Announcing: UnTechCon 1!

UnTechCon is a one-day unconference about creating community digital autonomy, challenging big tech, and creating a future worth living in.

UnTechCon flyer with the same info as below

For some time now, we’ve been trying to figure out how to bring some of the exciting conversations that happen between the Geeks for Social Change Collective and our friends and collaborators to a wider audience.

About 18 months ago we set up a Discord server (which you should absolutely join btw!) as a space for people to start formulating and discussing thoughts around some of the messy, complex, fascinating, sometimes horrifying edges where tech meets community meets abolitionist-anarcho-trans-feminist politics meets the increasingly exploitative and dysfunctional world we live in today.

In pre-Covid times we ran an ethics and technology reading group, for which the discord became the spiritual successor (we still really need to do a writeup of some of this). An optimistic but realistic space where anyone who’s interested in these intersections can come to plot, scheme, ideate, and collaborate.

We’ve recently been feeling that we’d love to host a more open space to have these conversations with a wider audience, so with that in mind, we’re super excited to announce…

UnTechCon!

UnTechCon is a one-day unconference about creating community digital autonomy, challenging big tech, and creating a future worth living in.

The conference will be held on the GFSC Discord Server on Sat 10th December, 11-5. Register on Eventbrite.

What’s an unconference?

An unconference is a conference where there’s no preset agenda or speaker list, under a loose overall theme. The lines between attendee and speaker are blurred and all attendees are encouraged to give talks, lead discussions, run workshops, etc, with the schedule open for anyone to place their own thing in. You’re also welcome to come and just listen if that’s your jam, too.

We felt that this format would offer the most exciting and accessible space possible for what we’re trying to do here. It lowers the bar to both entry and participation, by offering a dip-in/dip-out style event where hopefully any attendee might feel able to host their own thing.

And what about ‘untech’?

We opted for ‘untechnology’ rather than ‘anti-technology’, because actually a lot of us really do like technology — just not when it’s owned by global megacorporations to do evil things. UnTech therefore leaves the door open for creative interpretation whilst letting us be critical of how it’s used in the world today. Maybe we can come up with a better term on the day?

Come join us!

All you need to do to join is sign up on Eventbrite. We will have a separate area of our Discord server set up for the conference to keep it nice and intimate — so everyone needs to register, even our regs.

All you need to do is show up! We actively encourage lack of preparation — the best talks are often spontaneous and unprepared.

We hope to have conference software set up to manage the talks and make sure that there aren’t too many things happening at once so everyone gets heard.

If you’re unfamiliar with Discord we are happy to help get you set up - drop Emma an email and we will be in touch. You can join the server whenever you like.

Want inspiration? We’ve put together this nebulous list of potential topics that might be covered — we’re especially keen to hear case studies of things you’ve actually done!

Possible topics

Here’s a list of some concepts to get the creative juices flowing. A special note that we are especially keen to hear case studies of things you’ve actually done!

(On/offline) Agency | Algorithms / AI / ML | Anarchism | Antiracism | Antifascism | Bleeps | Bloops | (No) Borders | Case studies | Capability approach | Community development | Community technology partnerships | Crypto hate | Distributed networks | Disability activism | DIY repair | DIY HRT | Digital inclusion | FLOSS | Genderhacking | Hardware | Low power computing | Luddites | Military-industrial complex | Permacomputing | Prison abolition | Privacy | Programming socks | Reuse | Salvage | Supply chains | Surveillance capitalism | Sustainability | Technosolutionism | [Trans/glitch/xeno/???] + feminism | Web 1.0

How much does it cost?

UnTechCon is free if you want it to be. As we build creative interpretations for the future of UnTech we’re also engaged with rebalancing the economies that have fuelled and funded tech monopolies. That said, we also want to resist funder-led models that rely entirely on grants to support liberatory tech so if you have the means we would welcome your financial support. If you come and feel moved to donate after, you can also do so on Ko-Fi or OpenCollective, or through a bank transfer (we will share our details nearer the time).

We suggest £0 for unemployed or minimum wage workers or anyone who wouldn’t come if they had to pay, £3 for low waged, £10 for higher waged, and £100 if it’s coming out your work conference allowance anyway 😎. Anything left after covering our costs will go into our (currently dormant) OpenCollective account to fund future projects.

Hope to see you there!