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a workshop by Cristina Cochior and Joana Chicau for Constant’s work session Collective Conditions, Brussels 2019
In October 2019, we wrote our own first CoC.
Infrapunctural bots for stress relief
Inspired by the potential of digital infrapunctures by Deb Verhoeven, we would like to propose considering what a bot logic might look like:
A few examples:
What would bots of conduct act like?
What would it mean to become more entangled with bots, redistribute the labour of making and maintaining a collective, but without falling into the metaphorical understanding of bot as a servant?
Varia members use XMPP as a chat protocol because it enables us to self-host our own instance and federate with other chat servers. We use bots both to communicate and to document our exchanges. Our initial idea was to develop new forms of note-taking based on our interaction habits. We share a lot of different types of information in group chats, from news to recommendations of articles to instigations to clean the fridge. Starting from the conversational nature of our exchanges, we are experimenting with two different bot-users in the chat: one that gathers images shared on the main Varia channel and displays them online, and another one, focused specifically on the topic of digital interdependencies, that gathers images, quotes and looks for books’ citations.
Working on our own digital infrastructure allows us to adapt the tools to our own needs and behaviours; meaning that these bots make sense to us, but they may not make sense to someone else.
Currently, we use:
Conducting: “the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conducting. There are many roles as conductors https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conductor also, in connection to the enviroment: “a substance, body, or device that readily conducts heat, electricity, sound”.
Looking into the bots examples
action mode: announces when someone enters or leaves the room;
situation: finding non-verbal ways of communicating through presence and absence; making presence felt otherwise;
action mode: generates a shared language; it creates a collective document;
situation: a collective discursive setting that generates its own vocabulary;
action mode: sends a message when it enters the room;
situation: when there is a theme, for example: “send a reference to an existing or imaginary code of conduct, complaint, guideline, bug report, open letter, license or other social-technical protocol and explain why it is of interest to you.”; how one wants to be introduced;
action mode: replies to a specific word; brings alternatives into the situation; tries to create new habits and terminologies;
situation: potentially in moments when a situation seems difficult and there is a need for more joyful interactions;
action mode: takes what someone says to it in confidentiality and echoes it to a group chat, thus anonymising it;
situation: there are remarks or complaints in the room, but the person does not feel comfortable to bring up the issue themselves;
Split into groups of maximum 4-5 (mixed interest in code).
BREAK — 10 minutes ;)
Imagine you are a collective-space with your group peers and you have been active for 5 days;
create a name for the chatroom:
action modes: embody the situation through a conductor / conductive bot:
For computers running Windows OS
For computers running MacOS
For computers running Linux OS
if you have a python 2 version, you could install python 3
sudo apt-get install python3 sudo apt-get install python3-pip
download the bots from this page
go to the folder where you have installed them
run the following commands in the terminal:
pip3 install slixmpp requests
to run a bot, you can copy paste the commands which are already mentioned in the bot file, but a general command looks like this:
if you dont have a code editor, we can suggest (among others) Sublime Text
to install the conversations app on your phone, you could use either Conversations or Quicksy for Android phones (among others)
Link to reference’s pad — further references and materials assembled by Joana and Cristina - feel free to add your own!
[^1]: Varia is not merely a collective, nor merely a space. Varia is an interdependent concatenation of both