Servers: From autonomous servers to feminist servers
From Gender and Tech Resources
This HowTo is still WIP
We are listing below different initiatives providing insights into the field of radical and autonomous servers and the current panorama of feminist servers that are part of that field of initiatives.
Another way to have full control over your personal data is to run your own server. This is not for everyone though, as it requires considerable time investment and technical knowledge.
Some initiatives provides online services that can work fine as an alternative to google services for instance. Pay attention to the category "Free services" where you can access around 30 online services.
For hosting your websites and accessing online services for the internal communication of your collectives, you can check out the following initiatives:
Feminist servers have been a topic of discussion, a partially-achieved aim and a set of slow-political practices among an informal group of transfeminists interested in creating a more autonomous infrastructure to ensure that data, projects and memory of feminist groups are properly accessible, preserved and managed. The need for feminist servers is a response to: the unethical practices of multinational ICT companies acting as moral and hypocrite censors; gender based online violence in the form of trolling and hateful machoists harassing feminist or women activists online and offline; the centralization of the internet and its transformation into a consumption sanctuary and a space of surveillance, control and tracking of dissent voices by government agencies among others. All these factors have led to a situation where the internet is not a safe space and where it is common to see feminist and activist work being deleted, censored, and/or prevented from being seen, heard or read. Freedom of expression is part of the feminist struggle and TransFeminists can contribute by providing collectively the knowledge and means to ensure their right to speak up remains accessible online, offline and wherever and under any format expression emerges. There will be no feminist internet without properly managed autonomous feminist servers. This is about regaining control and gaining autonomy in the access and management of our data and collective memories. It is also about being able to have feminist mailing lists, pads, wikis, content management systems, social networks and any other online services managed by feminist tech collectives. It is also of course about continuing to argue that social justice in technologically driven environments needs a more gender and culturally diverse presence in general. To achieve those objectives, many sessions during the THF discussed questions such as: what are the purposes of a Feminist Server? What makes a server autonomous and feminist? Where are possible (socially sustainable) models for those servers? How do we create trust among us to develop cooperative approaches to the management of those spaces of resistance and transformation?
Two feminist servers projects were rebooted during the TransHackFeminist convergence in Calafou: the Systerserver project which was originally launched by Genderchangers and the Eclectic Tech Carnival and which focus on hosting online services; and Anarchaserver which was launched by Calafou inhabitants and people involved in the organisation of the THF! and focus on hosting leaving/dead/transitional data.
Finally, in 2016, a new feminist server was launched by members of the feminist hackerspace Marialab located in Sao Paolo (Brazil) called Vedetas. Finally, since 2015, friends located in Mexico have launched an autonomous server that also provides support and hosting to feminist collectives, it is called Kefir.
You can read more on the need for feminist servers in the following articles:
You can also read this article in Spanish entitled Infraestructura para una revolución violeta published in 2016 in the boletin antivigilancia.
We also recommend to read the notes taken during the Feminist Server Summit hosted by Constant In Brussels in December 2013. The pad also points towards other useful conversation that took place in different events.
We specially like this proposal from Femke about what could be a Feminist Server:
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 apologise when she is sometimes not available.