TechnoloWitch is a twitter-bot that casts spells and generates a new kind of tech language.
Historically, witches have been symbols of female/queer power and a threat to the patriarchy. More recently, occult aesthetics and practices have been undergoing a resurgence and riding (or driving?) the wave of fourth-wave feminism. How can we use the language and aesthetics of spell-casting to generate new discussions, experiences and culture in the tech world?
Technology has long been seen as a form of magic (see: Alfred Gell’s “The Technology of Enchantment and the Enchantment of Technology” (1992)), however the creators of technology start ups and products have more of then not been framed as men. Years of women’s work in computer science and technology were overshadowed by the rise of personal computers in the 80s and 90s, with computers being advertised as a toy for boys. As women were becoming more successful overall in fields like medicine and law, computer science plateaued and then tanked.
There are many initiatives to increase specifically gender diversity in the Tech world. But rather than focusing on bringing people into computer science, we should also consider what can be done to get them to stay.
When asked about why they leave, the most frequent response is that the dominant culture of silicon valley is toxic to women and other gendered beings.
In comes TechnoloWitch.
TechnoloWitch seeks to present an alternative narrative using a technological, social media platform, of what tech culture can be. Using language and humor, the twitter bot crafts spells that people can use to cure their technological woes or to curse those who create trouble. At the moment, were using a mad lib style format to generate text. We then populate the skeletal sentence structure with words randomly chosen from several lists such as: spell names, occult references, verbs ending in -ing, fem-tech hashtags and technology related nouns. These lists themselves are a combination of found JSON files (like Darisuk’s corpora) and constructed arrays.
Since we started the bot we’ve already received several followers, most likely due to the inclusion of hashtags. We plan on continuing to experiment with the text generation element and include the bot in the upcoming Botness conference to be held at ITP on November 4-5