Networks Of One’s Own is a para-nodal1 periodic publication that is itself collectively written in a network2. Each of the episodes is thought of as the ‘release’ of a specific software stack, contextualised in its specific practice. The series aims to document a set of tools, experiences, ways of working that are diverse in terms of their temporality, granularity and persistence.
The title Networks of One’s Own refers to Virginia Woolf’s classic essay A Room of One’s Own3 which makes the case for a woman needing a space to herself to write. It was published in the historical context of Victorian England where women were expected to occupy themselves with domestic and marital duties rather than the autonomous practice of writing. Woolf’s claim for a Room Of Her Own is complicated by the fact that her autonomy depended on her ability to hire staff that she could outsource her household chores to. Networks Of Ones Own takes this text as an inspiration to rethink digital intimacy, dependencies and relations in networked practices. It wants to re-imagine how technical work and content work grow together, and radically questions the way tools and practices are shaping collaborative content and vice versa.
The idea of a publication series arose from conversations with Aymeric Mansoux during the development of the Experimental Publishing Master at the Willem De Kooning academy in Rotterdam in the fall of 2016. With the advent of inexpensive so-called “single board computers” such as the popular Raspberry Pi project, it has become commonplace to distribute “disk images” that can be loaded onto an SD card which then contain a fully working software stack. The idea of a dual-form publication (both textual and executable) suggested the possibility where unique software platforms could themselves be published in tandem with content (collectively) written using the platform itself.
Networks Of One’s Own is set up as a series of such dual-form publications that reflect upon and experiment with collaborative on-line practices in a time when commercial interests dominate digital working conditions. It appears at a moment when under the guise of data protection (GDPR), self-hosted, un-supervised network practices are under threat of being reigned in as potential liability. “Cloud services” offered via Internet access are typically provided by multinational corporations and it is easy to forget that the seamless experience historically originates in an inter-network linking together different autonomous and disconnected networks of varying scales: institutional, personal, educational and military.
The series Networks Of One’s Own is taken care of by related but independent collectives. For each of the episodes, we propose different experimental tools for situated writing and publishing. In this way, the series allows for showing multiple perspectives, to generate multivoiced forms of documentation. It makes the editorial process of each episode a test case for the same technologies that it reflects upon. Like the old adage of the PERL community (‘There is More Than One Way To Do It’)4, this project is about the heterogeneity of tools and of practices, ultimately foregrounding the inherent sociality of software.
See: Paranodes in Contra-Internet, Zach Blas
The initiative for this periodic publication is currently located in-between the following nodes: Constant, association for art and media (Brussels), Relearn, Varia a space for developing collective approaches to everyday technology (Rotterdam) and XPUB or experimental publishing, a study path of the Piet Zwart Institute’s Media Design Master programme (Rotterdam).