Incidental Anti-Capitalism / Amanda Delaney

In the past decade, alternatives to menstruation products, such as pads and tampons, have soared in popularity. At the top of this list of alternatives, including absorbent underwear and washable pads, you’ll find the DivaCup. The DivaCup is a reusable, eco-friendly silicone menstrual cup designed to revolutionize one’s menstrual care routine. It serves to completely replace pads and tampons, proving cost-effective for the consumer and sustainable for the environment. As it works to disrupt the billion-dollar menstruation industry, the DivaCup is a perfect example of incidental anti-capitalism.

The menstruation industry is one we (literally anyone with a vagina) don’t have a choice but to engage in. It exploits and profits directly off our reproductive health through the marketing of one-use products, such as pads and tampons, which often contain chemicals and non-biodegradable ingredients. These products pose risks to our bodies and environment and are often expensive, making menstrual health a “luxury” to those living in poverty or developing countries.

The DivaCup is a product that stands to turn the industry on its head. A sustainable, low-cost alternative to typical feminine hygiene products, it goes beyond just saving our wallets and our planet. It starts conversation and urges for global change. Diva International Inc. (creators of DivaCup) states, “Our mission to offer women a new way to care for themselves extends far beyond period care. We invest our knowledge, time and resources in community and international organizations that offer healthcare, empowerment and education to women and children around the world.” While the DivaCup is indeed a product sold for profit, its real mission lies in its passion to change the reproductive health industry to better people’s lives all around the world.

http://divacup.com/

Incidental Anti-Capitalism / Emily Fishman

Pentatonic is a fantastically transparent furniture and home design company based in Berlin, and what sets them apart is that their products are made and designed with an acute level of sustainability in regards to both the environment and the economy and aim to “Radically transform the culture of consumption.”

They are most known for their chairs and desks, which are manufactured with mainly garbage materials sourced and removed from landfills such as soda cans being used to make legs for chairs and tables, iPhone screens used to make cups and bowls, and plastic bottles to make up plastics in their chair backs and table surfaces. Their mentality on their material is to actively takes the role of reducing waste and removing it from the environment, and giving it new function. Additionally, purchase of pentatonic furniture comes with a lifetime recycling program that lets the purchasers sell the parts back to the company so they can be re-sold and made over again, effectively creating a zero-waste product.

This business model without a doubt is very sustainable in its production and promotes the recycling of economy within products. Pentatonic creators Jamie Hall and Johann Boedecker explicitly aim to inspire other product-based companies to think more about the sustainability of their materials and production, as well as try to convince them that the “recycling-economy” is in fact possible in a large scale and can be introduced into mass markets. They work hard to optimize their sustainability  and be a lead example to those around them in the interest of the planet and as a new mindset in design that we need to be moving towards, its just up to us to learn from this model and run with it.

Sources:

Pentatonic turns smartphones, cans and cigarette butts into flat-pack furniture

 

 

Incidental Anti-Capitalism | Adriana Noritz

During my search for Incidental Anti-Capitalism in the wild I stumbled upon a group/internet presence called Libre Objet. Their About page describes them as the following:

As a group of industrial and graphic designers, hackers and artists, recently gathered together under the name Libre Objet, we all share a common question about open source industrial design, processes and products resulting from our work, with the aim of providing tools for accessing a free philosophy applied to the manufacture of objects. Our activities range from organizing workshops, giving lectures, writing books, and curating this website.

I looked specifically at one of their founder’s, Raphael Bastide, personal open source typography project called Use & Modify. Much like the philosophy of Libre Objet, Bastide wants to provide a database of contemporary fonts for people to download, use, modify (if they choose), and redistribute content ALL FOR FREE. The idea allows designers to build a community they work with to improve and diversify the site. It is all a very natural way of feeding the site with new content and allows creative energy to drive the process.

I see this project as a reaction to the cost of font packs and the lack of accessibility it creates for designers. Unless you are part of a big corporation willing to pay for these font packs, many designers cannot afford to invest in this sort of market.

It is important to give designers the credit they deserve. Designers also should get paid for the work they do. Having the option, however, to collaborate through open source work has potential to advance design faster than the traditional ways of selling IP. I think it also comes down to a responsibility designers have to respect each other’s work.

One of the only pieces of Use & Modify that I found a bit conservative was that any modified/new font is asked to be sent through email to Bastide so he can decide whether or not it should be redistributed on the site. This is in part to control the curation of the site (to keep it clean and professional), but I think limits opportunity through natural bias Bastide might have towards aesthetic direction. It also limits how much say the community may have in what is and is not shared on the site.

Bastide puts a donation suggestion at the bottom of the About page, asking for bitcoin donations and shares a public key. To my knowledge, however, there is no distribution of those donations to the designers who made/modified the typeface/fonts. I assume the money is funneled into promoting or adding to the site, but that may not be the case.

Incidental Anti-Capitalism / Sarah Fay

Incidental Anti-Capitalism

An instance of anti-capitalism is the “love locks” phenomenon. Love locks are just inscribed-padlocks placed on a bridge or fence by a couple, to act as a symbol as the couples’ love for each other. According to their Wikipedia (another anti-capitalist movement), love locks are “believed to have originated in China – where lovers lock a padlock on a chain or gate and then throw away the key, symbolically locking their love forever.”  This was extremely popular in Paris, but has grown to be a global phenomenon. The motive behind this action is not driven by profit, but rather individuals expressing their love for each other. The fences and bridges where this trend takes place often get so dense with locks that the original structure becomes obscured.

Surpassing the physical locks, the spaces that love locks become popular act as monuments of connection between people. It could be construed as kitschy or worthless, but at the least its a public display of love between two people. The locations where love locks become popular aren’t assigned or planned, they just grow from a single lock. It’s nice that couples feel so drawn to express their love in an active and visible way, but this type of public affection towards other humans could be expanded.

This principle could be expanded through something more physical such as a community-driven food pantry, or an environment where this type of connection was encouraged between random strangers, eager to meet new people. This principle could also expand into day-to-day interactions with the people around us; valuing the connection without the prompt of a physical lock. This love lock behavior seems very niche, but the principle behind the action holds the potential for growth.

Image result for love locks padlocks (BBC.com)

Incidental Anti-Capitalism/ Luke Weaver

Luke Weaver

9/13/18

Speculative City

Incidental Anti-Capitalism

Cultural influence has become a massive market, with social media turning a previously nebulous area of human interaction into a data that can be tracked and thus become worthwhile.

“According to data collected by Captiv8, a company that connects influencers to brands, an influencer with 100,000 followers might earn an average of $2,000 for a promotional tweet, while an influencer with a million followers might earn $20,000.”

“Influencer” culture has run rampant over twitter, instagram, facebook, and youtube. It’s leeched its way into the music industry, as Kanye West married into the Kardashian structure, and has skyrocketed his pop-culture trajectory. Artists and entrepreneurs alike, race to figure out how to hijack this system. A “black market” for twitter and instagram verification exists, and is lucrative given how almost no labor has to be invested. Meanwhile, for those with capital, “click farms” and bots have allowed for Global Capitalism to truly take a hold of this system. Russian bots are commonly acknowledged to have played a role in the 2016 American presidential elections. The idea of a Cult of Personality has been amplified by several magnitudes, and now extends beyond the political and economic elite and into the hands of any common person with a smart phone. Memes can be made with almost no resource and if they hit the correct formula for cultural truth, they can be used to promote any message you chose. This has been loving parodied by The Meme Economy sub-reddit, but the concept is there.

While it’s easy to see how this system of turning influence and personality could lead to an AR hellscape of rating other humans (Black Mirror), it isn’t impossible to see this core concept be utilized for more utopian visions. If we examine the core idea here as a sort of improper equation;

Cultural Influence + Platform + Distributable Information = Capital

We can start to replace some of these assets with other ideas.

For example, If we replace “Cultural Influence” with “Ingenuity” or “Problem-Solving”, we can update the equation to find some sort of globalized problem-solving economy. This idea is already in play with the growing “gig-economy” and the rise of creative freelance work.  Suddenly, we are able to imagine a platform for problems to be “posted”, communally ideated upon, and then the wealth of the solution to be distributed accordingly.

Another example could be to change to the platform. Imagine if we applied this core concept to singular companies, and all internal promotion was decided by that candidate’s appeal to the whole community. Factory-workers to CEO’s getting a say on who becomes a manager, based on that person’s influence and data made available company-wide. If this idea is a “car”, than the obvious “traffic-jam” would be the existence of microcosmic political systems operating openly inside of companies to ensure the promotion of the “correct” candidate.

This has led me to one of my most encompassing questions for this semester, while these systems possess the potential to be anti-capitalist, how can they be prevented from FURTHERING capitalism?

Incidental Anti-Capitalism | Andrew Chambers

Are.na is a web-based community centered around collaborative research and creative thinking. Unlike other social media, it promotes a calm and productive experience designed by and for artists/designers. Are.na creates an unparalleled platform for creativity, research, collaboration, and the spread of ideas.

Are.na is entirely user owned and ad-free, creating a platform virtually devoid of capitalism. Through its seemingly complex but actually very simple process of connecting “blocks” of information to channels, it acts as a sort of visual roadmap. This roadmap, if utilized correctly has the power to completely contextualize the internet.

Are.na works to create knowledge-based communities that develop deep webs of relevant information that can be accessed by anyone on the site. This spreading of mass knowledge promotes the ideas of decentralization and mindfulness.

Are.na challenges the idea of exclusive property by allowing for a network where anything and everything can be connected and effectively “owned” by anyone. This supports many anti-capitalist ideals by creating essentially an entirely free and open “marketplace” where nothing is bought or sold but rather just available. While there is potential for “premium” upgrade, Are.na can be utilized to its fullest potential entirely for free.

I have no doubt that the people behind Are.na designed it as a tool to promote social change and potentially anti-capitalist ideals. I do think, however, that its primary function is as a creative organization tool. That being said, Are.na has immense potential for anti-capitalist change in the ways we share information, learn collaboratively without the need for institutions, and gather like-minded individuals.

https://www.are.na/explore

This image shows the network that centers around the channel “meta are.na” creating a web of information based specifically on the platform itself:

 

 

 

Incidental Anti-Capitalism | Hannah Mazur

 

Our discussion last class about dark matter and the point one of my peers made on how to make the fashion industry sustainable got me thinking. Around the end of high school, I began shopping at a local Good Will or thrift shops for my clothes. It was fascinating to me that I had previously been so obsessed with having name brand clothing, and that I was willing to pay more than my minimum wage job could afford. At Good Will, the garments are of equal quality as I was paying full price for at the brick and mortar shops or at the mall. The difference is ridiculous. Tee shirts for $2, sweaters for $3, sunglasses for a dollar!

Good Will is a donation based second hand store. Their inventory is entirely made of donated clothes and goods. The small cost of your purchase there is mostly returned to the store—the worker’s wages, AC, building rent, etc. Another perk is the recycling of things that would have other wise been trashed. The whole market of Good Will is community based. I’ve been to locations across Ohio and have noticed that certain stores will carry mostly clothing in a specific style from the surrounding area. Since the locals are donating the goods, some stores have more athletic wear, or more jeans and working pants, or more college aged styles.

This model could be extended in the fashion industry by recycling textiles to create new styles and resell them. So many people who are up to trends on fashion want the newest and latest drops. While I understand and can relate because I also enjoy fashion, I wonder if there is room for an industry that is solely recycled. As with Good Will, profits will go back into the designers and seamstress and storefronts. If the focus is no longer on profit, what designs can be made when we are restricted to older fabrics.

 

 

(Goodwill.org)

 

 

Incidental Anti-Capitalism / Sebastian Ruhl

Fairphone

Fairphone is a relatively new company based in the Netherlands that builds customisable smartphones. These phones have an unique architecture that makes it possible for the user to modify their phones and exchange parts. The just released their second phone phone with a transparent case that reveals their way of thinking. By changing different parts of the phone you get rid of buying a new phone every year and just change the parts that broke or switch to a better camera. That not only shows a new way of thinking it also is a more sustainable approach that is totally needed in times where resources for electronics start getting rare.

https://www.fairphone.com/en/

noah | incidental anti-capitalism

Soundcloud began as an example of incidental anti-capitalistic design. I find it interesting to consider this company within the context of this class due to the evolution of its ideals and strategy.  Yes, they have evolved into a brand struggling to make a profit, and have been spending 2018 trying to reconvene and imagine their future outlook. Part of their struggle for profit is related to their foundation in anti-capitalistic ideals, which then relate their issues to Twitter and Snapchat.

In the beginning, Soundcloud was a platform to allow artists to collaborate online, sharing and commenting on tracks to develop critique and industry connections. Soon after launching in 2008, Soundcloud became a platform for anybody to post their audio creations, which created a community of local musicians. Because of this, listening to music was no longer something that one had to purchase. There was a mixture of original, non-professional content, but also ripped tracks from label-signed artists. This is the moment in time that Soundcloud had its peak in incidental anti-capitalist design. Music was becoming open-sourced, accessible for anybody to create or listen to music. The only requirements in sharing your music was to have internet access, a soundcloud account and a method of recording sound. Sometimes this was a flip phone, old ipod, or even a converted tape recorder. In its heyday, besides the copyright-infringing tracks, Soundcloud had a range of quality content that was all underground artists. I contribute a reason why current music is so wide-ranging, experimental and frankly awesome is because of this wide accessibility that Soundcloud brought.

Soundcloud, Twitter and Snapchat all relate to one another because they are platforms that allow people to share content with one another. Once the website was established, the creators could have simply left it alone. An example of this is Reddit, since it still looks like it was coded in the early 2000s. This democratized information, similar to Wikipedia, in which perspectives from around the globe are able to be curated and shared, in which the only guaranteed “cost” is their time spend making and posting the content.

Incidental-Capitalism/Natalie Washington

The Freecycle network is recognized by millions around the globe as a movement that reinstalls a sense of generosity and community for its members. For over 15 years, Freecycle has partnered with everyday people to structure a system of giving second-hand items that are at no cost for the members. With nearly zero marginal costs (the rest taken care of in the form of donations) what is more impressive about Freecycle is its mission to reduce the amount of gently used or brand new items that end up in landfills—at which they have been more than successful, keeping over 1,000 tons of gently used/brand new items out of landfills, daily. Freecycle is about creating an alternative way of meeting a persons needs/“demands” with profit being of no concern; creating a sustainable way to make products accessible to people who live in your local community. The way it works initially is through individuals signing up for a free membership: once you’re signed up, you can enter either your city, state or zip code to find groups in your local area. Once completed, you have access to items that are being given away at no cost to you; often left for pick-up on the doorsteps or the front yards of the members who are giving the items away. Items that require a little more maintenance in transporting, such as sofas, large appliances etc. are offered some assistance by local volunteers within the group.

A way in which I think this system could be expanded on is through offering a listing of local services that are willing to participate in an “equal” exchange of services. Either services could be “donated” and therefore reserved for those who are in need, or an exchange could be made through members who deem their trade as equivalent. In this extension, there are no accomplishments being made in an environmental-sense necessarily, however the opportunities it would provide to bolster the reliance upon local businesses would be very promising.

 

•Short animated video by Freecycle. •Freecycle website