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Wednesday, 18 July 2007

offline blogging: austria

I am in Vienna. I met many Wieners when I was in Linz and am staying with a woman I met named Marty. Many people who went to the conference in Linz flew in through Vienna, so last night, we had a small party. Several members of the vegetable orchestra were present. This legendary group's shows include making instruments out of vegetables and then playing them. One of the folks last night apparently has a technique where she can get a zucchini to sound exactly like a tuba. They used to follow up the performances with stew made from the instruments, but this was time consuming and also kind of gross, so now they pre-cook their stew with other vegetables.

Last night was some of the most fun that I've ever had. We were artists and geeks and sex workers and Europeans and Americans and all feminist / progressive. Austria has its political problems, certainly, but the indie scene is great. We were hanging out at the queer center. There was spray paint on the outside wall that said "gender queer." It made me feel very happy. I really like that term.

The last day that the con was going in Linz was unbearably hot. There were my last minute workshops. A quick intro to svn, how to podcast, etc, but it was all so hot, the entire building emptied out and migrated to the bank of the Danube. I was not the only one who went skinny dipping in the (brown) Danube. After painting myself in thick coat of spf 50 sunblock. The current was swift. The water was freezing! So much fun.

Alas, my whole experience made me feel pangs for my youth. Ah, to be in a place where women work together and trans-masculinity is validated, and where my body is not a cultural artifact, but just the space that I inhabit, without expectations written across the shape of my chest.

Linz was home to some important historical figures. Bruckner used to play the organ in the town's cathedral. Some of you will recall that Bruckner wrote for the wagner tuba and thus is important in its history. Also from linz was Adolph Hitler. He went to a real schule near the haupt schule where we slept. One of the people in my room attempted to determine whether he attended the school that we slept at. Since he was an art student and this was the arts magnet, it was a possibility. Anyway, she failed to find out. Maybe i slept in hitler's homeroom?

I think that I am now involved in the european feminist forum. We are going to set up a wiki (or drupal) which has a bunch of howtos for activists and non-profits. Leftists simply should not be giving their institutional funds to microsoft. If they're in to people power, they should use free software. Also many outside the first world don't have the luxury to buy buggy bloatware because it costs too much. Our documents will hopefully be useful to folks worldwide. What do orgs use computers for? Their website, email, spreadsheets, documents, making posters and officy stuff like that. These kinds of applicstions work very well under ubuntu and don't require much computer power. Old computers can be turned into powerful tools for activists.

We need a parallel structure. Anti-capitalists cannot depend on for-profit enterprise to solve their problems. This is a clear use for self-help and anarchism! Amyway, I'll set something up when i get home and then make an announcement and then go away again. The intended audience is computer novice activists, so part of the issue is trust. It's ok to link to other howtos, but its essential to gain their trust. They're often suspicious of new technology and wary of geeks, so even if this project is redundant, the feminist perspective will help.

1 comment:

Polly Moller said...

The Women's Funding Network would probably be very into spreading the word about a feminist computer hardware and software initiative for activists. Tell me all about it when you can and I'll pass it along.