Ahead of the ALT Summer Summit I met up with my University of the Arts London (UAL) colleague, Dr Charlotte Webb (@otheragent), to find out more about her work. Charlotte is a keynote speaker on Thursday 27th August and based on our discussion it promises to be a thought-provoking session.
Matt: What are you working on right now?
Charlotte – I’m working on an amazing project with global youth activists from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia as well as Europe to co-design a piece of technology. It’s really strictly NDA’d so I can’t go into too much detail today. I’m also working on a really interesting piece of research around digital internships and the kinds of questions around equality and inclusion we might need to reconsider when internships are delivered in a hybrid way because of the pandemic.
Matt: Tell me about the new MA at UAL that you’re involved in.
Charlotte – I had the huge privilege to develop the new MA Internet Equalities for UAL’s Creative Computing Institute (CCI). The course looks at equality and internet technologies from a very intersectional perspective. I’m excited to see how students respond and there’s a very strong demand from industry about having this type of course.
Matt: You’re a co-founder of the Feminist Internet. How did that come about?
Charlotte – It started in 2017 at UAL. It was initially a 10-day intensive experience for students working to a brief to co-author a feminist internet manifesto. This was presented at a public seminar and Feminist Internet just snowballed from there. We were awarded the inaugural fellowship at the CCI and ran the Creating a Feminist Alexa workshops and more recently workshops on creating feminist chatbots that tackle online harrasment. We just launched a publication called The Recode on exploring the futures of ethical technology.
Matt: How has COVID-19 affected your work?
Charlotte – As everyone else has had to, I’ve had to re-negotiate what working relationships are and how collaborative working is done. It has been challenging but actually it’s been a really good learning experience in terms of realising what kinds of challenges people have in accessing technologies and how much people’s circumstances impact their ability to engage. But it’s also given me some time and some breathing space to think about priorities and what’s important.
Matt: Do you have some recommended reading for me?
Charlotte – Sure, my current recommendation is Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot by Mikki Kendall.
Matt: Can you give us a sneak preview of your talk?
Charlotte – I’ll be talking about how feminist approaches can help us navigate through crises as well as re-imaging technologies.
If you’d like to hear more from Charlotte before the Summit I can recommend this great talk she gave at a TEDx event in Barcelona in 2018:
Matt: Finally, what’s the best way for someone to learn more about what you do?
Matt: Many thanks for taking the time to chat Charlotte and for being an ALT Summer Summit keynoter!