In the technical world, debugging is a set of more or less formalized routines to investigate and fix software malfunctions - bugs. Bugs in this context become visible when a program crashes or the browser window gets stuck; when the developers’ biases come to surface and where the limits of the current infrastructure are reached. We have also learned that the denial of access to widespread commercial services is driven by geopolitical interests.
(Software) bugs are much more than simple technical errors. Under certain circumstances, they can be seen as one of the fundamental features of the current age, which is characterized by ubiquitous technologies and power structures.
Are cultural practices of debugging and fixing bugs within free open source communities transferable to socio-political challenges?
How can we address social inequalities through the lenses of open source cultures and radical, autonomous technologies? And in the case that given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow, how can we strengthen the connection and exchange between individuals and communities aiming at radical openness?
Besides the common and familiar cultural practice of the user, such as a reboot, debugging can also mean opening up a black box, examining its inner workings, taking it apart, and isolating what needs to be fixed. This is not just about isolating the problem, but also identifying what works well and using that to find a new working equilibrium, perhaps with a clever hack or freshly gathered knowledge that comes from someone in a community.
AMRO as a gathering of communities with interests across arts and cultures, networked technologies and political action offers space for sharing knowledge and practices, focusing on the potential of debugging both inside and outside of the purely technical realm.
The program of AMRO22 is build around these aspects of debug as practice of community knowledge creation.
Thanks to our partners DIE REFERENTIN we could produce a series of articles to deepen the AMRO context published in the current issue of the newspaper.