From contributing editor Thursday Bram
I asked to edit an issue on love and relationships because I find assumptions that technology is emotionless to be absurd. How does the impact of our relationships on our technology decisions go basically unnoticed?
Truly revolutionary leaps in technology, design, and other forms of creativity stem from our relationships with other people. Yes, sometimes those advances come from feelings of fear, but they can come just as easily from feelings of love — of wanting to make the world a better place for our families.
Relationships are routinely excluded from narratives about technology; I think we’re all a little scared we might get some feelings stuck in the keyboard. If a relationship doesn’t match some heteronormative standard, it isn’t just excluded — it’s replaced.
Sally Ride was the third woman to travel in space, as well as the first woman from the US. She got a ton of awards. She got her own stamp. She got a Lego minifig.
But almost every school report written about Sally Ride virtually ignores her personal life. Where a report about Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space) almost always touches on Tereshkova’s marriage to fellow cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev — it was a big deal and even Nikita Khrushchev showed up — Ride’s family life was minimized until her death because Ride’s relationship was with another woman. Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s partner of 27 years, was more than a romantic partner. O’Shaughnessy and Ride cofounded a company and wrote six books together.
Ride didn’t do her work in a vacuum (except sometimes literally). Recognizing O’Shaughnessy’s contribution means understanding that emotional connections let us do work we’d never do alone.
Our relationships always impact our work. Whether we’re making something to improve the lives of our families or we’re looking for dates, we make decisions based on our relationships. The reverse, too, is true. Our technology dictates how our relationships are seen.
Recognizing co-parents (beyond the two the state assumes everyone is issued at birth) is nearly impossible. There are legal limitations, of course, but most software used to manage student records have only two fields for listing two parents — there’s no option to add a third option from purely a technical standpoint. Step-parents and other co-parents are automatically erased.
This issue includes articles about love and technology from different angles: dating, wedding planning, parenting, and more. I hope they’ll each inspire you to think about the connections in your life between your relationships and your technical choices.