The internet of Things: smart devices, quantified self, dolls and vibrators

If an object has a chip, it becomes smart, and by extension our houses become smarter - and so do our cities, hospitals, toys, phones. But what about the inventors, the creators, the owners, the users of all these smart and tiny things - are we becoming smarter? Reflecting on sessions in Rights Con 2017 in Brussels, Vale examines the ways in which the internet of things can lead to invasive datafication and surveillance, and violate internet rights.

Image by Namita Aavriti, courtesy Cayla the hackable doll

If an object has a chip, it becomes smart, and by extension our houses become smarter – and so do our cities, hospitals, toys, phones. But what about the inventors, the creators, the owners, the users of all these smart and tiny things – are we becoming smarter?

I am fascinated by the ubiquitous ability of internet technologies to animate things, transform them into hubs, bypass walls and diminish distances.

10 ways to make Twitter work for feminist activism

How to bring the powerful agency and discourse of women's rights movements and feminism to the digital age of Twitter and other social media. Samukelisiwe Mabaso has researched on various movements across Africa and Asia that successfully and effectively use technology, and shows us ten ways in which to make Twitter work for feminist activism. Lets get in formation!

I decided to do a little exercise, I typed #feminism in Twitter’s search bar and the top tweet that came up was this comic that immediately spoke to me.

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[COLUMN] Open software movements, open content, free culture: Where are the women?

The gender balance is far from equal even in progressive movements such as the free and open source software community, Mozilla user groups, and others. Despite all the rivers of ink that were written about the gender imbalance in these areas, the changes are slow to arrive.

In 2011 a study by GroupLens revealed the gender imbalance on Wikipedia, and there was an outpouring of articles in the global media about the notorious absence of women in the world’s largest virtual encyclopedia. At that point the Wikimedia Foundation set in motion an ambitious plan to try to incorporate more women. Above all, user groups appeared, making it their business to get more women involved as their main goal.

[COLUMN] I want to be a Pokémon master

Pokémon exploded as a game that could be played on mobile phones in 2016. Of the many debates around it, Angélica Contreras explores the gendered aspect of videogames and how Pokémon struck a chord with many women in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and parts of Latin America. This article was originally written in Spanish, and is part of a column series that explores young women and their lives immersed in technology.

Image shared by author

This article is part of a series of columns, and here we feature translations from Spanish. Evelin Heidel from Argentina will share her experiences in gender, technology, programming and access; and Angelica Contreras from Mexico will write about young women and their lives immersed in technology.

I am AkiConterR and my companion is a “Pidgeotto” who I call “Pid”. I belong to Team Mystic; I am on level 7 and I have 53 Pokémons (72, actually, but some of them I transferred).

[COLUMN] Access and beyond: Navigating the gendered cyberspace

In this column series, Chenai Chair explores the barriers to accessing the internet in four countries in Africa - Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. The study in particular looks at the impact of affordability of internet and subsidised data services, and what impact this has on people in different locations (countries, urban-rural), of different genders, and so on. In the first column, Chenai examines what kind of methodology is suited for research on access.

A world map colored to show the level of Internet penetration (number of Internet users as a percentage of a country’s population). Updated June 2013. Source: Wikipedia

Affordability is one of the primary barriers to internet access, and particularly to optimal use. Knowing this fully from our previous research, Research ICT Africa (RIA) conducted focus groups in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda in November 2016.

The nerdiest and most open of them all: Internet Freedom Festival 2017

The Internet Freedom Festival is refreshingly different from most forums around internet rights and technology - it is almost equal in gender ratio, welcoming of gender non conforming and trans persons, and takes privacy of its participants at the venue seriously. Smita Vanniyar tells us more about their experience at the festival this year in Valencia, Spain.

Prohibition is prohibited: photograph by Smita Vanniyar

When once I registered for the 2017 Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, I was added to a mailing list which had a constant flow of information on the festival and the activities related to it. Even before the schedule came out, the festival sounded fascinating, and distinctly different from other conferences, both national and international, which I have attended as of now.

[BOOK REVIEW] Interpreting the Internet: Feminist and Queer counterpublics in Latin America

'Interpreting the internet: Feminist and Queer Counterpublics in Latin America by Elisabeth Jay Friedman looks at a decade long engagement of feminist and women's movements with technology. Alan Finlay reviews the book for, and finds it to be essential reading for anyone interested in how feminist (or any) counterpublics are formed and shaped by appropriating whatever technology is available.

Feminists immersed in diverse technologies (collage): Original artwork by Flavia Fascendini

Interpreting the internet: Feminist and Queer Counterpublics in Latin America by Elisabeth Jay Friedman is a grounded and well thought-out book.

Chelsea Manning and other political prisoners: Report from Internet Freedom Festival

While Chelsea Manning has been pardoned by the Obama administration, there are still many political prisoners facing incarceration and lengthy trials for their exercise of freedom of expression and for whistle blowing. Very few countries have enacted laws that protect whistle blowers. Mallory Knodel writes about the benefit fundraiser to welcome home Chelsea Manning that took place at the Internet Freedom Festival 2017 in Valencia, Spain, and reflects on the many others who face similar charges around the world.

For international women’s day, some human rights and technology groups threw a benefit party for Chelsea Manning in Valencia, Spain as part of the annual Internet Freedom Festival. Chelsea Manning is an important activist in internet freedom for using the online platform Wikileaks to inform the world about classified US documents revealing corruption and civilian casualties. She was recently pardoned for blowing the whistle in 2010 on the Iraq War, which then ended in 2011.

Giving my spirit voice: Interview with Helen Nyinakiiza

An interview with Helen Nyinakiiza, who has recently joined Association for Progressive Communication as an individual member. Helen is a passionate digital security trainer, and in this interview she talks about the use of technology and internet rights in Uganda, the digital divide around gender and region, and how she does her trainings.

Helen Nyinakiiza (right), aside from being a digital security trainer, also works in an education project for orphans in Iganga district in Eastern Uganda.

Unscripting Harassment (Part 2)

Online harassment has taken various forms on the internet, including doxxing, intimate violence, stalking and so on. In this article, Part 2 of the series, Maya Ganesh explores a different way of thinking through this contemporary phenomenon by using an approach that emphasises 'design-thinking'. Possibilities that are explored include whether the system or platform can predict or respond to interactions that are escalating. However we also need to acknowledge that design, no matter how good, cannot solve social problems or harassment, but can be part of how we deal with it.

Collage with statute La Pensadora (Thinking Woman) by José Luis Fernández in Spain

The ‘Architectures of Online Harassment’ was the first in a two-part post that described the context and motivations of Tactical Tech’s work addressing the problem of online harassment through the lens of interface design. In this second post, I describe the results and outcomes of the workshop developed by Caroline Sinders and myself.

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