Article by Padmini Ray Murray: “All of our digital lives reside on servers – mostly in corporate server farms owned by the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. These farms contain machines that store massive volumes of data generated by every single user of the internet. These vast infrastructures allow people to store, connect, and exchange information on the internet.
Consequently, there is a massive distance between users and where and how the data is stored, which means that individuals have very little control over how their data is stored and used. However, due to the huge reliance on these massive corporate technologies, individuals are left with very little choice but to accept the terms dictated by these businesses. The conceptual alternative of the feminist server was created by groups of feminist and queer activists who were concerned about how little power they have over owning and managing their data on the internet. The idea of the feminist server was described as a project that is interested in “creating a more autonomous infrastructure to ensure that data, projects and memory of feminist groups are properly accessible, preserved and managed” – a safe digital library to store and manage content generated by feminist groups. This was also a direct challenge to the traditionally male-dominated spaces of computer hardware management, spaces which could be very exclusionary and hostile to women or queer individuals who might be interested in learning how to use these technologies.
There are two related ways by which a server can be considered as feminist. The first is based on who runs the server, and the second is based on who owns the server. Feminist critics have pointed out how the running of servers is often in the hands of male experts who are not keen to share and explain the knowledge required to maintain a server – a role known as a systems admin or, colloquially, a “sysadmin” person. Thus the concept of feminist servers emerged out of a need to challenge patriarchal dominance in hardware and infrastructure spaces, to create alternatives that were nurturing, anti-capitalist, and worked on the basis of community and solidarity…(More)”.