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A workshop with Varia and The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest

Infrables make negative use-cases and un-fixing bug reports as a solidary praxis. They are articulations of what extractive digital infrastructures are, and what they are doing. What infrables can we tell to take-down Big Tech narratives and undo their violences? Generated through narrative and extra-narrative accounts, infrables identify oppressive infrastructures or tools, but they also make space for other technological attitudes.

How can we follow and understand infrastructural shifts through shared experiences? To what extent do individual experiences stand for a larger whole? What happens when you share, retell, adapt, rewrite someone else's experiences?

For a growing collection of Infrables brought together in different contexts, see the booklet here:

Part 1: Infrastructural anecdotes

  1. Bring an instrument. Maybe you find yourself in a room with a guitar. Or some pots and pans or any other set of objects that can make variable noise.
  2. Pick a few anecdotes from the collection and read them out loud. One or more listeners accompany the readings with dramatic sound effects.
  3. Once the reading is done, work in small groups and tell each other a story or anecdote of an experience involving a digital infrastructure. Take 10-20 minutes to transcribe; give each anecdote a title
  4. Pick a few anecdotes from the new collection and read them out loud. One or more listeners might accompany the readings with dramatic sound effects.

Part 2: From anecdote to infrable

  1. Form groups of 3-5 people.
  2. Each group picks an anecdote. You can also mix several anecdotes.
  3. Gather on an etherpad page if remote, or meet around the table if your infrable-session is IRL.
  4. Choose some elements, and a format (see below).
  5. Re-write/change/re-tell the infrastructural anecdote into an infrable together.
  6. Pick several anecdotes from the collection of anecdotes and read them out loud. One or more listeners accompany the readings with dramatic sound effects.

Infrabling elements ✨

  • Make the intention (instead of the "moral") of the story explicit: what is the intention for the "public interest"?
  • Introduce a maxim, "concise expression" or motto
  • Introduce fictional agents, such as talking plants, inanimate objects or other creatures (e.g.: the tortoise and the hare, grasshoper and the ant, etc.)
  • Make space for natural phenomena, machinic agencies, other animacies
  • Scale the timespace of the story
  • Infrastromorphise (instead of antropomorphise) agents: attribute infrastructural characteristics, motivation or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena
  • Use rhyme, rhytmn and repetition to rewrite/retell the anecdote
  • ...


  • A drawing
  • A shared BigBlueButton whiteboard
  • Some pad writing
  • A spoken story
  • A song
  • A poem
  • A fiction
  • A slogan/T-Shirt
  • ...

Infrastructural anecdotes

Hanging there

When I arrived here at Rotterdam I remembered a friend of mine from long ago was living here somewhere. I have shut down my Facebook a few years ago but I had to reopen it cuz I had no other way to get in contact with her. When I did it, I found my profile intact, outdates and it creaped me out, but worst was to see and decide if I should read or not old messages from friend and colleges, job offers, favors and happy birthdays hanging there unanswered. I left as soon as I could.

What if I was not fit?

I remember that every time I wanted to register for a COVID test via the website I would always get options to get tested in random places, often far away from where I live. That was despite the fact that I marked the option that I cannot get there by car. Even though I did not always feel fit to get to the test location, I am a young and able-bodied person. I kept wondering what happens if you are not as fit? Why were there no more options presented? it was different when you registered for a test by phone.

Sentimental download

A best friend from high school passed away many years ago. We both used Xanga as a blog/journal during our high school years, and used the private messaging system essentially to joke at eachother back and forth - empty chats. Xanga messaged me when they were shutting down in probably 2014... or earlier? asking if I wanted to download the text code of my page. I did, and in the bundle was also included my and Stephanie's private correspondences, hidden comments, hidden posts. This is a moment of tension, perhaps grief (two years after her death), but also sentimental.


The phone I use is quite old and so I could not download the national tracing app. I therefore could not access some locations as I could not "check in" digitally. This was during the first lockdown, but it seems that since then venues have been told they could not discriminate against people without the app and to offer alternative (paper) check-in processes.


In the work that I do the organisation uses Microsoft Teams. In the first meetings we had I didn't want to install the app or program on my laptop, and so I joined straight from browser. It took me some meetings to realize that that was the reason why I couldn't see my colleague's faces, because the software allows you to see other people's faces only if you install the program.

Domestic vulnerability

Out of curiosity and of enthusiasm, I am running a small chat network from the meter box in my home. It actually is connected to an electricity plug right under my bed, so sometimes when I hover the bedroom and I touch the plug, the whole network goes down. A small form of domestic vulnerability. But anyway, the network runs most of the time.

Lost letter

My flatmate received COVID support during the early months of COVID, since she was unable to work in either of the two jobs she had. She applied for it, unsure about the conditions, even though she was fulfilling the conditions. At some point we received a letter from the government that was unfortunately misplaced & buried under some newspapers we receive from our neighbours when they are done with them. Because she hadn't seen the letter within 2 weeks and because she hadn't responded she had to give back the entire sum. We assume the reason why the letter wasn't also sent digitally was to check if she was home during this time.

Overheated laptop

During the pandemic my laptop is suffering so much. It is getting a bit old (not even that old), but videoconferencing is so tough on it. I am not a professional participant in video conferences, not being able to use background images, sometimes accidentally logging off because my laptop got overheated.

Vaccine bro's

So people doing sexwork were saying to me, "do you have the vax badge on your profile", and then others were asking "have you seen the taglines on grindr", people are labeling themselves as big bear Pfizer, as Moderna otters, some said they saw a profile that was labelled, let me check it was ... yes: "Grindr profile of a “vaccinated top” with the foreboding caption, “It has begun.” It’s inevitable: the antibody bro is about to become the vaccine bro".

Corona 'Help'

With the first Corona aid, you could get 5,000 euros and there were people who got that. There were also people who took money fraudulently. That's why people had to give it back. Most of the people I know have actually transferred the money back. Because it is not clear at all. And there is so much stress. It's so unclear. You are being criminalised very quickly. People then immediately make a case of fraud. At the beginning it sounded as if it was available to everyone and you had to apply for it very quickly. You only had a certain amount of time to do it. I think it was 10 minutes or so and then the page closed. But the problem is, only if you received a number, you can get to this page, you've been waiting for days until you can get to the webpage. And I also have to confess, I didn't read the small letters, I just saw "I can get money". So they asked "Do you need more money?" and I of course said "Yes!". I wasn't entitled to that much help, because it was only for operating costs. But I didn't read the instructions. I was just trying to get my turn before Berlin said they had no more money. Because after that there was a time when it was stopped, because there was no more money. And now it's like this, you need to pay it back in one go. But it's not clear who pays back or not. And every tax advisor says something different about it. It's the same with friends. But then you are criminalised. As if you did it consciously. I was in such a panic because it was clear that we wouldn't get any money for 4, 5, 6 months, that at first I just clicked, I need money, I need money, I need money. But it's already true, the billions that are paid out to the big companies and what is then made out of these small amounts. It's all pure neo-liberalism.

Self-managing a demonstration on Eventbrite

So normally I try to participate in the 8th of March activities either go to march, or join a demonstration but this year it was not allowed to go out onto the street in groups. So I was looking on-line if there were any activities planned and then on one of the websites that normally has calls for the demos, there was an announcement that the organisers had permission for gathering a hundred people and that you would have to sign up on Eventbrite so that the tickets could be distributed. Actually, it wasn't Eventbrite, but I think for the story it doesn't matter. So I clicked on the link and of course all tickets were 'sold out', like already they were 'sold out', of course. So in the end I joined another activity and ended up on the same square on which these 100 ticketed people were supposed to gather. I realised they had blocked off with tape ten areas for 10 people to gather, and had rented metal barricades - the cattle thing, they had a made a circle with these barricades so inside there were these sections for ten people each so it meant that the organisers of the feminist or women's march had self organised this idea of checking who had signed into the Eventbrite, maybe they would have a barcode scanner at the entrance to this zoned off area. But what had happened is ... I had joined a less official feminist bike ride, we were so many we flooded the square so the whole setup crashed - people were crashing through the gates, broke the tape, there was a mess of bikes and people, it was a mess, there was no way the organisers could have kept with their promise of managing their crowd. So the worry about the barcode scanner being put in place, the fact that everyone participating in the official march had given their name, address and email, is really scary and the fantasy of becoming its own police force that the organisers held was really scary -- from the setup you could see they thought they could manage it -- and then the white punk girls just crashed it.

Spitting with couriers

I was traveling - trying to travel to Brussels to see my comrades and I was very anxious. I had ordered the COVID test and downloaded the app. There was a technological hitch and so it arrived two days late. I was anxious about the test not being testable, that it would be a non-viable sample, so I rang the company and they said "It is good to keep the sample as fresh as possible", and so I could book in a courier between 08:00 and 18:00, that would come and take my sample to the lab. But they could not give an exact time. As fresh as possible! They told me to wait until the courier arrived, knocked at the door and to spit into the tube whilst he waited. He arrived at 13h and knocked on the door and he waited while I watched the video, and spit in the tube. Wait, I had to go through the app stages. Open the tube, scan the barcode, watch the video, whilst he was waiting. I then sealed the sample and had to put it in a transparent bag that I handed over to him and at that moment we had eye contact, as I passed him my tube of spit. At that moment I thought: is he my nurse?


┻━┻︵ \(°□°)/ ︵ ┻━┻

In the work that I do the organisation uses Microsoft Teams and Zoom, no it was Teams I think, whats the difference? In the first meetings we had I didn't want to install the app or program on my laptop, and so in first meetings I joined straight from browser, the Teams, or Zoom, house party, Jitsi or was I on Tiktok? I dunno... In the first meetings I was just staring at the icons, wondering why everyone was refusing the camera. In the first meetings even the head of the organisation didn't have a camera. In the first meetings I was still working but I gradually just relied on no camera too, taking the meetings from bed, from the floor, from wherever i felt the fuck comfortable. It started to really change the work I was doing, and i started to dream of the abolition of work, I mean before when we all had to sit in those team meetings and see each others faces, all encouraging each other too work. I mean I started to build like a beavers den or a like a badgers burrrow near where my desk would be, at one point I just took the desk broke it down, and burnt it outside. I mean I started to do my spreadsheets as if I was a beaver and before long I pretty much realised beavers don't care about spreadhseets. It took me some meetings to realize that that was the reason why I couldn't see my colleague's faces, because the software, that I think it was Zoom, or Jitsi, or was it that time i got invited to queer haus on mastadon no sorry it was Team I guess , allows you to see other people's faces only if you install the program. I had only Facetimed with my mom once a week until that day and she could see my burnt desk. You know when your mum answers the videocall and you still cannot see her face because the phone is so close to her face. what if I hadn't seen their straight faces for the last 12 months? - I think I rather not have seen my colleagues faces all semester, sleepy or full on make up on and showing of pajamas and eye bags, but mostly my own nap face was there. During the months of not seeing my colleagues faces, their faces slowly changed. After the installing, trading space on my device for faces, their motion changed. What ever happen to phone calls?! No file to safe after, no records, tracks... Im so paranoid this days, it really freak me out. I never got the invite for fucking Clubhouse. ◕ᴥ◕

Melting your CPU, one meeting at a time!

     Melting your CPU, one meeting at a time!  
      A stab in the dark at team building      
                       __..--         \      
               __..--          __..--      
       __..--          __..--       |      
       \ o        __..--____....----""       
        |         \                            
       +++++ micro ++ soft ++ protest +++++    
       + against the unequal distribution +    
       +++++ of terms and conditions ++++++    
         Join us in the blackout room!         

Proxy Power

Once upon a time, a device who was relied on heavily began to age. It took them longer to feel a tap, even longer (more forever) to use an app. And even worse, (access to THE SPACE denied)

Other phones that were also aging, had other issues but felt more and more annoyed and frustrated, so they met up one day for a big cup of coffee... With cracked screens and lint-filled ports, they decided together that they needed a new kind of power: PROXY POWER.


  • The Old device
  • The Newer device
  • The hero (a caring relative)
  • The villain (state employee)
  • The user (may or may not have covid)
  • The space (the user is trying to access)
  • The digital infrastructure

Addressable targets

"Addressable targets do not always receive what they deserve"