Thuistezien 153 — 19.01.2021

Nina Boelsums/
Making Matters

It is difficult to imagine ourselves outside of the existing world, since we, naturally, are shaped by the environment and systems that surround us and define our everyday lives. Now, these systems are more and more hidden within algorithms that direct the doings and movements of people. Embedded in the design of these algorithms and systems is their capability of making choices for us. This new approach makes the ability to attempt on acquiring our own view on how the world looks more complicated than beforehand. Based on the algorithms, something else will already decide it for you. As user experience designer Nina Boelsums sees it, the way the algorithms are allowed to control this planet, changes our way of thinking, creating a so-called mono-culture of the mind where the ability to think about the world differently and outside of existing structures are obstructed. As an example, it has become next to unimaginable to think of ways to tweak the code, on these days’ social media platforms and we have become content with a highly standardized medium where possibilities of any form for free-thinking creativity, in fact, are highly limited.

In her talk, Boelsums introduces the hacker and artist collective, and one of the core things that is aiming to do is giving back individuals their possibility to imagine how to do things differently. is a non-profit, free and open source foundry, established in 1994. Taking an activist and autonomous, anarchist position in the digital world, their practice stems from a framework divided into three pillars: free and open source software, art & science, and environmental sustainability. Based on this framework, works on realizing this practice into applicable software. To see how the work of comes into practice, Boelsums explains a few of their projects, such as Decode, that aims to give back people their control over their own data and making it secure. What may be a general goal behind many of the projects realised by is their intention to open up the code and make it auditable for normal people.

Text: Rosa Zangenberg