All of us have skills that can disrupt current formations of power. We are a collective of programmers, designers, academics, and developers who recognize this fact. We roam our workplaces imagining what these capacities could create, if only they found a greater resonance. We sit in meetings, at our cubicles, at conferences, wondering what we could build together if we weren’t limited by profit margins, deadlines, and institutional support. DeepMay 2019 is a first attempt at answering this question.
To many, technology appears no more than a paternal order that further institutionalizes structural forms of oppression. “Problematic” teenagers — who are defined as such in aggregate — are surveilled and sent to jail based on racialized metrics. Workers are notified as their next tasks are auto-queued on tracking platforms. Our globalized world of cross-continental shipping runs on data that controls the movement of bodies and objects, for the financial gain of very few. Tech further calibrates itself, weeding out rebels through the punitive culture of STEM education, and selecting for the most high-performing girl-bosses to reign over any femme who won’t lean-in. The current world wastes human potential and ruins the earth, while optimizing control. But we have not stopped dreaming of the vibrant and idiosyncratic applications of technology. We know that, together, we can wield it towards new collective infrastructures.
As technology redefines the human experience, we aim to integrate a much wider diversity of perspectives to redefine technology. It’s not enough to criticize a toxic tech culture, the prevalence of it’s sexist incels, or it’s lonely racists. Performative, brand-building twitterstorms won’t save us either. We want to build something totally different. We imagine platforms for grey economy workers to organize unions, Micro-CNC machines to make any tool we need, anonymous media infrastructures, firmware hacks that can support farmers and warehouse workers alike: spaces that blur the line between art, tech, and collective power. We want to incubate a future with a fighting spirit, with an ability to speak a visual language that exceeds the market, and with the computational skills to implement this vision.
Technology is unwinding our shared reality, while weaving a new one in its wake. What would it mean if we were to define new patterns ourselves? What if we explored the whimsical and liberatory potential of our skills, with rigor and devotion towards a life in common? What does a day in front of a computer feel like, when it is well-spent and spent with others? Let us find out together at DeepMay 2019.