Listening Structures

Listening Structures

A Collective Process for Big Tech’s Interrogation
25 Jun 2023
Berlin (DE)

In the workshop Listening Structures: A Collective Process for Big Tech’s Interrogation, we will collectively interrogate case studies where big tech and the public sector become entangled, assessing their impact on public life and minoritsied communities. We will pick up and run with each other’s ideas to collectively speculate on alternative figurations for what such relationships could be, if power was distributed and decisions were made in the commons.

Challenging, undermining and distributing power is not easily done. Participation in discourse, let alone influencing systemic change requires resources; some material and some more symbolic – signalling to all the undeniable legitimacy of the agent. In undermining this process (a process that has become democracy in practice), new constellations of participation and outcomes are necessary.

Listening Structures provide a 2-dimensional environment to capture and orient thoughts on a given technological conundrum. A series of geometric shapes that are gradually populated with words, the process asks: what would listening look like when assigned roles were no longer visible, and participants were not confined by conventional conversational dynamics (such as waiting for your turn to speak)?

The listening becomes detached from any person yet, everyone becomes the listener, as each participant is presented with the output at the same time. This distributed listening becomes active distributed listening when participants have access to the platform where contributions are collected and are able to manipulate them. These contributions, or thoughts, take on a life of their own; they are picked up and moved around by anyone, built on, manipulated and challenged. Half-formed ideas can manifest and be made whole by someone else.

As ideas travel through these structures during this in-person interactive workshop, the nature of these ideas changes, with the output determined in the commons.