Introducing Laura’s Lens

Over the last five years or so, I’ve been sharing links to insightful articles with a critical view of technology. It started as Ind.ie’s weekly roundup email, but I found writing a long summary was taking me too long every week (I’m no journalist!) So the roundups evolved into Ind.ie’s daily Radar, where I’d post daily links, quoting some of the best bits, which I’d also post to @indie on Mastodon and @indie on Twitter.

What’s mine is mine and what’s ours is his

When we started Small Technology Foundation, we decided these links needed a new home. These links have always been my view of what I think is related to our work. That is not to say that Aral disagrees with my perspective, but that both Ind.ie and Small Technology Foundation have always been a collection of mine and Aral’s work. That’s why we blog on our own sites and then share the relevant posts aggregated on the Small Technology Foundation news. Thus it also makes sense for the links I collect to live on my site.

But there’s another reason why me posting as myself is valuable. Unless we specifically say the work I do is done by me, my work is often attributed to Aral. It’s not Aral’s fault. He’s deliberate in attributing my work to me, and continually corrects people who attribute my work to him or our work to him alone. But sometimes even that is not enough. We’ve even had people assuming he co-wrote my book.

A few months ago, we gave our first talk together. We thought it would be fun, getting to give a talk that embodied our combined perspectives and unified talks we’d been giving separately. It was a lovely conference with a focus on inclusivity with a reasonable mixture of speakers and attendees from different backgrounds. But it was the starkest example of how my work, and even my presence, are erased, despite being amongst a broadly progressive community.

We shared the talk as two halves. My half of the talk was strong and, while Aral has had a longer speaking career, combined we gave a really good talk (I didn’t let him down!) However afterwards, multiple speakers referred to “Aral’s talk” in their talks. One then corrected himself, asking the audience to remind him of my name, and then continued to refer to “Aral’s talk.” People flocked to Aral to invite him to speak at their events, they stopped him later to commend him on his talk. I don’t want to be ungrateful to the people who came to speak to me afterwards, and said lovely things about our talk, but they were a kind minority to those crowding Aral. It broke my heart a little bit.

Aral and I know we’re perceived and treated differently in the world. It might have something to do with my looking younger than I am, it might be because I’m often less confident. But it’s likely because I’m a woman. While what I face is nothing compared to those battling racism and ableism in the tech community, I get dealt a fair amount of crap from that community and (not just bad tweets.) We’re not going to fix systemic problems by being clearer in attributing my work to me, in fact we may just make my work easier to ignore as women’s work in the tech community so often is (along with the work of people of colour, and that of people with visible disabilities). But we can do this one thing to stop people attributing my work to somebody else.

(I know… all this in a post about posting links. Trust me, this feels tedious to me too.)

My lens means what’s important to me

As I said, the links on my lens are from my perspective. This means often I include articles that aren’t written from a technologist’s point of view and aren’t focused on design and development. The articles are usually more about politics, society and culture, and where technology fits in. That’s why we (well, Aral) came up with the name, “Laura’s Lens.” (I’m terrible at naming things.) This is a reading list of what I’m using to inform my work at Small Technology Foundation. These are pieces that help me understand topics, connect themes together and learn how to explain key issues. I limit it to one article daily (on weekdays), and I hope you find them as valuable as I do.

Like the lens? Fund us!

Small Technology Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation. All the work I do is part of our effort to advocate for and build small technology to protect personhood and democracy in the digital network age. If you find my work at all valuable (and can afford to do so), I would really appreciate your financial support. Our Small Technology funding page has more information on how you can donate to us, become a patron, and the work that is funded by our supporters.

Categorised under: Lens. Tagged with: lens, roundup, Small Technology Foundation.