4: The Network as tool for technology

November 10, 2014

When the darkness falls another animal awakes on it’s branch in an East Indian rainforest – or is it Gondwana? Every motion it feels, every move, appears to be heavy and light at the same time.

She cannot move faster, trapped in that body, trapped in space – it’s too dark to see where the forest ends, but she sees far enough. She feels the blood pumping in her arm, cold-warm, warm-cold. She feels a small sting in her belly from something she ate. Sometimes she feels incomplete, like she misses out on things, like she’s trapped in that body and her mind wants’ to move fast between the trees or out in space. Her talent is her patience; this is usually not how she feels. Go, go and gone you where, itchy feeling of inadequacy.

She looks into the darkness, every light mirrored twice at the back of her eyes making her see further than most. She spots a grasshopper some branches away and slowly starts to move one of her arms.

 tröglori-red

 

The Slow Loris moves according to its name almost in slow motion. [1] The half-monkey is related to the Lesser bushbabies and to be able to compete for food with them the Loris specialized in eating poisonous animals. To be able to handle the poison it digests the food much slower which in turn prevents it from using too much energy, therefore the Loris mostly just sit still or sleep and only when needing to find food it moves its slow motion-like body movements. The Loris shows that evolution doesn’t always make the best of everything but only as far as it needs to. Sometimes a mutation makes a species turn in other directions and sometimes they can’t even adapt.

While humanity is the most adapting it is also the most exploiting. In the film Interstellar we experience a fictive future where humans have exploited the earth and slowly it (the earth) becomes useless and dangerous. [2] We’ve become too many, wanting too much and need to search for other planets to colonize. Judy Wajcman reflects on changes in the way feminist theorists looks upon technology where feminists have debated “whether the problem lay in men’s domination of technology or whether the technology is in some sense inherently patriarchal”.[3] I concluded part 3 with the idea to choose sleep instead of technology where sleep rather signified a different view on technology than often chosen. I meant that action might not always be preferable, depending on what the goal is. The problem here is that the motives decides what direction technology takes. “Social scientists increasingly recognize that technological innovations is itself shaped by the social circumstances within which it takes place”, therefore technology cannot be seen as something neutral and must be related to its social context. [4] At the same time nature is far from perfect, as can be seen in the way evolution sometimes takes strange turns. But even though nature might not be perfect it always relates to its surrounding environment in a much more sensitive way than humans. With that I don’t want to sound like a speaker for the “ecofeminism” referred to in Waicmans text but rather to seek a more sensitive approach in the way we relate to the environment in which technology is created and activated. [5] We don’t want to end up in the Interstellar-situation, but at the same time if we do (which might be a consequence of our own actions or just evolutionary changes) we have the ability to seek solutions through technology. To reject technology as malevolent as the 1970´s feminists did might then not be a good, or even desired solution.[6]

What I aim at is rather our relationship with technology than a rejection of it. As “Industrial technology might have had a patriarchal character but digital technologies, based on brain rather than brawn, on networks rather than hierarchy, herald a new relationship between women and machines” we see a change in what purpose technology might gain. [7]

The Tardigrade operates in different sites and adapt to those sites if needed. They operate slow and almost invisibly (to us at least). I imagine their networks being a mirror neuron network where they all mirror each others feelings and operate according to everyone else in the group – but as individuals. This could also be seen as a site – a site for mutual sympathy and consideration. This is what me and my feminist friends call “kind rooms” (Snälla rum). A kind room is a space of mutual acceptance: A prestige-less site where feelings are above rationality, where appreciation and laughter generate projects, and encouragement is more important than winning. Our feminist design tool is to create a common space where we can find strength and security and encourage each other to explore un-known fields of knowledge. The Tardigrade here becomes my agent, a carrier of values (that it might not possess depending on view). It operates in different sites in a kind of passive but constant way, but it also creates sites through being there. It creates climates for understanding in a place that could otherwise just be seen from a point of property value. On the Slow Lori I project what happens when someone else decides your destiny or your place to be. How stuck you feel when being excluded. This understanding of social climate might be a way to approach technology and see beyond traditional methods for how to do technology and what technology might be. The network then becomes a possibility to open up technology for those at present excluded.

/Tove Grönroos

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.svtplay.se/video/2386110/varldens-natur/naturens-drivkrafter-avsnitt-3-vastra-ghats-i-indien 2014-11-08

[2] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816692/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 2014-11-08

[3] Judy Wajcman, ‘Feminist Theories of Technology’ in Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2009, pp. 10

[4] Waicman, pp. 15

[5] Waicman, pp. 13

[6] Waicman, p. 11

[7] Waicman p. 12

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