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Learning in the open

This post is part of the Green Web Fellowship. Fellows are exploring the intersection of digital rights and climate justice; and are reflecting honestly on what they learn. More about the fellowship and the fellows.

Discovering new approaches to internet infrastructures 

An interview with Kevin Webb, one of our Green Web Fellows 2023.

Katrin: Kevin, how has your fellowship experience been so far? 

Kevin: It has been fantastic. I mentioned this a couple of times along the way, but it’s refreshing to get to work with people who are smart, and who come from all kinds of backgrounds with different questions and different ways of framing their projects.

In the community that I’ve been a part of, the way we think about problems and the methods we use can sometimes be reductive and limiting. The fellowship has reminded me that there is a much broader range of problems, and that there is also a much broader set of solutions that are worth exploring. It made me realise that we need to work on breaking down barriers of different communities, and to be curious and willing to learn from each other. Rediscovering that there are so many different ways in approaching a problem has been incredibly rewarding.

Katrin: Have there been some specific learnings or points of reflection that you would like to share with us? 

Kevin: Over the last few years, I have framed my work on internet infrastructure in a fairly traditional, limiting way. For example, I approached technology from a user perspective rather than a justice perspective. Since the fellowship, I have been able to step back and focus my work on the outcomes that we need to be working towards. It has opened up new questions, such as how internet infrastructure is related to climate and mobility justice – something that I was simply not taking into consideration before.

My work has also shifted in terms of practicality. Before, I was interested in the bigger questions of internet infrastructure, such as what should the internet look like? Right now, I’m working on concrete solutions that enable mobility and create livable urban environments. So in a way, I have changed my focus towards the actual needs of communities, and am asking: How can we create just and sustainable mobility solutions?

Katrin: Who do you think should apply for our next fellowship cohort? 

Kevin: I think anyone who is questioning the impact of their work, particularly technologists, should do this fellowship. So many discussions, particularly in the U.S., are focused on purely individual approaches to technology. This fellowship allows, for example, to bring communities into perspective. It opens up broader questions about social and environmental impacts of technologies. I think this is an important conversation to have. 

Katrin: Amazing. Thanks so much, Kevin.

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