I went to Nethui:
There were a lot of wonderful people there. It was nice to talk with them, but mostly I listened.
The focus was on inclusion and providing a safe space online. There were a lot of things said at the conference that will stick with me, but if I had to pull one out of the air right now it was something Pakeeza Rashid said when making the point that the Internet is an extension of ourselves, of our society and of our world.
Thinking about building an inclusive Internet is really how do you build and inclusive society? Full stop.Pakeeza Rashid
Which kind of encapsulates how I feel about the whole thing. I know some things need to be censored they are harmful. I choose not to watch them, even though I know how to circumvent most censorship. So making them more inaccessible for the unwary is certainly good work. Harmful behaviours like bullying online need some more controls. At the end of the day we can not stop people putting ugly and hateful things online. We can’t stop people from saying and doing bad things in “real” life. But we have to try and the work needs to be done in both places.
So thinking about this and thinking about the call for action points, I can’t get over this feeling that a better Internet starts by talking together. By working together. But where can we do that?
Taking some inspiration from Greta Thunberg in a session on “building a sustainable Internet” it occurred to me some area where I might be able to contribute in some small way. We broke into three small groups to cover these topics:
- Carbon offsets
I joined the group thinking about Ewaste since I have some fair amount of experience with this topic.
Memories of the days I have spent volunteering at community technology centres, helping to build computer hubs, lugging heavy CRT monitors onto the backs of trucks to ship off for recycling and generally being knee deep in eWaste came back to me.
I guess it was the low energy “Tamatea Kai Ariki” moon Amber Craig mentioned that put me in this mood. Certainly with the calls for action I hear what she was saying about wanting to plan a meeting like this during a more active moon phase, but the time for reflection worked for me.
I don’t want to say it’s the solution Wellington needs right now, and for certain it’s only a small part of the equation, but I would really like to work on a community technology centre project again. Unfortunately I know the effort involved, and it is quite a daunting proposition, but on a day like this forgive me for being optimistic.
I do support one kind of community technology centre already, a small computer hub provided by and organisation that has another primary mission. This is different though, I’m talking about a full blown physical community centre that exists in it’s own right. This is the place where I feel I need to make a stand, and begin looking for a group of people who would like to start an organisation like this:
Whose primary mission is to create a community around the problem of Ewaste. I’m familiar with the similar computer refurbishing projects out there, but they do not have at their core the spirit which Free Geek brings to the community. Just copying the mission statement from the website:
Free Geek’s mission is to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access, and provide education to create a community that empowers people to realize their potentialFREE GEEK mission statement
This is what I would like to be involved with. It doesn’t necessarily need to be called Free Geek or be affiliated with the mothership, nor follow their activities exactly but I’m looking for the core ingredients. A non-hierarchal governance body. Some clued in funders. A diverse group of hard working, possibly insanely passionate organisers ready to lay the groundwork for a safe, inclusive and accessible physical environment to create a community around technology. An inclusive technology. It hardly needs to be mentioned that it will be focused around Free and Open source software that is just part of the platform.
So where do we go from here. If you look around the corner anything can happen.