[spectre] Open call for web explorations of governance archaeology

dar mar needles.and.pinheads at gmail.com
Wed May 19 10:23:19 CEST 2021

Excavations: Governance Archaeology for the Future of the Internet

A multimodal conversation


After a full year of almost every facet of life porting online, the stakes
of governing online communities and infrastructures have never been higher.
As a contribution to current digital policy conversations this project
invites artists, tinkerers, and technologists to bring explorations of
human governance practices, from ancient cultures to contemporary social
movements, from the slums of emerging megacities to Indigenous
communities—all into dialogue with the governance of the Internet.

In comparison to present and historical democratic institutions offline,
online communities have a relatively impoverished set of tools available
for democratic governance (Schneider 2020
<https://ntnsndr.in/ImplicitFeudalism>). Excavations: Governance
Archaeology for the Future of the Internet is interested in what might be
learned from pre-digital mechanisms across diverse societies and cultural
practice. Ancient Athens’ system of lotteries for public offices, for
instance, could help us better regulate algorithms today (Carugati 2020
There is a long record of practice and research on governance in the social
sciences that bear valuable insights. For this exploration, we propose to
conduct "archaeology" on a wide range of historical, present-day, and
fictional governance practices and to radically expand the repertoire
available for governance in online and offline communities alike.

The project proposes a research-creation model based on the exchange
between the social sciences and art practice, in the context of online
community governance. How can communities govern platforms in the age of
algorithmic governance? Who is accountable to whom, and how? How is labor
distributed between code, bot, land, and flesh? How is identity negotiated
between what is fluid and verified? What are instances in which freedom of
expression is in conflict with regulation?

This project aims to open the spaces between the visible and the layered,
nuanced particularities of specific communities and platforms, through a
collaborative excavation of what it means to make and be community on the
Internet today. We hope to explore governance challenges including, but not
limited to:


   Accountability for how platforms organize work and personal data

   Participatory design and consent

   Building and sustaining communities

   Resolving rule violations and conflicts

   Overseeing algorithmic decision making

We invite creators to explore possible futures for Internet governance,
drawing inspiration from non-digital sources of experience including:


   Indigenous practices exploited, ignored, or suppressed by colonizers

   Historical democratic practices that have been absent from more recent
   governance norms

   Emergent innovations in subcultures past or present

   Imaginations of future governance from science/speculative fiction

   Rituals of community in conversation with rituals of justice systems

Practice-based researchers are invited to apply
for our multimodal cohort, which will develop and cocreate online
explorations into a public conversation and exhibition. Chosen
practitioners will receive a $1,000 stipend to develop Web-ready
explorations, in collaboration with other members of the cohort.
Explorations can range from documentary to speculative, including
provocations, proposed frameworks, visualizations and maps, prototypes,
reenactments, identity corrections, interventions, musings, and
anarchives (Zielinski,
The cohort will meet online in both synchronous and asynchronous form from
July-September 2021 on a regular biweekly basis, in which each of the
chosen projects will be developed in a collaborative process of iterations,
mutual feedback, and collective work. The result of this process will be an
exhibition at global digital policy venues, a public conversation, and a
collective web space.

Deadline:June 15th

Notification of Acceptance: July 1st

Cohort Residency: July-September

Public Conversation: December 2021

Apply here

This is curated by Federica Carugati of (King’s College London), and Darija
Medic and Nathan Schneider (Media Enterprise Design Lab, University of
Colorado Boulder), with support from the Eutopia Foundation.
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