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Jul 3rd, 2024
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  1. Justin:
  2. [0:27] I'm Justin. I'm Skollcom Library, and my pronouns are he and they.
  4. Sadie:
  5. [0:31] I'm Sadie. I work IT at a public library, and my pronouns are they them.
  7. Jay:
  8. [0:36] I'm Jay. I'm a music library director, and my pronouns are he him.
  10. Justin:
  11. [0:40] We have a guest. Would you like to introduce yourself?
  13. Tamara:
  14. [0:43] Sure. I'm Tamara. I'm a researcher and organizer, and my pronouns are she they.
  16. Justin:
  17. [0:53] Welcome. And thank you for coming on. I know we've had to reschedule a couple times, but it's nice to have you here. I really like your book. I've worked briefly. I have a lot of family in the funeral business. So my first job was setting headstones when I was 15. And so i think we've got plenty of background on like some sides of this but, i for those who don't know this book is about digital remains and remains of communications and networked information i think were some of the most important things about how the nature of how data is networked and that increases its value whether or not the user is still alive or not and so i wanted to know So if you could introduce your work and your background and what made you want to write this book.
  19. Tamara:
  20. [1:49] Yeah, so I've always been interested in death. I would say my mother would blame the fact that I went to Unitarian Sunday school and we would go have picnics in the cemetery to learn about death. And i yeah my family is quite weird and believes in ghosts very strongly and so the presence of the dead including dead kin was always really central to like normal family dinner conversations, but my research background my academic background was initially in anthropology anthropology, and as an undergraduate and as a master's student, I did a lot of work not only on the cultural anthropology side of things and things like mortuary ritual, which always intrigued me, and the ways that cultures would demonstrate who they valued and what they believed through the ways that they treated the dead in a material culture kind of way. But I also was fascinated by archeology as well. And I spent a little bit of time when I lived in Ohio as a contract archeologist. I had never found anything that exciting though, just some fire cracked rock for the most part.
  22. Tamara:
  23. [3:13] But yeah, so my academic trajectory was that I had this background in anthropology and did a BA and then a master's, then pivoted to a media studies program for my PhD. And that in part was because at that time, so thinking back to like 2008, 2009, a lot of anthropology PhD programs were still a little bit unsure about people studying the internet. That was not a thing that a lot of mainstream anthropology departments really were that interested in. And they didn't really understand the fact that I didn't have a dedicated physical field site. And I think that worried departments and they wanted me to kind of create a field site, which I didn't feel like doing.
  25. Tamara:
  26. [3:59] And so that's how I ended up in a media studies department. And so I, a lot of my work has been really interdisciplinary. I have a background in media culture and communication is my PhD, which really means like everything. And we would have conversations about like, what is a method and nobody really knows. And it was sort of a free for all in that way when it comes to a kind of affiliation with any particular discipline. And so I feel kind of weird sometimes because when I inhabit the more kind of tech ethics adjacent spaces that I tend to be in now as a researcher at a tech nonprofit and as somebody who works on things like responsible AI, whatever that means. I do find myself wanting to talk about, you know.
  28. Tamara:
  29. [4:48] Critical race theory and things that are more from a humanistic historical kind of background instead of only thinking about, you know, LLMs or something, which tends to dominate the conversations right now in a lot of HCI and AI ethics-related fields. So this book is the culmination of both my master's thesis and then my dissertation. And the reason I wrote the book is largely because that's what you do after you write a dissertation in a humanities field and you have a tenure track job and you're like, okay, I'm going to write this book. It's the tenure book. But I ended up leaving my job right before I was supposed to go up for tenure.
  31. Tamara:
  32. [5:34] And so then I was able to kind of go back and edit the book and make it a little bit more oriented towards a popular audience. So I didn't really have to worry as much about appealing to tenure review committees because I didn't anticipate having one. And so I kind of wanted the book to speak to more general audiences. And I wanted to make sure that it was firmly a critique of tech and not just a discussion of death care practices as much as I enjoy writing and talking about death care practices as a form of ritual i also am deeply politically committed to.
  34. Tamara:
  35. [6:20] Critiquing tech in every way i can there's.
  37. Justin:
  38. [6:24] A lot of specific elements that the book brings out uh, From the parts that I find really interesting are also the care parts, but you expand care to mean like also the care for servers, the care for long-term work. You know, how someone's, there was, there were a few things you said about data back and forth that if I had the whole time, I would just pick your brain about. Because you talked about living data and non-living data which you know that could have materialist implications but you meant it in the context of people who are still alive generating data and people who still have accounts and whose data is then used to generate more revenue which might be sort of different from like a materialist way of saying like you know data is dead labor in the same way like capital is dead labor but these things all have value because they're interconnected which i thought was really interesting especially it made me think of copyright because there's an assumption there's one creator of data and therefore you can own your data but because of all this care work you have examples of people who are dying and writing about their treatment and their spouse or ex-spouse that was a really messy story.
  40. Justin:
  41. [7:51] We're like helping them write and generate their blogs and keep their blogs running. And who pays for the domain? Does someone's spouse even know how to register a domain? And then they get a bill for a couple hundred dollars because they haven't been paying for the domain name. And I really like turning all that into the domestic field of care, the tech field of care. I like how all that came together with all the contradictions that it for us.
  43. Jay:
  44. [8:18] Yeah and like i've mentioned this on the podcast before so like when my mom died in 2018, like she died of cancer and so she knew ahead of time to like set me as like she asked me like hey just in case do i'm gonna make you the whatever the legacy contact and then she did end up passing but now i can't get rid of facebook i don't even log into it that much or like use it ever but i I like can't get rid of it because that also like I'm like held captive by my dead mother basically. And like, I don't have to log into it that much, but she still gets friend requests, right? Like that I don't approve because she's dead. So it doesn't matter. But like, that's just a kind of like, even if it's not an act of labor all the time, it's like, because my dead mom's memories are enshrined within Facebook, Even my kind of lazy labor within Facebook is still generating revenue, even if I just want to get rid of it.
  46. Tamara:
  47. [9:21] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I feel like I've had so many conversations with people about Facebook and parents, especially, and that that becomes, you know, one person told me about after his mother died, her account was hacked, and she had run a really popular dog rescue page that was really useful to a lot of people. And unfortunately it was really her legacy in a lot of ways as well because of all this work that she was doing and the network of people built up around the page but they ended up finally having facebook deal with it but it ended with the page being taken down and so the those complicated relationships that people have with the the digital remains of their parents i think yeah what you point to in terms of not being able to fully disengage and feeling a bit trapped, by your relationship with the platform as a caregiver like that yeah that really resonates.
  49. Justin:
  50. [10:27] There because you've moved the book into several different segments i wanted to know was there one aspect that you thought was the most important of from the book that like you felt was like Like this contradiction was the most important or this phenomenon was the most important looking back on it because it's been a little while.
  52. Tamara:
  53. [10:47] Yeah, well, I think right now the data of the dead being revived in order to make tech companies rich is unfortunately very, very important because of generative AI. And I think in the smart home chapter, which is the chapter that focuses on the ways that transhumanists and futurists, people who are really planning for long-term futures and who believe in a form of computational immortality potentially, and are trying to build palaces of efficiency through their dwellings and through smart devices around them, how these systems break down in the long term when they are tended by other people.
  55. Tamara:
  56. [11:39] And I think that incommensurability of devices and systems that will decay and break down with the dream of computational immortality or transhumanism or transcendence that permeates It's not only the religious transhumanist cultures that I engaged with in the book, but also even more mainstream technocultures and many of the effective altruist community members who are also all over the place right now and dominating a lot of the AI research discourse and funding at the moment.
  58. Tamara:
  59. [12:22] And so I feel like that chapter, in part maybe because it was in the chapter that I wrote after the dissertation, like that was field research that I did, you know, post having my kid and, you know, long after the dissertation had fully been completed, although there were threats that I had done before. And so I had been hanging out with the Stewart Brand kind of acolyte network through the Long Now Foundation since like 2012 or something. I started going to some of their events and getting to know that community a little bit. And so I think those elements of the book are probably the most, pressing for what we're dealing with right now and I have to say yeah revisiting Facebook memorialization is super painful for me just because I wrote that the first version of that when I was like 23 and so, it's been edited many times and that I'm just very glad that it's finally published somewhere, because I never published anything from it until the book.
  61. Justin:
  62. [13:38] You mentioned the techno-futurists and the religious techno-futurists, and that sort of jumped onto me. Particularly about anxieties people have about their digital remains and i remember, i can't remember the context but someone i kind of watched someone on twitter have like an existential crisis because they were talking about how do things end up in an archive how are we remembered how does this happen and they were just you know asking these questions out into the void, and as someone who's worked in archives i know someone just donates a bunch of stuff you sift through it you throw a lot of it away then you hand it off to scholars who might show up in 10 years or 20 years or 100 years and hopefully they find it useful as long as you know and you don't know when it's going to be useful but i was wondering if you felt that there was like in particular this need of preserving the body for the resurrection not only in this fear of losing Losing yourself, but also, you know, a sort of Hylard's god that goes back through time and can reconstruct you, or turning yourself into a chatbot, or Brokaw's basilisk is going to send you to computer hell.
  64. Justin:
  65. [14:57] Um but i mean it just seems like it's a very like a christian understanding of death and afterlife and i wonder if you in these religious aspects of techno futurists do they draw from other traditions that don't send a team to tend to have that kind of preoccupation um.
  67. Tamara:
  68. [15:17] So it is interesting that the idea of keeping the body whole and keeping like the corpus's data whole.
  70. Tamara:
  71. [15:30] Does seem to be an underlying anxiety for the people who are hoping to be revived, no matter what their official religious affiliation may be. And so I think you're right that there is a kind of, there is something kind of Christian about it. But I do think people are drawing from other traditions as well. So I mean, with the Mormon transhumanists, you have them marrying the Mormon practice of baptizing the dead and maintaining vast records of genealogical data to their belief in achieving immortality through technology. And actually, I just gave a talk at the Mormon transhumanist conference recently, and they're very into AI now, right? That's not surprising.
  73. Tamara:
  74. [16:55] I know that her next book she writes about russian immortalists largely from the 19th century but so cool she and yeah her work is fantastic but a lot of her research for her next book is going to be focused on this idea of the archive and preserving elements of the self and data as a way of preserving the body, which is interesting too, because thinking about the preservation of Lennon or something, um, In terms of, you know, if you maintain the corpse, you maintain the state. And so the ways that this very holistic form of preservation is attached to not just individual immortality, but then also this collective source of power and continuity was really kind of interesting.
  76. Tamara:
  77. [17:59] But i think what you point to also with the twitter person kind of worrying about how archives happen how do they come to be and also wondering i'm sure like how twitter will really be archived and how these things that seem like they could potentially be very important even in the short term future will disappear and again we have a moment in which the internet archive is being attacked and over copyright issues and then the.
  79. Jay:
  80. [18:31] Mtv like news archive just get taken down like yesterday or.
  82. Tamara:
  83. [18:35] Something yeah and that i mean the fact that and thinking about all the journalists too who rely on these sites to maintain their links so at least you know even if the company goes under you still have it so like real life magazine was always wonderful and it was funded by snapchat so it's outrageous but they shut it down but it was always fun to write for and they paid pretty well and fortunately they've maintained their website so far but i think of so many people in my particular field who wrote really excellent things for real life and such a good teaching resource too because they're digestible kind of enjoyable nuggets of information rather than having to read an entire academic journal article behind a paywall or something and it's really too bad that they're gone and i just i dread the day that you know the the website goes down the links are dead i do have pdfs but i think the just having to always prepare for the end of the connection and the end of the the link is kind of tiring after a while especially if you were a career journalist at a particular place and almost all of your work is attached to it yeah.
  85. Justin:
  86. [19:59] I want to bring it back around at the end to talk about institutions like the internet Archive and what maybe libraries can do. So let's focus on like the individual right now when people have that moment of panic. I have talked about how I maintain my papers in an acid-free box. It's ready to go. I'm dead. Ship it off to wherever. It's all there. And so, I have a goth archiving approach to my materials. But I'm also very much a person who is creeped out by a lot of the ways people publicly mourn, particularly like this is bringing back a lot of memories of I didn't realize how much particularly my age group was like smack in the middle of Facebook was allowed out to college students right when I was in college. And then the transfer from MySpace and all the different ways, like the Virginia Tech shooting, I was 18, which changed the policy about maintaining memorial pages. Ages, and realizing, you know, I know people who died very young in college, like 2007, 2008 maybe, and people would just post on their wall and, you know, they couldn't change their relationship status, so their boyfriend was stuck in a relationship with them for years.
  88. Justin:
  89. [21:27] So, with the way people are worried about this, I don't want to project, like, just because I'm weirded out by that, I don't want to be mean to other people. So, how do other people tend to deal with this fear? And could you tie that into the digital estate planning?
  91. Tamara:
  92. [21:46] Yeah. And well, so I think a lot of people now maybe are thinking more and have more anxiety around the possibility of their social media accounts or other digital belongings, escaping their control after they die or something weird happening. Happening and i would imagine that generative ai fears are only intensifying that like my mom has joked for many years at this point because we text all the time and she always says don't turn me into a robot when i die or you know so it's like you're gonna turn me into a chat bot aren't you but I wouldn't but I think that that might be a more common anxiety now and so this idea that maybe people need to have some kind of clause in their will that says hey you can't turn me into a bot, or using legacy contact as a mechanism for appointing somebody to take care of their profile or potentially deactivate it in the event of your death. I think this is something that people definitely are thinking about.
  94. Tamara:
  95. [23:06] But the problem is every platform has a different way of handling the problem of digital remains. A lot of large platforms still don't have any memorialization policy, like TikTok doesn't, for example.
  97. Tamara:
  98. [23:22] And so you run into this larger problem of, you know, how do you manage all of your accounts at once? And how do you sort of plan responsibly in order to alleviate the burden that this might place on your loved ones if you were to die? And so there is a startup industry around the idea of digital estate planning. And I noticed that a lot of the large digital estate planning companies, started popping up around 2008. And so it is after Facebook memorialization, it's sort of after everybody's on Facebook. It's definitely the height of Web 2.0. It's a time when equation of data with value is just like hitting everyone over the head. And so this idea that, yes, we should plan for the future, and maybe there's money in this from a startup perspective is something that takes off. And so I've interviewed different waves of startup founders who have tried to create companies around this concept, but over and over again, they tend to fail because it's very hard to get a large wave of subscribers for this sort of thing. People don't want to pay for it. And most people are not going to put money into something that won't matter until after they're dead.
  100. Tamara:
  101. [24:46] And it isn't something that a lot of people would really like to think about. And so there are a few companies that have attached themselves more to will writing or to insurance companies. One of the most successful companies of the startup founders that I talked to, Trust and Well, is sponsored by the AARP. And so their dream of becoming the TurboTax sort of estate planning, digital estate planning is sort of maybe more plausible. But by and large, the focus is not about managing material estates as much as it is, which is a thing that definitely, you know, is a pain in the ass for people to deal with after people die.
  103. Tamara:
  104. [25:35] But then also this problem of the kind of housekeeping that has to happen for people's digital assets and the problem of a lot of people not knowing even what accounts a loved one has, how to access them, let alone like passwords, or what the person would want done with them. And so really relying on a single company, especially a startup company to do that work for you, potentially decades ahead of when you're going to die, it's probably not the wisest thing. Because the vast majority of the companies that do that work are going to go under long before you're dead. So looking to, you know, simpler ways of passing on like last wishes, even beyond putting in a will, like, you know, just writing it down somewhere, like what you want done with all of your account, what are your accounts and what do you want done with them? That kind of information can actually be useful to people especially if you have accounts that are worth money anymore you know people like money.
  106. Sadie:
  107. [26:39] I i've kind of thought about this and in terms of like my password manager i specifically i use bitwarden i specifically found one that i could, share with my spouse right so in case something happens to me I'm the more technologically inclined between the two of us right so if if I kick it unexpectedly they're gonna be like really lost in the weeds on a lot of stuff right so like trying to find one but trying to get my spouse to also use the same password manager so that that transference is there like it just has not been it's been like two years and it just has not happened for a variety of reasons like I'm not just saying like oh my spouse is you know technologically like phobia or whatever they're not it's just it hasn't happened for whatever reason and yeah so like but also I know that passwords are not always necessarily permission and they're not always necessarily enough to actually give access to things because public libraries like how many times a day do people see somebody come in who's like, I can't access my email anymore.
  109. Sadie:
  110. [27:50] I use that email for my multi-factor authentication, which is just going to get worse and worse, right? As more and more people press on it, more and more companies press on it. I can't access it because it's my multi-factor authentication. I can't access it and it ties into my bank account. It ties into my, So these digital estate plannings, are they incorporating that kind of thing into it? Or are they just more of a like, these are the things that you should have written out before you die? Or are they really getting into some of the more IT aspects of account transfers and all of that?
  112. Jay:
  113. [28:34] I'm just imagining walt disney's like frozen cryogenic head situation but digital like that's what i'm imagining this is.
  115. Tamara:
  116. [28:41] Oh yeah and that raises all i mean the sort of the inheritance, issues connected cryonics are like totally wild because what do you do if so because it takes a massive amount of wealth to keep those people frozen and in suspension but they're not technically And so they're not stuff can can't inherit. There's all these like weird legal issues around that. But, but yeah, most so a lot of the early waves of companies were more focused on password stuff. So like password kind of managers, but then glorified is like being like oriented towards death.
  118. Tamara:
  119. [29:23] And mechanisms for passing on your final wishes to your next of kin through like an email or something but most of those companies went under and also that is not legally sound like you're really like legally you're not supposed to be sharing your passwords with people because the account technically is with one person the contract is with one person and there are all kinds of like murky things that happen when people are trying to access accounts through passwords. And so a lawyer would say that you should, you can have your wishes for accounts put somewhere. And so there are a number of different companies now that try to combine mortuary care and end of life wishes with digital housekeeping related to death and so they might not offer to pass on your password information and some some companies do offer a way to maintain your data.
  121. Tamara:
  122. [30:29] But that becomes an increasingly expensive proposition because people have a shit ton of data but yeah so it has shifted but i think generally speaking this idea that, you need something you need some sort of central website or a company that can handle all of the various odds and ends related to.
  124. Tamara:
  125. [31:03] To managing a death and so i think the most successful versions of those companies are the ones that tend to combine end-of-life and mortuary care with the digital housekeeping aspect.
  127. Justin:
  128. [31:18] Yeah that makes sense especially if you want someone if you want like sort of a combined revenue stream to keep it going you're going to want someone who's doing like actuarial stuff on the side so that their business stays around for a couple hundred years hopefully but that does lead to inequalities as you mentioned in the book so those actuarial tables are are calculated by race and class hierarchies are we still i mean obviously we're still seeing that but has there been any changes on that front in terms of the equity of preservation of your digital self or inheritance?
  130. Tamara:
  131. [32:02] Well, I mean, it is kind of interesting in that, In theory, even if you don't have a lot of property, even if you don't have a lot of financial wealth, you might have a huge archive of social media data and other digital assets that are of sentimental value to your loved ones. But I think, you know, this idea that, you know, you can live on through data and that somehow democratizing legacy is not quite right. Because the people who actually have wealth will, one, be able to leverage data collection to enrich themselves, and two, will have other forms of life extension available to them. And by life extension, I mean things like healthcare and actual insurance. Blood boys. Yeah, blood boys, for sure. For sure.
  133. Jay:
  134. [33:13] A diet fully made out of vitamins and supplements yes he's crazy he's restorative powers of estrogen yeah he's just on e now i'm like girl, this see trans people we just like the hrt it makes us ageless that's that's the secret guys just trans your gender and you'll live forever there.
  136. Tamara:
  137. [33:35] We go yeah i think like the the idea of people being kind of discriminated against, obviously, by data. So mortality tables as a way of calculating, you know, an assessment of risk, which then translates into things like insurance premiums, and then tying that kind of metric to things like end-of-life care and even digital preservation is a little bit alarming. Right? Like there's just a very easy line from.
  139. Tamara:
  140. [34:16] These inequalities that we have based on these really terrible histories of racism and oppression and enslavement that then get taken up by the newer wave of startups or whatever companies that are in many ways also attaching themselves to legacy companies like insurance companies.
  142. Tamara:
  143. [34:39] Needs and so i i think what is really interesting is that there is like a there's like this hacking and like tinkering with the self through things like cryonics and supplements and it is really funny right because you have this really conservative and in many ways like anti-trans like very transphobic and incredibly like weirdly christian kind of element to a lot of these subcultures but but there are people so i i don't know if you know the work of jacob boss at all but he has done some work on some of like the weird kind of grassroots transhumanist communities who are into things like biohacking and like putting magnets on themselves and a lot of them are like queer and they're furries and stuff too but that's just like a completely different so there are you know there's definitely like different subcultures within even something like transhumanism so like it's not all like the blood boy lovers or whatever but i mean i i want to be a blood boy i want it for pervert.
  145. Jay:
  146. [35:50] Reasons not like.
  148. Tamara:
  149. [35:51] Capital reasons um, but that well this is interesting i mean the the like the kind of like heteronormative assumptions within like also the the kind of imagined future for transhumanism like you know like what happens to kinship what happens to like blood relations also if like you don't die like who is left to care for your weird frozen head if you don't have children. You kind of need the next generation to do that work. But then also transhumanists also do kind of fantasize about a life that doesn't involve reproduction, or at least doesn't maybe involve, like, wombs.
  151. Jay:
  152. [36:44] I mean, it's the same with, like, having to, like, you know, data is physical. It's not like all data is physical. Someone's taking care of these servers as well. That's still something that has to be cared for even if you're not freezing your head.
  154. Tamara:
  155. [37:01] Exactly. Exactly. All of these fantasies of immortality they really do rely on multiple levels of infrastructure and care that, the fantasy tries its best to ignore.
  157. Justin:
  158. [37:20] Yeah it was if you if you could you know unfreeze someone from 100 years ago how much money would you be willing to spend to do that and you know and take care of the same people who want to like you know you know you could clone a neanderthal but ethically you have to take care of them for the rest of their natural human life outside of their society so So, who's willing to do that? Or, you know, you don't even have to go as far as Neanderthals. You can do that for, like, mammoths or whatever. Would that be ethical? No. Would it be ethical to pull someone out of a cryonic sleep?
  160. Jay:
  161. [37:59] We already have Jurassic Park. Right.
  163. Sadie:
  164. [38:01] We already learned that lesson.
  166. Jay:
  167. [38:02] We've gone through this ethical mind game or whatever. It's mind experience.
  169. Tamara:
  170. [38:06] It's always the mammoth. Like, that's always what they want to revive, you know?
  172. Justin:
  173. [38:11] That's just cruel, especially as it's getting warmer.
  175. Tamara:
  176. [38:15] Yeah i guess it's like a form of ice age nostalgia yeah.
  178. Justin:
  179. [38:19] It's a good movie.
  181. Sadie:
  182. [38:23] This this is like and this all sounds very like we have to colonize mars to save humans on earth sort of like it's all the same fantasy to me it sounds like like you want to go to mars and but like you're not actually thinking about how much like sheer like a human attention and care has to go into keeping 12 people alive in the international space station for like as long as we have and you want to go do that on mars and you think that's somehow going to save humanity in the long run like it yeah is it is it all just sort of the same sort of rich person fantasy, yes okay okay yes absolutely.
  184. Tamara:
  185. [39:06] I think like yeah the bunker in new zealand the you know the mars colony the frozen head they're all kind of part of the same general vibe and yeah the mars thing is huge because you you definitely still need a lot of people left alive on earth to maintain that connection and so there is really no escape like the escape the escape is kind of a faulty notion in the first place. But I think this fantasy of becoming digital in order to, like, if we somehow transcend our fleshly existence, we will be able to travel far enough in order to colonize the far reaches of space and become something beyond what is human. But it's just really depressing as we watch the emissions related to AI get more and more out of hand and climate change obviously being in a really bad place at the moment. And this is sort of the long-term fantasy, but I don't really know how much time they think we have.
  187. Justin:
  188. [40:24] Yeah. I mean, politically as well, you know, the, when are the water wars going to start? When is, you know, the rebellion against billionaires going to happen? What about nation states? Yeah. The orcas are already leading the charge. Yeah. I mean, there's so many things that you could say, well, this is how much time we have before the earth gets this hot, but what are the effects of that going to be? We don't actually know. So you do bring in a lot of aspects of activism from Black Lives Matter and people recording the police on Facebook Live. And since your book's come out, there's, People who are memorializing themselves on TikTok before they die, Palestinians, Aaron Bushnell, and his self-immolation. He did it on Twitch. Yeah. I think he was streaming to a lot of things at once. Accounts but what would you if you had to add an addendum to the book which i know most people wouldn't because it's done it's out there but if there was something about like activist spaces that you wanted to add to the book now what would it what would it focus on yeah.
  190. Tamara:
  191. [41:47] Well so, i actually have an article connected to the book that's been under review for a while and i have I have to completely rewrite it now. So it's about the platform necropolitics. But I would really like to write about the tech worker movement against genocide in conjunction with the tech worker movement against climate disaster perpetuated by tech companies. And I think that the need to document atrocity, and so I think, you know, all of the final tweets from Palestinians that, you know, go viral and are these moments of documenting a life that might otherwise not register to people who are in the global north. I think, you know, these things are all really important in terms of social media as a form of resistance, as a way of dispensing mutual aid as well, particularly through celebrities who are using their fame and their followers in order to direct resources to Gaza. Yeah.
  193. Tamara:
  194. [43:14] And I'm definitely interested in those elements. But then, I think, like moving towards abolition. So how are people resisting data centers, both within the tech industry and outside of it? But how are groups like No Tech for Apartheid working with Palestinian labor groups and other grassroots organizations to try to shut down the tools of genocide? And so really thinking about the relationship between logistics and platform infrastructures and AI, but the twinning of, you know, genocide. Side and ecological destruction as both being like the true existential risk of ai.
  196. Justin:
  197. [44:10] Yeah i mean when that article comes out you'll have to send it to me so i can, put it out there for everyone as well as a follow-up.
  199. Tamara:
  200. [44:20] For sure yeah i have to waiting on the reviewer comments from the first draft so knowing academia that could take a while but.
  202. Justin:
  203. [44:30] Yeah when i was reading through the book a lot of what i was thinking about is this problem of like perpetual care which is similar to perpetual care problems and graveyards and cemeteries and all kinds of things where we imagine that you're going to be taken care of forever, You mentioned the Internet Archive, and it was disheartening to how much of that backup is required on the Internet Archive. There's no other major sources besides the Library of Congress, really, to do massive-scale web archiving because of the way the Internet Archive works. Other organizations don't work at that scale. So is there anything that libraries can do? You know, I'm thinking about smaller scale in order to ease that, you know, take care of the care work, which is, you know, the long-term digital archiving and physical archiving. Or is that something that libraries just shouldn't even try to tackle when it comes to the sheer amount of people's personal records and memories?
  205. Tamara:
  206. [45:45] Yeah, it's interesting because I know a few people right now who are working on small archives, some kind of individual activist archives in this way, and like both digital and physical collections. But it, yeah, it's really tricky, even with Tech Workers Coalition stuff. I mean, it's an affinity group. There's no real leadership. It's international. It exists largely on Slack.
  208. Tamara:
  209. [46:16] Lack and so but there's like a ton of really fun ephemera and artifacts from the early years, and then there's a lot of interesting web-based material from more recent times especially during the pandemic the height of the pandemic and so trying to figure out like okay like should this go to a labor archive like who should really be charged with caring for this should it just like live with somebody who's kind of volunteered to take over the maintenance work of you know keeping keeping the archive alive but i do think maybe that that is one way of approaching it so So rather than thinking about the kind of massive archiving project that is the Internet Archive, but especially for smaller organizations or organizations that maybe don't have a huge public web presence. But like, you know, how do you maintain sort of the more personal private parts of activist life? And how do you, you know, do that in a way that is respectful, but also like can be useful to future historians?
  211. Tamara:
  212. [47:37] And so that's kind of an interesting problem, maybe. And yeah, I think libraries and archives have to play a role here. But maybe the overwhelming scale problem makes it harder to think about preservation because it feels like you need to preserve every single thing. But there's so much trash that you can be preserving that way, too. Just like ai generated bullshit like everywhere you know.
  214. Justin:
  215. [48:09] Yeah and that takes up you know server space but you know it needs curation i think i think smaller scale is is kind of the only real option because like that person who's freaking out on twitter how do you how do things get archived the thing is most stuff doesn't and that it's issue of care and if you want something preserved you have to work really hard at it and make sure it gets into the right hands or that you're taking care of it and how do you impress that value to other people as well so that they'll take care of it you talked about that with heirlooms it's not just that you know something that you own is valuable intrinsically you have to make your descendants care about it too and if they don't value it then it loses its value as an heirloom as a unique object yeah.
  217. Tamara:
  218. [49:00] Definitely you need the the story you need the context like it isn't really just the object itself like it's not like it has its own special like value that is detached from the context and that's why like i feel like sometimes thinking about digital preservation is helpful in that way because it points to that more general problem like you know like a tweet in isolation or this idea of like preserving just your data like you can't because it's all relational but.
  220. Tamara:
  221. [49:31] It's the same with like anything of value, right? Like you kind of need, you just need that context. You need it within a network of other relations and things in order for it to make sense. Well, I was just thinking like my kid got a book from a US bookstore and it had a CD in it of Puff the Magic Dragon. And we don't have a CD player anymore, but we listen to records a lot. And yeah, he was like, oh, it's a record. Can we put it on? I was like, no, that's a CD. And he was like, what? What's a CD? And I was like, what is that? And he's like, can we get a CD player? I was like, okay, I guess we can. But, you know, and so the CD became this like kind of magical enchanted object because it was so rare and new. And it was like, wow, you'll enjoy our collection of CDs that are in the basement. It'll be like records are a thing of the past now everybody's into CDs.
  223. Justin:
  224. [50:34] Yeah well I mean I don't know I bought a multi use CD Blu-ray M-disc writer and reader and it never worked so I you know I don't know if I'm going to risk buying another one, nerd I wanted to burn a bunch of stuff onto an M-disc, nerd and put it in my box with all my records.
  226. Jay:
  227. [51:04] Your little goth box.
  229. Justin:
  230. [51:09] They're cool. They don't decay at the rate of DVDs. Like a thousand years. It's cool.
  232. Tamara:
  233. [51:16] Put it in the time capsule.
  235. Jay:
  236. [51:18] Put it on a microfiche. Get the kids into microfiche. That's really the solution is.
  238. Justin:
  239. [51:26] We have a lot of decaying microfiche. I thought that wasn't supposed to do that.
  241. Jay:
  242. [51:33] Don't let the kids know that microfiche isn't perfect either.
  244. Justin:
  245. [51:39] Okay any last questions jay city.
  247. Jay:
  248. [51:44] I'll i just kept thinking that like so like i i once said this this will be quick i once said this in a a talk on like archival absence and stuff um but i talked about how like at the end like you know sometimes we need to be a little bit more buddhist about stuff and accept that things are impermanent and that we're not going to catch everything. And like, as we've been talking, especially with Justin's question about like the very Christian sort of mindset of all this has just been making me think of like, what would it mean to take a more like, like what do Buddhists like, what, how do they deal? Like, are they any different or are they still like, no preserve my Facebook forever and forgetting what impermanence is or like, you know, just also like with libraries, and like your twitter archives like i thought the whole point of twitter was to post things into the void and it be ephemeral right like the sort of like embracing of ephemerality i feel like yes we've gotten so panicky that we're afraid to let things go i don't know well.
  250. Sadie:
  251. [52:49] And that i was oh sorry i was gonna say i i was really stunned by the phrase mormon transhumanists i want it.
  253. Jay:
  254. [52:57] Tattooed on my body.
  256. Sadie:
  257. [52:58] Like it's so good it was i was raised mormon so it's an extra like, wait a second but so yeah like are there buddhist transhumanists what do they think about all of this so like yeah no just if there are mormon trans transhumanists there there are definitely buddhist transhumanists out there right there.
  259. Tamara:
  260. [53:18] Probably are especially within silicon valley circles where there's.
  262. Sadie:
  263. [53:23] Such a deep.
  265. Tamara:
  266. [53:24] Desire to like appropriate buddhism anyone i think i am i gotta go my family's here sounds hello family all.
  268. Justin:
  269. [53:36] Right well i will make sure that all of your links to your book and your personal website and anything else just let me know and this will be out hopefully in a couple days.
  271. Tamara:
  272. [53:48] Awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.
  274. Jay:
  275. [53:51] This was a blast.
  277. Tamara:
  278. [53:51] Your book is great.
  280. Jay:
  281. [53:53] I'm having my info shop buy it.
  283. Tamara:
  284. [53:55] Thank you so much. Can you send me a photo of it in the info shop? That would be so helpful.
  286. Justin:
  287. [54:06] Good night.
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