the first week or so

Manila, 9 January—Happy New Year, friends!

I was going to open this year with a relatively benign yearopener—say, about all the lesbian movies we binged toward the end of the year, or some of the personal projects I’m thinking about, etc.—but oh man.

The first few days of 2021… have not been the lull I hoped they would be, lol. We went back to work immediately on Monday—and it’s a full week right away, and the pressure is on. We’ve landed on our feet, and off we go.

Working from home, it’s been more difficult for me to shift gears into the new year—no matter how hard I try to ‘bake in’ some sort of commute or whatever we wish to call this artificial, imaginary barrier between work and home, this year’s back to work saga, coming from the longest holiday, is just different. But then again, most transitions are. Maybe that’s what this is.

Outside of the personal and work-related, well. The news cycle has been exhausting—how predictable, and also, how terrifying.

Some notes on the Christine Dacera coverage

Earlier this week, I posted this long-ass thread on reportage surrounding the death of flight attendance Christine Dacera, who was found dead in a bath tub at the City Garden Hotel in Makati on New Year’s Day.

It’s been a wild ride since we saw the first few news stories about it last weekend. I was wondering how it went from a woman’s death to an alleged rape with homicide—and I found how it was the Makati Police that filed a “provisional” complaint of rape with homicide against 11 men, even without the necessary reports to back it up. By Monday night, the PNP chief was already saying—on their social media page, no less, and with accompanying art card—that they had already solved ‘the rape-slay case’. It was dubious right from the start.

Eventually, an alleged copy of Christine’s medico-legal report surfaced—where else—on social media. By Wednesday, the Makati City Prosecutors Office has ordered the release of the three suspects in detention, and referred the case for further investigation. This time, the officially released resolution pointed out what we’ve been asking about all this time: Police have yet to submit the results of the tests that would back up their case.

Since then, we’ve heard from the 3 men who were detained, who have been speaking at press conferences to give their side of the story. Christine’s mom Sharon, meanwhile, has asked for the President’s help in ‘punishing’ those allegedly responsible for her daughter’s death.

There’s a lot of ‘noise’ surrounding this issue now—there’s memes after the PNP’s controversial statement implying things about intoxicated gay men, and of course there’s the DDS mudslinging about the mom (both unnecessary, imo). I expect that this weekend is going to be hella confusing. I hope someone remembers to say a prayer for Christine; it’s almost the ninth day since her passing. I’m not an expert on rituals for the dead, but growing up, I know the first week after the death is supposed to be full of prayers.

Anyway—there’s a hearing on preliminary examination on Jan. 13. I guess until then, it’s best to wait for the facts to be laid out, without all these ill-timed humor and bashing, no?

Storming the Capitol

By Thursday morning, we’re looking at another story entirely—we woke up to news of rioters breaking into the US Capitol as it was set to certify Joe Biden’s votes, upon the incitement of outgoing President Trump. It was insane.

While he has been banned from Facebook, the outgoing US President has been allowed back onto Twitter after being locked out for 12 hours. He tweeted a video “condemning” the “demonstrators”—now he’s mincing words? Really? I mean, Ben & Jerry’s statement on Twitter was hella stronger, and all I can think about is how a literal ice cream brand has lost its fucking cool:

The outgoing US President also tweeted that he would not attend the Jan 20th inauguration—fanning speculation that more attacks are imminent.

It’s worrisome, of course—I think how America handles this crisis will inform how we will soon confront our own political transition come 2022. Coming into the new year, I’ve been thinking about how to make the Internet a better place and pave the way for a better elections, and I happened across some interesting readings about digital infrastructure.

READ: To thrive, our democracy needs digital public infrastructure via Politico

Briefly, scholar Ethan Zuckerman defines digital public infrastructure as the tools and systems required to make digital life function: “Infrastructures are things we build so we can build other things”—these include physical and economic infrastructure, as well as key social institutions. In this case, this include not only the wires and the towers that make the internet possible, but also the institutions, the software, etc.

A quote from Zuckerman:

“Digital public infrastructures are the infrastructures that let us engage in public and civic life in digital spaces. For the most part, our digital infrastructures are only accidentally public infrastructures – Facebook was designed not to enable citizenship but to display ads to users. We should aspire toward a set of tools that are intentionally digital public infrastructures, spaces that operate with norms and affordances designed around a set of civic values.

From the Politico article:

We need public spaces and institutions to weave and maintain our social fabric. In physical communities, parks and libraries aren’t just places for exercise or book-borrowing — they also create social connections, a sense of community identity, and a venue in which differences and inequalities can be surfaced and addressed. Public spaces provide access to essential resources for people who couldn’t otherwise access them — whether it’s an outdoor workout station, basketball court, or books in a library — but they are some of the few spaces in a community where we get a glimpse of each other’s lives and help us see ourselves as part of a pluralistic but cohesive society.

These kinds of public spaces mostly don’t exist online. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch each offer some aspects of these experiences. But ultimately, they’re all organized around the need for growth and revenue — incentives which are in tension with the critical community functions these institutions also serve, and with the heavy staffing models they require.

READ: To mend a broken internet, create online parks via WIRED

Something to think about as we set out plotting our 2021 projects (I know, why plan when the world is fucked, but—life goes on, and it’s too short to not make lofty plans haha)—we’re literally going from Digital Gardens to Online Parks.

Well, it’s 2021. Why not?

Happy New Year, and thank you for making it this far.



PS. My favorite meme is this dog’s heroic achievement. Hello there, hello, hi.