My public works and research activities as an intellectual and an advocate for social justice led me to reflect further about my personal experiences of sexism and fascism in technology through all the situations I encountered as an immigrant worker, notably in the UK and in Canada. While sexist bias tend to dismiss women scientists’ roles and contributions for scientific knowledge, society tends to assimilate the rhetorics of colonialism rendering our lives even more precarious.
The problem of damaged identities and the processes we go through to redefine our personal identities when confronted with racism and sexism, as writing and analyzing (Debaveye, 2012b), is peculiarly at stake within specific areas of war zones defined by abuses and misconducts as well in educated places like academia, science institutes or international backgrounds for business or public affairs – as big tech networks and big companies – than in professionnal and social areas with coworkers and social peers.
Writing narratives allow people to redefine their identities. By doing this work, we notice how some professional and social surroundings get influenced with gender and cultural identities that make certain types of persons more visibly distinct from the dominant group. Women with public activities as women advocates, scientists, activists or journalists notably are confronted with an absence of representation that can lead to their criminalization and ostracization.
Narrative are a way to re-empower ourself against the practices of group discrimination and social exclusion caused by racism and sexism. Rewriting your own life allow us indeed to be more conscious about the definition of public identities, by identifying bias and misrepresentations coded in racism and sexism, and by assuming the social role we are expected to be to play with transient and flexible identities.
This research work led me to consider how innovation can be achieved by importing new types of knowledge into other fields of knowledge, and by creating value from the process of hybridation to fight the persistence of abusive representations : moving from arts to academia, from academia to industry, liberal arts to technology and technology to computering, from consulting to entrepreneurship was thus a better way to find achievement into fighting misrepresentations over women in science and immigrant female workers.
Creating playground through the practice of writing within diverse cultural and social backgrounds help to enrich intuitive visioning to foster new types of emerging knowledge and to create resilient spaces.
Thinking critically against the norms and stereotypes help at giving some emergent forms of knowledge a more stable and perene form that can be communicated and recognized by peers as a representation. Having been published and recognized with my scientific accomplishments by paneling and networking with critical academics, self thinkers, influential community leaders and outstandings personnalities from the world of arts and academia, the left politics and the alternative media, in France, the US, Canada and the UK, I could forge a body of critical expertise and methods to rely on.
Writing in social networks is also a way to deal with the dichotomy of the self faced with the others, to show the relations of the expert and the non experts. So did I by observing and studying the unexpected, the uncontrolled or the idiosynchrasic reactions of the people from the main group who lack the scientific or cultural literacy to understand what is at stake with stereotypes and false representations, by ignorance or compromission.
Despite of being an unpleasing experience, being an insider and testifying of how these toxic places damage identities by revealing hidden patterns for exclusion and persecution was a form of compensing the loss. By being immersed in areas that I considered as playgrounds (see my thesis dissertation about the practice of game employed by activists and gamers, Debaveye, 2012b), I explored the fascinating resilience of the self and the way violence impact the ability to work or perform in women, either by discapacitating or by improving their proficiencies whisl being confronted with constraints.
Abuses and attacks were always draining and a cause for serious apathy. Toxic places at the cross point of sexism and imperialism are dominated by men’s codes, values and norms and persistent authoritative and repressive politics using coercion and strenght. Younger generations and some new comers reinforce misrepresentations and stereotypes as they fear the rejection of the dominant culture, They assimilate ideology and culture without criticizing them.
Through several ordeals I faced with sexual and intimate partner violence and professional harassment at various stages of my existence when younger in toxic backgrounds, I came to deepen my knowledge in intuitive reasoning and interpretation, experiencing forms of clairvoyance, and I learnt to manage them in a way that made me better at perceiving the relations between subjects and objects and some bad people’s hidden motivations.
I hope my work will allow to raise awareness about the issue of society dismissing women’s from leader roles and decent lives. Society is still due to consider and to better evaluate women’s contributions to scientific knowledge and community’s development because the persistence of well-documented social logics of exclusion (through racism, sexism, agism or discrimination) within the political structures and a specific political climate exacerbating cultural divisions (Brexit alike) in the commonwealth are fostering war policies and war conducts against women.
Sorting things out from messy texts
The only thing needed for the triumph of Evil is for good men to do nothing.
Revealing the process that allow to an idea or a scientific concept to come to creative fruition (Kuhn, 1978) by analyzing data from real-time and conflict and war contexts points to the appropriate ways to respond to military tactics, caused by the militarization and the jailification of society. Observing and recording with « sousveillance » (Debaveye, 2015) allow to give accurate images and definitions of what is going on.
I recorded my double experiences as a social science researcher and a woman in some male dominated fields by writing down memo and fieldnotes and posting on Twitter. I used the methods of qualitative observations, community narratives and social network analysis (documenting my views also by analyzing streams and documents from my oppressors) to give my insider view as a woman worker in an international context dominated with protectionism, over-rationalization, war and competition, a more generic overview by comparing different cases and places.
Personal experiences and insider point of views are a better way to provide feedback about life contexts than by making vague interpretations or correlations about missing texts and images or things that overpass comprehension. It gives more pertinent, trustful, and accurate findings about social realities.
Most critics made to positivism and post-positivism paradigm (Kuhn, 1978) made apparent the problems of the lack of empiricity and interpretability of positivist models and the one of forcing data into pre-established abstract models based on subjective hypothesis or scientific and political ideologies.
In hypothetico-deductive models, data are forced into theories and concepts before their emergence, with the definition of prior hypothesis and the selection of factors and criterias that cause the reproduction of mistakes, past actions and discriminative bias. By using these models, engineers produce an excessive rationalization, overfit and theorization that prevent the emergence of the newness and exclude all divergences from the norm by dismissing creative processes’ contributions thus opening the path to social exclusion and more racism, sexism…
Because they expose shocking and appalling counter realities, that are not quite mentionned by mainstream media, divergent narratives that might be perceived as minor thus idiosynchrasic and excluded or erased, just as processes of normalization and rationalization tend to judge « reasonably » over common wisdom representations that are in fact based on stereotypes, false representations and ignorance.
To avoid these pitfalls, I worked with a mixed method nomad research framework that I have assembled to fit the constraints of the daily life while producing a scientific account. It surely doesn’t allow for much access to external sources and the comfort of theorical references, which is a good thing, to prevent from using overfitting models and assumptions biased by scientific ideology.
This model is advocating for the emancipation of marginalized groups as women and kids or transient populations confronted with sexual and political violence policies caused by the instrumental use of scientism and the post-positivist paradigm.
The material shown on Twitter is composed of raw, rough, unfiltered and messy data shaped by the circumstances and by the various contexts of production. At the interface of arts, writings and science, it is aspected by the very nature of the interactions caused by social forces of exclusion, repressive policies in the immediate surroundings thus, if it’s positive or negative reactions and attitudes will impact the perceptions and views presented in the first hand material.
Even if I recommend caution, I do consider blogging and micro-blogging as a valuable way to use technologies to understand the processes happening in real-time, map them accordingly and deal with the limits they pose to women entering new fields in technology, society and entrepreneurship to foster practices of intervention leading to change.
The practice of blogging and microblogging allows for the expression of hidden emotions and regressive feelings that can have a positive driving role into shaping representations and writing down realities. The thing is that the groups and people I described in my story completely flied off the handle when being confronted with my texts on Twitter, considering my work as intended to them and attacked me severly both online and offline, causing deep emotional stress and fear.
To break the trauma caused by these attacks, the expression of my emotions helped me to break the psychological and unconscious patterns of defensive behaviors that can lead to protective defenses as over intellectualization and distanciation. Thus the creative use of my emotions avoided the use of a rigid frame to allow the emergence of the newness. Through the practice of blogging and networking, I could then refine my intuitions over time.
Also, curated research is a process that is time consuming and minutious and can involve months to years of writings so it is not applicable to deal with life constraints. Academic writings are confronted with the problem of publishing anterior states of the art which produces a gap between what is observed and the description of the reality. That’s why, sometimes, some more frivolous approaches that can be refined over time are recommendable. This blog post was started in April 2016 and I still do some refinements and corrections (most minors but).
As I experienced in academia while being a Ph.D scholar with minor visibility publishing papers, academic research might take several years to reach an audience without consequent and substantial fundings but incomplete or missing research on the stream are highly valuable for discussing living problems, real time constraints and complex social interactions with society. Doing science is thus, in our perspective, a never ending process, at the image of life. It is also dealing better at the right to be forgotten.
In spite of being informed about the difficulties of such in the wild research and aware of the risks, by my previous works on the matter, I felt inspired by Kerouac’s on the road works (unless he actually wrote most of his consistent works from his mother’s house) and other researches produced in the field of digital activism, radical feminism and research action.
Auto-ethnography is a way of collecting information that is based on the researcher’s reflections and responses to the local environment caused by the interactions with the others when confronted with racism and sexism (the observer quite obviously cannot be detached from the world at the surroundings). I made use of my Twitter account as a result of an embedded diary practice of writing and interacting in emergency.
It is asked from readers to understand that vulnerability via the publication of unfinished texts is supposed to be given people an opportunity for constructive interactions and not an entry point for abuses or harassment. I don’t allow any type of interaction that is motivated with the desire to hurt or to damage my personal integrity and feel free to block, mention or reject them.
I am and will remain an advocate for the remix culture aiming at protecting safe environments where hybridation can give birth to enriching variations and profitable transformations for the people.
Some places are enablers for transformation and social change while others are creating toxic cultures preventing some innovation and social change to happen as the culture of engineering thus it is important to identify the places and practices that can lead to the persistence of exclusion and the ones that can lead to social change.
My serendipitous approach led me to Berlin that is both not too far from where I lived and known for its startup culture. So here I was, in the plane embarking in a journey that will last several months. I always had wonderful and tremendous experiences while traveling and I remember being very excited by this trip as Berlin is known to be a startup place and is also a place that I like (I have been there several times in the past for friends meetings and holidays).
As I said in my introduction, traveling around has become quite difficult with the rise of imperialism and dreams about national domination that created the cohort of xenofobia, racism and sexist violence. Traveling lead you to deal with the colonialist dynamics and the spread of imperialistic codes from the western culture and even if I made huge friendships that persisted over time as we shared a common experience of trust and love, I observed a degradation of the conditions for the travelers and transient populations.
In Berlin, my excitement about the trip didn’t last for long as I faced first aggression in a tech meeting as soon as on day 1 when a group of native women ignored the contribution I made from an entrepreneur perspective about choosing an expensive place to start a business in Canada because it was not fitting their views to promote their local culture.
A german woman coming back from Vancouver made critics about Canada for its fares. I replied that Vancouver is not the most enabling city for new comers as BC is amongst the most expensive regions and is actually confronted with high problems for renting house. It was also probably a bit excentered from the market for starting business as a foreigner at the time she went (2010 or so). I then evoked alternative options as Montreal (or Toronto) and she answered despectatively : « Who would like to live in Montreal? ».
God knows how many reasons I have today to share her views as I am just coming back from 10 months as an immigrant but to be honest, I felt pain for Montreal because it was an unfair and abrasive comment (edit january 2018).
The second part of discussion had them talking in between themselves by preventing any mode of personal interactions. I felt that her abrasive and inappropriate comment opened paths to dismiss my fragile legitimacy at participating to the main group’s discussion as my agenda for learning and cooperation was not fitting the main culture’ social norms that tend to exclude the alien narratives.
I eventually got bored about the discussion with rather a tech orientated conservative agenda and rathered to look out for more exciting venues in town. What bothered me was not the comment in itself but the reactions the abrasive tone suscited among her peers as a social acceptation of the dismission she had made to my participation.
I also observed through diverse attitudes how far right policies were increasing at the time that are today about to challenge Merkel’s government.
Tribalism is based on distorted perceptions taking on the idea that your views are better informed, more acceptable than the ones of the others. This postulate prevents fruitful hybridations and combinations to happen to create innovative ways of doing and learning.
Somes places for entrepreneurship or engineering culture are blocking changes to happen by using spaces designed for cooperation as places for international competition between cities/countries, to reject the culture of open education necessary to the construction of the collective knowledge.
It remembered me the words of a german friend who used to date an eastern guy and said to me that fascism is still well alive in Berlin and perpetuated.
Toxic and abrasive attitudes derived from imperialism towards women in science and international contexts
My observations led me to draw a parallel in between the situation of women scientists in science and of the women entering or living into foreign political contexts as both are referring to situations where an alien enter a background highly dominated by homogeneous norms and values.
As I underlined in the previous paragraph, most of the persons from the main group expect with no further considerations that the alien fits the characteristics of the group (be it a group of engineers or a specific ethnical tribe) and denies and erases what differ from the most dominant values, forcing it into assimilationism at the expenses of what constitute the other person’ identity and self.
This political context gives rise to predispositions for some people to adopt discriminative attitudes and toxic behaviors towards women and foreigners.
I categorized these behaviors as, 1. abrasive remarks (lack of skills, justification), 2. diverse acts ranging from minor micro-aggressions to higher aggressions (abrasivity, voice intonation, defamation), 3. calling and false representation (uncompetent, dangerous, frivolous, tourist). 4. mockeries (I truly observed how a group of young boys was making fun of me, my style in a coworking place in Montreal), 5. dismissing someone’s expertise or knowledge, 6. Attributing the credit of her work to others or 7. plagiarizing 9. intimidating and interacting physically 10. physically harassing, attacking (I once got my bag lacerated in Paris and got shot in shoulders in Montreal) or sexually/physically assaulting ( rape attempt, rape, physical violence).
By listing these attitudes, the point in my work is to avoid rigid typologies and artificial taxonomies as situations differ following the contexts of production to address the concepts of richness and equity. As shown in my work (Debaveye, 2012b) local informations, supported by exemplifications and real cases situations, based on truly experienced situations to point the erasure of people’s and women’s voices in some peculiar isolationist backgrounds as anti-immigrant policies or tech culture.
Politics of repression and silenting might be expressed through violent acts or campaigns of harassment or cyber-harassment through social networks, that aim at spreading rumors, revenge porning, hacking accounts and views for disqualifying someone’s role or doxxing.
It can go also through sets of behaviours of predation as walking out of one’s way to intentionnally cross yours, laught load or looking bad at people that indicate high level of stress and poor emotional responses in face of the challenge that pose big cities’ competition and cohabitation.
Street harassment as insults, shots in shoulders that certain types of men typically do at women presenting a threat or causing desire, or intimate physical violence are deep signs of social inadaptation caused by what people perceive a danger (a good looking person or someone confident or a leaving lover for example).
People freaking out are endangering the others’ lives and opportunities to live a decent life like this hatred guy who intentionnally throw his car high speed on me once I was walking on a peaton sign and forced me to run aside to avoid being bumped. I knew a certain number of peatons or cyclists that ended up at hospitals because of these reckless drivers.
This reality you cannot ignore because this reality is forcing you into considering it in your daily routine. Feeling tired after a week of work, I resolved it by sometimes putting headphones or going in more quieter neightboorhood. But it would be better if cities have found the way to create adaptive spaces and safe infrastructures for people to walk free and gather around the city.
The ranking is useful to show the diverse range of exposures. I put mockeries in 4 as I consider it a practise highly prejudicial to the community. Mockery is a sign that something has broken in the social sphere and that social violence is being authorized as a legitimate public expression without any sanction to happen. It is the sign that a deep social acceptation of sexism, racism or agism already occured. Also the fact it comes from young people is questionning as they’re supposed to be the more open minded and to vigilate us.
These attitudes aim at belittling certain persons versus other types of person in order to make them look or feel like inferiors (edit nov 17), causing discapacitations and feeling of inaptitudes.
Coding or not coding
Coding is another discriminative rhetorics used against categories of person in technology who do not belong to the main culture of engineering schools nor had complied an engineer education.
In a tech accelerator where you would only encounter white male with an engineering background, I have been said to go to a digital training « for non tekkie » despite my extended expertise as a digital researcher (I have published accessible works attesting of it and joined in my application).
When I advocated about the field of technology not having to be that much focused on code but on developping more accurate methodologies for web and social network analysis, I have been said that I couldn’t adapt.
I noticed how the engineering culture aims at portraying itself as a ritual of initiation that necessarily go through the dominion of code and how they tend to present data science or coding as a complex process when the technical process involved is in fact more simple.
Machine learning and coding are not as complex and difficult as it is liked to be said. Most of the time, the coding procedures involved into the data analysis are really easy tasks compared to the one of selecting, analyzing and interpreting data.
The proficiencies involved in dealing with data sets are rather more intellectual and cognitive like with the choice of selecting these specific sets of data or identifying the patterns that are better suited to answer the questions, or this one of assembling diverse data sets and methods for some particular modelization, or this one of interpreting and giving meaning to large heterogeneous data sets, or this one of needing to collect complementary data so to reach validity, and so on.
Second, coding isn’t that necessary as softwares technologies have evolved into non coding design.
More commonly, coding is just a rhetoric used to exclude new comers and people from diverse backgrounds from the main group so to appear as a culture of selection and rarity based on a coded language that is only revealed to a socalled few privilegiated. This rhetorics give them a feeling of retribution and value.
In some way it could be as well instrumental as board members or CEOs wouldn’t want you to get too accurate insights about their procedures and decisions and are rather fine with developpers with technicality skills that do not let them to take part into the decision making made with the global strategy.
Anyone can learn to code in weeks.
In the end, the coding imperative appears to be more a matter of personal tastes and preferences that serve to justify the codes and the values from the dominant group so to maintain a feeling of belonging than a consideration for the well being of the whole community.
It is abusive to expect from women or groups of persons with diverse backgrounds and educations to adopt and to fit the views of the dominant culture. Why would their viewpoint be of less value than the viewpoint of them and not deserve consideration?
Society is calling for more inclusion and diversity in technology, some people are even disengaging and boycotting… It’s more important today to create the structures of integration of tomorrow and to free us from the logics for domination and subjugation, than to consider and to perpetuate communautarian feelings vectors of exclusion.
I happen to have a point of view based on what I observe and hear and incidently some years of research. And this point of view is that technologies need as much developpers and coders than it needs researchers because in the end it is people using them.
Anecdotally, I have intuitive coding skills and maths proficiencies but I rathered to focus on research and methodology for social uses of technology as it’s clear that there is a crucial need for criticizing old paradigms for analysis and communicating science better through the description of procedures and methods.
Leader women facing these assimilationist and authoritative policies commonly face intimation and harassment at work. I used to teach at engineering schools during my Ph.D writing and I noticed that the engineering culture has an obsession for domination of the living, aiming at objectifying subjects, as well as a low predisposition to practise reflexivity due to the positivist educational background.
Repressive policies towards female advocates for social justice
I went through diverse acts of sexism and xenofobia in Montreal and Quebec, at home (a roomate, some neightbours), at work (a manager, a client and some coworkers), at the gym, in streets, with the health care system, in coffee shops, in transports, and even with personal relations, basically in every place I went.
I met many immigrants who faced the same, especially women immigrants who as me were travelling by themselves. Even immigrants themselves are anti-immigrants as they adopt competition models instead of cooperation and solidarity.
My opinion is that a lively and active far right extremism is rising in Quebec. It manifests occasionnally through appalling acts of terrorism as threats and attacks against mosquees (Quebec and Montreal) or the mass murdering of women (Polytechnic) but most of the times it lies under the cover up of independantism and the banner of national identity as these people tend not to show their political preferences in public and rather to act under the radar.
Among my worst experiences in Montreal, I have been attacked in streets by a man who gave me a violent shoulder shot while I was walking down town days before I start my practise. It’s been recognized as an act of criminal offense.
I found it disturbing as it reminded me of a violent aggression I faced in 2013 that led me to be stigmatized in academia when I was reaching a position in the elite in digital research ( actually I opened about it by mails and it’s been known by my coworkers).
When I voiced the aggression on Twitter, I couldn’t find any support in my social surroundings and was rather confronted with people denying of the attack and others calling me to withdraw my writings as it was giving a bad image of the city.
I considered that my writings were useful in countering some highly visible propaganda made by the immigration desk to portray Canada as a country of tolerance, acceptation and solidarity and most of all, safe, which is in my opinions not quite the case, at least for women immigrants.
After I started my practice in the tech accelerator, I found out through some allusions that one of the leading team member was in touch with an ex coworker in academia who plagiarized my work.
Eventually they tried to compromise my reputation from day 2 accusing me with bad rumors and ostracizing me in front of the group. The one in charge with the learning session « called me to his desk » to have a private exchange with me so to provoke an argument about a minor fact. He raised voice on me and accused me of belligerance and bad behaviours.
I also came to know that the school had projects that were not quite respectful of civic rights like placing sensors all around the city, CCTVing, collecting private data and testing citizens, without warning or consents. This projet, called open lab, and supported by the most powerful tech companies as Videotron in Canada is presented in the press as a project for citizen science but it doesn’t respect any of the scientific ethical standards as it doesn’t in any case, benefit society.
Other projects were dedicating at using technologies that were not complying of ethnical standards in the health sectors.
They also warned me that I should better not talk about pressures or coercions as they had previous cases of denounciation that faced retaliations.
Following these events, I asked the people in charge with the practice to go to another tech incubator in Montreal sponsored by the same company, Videotron and eventually Google. Once there, I faced renewed pressures and discrimination from the same group.
During a tech event that aimed at showing entrepreneurs’ projects, they put a demonstration table in the path of my office door with the same project mentionned above retaking the words I have used to describe my project in my project in their marketing communications, infringing the non divulgation agreements we’ve signed.
At the opposite of them, my project was to make people cooperate to citizen science by being informed about the outcomes and by asking consent.
Once again, I contacted the direction. They denied. And, as I kept voicing on social network about discrimination in tech, they made pressure on me by calling on my private cell, nights and week-ends, and pretending to help to find a situation.
In fact, the people who pretended so strong to find a solution or to support my project were at the same time not giving me feedbacks when I was reaching for ressources or contacts that could help it. I just felt like I entered an over abrasive culture that was taking advantage of my position as a freelancer.
I suspected that someone also accessed my private office that I was supposed to be the only one in having the keys. But I noticed that my computer has been accessed and some of my files on my cell corrupted.
They used manipulative technics to keep me in and harass me to prevent me from voicing publicly.
I also knew through some conversations that the networked group was in touch with the Police, the intelligence agencies and the Army and I observed that Police and private firms at the same time were vigilating me or being in the surroundings.
I opened to a coworker that has contacted me online and with whom I had maintained some kind of friendship or at least consideration, and he stopped giving me notice.
If you refuse to agree to silent or to withdraw, they sanction you.
An enabler of this abrasive and toxic culture is denial – an absence of consciousness – that create serious levels of threats for advocate women in science and technology. The absence of work ethics or conscientization about the value of human identity encourage systematic attempts to damage the integrity of the person involved.
Apart of the damage caused on identities, the issue of the militarization of the tactics employed against whose who speak and that they label as threats is at stake with issues of rape, violence and torture on women’s advocates, an issue I observed and analyzed in a paper dealing with female independent journalists dealing with police violence (Debaveye, 2012a).
I made links between these sets of abusive behaviors directed at me and others I have faced in the past and I thus identified the hidden interactions between groups that form the network of collusion at diverse scales in Europe and North America. Some might call it freemansory but it could also be the permanence and reaffirmation of abusive networks of power and corruption laying in the shadow.
Historically authoritarian policies have a long proven track record of exerting intense pressure on female intellectuals by rising legitimacy and public validations from the appealing fictions of terrorism, or the fantasmagoric folklorism of women kamikazes or women immigrants (oftenty described as prostitutes or junkies for example).
These policies create toxic places that enable the spread of repressive politics within the networks of false representations and criminalization of innocent persons in order to restrict them access to public life, identity and social recognition and to steal what they own, depriving them from resources and valuables.
Finally I observed that these networks collude with state, international policies and NGO’s to keep control over the populations.
As it seems, the drifts of fascism have impregnated politics and economics for long, with episodes of xenofobia and sexual violence’s allowing the resurgence of a medievalism that considers transient and knowledgeable women as targets.
Many big cities planners who pretend to build an idea of modernity are using knowledge and wealthy networks to exclude and to repress. The point is that the « natural » process of selection is nothing natural but cultural and technology reproduces this ideology.
As a result, the impacts of capitalism are much more damaging on disempowered people.
Market places and information consumption
In face of war, what is it that make a city remain still is again really mysterious to me. Is it the activation of antic tokens without integration of the otherness – the woman, the Alien – and a sort of stiffness opposed to movement?
Resistant dynamics and archaic mindsets prevent from creative transformation. Remains of activities are stucked into stones and still. Streets have become concentrative hubs for markets through mass tourism, partisan media and unhealthy urban environment, emptied from the concept of humanness that has been replaced with constant consumption. Selfies. Malls. Dollars. Numbness. This is not compensing the loss.
Technologies are not meant to be mere replicants and the echo chamber of the dead old world passing along inappropriate rhetorics based on violence with some tricky machine learning techniques devoited to legitimize repression and abuse. Technologies are meant to allow the integration of life and movement, society should become enabled by technology as more people will be using technology for change to raise awareness and fight.
Technologies should not be used to control or to design the oppressive city of the ubiquitous technocrates but to enable a reflection of the insiders on their living system. City are not objects or chiffers. They’re populated with real selves looking for authentical and meaningful connections.
Maths and profitability ideology deeply encouraged the marketization of our living creating places that are war zones with people making use of war strategies on civilians to acquire more power. It normalizes a permanent culture for threat of the precarious, poors, women, immigrants or foreigners for the sake of the system that is based on the oligarchy.
Sometimes we are surviving while being there whislt silentful when confronted with too high states of abuse and misfits. When empathy, respect for the others, are long gone. When society enclose us into systems that comfort other people into fake beliefs, distorted views, shared rhetorics among groups that have produced disembodied cities. When people link into abuse against certain categories of persons systematically and attack them repeatedly until death.
When the most repelling thing is that you cannot escape the world made at the image of them, the city you live in, the media you read, the politics you choose, the social interactions you’re forced to accept in a world that you have never contributed to raise, this same world loose all savour, taste and interest.
As a researcher, you always try to explain things to people about science but you cannot explain everything and science production involves that, at the point, the public makes use by himself of the material and get access to informed documents and news.
The remembrance of my stay with German attackers vanished on the cruise (bus-boat) that was leading me to the city if Copenhagen. After Berlin, I was about to fly back home but I didn’t want to leave without seeing it. Many people have said to me it was a huge place to go but I was fearing the disappointment, hostility or rejection. I was wrong.
Everything’s been perfect since my first seconds in there and I finally came to define what makes a culture smoothly integrative. Only a look at the city suffishes to make you feel serene. If you look at Montreal or New York for example, big trucks, high buildings, cult of gigantism and invasive screens have made an image of men filled with excitation and thrill. And we might wonder until what point screens are used as barriers.
Danish helped me spontaneously in casual situations as going out of the bus with my luggages and finding my way to the hotel. I had the right connections with the metro and bus. I was wonderfully hosted by the right people with good talks, drinks and foods, some comfort and heat. They have that degree of empathy and tolerance than enable the necessary spaces for a foreign woman to express her personal views, to create meaningful social connections and to find the courage to innovate. They’re just clever enough to get that it benefits the whole society to help you in a way that is not only material but symbolical.
My short experience has been like a physical combustion of synchronicity. I was impressed with the smiles and the good intentions of the people around. I wondered if it was because I was a woman by my own. Maybe it’s part of the Danish culture to support women traveling by their own as a kind of cultural norm.
People were celebrating the return of the Spring and I was celebrating new beginnings. They willingly invited me into their talks, showing high interests and sharing intimacy with trust and confidence. I remember they tried to understand my accent with no sign of irritation which is quite unusual while traveling.
We are made of atoms and pieces of information that connect, interact and intertwine permanently like a plasma. I felt the attention the connected, gender blurred city suddenly was paying at me with the cooperation of the infrastructures designed by the Danish school : good commuters, mixed urbanism, streets adapted to peatons, shime lights, connective zones, autonomous bike paths, smart traffic and housing areas.
The magical is hard to define: is it linked with the intrinsic nature of the city to welcome hosts, its capacity to surround you with the proper energy because you are person of culture? Sharing cultural interactions is a way to overpass cultural differences. I wondered at some point if my flamish roots have played a role on that feeling of belonging giving the many similarities between the scandinavian and northern cultures or if it was just the feminine shape of the city.
I am a bit tanned and my eyes are brown but curiously never felt different from all these tall and blond persons contrary to what happened with my family (I happen to have lots of tall blond blue eyes siblings). Apart of being quite sure I did mistakes with behaviors and attitudes not fitting the Danish culture, I never felt I was under extreme pressure.
Biking the city with its smart networks free of any cars was a tremendous experience I will always be grateful for. Danish people – as Flamish people – are really refined persons who like to make things easy for the others and expect the same in return. They openly engage in conversations and good talks. I think it was the first time in my life that people talk to me more than I do.
People showed curiosity with my otherness and uniqueness. I think cultural difference is perceived as something positive in Copenhagen. I rode my bike all day long until 10pm, talking with strangers to figure out who they were and what motivate them in life. Danish culture is quite exotic to me as it was my first time in Scandinavia. It is really easy there to have a living in the outside while being in the city so it allows more connections. Feeling accepted is in the end the step that lead to further exploration, commitment and improvement.
I liked what I was seeing and I liked the way people interacted with me, directly and without violence. It is a really specific feeling to feel home while not being home. Quite delicious feeling actually. It inspired me creative works.
I visited Denmark and Sweden once again before living for Canada, I cycled the northern sea coast of Denmark and the way up to Helsinborg and once again it was an enchantment.
It’s not a hazard if our virtual civilization started with the Fée Electricité, The Fairy Electricity, the first flux of information commonly shared among human. Information flows connect in the antic canals remixed by the newness of the other’s irruption and conveyed by the mix of media and technology interrelated within networks of texts, subjects and interfaces. In a civilisation integrating fully the human subjectivity and considering cultural divergence as an asset, we could be happier.
The Fairy Electricty as described by Apollinaire as a Fairy for party and fun. And fun for all.
Some advanced states of conscious find innovative ways to change and innovate while others stable dead forms are derailing into contempt and self-complacency. After the war, Denmark had to rebuilt and to recover from bombing and occupation by successively the Swedish and the German, just as France with war II, they knew what fascism is. They learnt from that terrible experience how to transform their social forms of communication. This is the resilient city my resilient soul and body were calling for : the informational city made as fluid as we dreamed it.
Notes : giving the abuses and negatively motivated contributions I faced through my Twitter account, mostly due to a gap in scientific literacy with the audience and a blatent sexism, while producing this research, I am decided to put an end to further explorations of the subject in my social networks and come back to white papers instead.
Ce(tte) œuvre est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution – Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale – Partage dans les Mêmes Conditions 4.0 International.