Meghan Moe Beitiks

Terms that Serve Us (2021)

I had the pleasure of working with the virtual care lab on this document, Terms that Serve Us, as an official co-conspirator, for the publication The Field Guide to the Digital and/as Public Space, facilitated by the Bentway through a series of micro-residencies.

Terms That Serve Us was generated through an experimental, collective research process facilitated by virtual care lab as a means to offer inversions, transformation, rejections, and challenges to typical “terms of service” agreements that are often designed to restrict users’ agency on digital platforms.

Embracing the ethos of working in public, virtual care lab initiated a free, public series of discussions, gatherings, and online portals — creating an open cohort of co-conspirators to develop a set of living, collaborative Terms that capture an evolving constellation of community intentions and understandings, rather than a fixed set of rules. The Terms capture critical reflections around common words like community, contributor, study, gardening, accessibility, user, listening, and care, through which virtual care lab ultimately defined their practice as a community, and invite people to actively consider how they interpret and perform this set of values.

virtual care lab intends these Terms to be generative prompts for collective reflection, to serve as provocations towards future collectively defined terms of service, and to be a resource for other organizations and spaces. The Terms celebrate fluidity and friction, and recognize expansive modes of access rather than retreating to defensive legal structures, reflecting an essential trust in, and respect for, other beings. 

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