Reading Room #40 with The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest — There is no Software, there are just Services

For this Reading Room session, Seda Gürses and Femke Snelting from The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest join us to read and discuss the introduction to ”There is no Software, there are just Services” by Irina Kaldrack and Martina Leeker.

Please RSVP to participate in this reading session by sending an email to with subject ‘Reading Room’. You will receive the introduction to ”There is no Software, there are just Services”, which should be read in preparation.

As a rare critical account of radical changes in software production with huge implications, this text written in 2015 lucidly details a transformation long in the making. As became increasingly clear during lockdowns, public institutions such as hospitals, schools, local libraries and cultural institutions have by now almost without exception outsourced their digital infrastructures to a small handful of Big Tech companies. By allowing them to provide the administration, facilitation and optimisation regimes to keep business running “as usual”, they ceded control both over their operations and the possibility for offering localised services. As Kaldrack and Leeker write, this “corresponds to a process in which any kind of aid or help, personal service or favour– our normal, everyday practices– can be subjected to the law of the economical”.  Interjected by readings from pamphlets, manifestos and zines from critical tech-collectives proposing solidary, queer, non-coercive computational practices, this Reading Room Session will be stretching readers’ technical and social imaginaries.

The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest (TITiPI) is a trans-practice gathering of activists, artists, engineers and theorists initiated by Miriyam Aouragh, Seda Gürses, Helen Pritchard and Femke Snelting. Together we convene communities to hold computational infrastructures to account and to create spaces for articulating what technologies in the “public interest” might be when “public interest” is always in-the-making. We develop tools from feminisms, queer theory, computation, intersectionality, anti-coloniality, disability studies, historical materialism and artistic practice to generate currently inexistant vocabularies, imaginaries and methodologies. TITiPI functions as an infrastructure to intensify these practices and to establish new ways in which policy making around technology is organized in the public interest.

The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest, the Reading Room and Page Not Found are committed to provide a safe environment for all participants, while questioning the control regime that the QR code check implies. This commitment brought us to a new format: the session will be a procession, in which our guests Femke and Seda guide the participants, between the rooms of Page Not Found and the street outside. We will be physically circulating, circulating ideas and text, as well as hopefully airing out our aerosols and data traces. This way, our event is a “transfer” or “circulation activity” (doorstroom activiteit) for which a Covidpas is not required.  At the beginning of the session, we will invite the participants to define collectively how to feel safe together (using distancing, masks, etc). Please stay home if you feel unwell.

The session runs from 19:00 to 21:30 with a break in the middle.