Embedded Politics and Values in Technology (11:30-12:30)


Session Title: Embedded Politics and Values in Technology
Date: March 23rd

Rafael P.
Jeff W.

Overview of topic (3-6 sentences):
In this discussion we talked about the philosophies in regards to values and ethics embedded within OSH and science/technology. After discussing our own interests in the session, we posed questions that we would like to be answered. We tackled the first question, but then run out of time for discussing, so are hoping to continue the discussion in person and through an online forum.

Notes: [pardon typos! I need to come back and fully edit]

Rafael :: Professor, interested in shifting mindsets brings philosophy into his scientific practice
Fernando: Science to activism – when at at that activist part, how do you design for knowing that toward activism
Thomas: Open science in Africa – working with cognitive justice & commons
Joel : interested in the embedded politics of tools, wants to spend more time thinking about it. Gaining more awareness and tools to do this
Jeff W.: from public lab, helped to write one of these post-its. Starting to use this object that has hunting symbolism, how to remake the politics that comes with objects, remake how it is presented, how does that reconfigure the use
Alexander :: Very easy to get in a way where you don’t decide what you do, wants to get to a place where you can decide
Juliana : many experiences in makerspaces/hackerspaces where she feels uncomfortable, risk of technology driven to somewhere you don’t want to go. Two different kinds of people – people who want to go to that place, and people who don’t want to go but keep going down the tech driven and progress driven path because
Ellen : Care and different framings of technology, redefining tech how people take part and who takes part
Phil : Here because of equity in relationship to biology & the ethics of care – medical advocacy and access to information. Affects how he thinks about the technology of knowledge
Max : Feminist decolonial science lab, do it intentionally and really well, but do it in isolation, wants more nuance and subtle
Hagit : open source hardware, DIY aero-mapping, Bedoin communities in Palastine. Thinking about human rights activism, more and more use of drones and aerial photography, becoming central in human rights action. Cretaing significant gaps between the organizaitons and activists and the peoples whose rights are being abused – b/c uneven acceess to tech. interested n the opportunities that OH creates for communities that are being abused - how can we create collaborative designa nd moe community engagement for creating data and ownership/authorship over this data
Lina : Japanese, but coming from Europe - 11 co-lab workshops in 7 cities, values latour’s “alternative relatiies” open up considering other ways of doing science. Adopted that concpet and consider/vaule other realities of doing science. Diff perspectives of where and how we use technology. how we can bring that to diff ocmmunities – how to use phil to further explore how we talk about tech
Laura : Artist, language for art always reflecting on content that we communicate. here b/c of curiosity, want to discuss about ethics in the use of open hardware, how artists can help open up the black box
Maria : Designer researcher, ethics & empathy a big part of her practice, in the ways she does design research.

Philosophy is about making questions - so what are the questions that everyone has?
… AND these are the questions that came out!

  1. (Max) What are the strategies and tactics of making values explicit in open source hardware?
  2. (Joel) Does a design object have inherent politic values, or do the values come to the object in context? [drones in Palastine vs. drone air strikes]
  3. (Phil) Is open biology even really open, and an issue with language of DIY – what is implicit in that language, how is the language forming our ideas?
  4. (Hagit) Can open science hardware mobilize public action? How design helps build publics?
  5. (Thomas) Openness vs. capitalism, how can we keep the original idea, the social goal, of openness not towards capitalism? [Max: given capitalism how do we keep openness – literature on post-capitalism possibly (Juliana)]
    – Max – add your own resources on the wiki page!]
  6. (Juliana) In which way do we think open hardware can change the world? [or do we think it can?]

Andre pops in: developing some OSH and teaching people how to hop on the community and leverage it.
7. (Jeff, a spin on number 1.) What are strategies and tactics for remaking values? [strategies, tactics, and risks – Juliana brings up danger/risks]

So we decide to grapple with question #1/7. We decide to do a round table of basically the how to remake values in your practices with OSH or otherwise. Concretely, specifically, do you actually already do this, or try to, enact new values in the world

  • Hagit: 1) Important for hardware itself to be made out of materials you can find anywhere in the world, cost (public labs), that’s one value people can be active in creating their own instrument, not be dependent on money and expertise, accessible skills/materials 2) want people to learn in the process of making – through action
  • Rafael - difference b/n free software and open source, sticking to the values of openness, not just free
  • Fernando - values come out in how we frame a problem. Do you frame a problem, and with whom, and how do you make this issue common for everyone; not sure what is the tool to do that. bringing in different viewpoints for problem ideation
  • Thomas - in education for making values explicit?
  • Joel - where is the edge of your ability to use a strategy or a tactic – in teaching physical computing and when talking about how the objects or how they talk to one another; issues of language ‘master & slave’ yet to be in the world and use the technology, have to use this language that may be offensive or reproduces dominant framings. How to break this?
  • Alejandro - Not how but when. Reach people very early as soon as you can. in university, communicate clearly and show ways of doing things different than the mainstream, change is possible.
  • Hagit - how to build collaborative processes for people to be engaged in the very first stages of research for defining research questions
  • Andre - show real life examples when you adopt values, or when you start adopting, using history and case studies in history
  • Thomas - in terms of strategy have to avoid citizen exploitation in public engagement
  • Juliana – values can be shown in the way you work, horizontally in a comparative way. We are not isolated, we are political beings, supporting causes that we think are right – might bring some risks [like not getting funding] but I think that’s honest. Working with people, not just supporting - not just saying, but acting coherently giving alternative ways of making, doing, and taking technology – not having the support of the institution, how can we not just create, but find places to bring these ideas and discuss these ideas
  • Ellen: Teaching students alternative framings of knowledge, alternative histories, of who designs and takes part in tech production. Pointing to labor and forces that have been made invisible or are marked as unimportant to tech production/design.
  • Phil: In demonstration and performance and in acts, has to do with maybe not the public, but an active demonstration, you can discuss values but need to practice them – work with someone who is very different from you, but working towards a joint ethics. Look to literature or arts that are not scientific at all

Thoughts beyond:

  • Who’s at the receiving end of it, for you, making values explicit for who
  • GOSH manifesto about calling people to arms, to collaborate, trying to bring people in
  • Consensus-based decision making with the group. what our most important value is; that can be equity. when you have two crappy decisions to make. go back to the value, and decide which of those two paths get our closer to that value [Max will share on wiki]
  • Make things that call default authority into question; make things that default authority can’t do.

Max: What do we want the life of this to be [before we ask other questions]
Hagit: Instead of going into new subject, maybe take what we’ve done, maybe focus on one thing we’ve brought up, would prefer to stay on this topic
Andre: a point where people can start teaching, and working with these things, draft a document afterwards?
Thomas: the problem of social needs. where should the innovation come from?
Fernando: so many questions, maybe these are the guidelines toward continuing these conversations – put some resources, maybe can make sure these resources are shared
Juliana: Forum, create resource for continuing the conversation, a particular online infrastructure that helps with the answering of questions, sharing of resources, etc.
Thomas: Possible that people won’t interact as much online [so let’s keep this in mind]
Andre: A time at the end of the conference, or the in-between, there is after the conference – we could meet physically in person
Rafael: These are the values of the community, we can invite more people

We will continue to the discussion at lunch, and we can open a forum thing online to share resources & links – how to organize, put a format to facilitate the collaboration for thinking on these questions, interventions, tactics, possibilities.


I think we made a few relevant questions on this session. I want to share a few texts that maybe can help in the answers of the questions 2, 4 and 7 (see above).

Maybe we can share some other resources and at some point have a discussion about possible answers…