For a theory of the technological gambiarra
by Ricardo Rosas
Why is this publication relevant?
When talking about the production of media and technology in Brazil we bring attention to what was so well established at the peripheries and that gives life to its daily routine – o jeitinho, a gambiarra – manually knitted of contexts, an assemblage of possibles. However, this knowledge lacks documentation and critical evaluation. Urges in Brazil a social and cultural criticism about its own media practices, approaching mode of use and do digital and analogical technologies emerging from perspectives that are at the margins of its established uses and very often going against them. These practices can inform global designs that seek into a planetary understanding of local appropriations of technology and learn from them from a decolonial perspective.
Ricardo Rosas, a Brazilian independent researcher, dared to produce a body of knowledge and theories dedicating himself to think the subaltern socio technics with profound interest, and maybe like no other, also proposed to create elements of investigation that provoked “glocal” crossings. In a very singular way, he definitely cannibalized media theory for the Brazilian context developing the ideas of Tricknology and Digitophagy. He would have been certainly still creating if a disease had not taken him (also so marked by contexts, AIDS). Undoubtedly he would be until now diving in more and more profound theories and practices of Brazilian technological appropriations. He wasn’t only a dilettante media researcher, he was also a culture militant fostering and helping to create networks that impulsed projects all over Brazil such as Rizoma (2002), Mídia Tática Brasil (2003), Digitofagia (2004) and Submidialogias (2005-2010). Some publications related to these events, “rescued” by the project Tactical Archives can be found here: Digitofagia book, Digitofagia Cookbook (a compilation of the festivals discussion list), Midia Tatica Brasil poster, Submidialogia#3 book and the Rizoma series, from 2002 to 2007, Rosas most known work.
Tricknology was written at the beginning of the year 2000 and stayed years awaiting to be published because of authorial rights. Its guardian Giseli Vasconcelos tried to publish it two times earlier on, without success, up until 2020 when the escalation of authoritarian processes, apagamentos and censorships, as much as the capture of alternatives to the digital colonialisms processes at the present, generated the immanent necessity of its revival.
What is it?
Tricknology was Rosas last textual production and consists of an essay of approximately 60 pages that sets bases for a diversity of uses and possible applications of tecnogambiarras, as much as cultural innovations involved in those, in Brazil and in the world. Bringing examples from the Russian constructivism to the US cybernetics, different tons of possible intersections, Rosas gives a sociological and cultural contribution for a technoscience in construction, discussing, above all, the production of technological gambiarra and its usages at the social sphere as creative production.
Tricknology – For a theory of the technological gambiarra has approximately 70 pages with an estimated size for a preface, summary, and biography.
We propose a multilingual Edition – Portuguese and possibly Spanish, English or German version. We foresee it as a print publication to be sold with a digital version online for free downloading on the Internet. A free-based license such as Creative Commons Y-SA, or similar, will be applied.
The cultural association I-motirõ has a 12 years history of activities related to Brazilian digital culture. It is formally an NGO, founded in 2009, to promote actions that strengthen the common goods, the free technologies and the rights to communication.
Translation, editorial design, printing, and web presence.
Project by i-motirõ , Brazilian publishing house
- I – The neutrality myth
- II – Technology and society – elective affinities?
- III – Here comes gambiarra
- IV – Trickynology – Towards a theory of technological gambiarra
- Of technological gambiarra as a fruit of popular creativity – Power to the people!
- Of technological gambiarra as a social reappropriation of machines - Reverse engineering and machinist solidarity
- Of technological gambiarra as an artistic activist practice – The artist as a producer
- Biography of Ricardo Rosas
This is a fragment of the books Introduction:
The neutrality myth
There is a conception that the processes resulting from technology are neutral. This is a myth. Many theories surrounding the issues of technology production have demonstrated that the relations that occur between the social context and the technological production are not at all neutral. Instead these are influenced by diverse factors diverse such as cultural habits surrounding economy, ideology, religion and tradition. There have been efforts to bring technology to an ethically adequate field that could locate the production of technology in a perspective of development regarding countries in development, and the theory of appropriate technology (TA), as much as recent theoretical constructs that conform to the appearance of the sociology of technology. Such schools of thought such as the social constructivism of Wiebe Bijker and Trevor Pinch, or the critical theory of technology formulated by Andrew Feenberg, among others, signal attempts at changing the point of view that technology can occur as a neutral process and independent from social factors.
This partial vision, found in many academic circles, especially those that are connected to the labor market or corporate research, nonetheless reveal an absolute lack of politicization in this field where production and research occur as much for the demands of production needs, as for participation which is not neutral at all and in governmental researches in the military area.
The context of a society where some technology is developed or reconstitutes itself can be absolutely crucial in how this discussion is established. More than that, and that is what we shall present here in this essay, cultural factors originated from spontaneous and popular creation from many dynamic causes: from the reuse of non-specialists, from purposes of reappropriation, from intentions of social interventions, from artistic creation inside technology, or cultural innovation. This means that we can re-determine new uses of these same technologies, reuse them in other contexts, adapt and even subvert them. The intention here is to add another element of complexity in an already vast field of study; that of technoscience which is normally regarded as a detachment of a more cultural perspective – as creative production, not necessarily artistic. There is a risk of ignoring certain phenomena of technological production, (not because they do not have a resonance, even if minimal), in wide-scale production or in society in general. The intention of this piece is not exactly to formulate a unified theory of this spontaneous cultural creation, the ‘technological gambiarra’ (Either by the popular classes, either by artists and activists), but to provide elements for such a theory at that can be researched. In this context, what we will do for now is to determine methods of investigations, suggest authors and theorists and mention some productions and projects. Since now, such an intention is also worth highlighting. It is not totally neutral since the objective of this essay is to explore the phenomenon of technological gambiarra in it’s an exactly less neutral aspect; one of its insertion and interference in the social field.