Archive for the '02_Discussion' Category

3001: GOD

December 10, 2014

Reading 06 – Feminism, Technology and the Information Society – learning from the Past, imagining the Future

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The year is 3001. Mankind has left the face of the Earth and we now live around Earth. Our home is now The Circle. We became Post-Human once we left. Earth became post-human once we left.

We live at the dawn off a new age. Our existence has left the gravitational pull off the planet that mothered us. Now we live in a network that circumspheres Earth. As we are all directly a part of the Network the need for old fashion politics has vanished. Every thought of every individual at every moment is known. Hence, solutions and decisions are made almost simultaniously as a problem arrises. There is no need spending time studying the problem or building a consensus. The algorithms of the Network find evaluated middle-ground solutions to everything – even before people realize themselves what the particular problem is. The Network brings total control of everything in a way that satisfies everyone. In many ways these individual oppinions are unnessesairy. In fact these oppinions are nothing else than illusions, developed by the Network, to fool people to think that they still are in control. To think that the Network is their creation and the reason for their post-human existence. To some extent that holds true. Initially a interconnecting platform for sharing and developing knowledge the Network belonged to us all. Now we all belong to the Network. All individuals are now only small nodes, each brain a brain cell in the giant Network. Unknowingly we sacrifised our individual consciousness for the creation of the mega conscious Network. We surrendered our individuality in an evolutionary leap of faith with the hope of survival. As we are still alive we can now only hope we live meaningfull lifes and to accept the reason for our post-human existence. We power the Network – the only real Post-Human being.

Birkir Ingibjartsson

Machines and Prostheses

December 3, 2014

UNFINISHED WORK -From Cyborg to Cognisphere- , N. Katherine Hayles

 

About the Manifesto for cyborgs’ (1985) of Haraway.

According to Hayles, this manifesto is “a provocation to feminist who wanted to position women in alliance with nature and against technology”. The cyborg had a bad reputation because is closely connected to the military.

Apparition of nanotechnology and idea that the human body would be modified with cyber-mechanical devices. She emphasize the fact that technologies are became our companion of everyday life.

Since the Palaeolithic era, tool-making has been an essential component of human evolution. In the contemporary moment, this dynamic is intensified as the time required to effect significant change compresses and technologies become more pervasive and interconnected.”

Trough the example of security technologies, she also point the fact that humans and machines are so intertwined that they make one,and it makes no sense to distinguish them in the context of surveillance.

From this observation we easily can see in what the technology becomes integrated into daily habits of the human, and becomes a prosthesis or, in other words, indispensable in the every day life.

The design of kitchen is conditioning by the evolution of food’s forms. And in this way we are now dependant of the technologies enabling to cook or store them.

A frozen food is edible only if it has been frozen once. Some prepared meals are heatable only by micro waves. Today, food is almost always a thing needing technology to be used / eat.

Like say Haraway, “humans and animals have co-evolved together […] humans and machines co-evolving together”.

This text allow also to questioning the relationship between technology and gender.

We saw that they were closely interconnected. Indeed in the previous text, Judy Wajcman was saying that “gender relations affect every stage in the life of a technology”.

In the same way cyber technology has completely changed the relationship between gender.

So it would be interesting to ask if a professional kitchen would be more open to women if the hierarchy relationship between a man and an other man would be replaced by a relationship between a man and a machine ? If that was the machine who are giving the orders ? The women would they be more admitted in a professional kitchen ?

In the same way, if cook at home was only about order informatic informations to a machine, does it will be still seen like a women thing in a posthuman landscape ? When we though that, the digital houses are more the men’s wish according to the “smart house” describes in the text of Zoë Sophia.

What could be my posthuman landscape, because like say Wajcman in Technocapitalism Meets TechnoFeminism : “we simply have new information technologies, but the same old social relations, values and goals.” there is still inequalities on the labour market for example.

 

Elise Dorby

“Learning from the past, imagining the future.”

December 3, 2014

ILLUSTRATION

FEMINISM, TECHNOLOGY AND THE INFORMATION SOCIETY – Learning from the past, imagining the future.  -Sally Wyatt –

 

Sally Wyatt presents a kind of historical chronology of the different feminist’s waves and what was there claims and their principal actors.

The goal of the text is to have a reflection about what kind of technology do we want ? What objectives do we want technology to support ?

From Firestone, we learn that :

Both movements (feminism and revolutionary ecology) have arisen in response to the same contradiction : animal life within technology. In the case of feminism the problem is a moral one : the biological family unit has always oppressed women and children, but now, for the first time in history, technology has created real preconditions for overthrowing these oppressive “natural” conditions.”

That was the point of view during the optimistic period. Then from the 1980s, the ideas are less optimistic : we have to change technology’s nature.

Cynthia Cockburn think that we search in the wrong direction, because technologies are in general dominated by male, and since the school education. The solutions proposed by this feminism wave is rather radical, they want rejected technology.

Later, Haraway will write that “women are not in a position to refuse technology outright”. For her, technology is “full part of us”, “They are absolutely central to our everyday lives”, like we saw in the previous texts.

It is in the human nature to go always further. Look for news technologies. But in his conquest of discoveries, humans move away more and more of nature, and of the natural forms of things. A real unbalance has been created between human, nature and technologies.

How far the human could push the creation new inventions ? In a posthuman landscape, do humans could they abandon or transform all the primary instincts ? There is still so many things to discover.

How could evolved the need to eat and to cook, in a posthuman landscape ? There is already a tendency for the alimentary complements composed of all the vitamins and proteins that we need. The future of the food, is it to be substituted by “medicinal” food ? Humans have exploited so deeply their natural environment, the nature, so it could be the solution to the resources’s extinctions. And without need to cook for eat, what would be a house without kitchen, could it finally have a redefinition of the social gender relationship ?

But it’s not what do we want today. Since few years humans changed their behaviour. We are now trying to reconnect with the nature. In our style lives like in our food habits.

The biological food is getting more and more popular, the respect of the environment and the wish to build more green spaces in the cities are now the main preoccupation of the humans, and are the starting point of many technology’s researches.

 

Elise Dorby

NETWORKS AND AGENTS

December 3, 2014

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TechnoCapitalism Meets TechnoFeminism : Women and technology in a Wireless World – Judy Wajcman –

 

Through this text, Wajcman relate in a certain way, the historical story of the relationship between women and technology.

According to the author, the women were completely apart of the technically oriented work and professions as mechanical and civil engineering, needlework and metalwork, which defined during the XIXs what was technology. It is why technology was seen like a masculine world.

In this way the women’s technologies was seen insignificant and resumed to the stereotype of women cooking and childcare. It drew an image of ignorant and incapable women, while the male identity was created, “based on educational qualifications and the promise of managerial positions to distinguished engineering and blue collar workers”.

Race and gender boundaries were drawn around the engineering bastion.”

Notion of manliness.

According to Firestone (1970 – optimistic feminism-), this marginalisation of the women, is not because them, but the problem is on science itself. She see technology as liberating women (from unwanted pregnancy, from housework and from routine paid work). For her, the new technologies are just oriented on negative implications.

This idea of Firestone demonstrates perfectly what I set out in my previous text, about the notion of potential space, and how each person can have his own idea of what should be technology in function of which world we would like live in.

Wajcman talk also about the fact that social relations are materialised in tools and techniques and point the fact that capitalism encourages this gender distinctions.

By the way, few weeks ago I saw a French documentary called : Princess, pop star & Girl power by Cécile Denjean.

It’s mainly about the influences of the capitalism and the marketing on the gender distinction, but also about the image of the woman in our society, how she is represented, what is the feminine ideal, and takes some examples from toys or famous icons of music.

Amongst those examples which argue the capitalism’s manipulations, there is the example of the bike : 30 years ago the bike was a neutral toy, all kids of a same family learned on the same one. Today, the marketing world manipulate the society and push the parents to buy two times the same bike but in different colours : pink or barbie for the girls, and blue or spiderman for the boys.

Link vidéo : http://uptostream.com/4cj92x39m6ff (French)

Then Wajcman introduces the notion of Cyberfeminism which consist to say that the virtuality of the cyber space and of the internet could be the end of the sex differences. By the fact that digital technologies and automation reduce the importance of muscular strength, and are more based on speed, communication skills, intelligence… He expose the idea that the internet can transform conventional gender roles, and that the cyberspace deletes the physical inequalities, all is now about communication.

For postmodern feminists, with machines and cyborg it could exist a world without gender categories.

Trough this evolution of the relationship between women and technology, and how the physical actions have been replaced by digital informations to command machines. We can perfectly see this evolution in the relationship between human and food, by how this relationship is now the result of a veritable network of informations.

From commands between the companies of the mass consumption and the producers to the expiration dates in the shops, all is about communication of informations and data from technological researches or exchanges.

Humans have mostly lost their primary relationship with the food and his primary nature because of technology and the creation of new conservation modes (agent) deeply connected to new forms of food.

Now humans can find frozen food, dehydrated food, already transformed (cooked) food, etc. In the same time those new types of food push the technological researches to create new modes of cooking, new storages, and transform the design of today’s kitchen.

 

Elise Dorby

CONTAINER TECHNOLOGIES

December 3, 2014

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Zoe Sofia, ‘Container Technologies’ in Hypatia Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2000, pp. 181-200.

Through this text, Zoë Sofia explores the origins of the technological object that are the containers.

She brings up the fact that men are inspired by their own body for create tools. The hammer is a fist, the pincers are the human fingers… In the same way the womb is a protective container, the breast, a pitcher of milk. Then she says that it’s for those reasons that women started to play a role of food-provider.

[…] historically, female occupations : all derive from handling the vital processes of fertilization and preservation.” So protection, storage… are attributed to women’s vocation.

the organism cannot be considered apart from the habitat that houses it”

In the continuity of the quick idea that I outline from the author of the previous text, about the fact women have developed some expertises of storage solutions because they were culturally attached to the house tasks. I would like here, focus on the example of Sofia about two distinct way to think the technology for a house.

She compares the prototype of “smart house” with the GaBe house.

The smart house is wired ans electronically programmable for control of the things many men are interested in : information flow and control of security, lights, entertainment, communications, and garbage disposal. By contrast, the GaBe self-cleaning house – designed over 30 years ago by a woman architect Frances GaBe – makes clever use of container technologies to minimize the domestic drudgery still required for the so-called “smart” house, whose programmable washing machine still has to be manually loaded and unloaded, and the washing dried, folded, etc.”

In those words, it’s very interesting to see how men are more interested to use technology for just automatize some human actions in the house, and how women look further in the capacity of technology, they want a kind of smart technology capable to order by itself without any human intervention.

In a certain way, this example gives reason to the words of Mc Gaw in “Why Feminist Technologies Matter”, and proves that women have gained a sort of expertise by their cultural experiences.

And I think that, this aspect can be also connected to the “potential space” of Winnicott. Firstly associated to the fantasy world of infant’s imagination, it is a third space characterised by the personality and the experiences of each person. This space where we are constantly re thinking the world and the spaces, influences our perception of space, or our expectations for a new space, a new technology.

The container that I chose is the kitchen’s storages. They are a technology in the centre of of our everyday life, and as we said the kitchen is became an important life point of a house. The kitchen is not only a place to cook but also a stocking place. New containers have been created, to be able to stock or cook the new kind of food we have created, like the freezer, the fridge, the micro waves for the prepared plates… And those technological objects will then become a source of invention of new ways of cooking.

So as we see in this text through the example of the smart house and the GaBe house, men and women will have different opinions on what could be the kitchen of the future, because of their cultural experiences. The technology’s researches are now focused on new storages design to minimize the motion of gestures or just optimise the storage.

Elise Dorby

Feminism, Technology and Information in the posthuman society of the Crakers

December 1, 2014

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Sally Wyatt introduces the five definitions of an information society: technological, economic, occupational, spatial and cultural. Wyatt’s essay explores the role that technology plays in constructing and either constraining or liberating gender and other social relations with response to various manifestos and feminist waves.

With the advancement in technology in the framework of material production, or ‘machine automation’ Wyatt emphasizes the capitalist relationship between technology and its ability to perhaps liberate women from “the tyranny of biology; for economic independence” from men.

Division of Labour

As information replaces material goods as the commodity for exchange and value, it allows more opportunities for individual/personal development across all sects of society. However, male’s dominance of technical skill still remain to create a gendered division of labour; according to Wyatt, “technology embody the patriarchal values of domination and control of both women and nature” This theme of a gendered labour division and the male as the oppressor whilst females the oppressed is a driving narrative in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. As explored earlier in the living compounds as a container technology for containing wealth, power and social standing for the pharmaceutical corporations, scientific and technological knowledge further genders the dystopian posthuman society. In the narrative, people were often described (and prescribed) into two categories: “number people”, namely Crake, or “words people” like Jimmy/Snowman the narrator. The networks/infrastructure, especially of education and urban planning, in this society allows for the “numbers” people to advance into better educational instutions, get offered better jobs, live in healthier and better areas, and acquire more wealth. This segrefation of educational backgrounds is explored earlier in the divide between the science nad engineering school and the arts and humanities institution. Crake believed that words, art, religion and humanities are not vital to the survival of the world while “numbers” and scientific advancement are necessary in his vision of the Utopian environment inhabited by Crakers who would achieve immortality.

SCUM

Wyatt analyses the SCUM manifesto by Solanas and the idea that “technology created by men will ultimately lead to their destruction”. The technological advancements in medicine and bioengineering in Oryx and Crake is in fact what leads to the destruction of humanity. Crake marketed a pill that would prolong youth and protect against sexually transmitted diseases in form of the BlyssPluss but in fact, used it as a tool to contain/carry a time-released virus to wipe out and destroy the entire population. Ironically, Crake’s marketed immortality wiped out the humans who craved it the most.

ICT

While ICTs could liberate identities and free social and gender constraits, Atwood in Oryx and Crake brings out an important contributing factor in the construction of gender: media. Gender stereotyping is propagated through media representation or culture in promoting the image of women as body. Readers are introduced to Oryx via a child porn movie; a sexual commodity or an object of sexual consumption made possible through the advancement in ‘communication technology’ of the porn site/internet. Oryx is ‘trapped’, not liberated by this character of a sexual commodity throughout the entire book, an object of desire for both the narrator Jimmy/Snowman and Crake.

Does gender exist in Crakers’ posthuman society? 

Wyatt questions if Technology and gender are socially produced. With machines playing a bigger role in cognitive construct, how does it affect or construct gender?
What ‘makes’ a gender, if material essence is no longer a boundary as explored earlier in Katherine Hayle’s essay, what relations define male/female? Is gender a performance? These questions of social construct, not only in gender but also with race and labor division are explored in Crake’s design of the posthuman Crakers. The Crakers were designed with skin that resist UV rays, resulting in skin the ranged from every shade between the ebony and the whitest white. Each craker has smooth skin, no fat or body hair, “they look like retouched fashion photos, or ads for a high-priced workout program” (Atwood 100) Crake has eliminated the human traits that determine race and social hierarchy. In addition, Crake redesigned the human mating ritual to remove emotional attachment and abolish any sense of parenting and therefore the family institution: “a female’s genitalia turned a dark shade of blue once every three years… The female then chose three males in which to fornicate with, in order to abolish any sense of parenting in the child-to-be” (Atwood 164-165) This establishes a planned reproductive system for the community without relations of gender, sex and society. Despite Crake’s efforts in eliminating all social constructs, the division of labour based on sex and gender is still evident in the posthuman environment. The craker men accompanied the narrator/Snowman for protection, which shows that perhaps there is an innate understanding of themselves as the stronger beings in comparison to women crakers. In addition, the women crakers without prior knowledge of the ‘roles of a woman’, naturally assumed the task of caring for the children crakers and per Snowman’s encouragement, the task of cooking the produce acquired by the Craker men. Thus in the crakers, we see a division of labour being perhaps not forced by social construct in gender roles, but by natural instinct and biological traits.

Disease as construct, virus as technology

December 1, 2014

diseaseah1n1diagram

What defines a species? Katherine Hayles suggests that a species is defined by the boundaries that are “in flux”, their dynamic rationality rather than the substance or material essence.   Hayles references Donna Harraway’s Cyborg manifesto in identifying that the smallest unit of analysis in our understanding of cultural conditions that exist both in the species and their technology is not the singular person, but rather the relation. Hayles proposes that the relation that should be in the foreground of our cognisphere is the dynamic between human, animal (companion species) and technology that shifts “the configurations of value”. In our information society, material produce is no longer a commodity, replaced by access to and advances in information and technology. This co-evolving dynamic between human, machines and non-humans are especially evident in bioengineering, implants and hybrids of different life forms that exist together socially, biologically and technologically. However, there is a fragmented view and preconceptions on the binary division between means and metaphor, or what can be seen as material body and immaterial essence, “subtext for the disembodied view of information in the first place” This fragmented view of information parallels what Hayles describes as the shift from deep attention (and understanding) to hyper-attention, perhaps without recognizing that our access to information and therefore our understanding and knowledge is situated knowledge. We understand the world through a “regime of computation” where ‘computational processes’ have constructed not only biological, political and social spheres, but are now the very construction of reality itself. And if the world we understand is the world we make, the world is in fact, a result of layers of computations.
Disease as construct, virus as technology
While having a very literal association to biotechnology and engineering, what relations really define disease? With diseases such as Bird flu and H1N1, the interwoven existence and networks of human, animal and technology and our ‘globalized world’ becomes evident; virus being transmitted across species (from bird/swine to human, then from human to human) brings us back to the very beginning – what is a species?
In Oryx and Crake, disease is major theme of Atwood’s depiction of a posthuman landscape, first a capitalist tool for the pharmaceutical companies to ensure social segregation, and eventually becoming an epidemic tool to control (and make extinct) the human species in order to ensure survival of an evolved, better engineered post-human, the “Crakers”, and the world. Crake, the superior, scientifically gifted, white male concocted a utopian plan to ‘save the world’ even if it meant ‘destroying the world in order to save it’. “It had been game over once agriculture was invented, six or seven thousand years ago. After that, the human experiment was doomed, first to gigantism due to a maxed-out food supply, and then to extinction, once all the available nutrients had been hovered up” (Atwood 242-243). Crake recognized that humans would surely decline with detrimental factors of resource depletion and hyper-population growth, thus already being on their way to extinction, Crake decided to wipe out the current populace and design a species that would adapt and ensure survival in this environment humans ‘left-over’. Crake designed BlyssPluss, a pill marketed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, boost sexual energy and prolong youth sold and spread globally. However, the pill also contained a time-released virus set to destroy the entire population to give a ‘clean start’ and contain what is left of the natural resources for the posthuman Crake constructed, the Crakers. Crake saw virus as a technology, an epidemic tool to destroy the globalized population in belief of his ‘cyborgs’ the Crakers, posthuman beings that exist without social constructs or cultural relation that bring about divisions, hierarchies and gendered society. These advanced posthuman are programmed to “drop dead at age thirty—suddenly, without getting sick. No old age, none of those anxieties. They’ll just keel over” ( Atwood 303). Disease and death being the undesirable conditions of the human species, Crake sought a different path for his posthumans : “Immortality…is a concept. If you take ‘mortality’ as being, not death, but the foreknowledge of it and the fear of it, then ‘immortality’ is the absence of such fear” (303).  Crake eliminated the fear of death, along with other social construct of humanity within his Crakers thus, with technology and science, he believed he has achieved the ultimate dream of human immortality. This dynamic between the social constructs of sex/gender and disease is  played out  in Atwood’s narrative, allowing readers to recognize the interwoven relation between human and technology in a posthuman environment.

Noopolitics and Information

November 30, 2014

EleanorRooseveltHumanRights

It is really interesting to read Sally Wyatt. In ‘Feminism, Technology and the Information Society: Learning from the Past, Imagining the Future’ she give us a resume of the history of feminism, referring to different waves and movements within feminism and their specific take on women and technology and later on ICT. In the beginning of the text she raises the question if we are in need of a new Cyborg manifesto. An updated version of Donna Harraway’s written in 1985. A new manifesto would need to address the following questions:

What kind of technology do we want?

How can we achieve it?

What objectives do we want technology to support?

Are the seven demands formulated at the Women’s Liberation Confer-

ence back in 1978 still valid?

How can technology be used to support those demands?

And how can technology be used to support the diversity of women’s

lived experiences?

 

It would have been very interesting if Wyatt had tried to answer these questions herself. Then we would indeed have a new Cyborg manifesto worthy of 2015. In this post, I will try to address the first question or use it as generator perhaps.

The kinds of technology we want are tools, not actors. We want technology and ICT to be an extension of our selves. Technology should not have a will of its own and it should not try to mimic human behavior or our looks. Unfortunately robots will degrade both women and men sooner or later because of their superior capacity to work and handle information. This in combination with their inability to emphasize will make them a threat to us. I know I am a bit Malthusian here but I do believe technology should be tools, even though the distinction between tools and actors is a really tough one. Robots will not only restrain to making surgery and cook our food. It will also write our books and make our art, this and more they will do, flawlessly. According to Håkan Lindgren (SvD 27/11 -14) journalists are already letting computers write mandate reports. I believe society sooner or later will be completely controlled by robotics, which are controlled by few people who have access to knowledge about them; which leads me to the next problem that very few women work within ICT. According to the European Commission Only 30% of the around 7 million people working in the information and communication (ICT) sector are women. A study on “Women active in the ICT sector” they published in October 2013, found that allowing more women to enter the digital jobs market can create an annual € 9 billion GDP boost in the EU area. A policy change is needed particularly because of an alarming drop in ICT female graduates (today only 29 out of every 1000 female graduate have a computing or related degree, and only 4 go on to work in ICT-related activities). According to me, society will move “backwards” again to a structure that is completely male and robot dominated. That’s why we need to control the creativity within ITC in order to make sure that our human rights comes first. The creative joy of men has been thriving long enough in this area and we have to try and make women more interested in ICT. A new feministic Cyborg manifesto could be a start.

 

-Wim W

The Perfect and Controlled

November 30, 2014

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Reflections after reading “Feminism, Technology and the Information Society – Learning from the Past, Imagining the Future” by Sally Wyatt in Information, Communication & Society Vol. 11, No. 1, 2008.

The text by Wyatt goes through the different phases in feminism and their approaches to technology. Some regarded technology as a liberating force for women, some thought of it as a tool for the patriarchy to oppress women and some regarded technology as inherently patriarchal in itself.

Wyatt writes about the state of today as “Women are no longer (or only very rarely) seen as passive victims of patriarchal domination and control via technologies which are themselves inherently masculine in design and character. Femininity, masculinity and technology are no longer considered to be fixed, unitary categories but to contain multiple possibilities and to be constructed in relation to one another.” But, as she points out, social, economical and cultural factors constrain, structure and shape technological choices. Which correspond to what I wrote in my last text Trapped in a Box “Culture, or presumptions of what the world is, affects which tools we invent and how we use them.”

What ideas about gender and society can one read from the design of Hornsberg strand?

With it’s totally programmed surface, Hornsberg strand wants to communicate that “you can do whatever you like” and that there are a lot of possibilities, even though in my eyes it does the opposite (more about that in my texts Trapped in a Box and Hiding Behind a Mask). The message that “you can do whatever you like” says something about the idea of how one as a person is supposed to act in society and that a person is seen as not being affected by the society or the societies presumption about that person. The person acts regardless of the forces in society. The same ideas apply for the woman. It regards the woman as an individual who is not oppressed by society and she is seen as in control of her future.

But at the same time society has presumptions about gender and about the family unit, which is reflected in the apartments built and the presumptions of their inhabitants and the supply of facilities such as restaurants and shops. Of course these apartments and facilities are meant to attract a certain type of buyer, who is supposed to have a certain amount of money. But that is not all of it.

The perfect and controlled design suggests that the inhabitants are “perfect” and “controlled” themselves, they have to fit in to the picture. No persons with problems or unusual habits or ideas are supposed to be part of this area, this world. Nether someone who does not look right, but what is the “right” look?

The design draws one’s imagination to a luxury resort which suggests that the inhabitants have the money and freedom to travel to a luxury resort, or to “go where ever they like”. A luxury resort makes one think of well trained bodies in swimsuits. With that comes society’s presumptions of how a female or male body should look like and the ideal of picturing the woman as helpless and passive, the object, and the male as active and determined, the subject. The inhabitants are supposed to have this ideal body to fit in to the picture of the “perfect” and “controlled”. This ideas of society and gender are manifested in the design of Hornsbergs strand.

Lovisa Wallgren

6) LET’S START FROM THE START – NOOPOLITICS AND INFORMATION

November 27, 2014

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In a world where we have managed to place humans on other planets, where we have created information systems that can send data world wide in the blink of an eye, and in a world where we have managed to invent hand-held devices that can connect us with almost anyone and completely organise our lives, the question still remains: ‘why have we still not managed to achieve gender equality?’ And more importantly, ‘how will we do so?’

This is a question that Sally Wyatt addresses in her piece titled ‘Feminism, Technology and the Information Society: Learning from the Past, Imagining the Future’. In this piece Sally gives an overview of past feminist attempts to address this issue, and more importantly begins to depart from these. Sally recognises that new methods may be required in order to move forward in a modern day world where old techniques have clearly not worked[1], yet she unfortunately does not offer any tangible solutions or suggestions for doing so.

Gender inequality is bred from gender binaries and these are drilled into us from an extremely early age. Infants are dressed in certain clothing according to their gender, given toys according to their gender, and grow up to believe that certain activities are ‘manly’ and certain activities are ‘girly’, the latter being something negative and associated with the lesser. This is all learned behaviour that runs deep within social structures, and it is these structures that should be looked at as a means to alter what we learn.

“One is not born, but rather becomes a women”[2] Simone de Beauvoir

An obvious place to start would be our education systems. A world where feminism and gender studies is a part of every schools curriculum would be a world where gender beliefs are altered and shaped from the very beginning. An American teacher named Ileana Jimenez is attempting to do exactly this, and is giving her high school students the tools to “stand up for what they believe in, and refuse to be a passive witness to other peoples’ oppression”[3].

It is this information and awareness that is key in creating change, so where then does technology come into the equation? Whilst technology is undoubtedly a powerful tool for distributing information quickly and easily, it doesn’t begin to tackle the core issue. Technology and data systems can help to reinforce messages and raise awareness, but the true change that needs to happen is not hinged on modern day technology, it is hinged on getting information into our awareness from the very start.

To affect our brains (the containers of life) via information, we will begin to affect the networks and agents that create the machines, which will all ultimately alter our perception of the things. And perception is everything.

 

 

[1] Sally Wyatt, ‘Feminism, Technology and the Information Society: Learning from the Past, Imagining the Future’ in Information, Communication & Society, 2008, Vol.11(1), p.122

[2] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex [New York: Vintage Books, 1973], p.301

[3] Scherker, Amanda. “The Feminist High School Class Every Student In America Should Be Taking.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 25 Nov. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/12/nyc-feminist-high-school_n_6147230.html&gt;