Friday, March 23, 2012

A Band of Stitchers?

Right out of the blue, a fantastic woman called Orla in Ireland has got in touch to co-ordinate the stitching of a term as part of the Embroidered Digital Commons. She runs a very helpful textile blog, which functions as a kind of textile directory for Ireland,

Her emails are so inspiring - I've got her permission to post some excerpts here. She writes:

"I like the term Iteration. ..."Iteration implies a willingness to say something, and access to the means of saying it, and a time in which it can be said...."
I live in rural Ireland, where transport, dodgy roads and wild weather (and kids!) constantly hamper my ability to physically meet up for stitching sessions. My friends still laugh at the fact I have become a geek, through my love of stitching! I now am online more, and more involved in the community of virtual stitchers.The stitchers I have asked to take part are all women I came across virtually first, and then became friends physically, although we still talk more virtually. The virtual world means an awful lot to us now! I think Iteration suits us because we all had a willingness to talk about our craft, and through the internet, finally had access to a means of saying it. If this term is still available, I'd love to organise stitching it."

Now - here's the question for us all! What is the collective noun for a group of stitchers?
Orla writes:

"I was about to put something up on my Facebook page, to arrange a provisional meet-up,  and I wanted to say I was looking for volunteer stitchers, a group of stitchers. And I realised I don't know any modern term for a group of stitchers. We have so many new stitch related terms such as yarn bombing, guerrilla knitters, radical cross stitch, craftivists, etc... all seemingly war/fight/drug/underground movement related, yet no real new funky 'collective noun'. So, we're now trying to come up with one. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Then we are going to put it to a vote, start using the winning term, and see if it gets added to the new lexicon of stitch related terms. A social experiment in itself!"

This is a great challenge, and I'd like to add 'cake-related' to the list of appropriated aggressive terms for popular forms of public craft. I know 'cake' isn't actively aggressive, but it is actively disempowering. Surely women want more than knitted cake!

But Orla signs off her email "Looking forward to getting my band of stitchers together." 
And I think she might have it right there....

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Embroidering the Digital Commons in support of a free Internet

So why exactly are we inviting people to use a grey and black colour scheme for the embroidery of the term meme?

Well, the Embroidered Digital Commons supports the idea that the Internet is a common resource that should be freely available and accessible. Within this common space, traditional notions of ownership and copyright are problematic. The internet is based on sharing through networks by linking and copying. For example I've just copied this screengrab of the Wikipedia blackout from the Huffington Post, potentially breaching copyright twice! I could have taken my own screengrab on the day - but I forgot. But it doesn't matter because thousands of other people did, and wikipedia is all about making information available. This is how memes exist. The great thing about the Internet is I can find these images in seconds, and repost what I need to illustrate my point. But what if I couldn't? What if my blog was removed without consultation for breaching copyright?

Traditional business models have relied on copyright to protect their profits, and they are fearful of the erosion of the principle of copyright. They are so fearful,  their extreme legislation to try and protect others from profiting from their material is in danger of destroying the Internet as we know it today. In the US these laws are called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). Clay Shirky explains the problem.

The image above is what you might have seen if you had looked at Wikipedia on  January 18th 2012, the day that many websites went dark. This black-out was a global protest against SOPA and PIPA. See GrrlScientist for an excellent summary of the day and the argument, and good links to all the relevant info.

So in support of keeping the Internet Free and to keep the meme of the Digital Commons alive, embroiderers are invited to stitch grey on black.