Shell With Friends

“At the heart of contemporary networked systems lies the” … server:

The server, as any man-made technology, is a heavily ideologically charged space. Its design and modus operandi consolidate and crystallize certain social codes and biases. In itself, the server is not a blank slate, a neutral machine on top of which these systems run.

As such, with this proposal we seek to investigate the possibilities for subversion at the lower level of shell environments, system administration and maintenaince work. To build new environments and to create alternative spaces is to question power at every level.

Shell With Friends is a shell game, to be run on a single server and which is only available on a local network. Folders become traversable spaces, files become inspectable objects. With this, we hope to emphasize the materiality, locality and community aspects which are often geographically obscured behind cloudy imaginaries. The community aspect, specifically, is a key component that SWF seeks to highlight: in order to progress in the game, players have to communicate and coordinate amongst each other, rendering visible the situated social context that gets coded into the infrastructure.

SWF seeks to level the playing field, questioning not only who gets to play the administrator, but also what and whose assumptions are coded at the level of the server. What social spaces appear at this level and how do they portend the politics of a reimagined networked system to come?