### Taking care with tech
When I tell folk that I don’t use social media much, that I’m not on Instagram and have never used whastapp they often call me a Luddite. They might be right. The term has come to mean people who fear or don’t understand technology, a continuation of the capitalist mantra that anyone who doesn’t turn a blind eye to exploitative labour practices and an extractive economy is just slow in the uptake. But the Luddites weren’t afraid of technology, they just cared deeply about the way technology was being deployed and understood the wider implications and cycles of exploitation inherent in industrialisation. Women spinners in Scotland threatened to set the mills on fire. Because they cared.
At the height of Covid pandemic panic, outmoded governments still obsessed with economic growth and maintaining the capitalist dogma labelled profit-making work as essential. And they took the opportunity to declare the work of activists, artists, and community organisers a danger to public health. We were stripped of our means of production in the face of economic, social, environmental, and health crises. While struggling to find new ways to connect and care for each other, trying to build a new inclusive system of care on platforms owned by rich white venture capitalist men just felt counter-intuitive. Enabling the surveillance capitalism nightmare to advance at a rapid pace was not the intention.
I’ve spent much of this last year building new connections with feminist coders, hackers and technologists. Searching for new allies, trying to learn how to care better in distant relationships built through and mediated by technology. Working out how to balance rage with love, getting it wrong and trying again. Trying hard to incorporate that care and love and rage into our lives and our activism to find ways to really love each other in the face of a world driven by individualism and competition.
How we might use the new technologies available to us in a way that prioritises care and inclusivity is a growing conversation. We want to know what the feminist internet looks like, how we establish a data commons and how we consent to what we share on a feminist social media.
In response to these questions women **** are generating a series of radical approaches for transforming digital spaces. Subverting existing online space, building new platforms, community intranets and systems with a code of conduct based on mutual respect as a first point of contact. We are collectively building a feminist toolkit, tools to dismantle the patriarchy, and tools to repair the damage. Knowing when technology is useful and when it is not, remembering not to rely on it. Multiple manifestos on feminist internets seek to decolonise online spheres. In new networks built by and for women consent is vital, and it is not reduced to a binary yes or no. Across all of this work, the commonly agreed elements of a feminist internet are for platforms and networks to prioritise care, inclusivity, and transparency. We need a digital commons, one where we own our own data as a common resource. A resource to be held ourselves, used only when needed for an agreed collective good. And never ever sold back to us.
**** _this includes important work by trans and intersex women, non-binary and gender fluid people_
Links to some great articles:
- [Alternative internets article](https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/alternative-internets-and-their-lost-histories/)
- [Bot populi podcasts](https://botpopuli.net/)
- [Feminist principles of the internet](https://feministinternet.org/)
- [Gendering Surveillance](https://genderingsurveillance.internetdemocracy.in)
- [Consent to our data bodies](https://www.apc.org/fr/node/36129)
Ailie Rutherford is a visual artist working at the intersection of community activism and creative practice. Her collaborative artworks bring people together in conversations about our social and economic landscape using print, performance, sci-fi visioning, games and technology as playful means to work through difficult questions and radically re-think our shared futures. Resulting works range from proposed new models for living and working together to the building of new infrastructure.
Recent projects include: The People’s Bank of Govanhill a long term social art project in Govanhill (Glasgow) realising feminist economic theory in a community context. String Figures collaborative software for collective working centred on a principle of mutual care and co-operation, titled after techno-feminist Donna Haraway’s metaphor for the inextricable threads that connect us all.
Her feminist economic artworks have been shown at Unbox festival, (Bengaluru, India) MoneyLab at Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Supermarkt (Berlin, Germany) and for Tracing The Tracks//Work Affair at Rum 46 (Aarhus, Denmark).
Ailie is currently working as curator for NEoN digital arts Wired Women festival.
Invited by [Furtherfield](https://www.furtherfield.org/)