Citizens are learning more every day about how data collected by dominant software platforms are not just used to “improve the lives of as many people as possible” (Google), or, to “give people the power to build communities” (Facebook), but also produce negative cultural, social, and political effects. In particular, the designs of these systems compel users to provide increasing amounts of personal information, enabling rapid expansion of corporate and state infrastructures for the purposes of surveillance, profiling, and profit. While recent outcries over events like Cambridge Analytica’s manipulations of electorates in the US and UK have led to campaigns like #deletefacebook, most users remain on the platform. Given this, an alternative approach is the author’s artistic strategy of “software recomposition,” treating existing websites and other software systems not as fixed spaces of consumption and prescribed interaction but instead as fluid spaces of manipulation and experimentation.
This workshop will introduce methods of software analysis and practical tools and techniques of software recomposition that anyone can use to gain renewed agency over the software systems they use every day.
Please bring a laptop if possible (or if not, a smartphone).