Welcome to CSNI’s Conversations. This is a space for presentations and the open exchange of ideas, and includes a number of tools such as Jitsi Meet, Etherpad and Padlet. In keeping with our research focus, we see the tools and the topics we are working with as necessarily interlinked.
Moreover, although education and research institutions have almost exclusively turned to online commercial platforms (such as Zoom and Teams), we think it important to use alternatives that open up wider discussion around the politics of infrastructure. We see outsourcing as a problem that goes beyond operability/functionality to open up wider issues related to surveillance, privacy and internet freedom. This tendency is nothing new – as communications have been increasingly outsourced to big tech companies (like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft, etc.) that have no interest in education as such – but has become further entrenched during the COVID‑19 pandemic. In times of crisis, there is a tendency to be reactive and pay less attention to far-reaching social and political effects. A further irony we observe is that as institutions offer their commitment to decolonising the curriculum they forget to extend these principles to decolonising the technologies they use.
As a preliminary introduction to these issues, and what is at stake, we recommend the following resources:
• Jara Rocha, A catalog of formats for digital discomfort… and other ways to resist totalitarian zoomification, eds. Seda Gürses and Jara Rocha (2021), http://titipi.org/projects/discomfort/CatalogOFFDigitalDiscomfort.pdf
• Seda Gürses, “Rectangles R-Us” (2020), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXFslDTSy-k
• Constant, “Dear cultural institution, there is an elephant in the room” (2019), https://pad.constantvzw.org/p/elephant
• Syed Mustafa Ali, “A Brief Introduction to Decolonial Computing,” XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, 22(4) (2016): 16–21. https://doi.org/10.1145/2930886
• FemTechNet, Feminist Pedagogy in a Time of Coronavirus Pandemic (2020), https://femtechnet.org/feminist-pedagogy-in-a-time-of-coronavirus-pandemic/
• Varia, “Digital Solidarity Networks” (2020), https://pad.vvvvvvaria.org/digital-solidarity-networks
• De-Googlify the Internet, campaign against the centralization of digital lives by web giants, https://degooglisons-internet.org/?l=en
We also aim to build partnerships with organisations that hold similar values (i.e. Constant, Lurk, RiseUp). The conversations platform is in a continual state of development and flux, and is supported by Tim Fransen (LSBU Technical Support Services) and hosted by GreenGeeks LLC.