015, 285) to give rise to a vast communal realm for the expression of alterities. Expanding upon the Internet as feminist space is a critique of the usual instrumental perception of computation, and a metaphor to elucidate the abundant convergence of exchange as a stirring prolific space, oriented towards profusion.

After 2 Hours
  1. Participants are thanked and the reading circle is closed.
  2. Etherpad is modified to READ ONLY setting.
  3. Host versions the session and makes a timestamp.

END


Licensing Information

This recipe is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)


Further Readings

  1. Bailey, M, and Trudy. 2018. ‘On Misogynoir: Citation, Erasure, and Plagiarism.’ Feminist Media Studies 18, no. 4 (2018): 762–768. doi: 10.1080/14680777.2018.1447395.
  2. Chamberlain, P. 2016. ‘Affective temporality: towards a fourth wave,’ Gender and Education 28 (3): 458–464. doi: 10.1080/09540253.2016.1169249.
  3. Clark Mane, R. L. 2012. ‘Transmuting Grammars of Whiteness in Third-Wave Feminism: Interrogating Postrace Histories, Postmodern Abstraction, and the Proliferation of Difference in Third-Wave Texts.’ Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 38 (1): 71–98. doi: 10.1086/665810
  4. Jane, E. A. 2016. ‘Online misogyny and feminist digilantism,’ Continuum 30 (3): 284–297. doi: 10.1080/10304312.2016.1166560.
  5. Menabrea, L. F. [1842] n.d. ‘Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage’, In Bibliothèque Universelle de Genève 82, translated by Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace, located at The Analytical Engine Emulator developed by Stephan Adams (MIT), www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/sketch.html. Accessed 17 May 2021.
  6. Musial, H. 2018. ‘Metaphors of Decryption: Designs, Poetics, Collaborations’. In Decrypting Power, the Global Critical Caribbean Thought Series, edited by Ricardo Sanín-Restrepo. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
  7. Nelson, T. 1987 [1974]. Computer lib/dream machines. Revised edition. Redmond: Tempus Books; Microsoft Press.
  8. Stein, D. K. ‘Lady Lovelace’s Notes: Technical Text and Cultural Context.’ Victorian Studies 28, no. 1 (1984): 33-67.
  9. Van Der Tuin, I. 2015. Generational Feminism: New Materialist Introduction to a Generative Approach. London: Lexington Books.
  10. Van Der Tuin, I. and Nocek, A.J. 2015. Philosophy Today 63, Issue 4 (Fall 2019).

Q&A

What is the context or background that inspired your recipe?

Feminist grassroots inspire the recipe counter cultures; womxn led technical events and autonomously determined communities. Foster experiential sites where tools, machines, webservers hard discs mutually act as hosts, guides and mediums (i.e., Gender Changer Academy (GCA) systerserver.net, the eclectic tech carnival /etc).

Which community are you offering the recipe to?

AtFI is a reading circle for transdisciplinary researchers, coders, readers, writers of fiction and non-fiction, artists, poets, critics, curators, designers, artists, critical theorists, feminist economists, healers, software developers, commons-oriented scholars, open-source software freedom fighters. Communities committed to tuning in to explore fertile directions in which to proceed, rather than just pointing at ossified obstacles around an emergent technology; attentive to holistic media philosophies and processes of techné.

How does your submission relate to intersectional feminism?

AtFI is a practice of digesting text to make it more accessible, just as much as it salvages and mends appropriated antidotes, replenishes perceptions, shares remedies, anecdotes and other offerings by womxn that have been erroneously diminished. Acknowledging gendered disparities, to embrace post-patriarchal futures, within an Etherpad, a low bandwidth, open-source text editor for multiple authoring, Taking the lead from Bailey and Trudy (2018) who ‘reflect how misogynoir functions in social and institutional settings’ (2018, 766), in order to seek out nascent forms and processes that steer away from racial-socio-cultural asymmetry, and other (techno)essentialist mandates towards alterities that exist beyond the yoke of imperialist regimes.

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