Since 2013 and before and after, a wishlist has been circulating with a series of questions/demands/proposals for what feminist servers could mean/be.. Situations include between others, "Are you being served?" gathering of 2013 in Brussels, the AMRO festival of 2014, the TransH@ckFeminist meeting in Calafou of 2014, and many others.
This document at some point became known as “The Feminist Server Manifesto” and this almost anonymous text has been circulating for many years, and has been republished, rewritten, cited and referred to by different collectives and individuals committed to imagining digital infrastructures otherwise. A rewriting has been initiated in 2022 retitling it “Trans*feminist servers…”, removing the denotation “manifesto”, which had slipped into its name when published in Are You Being Served, and has been re-circulated in the occasion of AMRO festival 2022.
Instead of a straightforward declaration of intentions, this text is an ambiguous ongoing wishlist for techno-ecologies in the making; an ongoing set of spells for a different tech for this world, for different tech for different worlds.
Here is a shortlist of two of the versions, as a place to reflect and note together on how these sentences resonate with ATNOFS, with Rosa, and with other situations that question the cloud imperative and the other currently hegemonic modes of networked computation.
( pad made in occasion of the Tangible Cloud encounter in Brussels, 24/06/2022 https://tangible-cloud.be/ )
A feminist server ....
- Is a situated technology. Her sense of context results from a federation of competences
- Is run for and by a community that cares enough for her in order to make her exist
- Has an awareness of the materiality of software, hardware and the bodies gathered around it
- Treats network technology as part of a social reality
- Is able to scale up or down, and change processing speed whenever resources require
- At the risk of exposing her own insecurity, opens up processes, tools, sources, habits, patterns
- Does not strive for seamlessness. Talk of transparency too often signals that something needs to be made invisible
- Radically questions the conditions for serving and service; experiments with changing client - server relations where she can
- Avoids efficiency, ease-of-use and reliability because they can be traps
- Knows that networking is actually a parasitic, promiscuous and often awkward practice
- Is autonomous in the sense that she tries to decide for her own dependencies
- Takes control because she wants networks to be mutable and read-write accessible
- Faces her freedom with determination. Vulnerability is not an alibi
- Is a paranodal (we did not mean: paranoid) technology. A feminist server is both inside and outside the network
- Does not confuse a sense of false security with providing a safe place
- Tries hard not to apologize when she is sometimes not available
... exist in the wishful space-time between the no longer and the not yet.
... are run for and by collectives that care for them to make them exist.
... will towards non-extractive relationships, but in the meantime, are accountable for the ones they are complicit with.
... wish many understandings of collectivities into being, learning from their differences: we, us, them, us + them, us - them, me + you, me + them, them - me, ...
... radically question the conditions for serving and service; they experiment with changing client-server, user-device and guest-host-ghost relations where they can. Who is serving whom? Who is serving what? What is serving whom? Are they being served?
... do not serve every body; they continuously re-negotiate what counts as accessible. They respond to the fluctuating abilities, embodied knowledges and genealogies of their care-takers and users.
... reject generalized definitions of efficiency, efficacy, ease-of-use, transparency, scalability, accessibility, inclusion, optimization and immediacy because they are often traps.
... are sometimes not available. They will interrupt the continuity of colonial and patriarchal servitude, in consultation with ancestral forces of construction and destruction across times.
... cultivate more-than-human love for the swamp of inter-dependencies they are with.
... operate with both technology and humanness as entangled praxes in the making.
... are committed to an intersectional analysis of the conditions for and the operations of computation.
... carefully scale up or down, and alternate processing speeds whenever conditions require.
... consider autonomy, sovereignty and the many forms of governance that they can commit to, as always partial and mutually constitutive, in constant negotiation of the conditions of possibility.
... are a situated techno-ecology. They are aware of the materialities of software, hardware and of their grounds.
... want networks to be read-able and write-able.
... know that networking is not always comfortable; it includes the modes of existence that are flourishing in-between promiscuous links and nodes of power.
... share their processes, tools, sources, habits, patterns and memories and place them in circulation, while recognizing that they do not always need to be understood.
... take the risk of exposing their insecurities and do not confuse security with safety. They learn from sex-positive cultures of consent, trauma-informed kink, BDSM, anarchist relationalities and polyamory; transformative, restorative and healing justice; non-violent conflict resolution and community accountability; only-partial reparations of damage; pleasure-affirming harm reduction; queer kinship and queer care; pre-figurative community building and safeword-friendly agreements. They draw boundaries where needed and create safer space-times if possible.
... strive for seamfulness, and response-able relationality. They practice digital discomfort and take walks on the rough side.