Welcome to 4S 2021! We are excited to host 4S in Toronto. Tkaronto, or Toronto, has been home of Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples for 15,000 years and part of the original homelands of the Wendat people. The name Tkaronto comes from a Kanyen’ keha word meaning where the trees stand in the water. Because Toronto serves as a hub for Indigeneous, anti-racist, feminist, queer, transnational, disability, and social justice research, we aspire for the conference to support this dimension of STS, which includes a commitment to hospitality and good relations in hosting the varied and international research and researchers that 4S draws together each year.

To supplement the conference’s generative and welcoming virtual dimension, we have developed this Watch Party Toolkit, which provides general tips for anyone wishing to organize regional, in-person gatherings among friends and colleagues, as one way to participate in the virtual conference. In addition, these tips encourage gatherings that practice a commitment to hospitality, in keeping with this year’s theme, Good Relations: Practices and Methods in Uneven and Uncertain Worlds. The health and safety of our conference attendees is our first priority. This toolkit is meant to be generative; it is by no means comprehensive. Please adapt this toolkit to your regional health and safety protocols.

This document includes:

  • Land Acknowledgement
  • Why Host a Watch Party
  • More Ideas for Watch Parties
  • Being a Good Host
  • Setting Up Your Watch Party on Midspace
  • Tech Support
  • Collective & Self-Care for Virtual Fatigue
  • Additional Accessibility Guidelines
  • Code of Conduct

Land Acknowledgement

A land acknowledgement is a formal statement recognizing the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional lands. Acknowledging the land is an Indigenous protocol used to honour the Indigenous territories you are working, living, or visiting. Land acknowledgements are not given in a past tense, but recognize that colonialism is an ongoing process. We offer this land acknowledgement as part of enacting good relations.

Toronto, or Tkaranto, has been the site of human activity for 15,000 years. This sacred land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Seneca, the Mississaugas of the Credit River and the nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.  It is marked by a history of settler colonialism and genocide, as well as resistance; it is a site of ongoing colonial projects, even as their persistence and violence is erased in dominant accounts of the city.

Today, Tkaranto is still the home to Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. Intersecting communities consist of those native to this land, Indigenous people from other territories; settlers who have come here by choice; communities forced into diasporas by the trans-Atlantic slave trade; or otherwise a result of settler colonialism and imperialism. The territory is the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Confederacies to peaceably share, care for, and protect the land around the Great Lakes. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has 94 Calls to Action including reaffirming  that treaties with Indigenous Peoples be lawfully honoured. Tkaronto is covered by  Treaty 13 and the Williams Treaty. We are grateful for the opportunity to visit and work on this land and recognize our varied responsibilities towards it.

Why Host a Watch Party

A watch party can be many things. Gathering in a backyard around a shared screen. Huddling around a cell phone with the volume turned all the way up. Video conferencing with some friends at an in-person gathering, or gathering online while showing off the latest virtual backgrounds. A watch party is more than watching. It’s a time to connect with others through sense reactions. It can be a flint to spark conversations. It can be ways of getting to know new people and ways of getting to know people in a new way.

Knowledge does not travel the world untouched or unchanged, and a conference is no different. A watch party can be a place for you and those who gather to add your own subtitles to the conference, metaphorically or actually. It can be a mini-symposium of friends, locals, or likeminded activists curating and interpreting your own conference in the small.

Hosts can sustain collective life, whether symbiotic or sustainably parasitic, and can create good relations in an uneven world. They can make a place, physical or virtual, for people to access people and content they may not otherwise be able to access. Together, partygoers can build community by sharing sustenance, care, and conviviality. They can learn to co-labor, each according to their ability to address diverse needs. They can make a place for people to connect emotionally and in real time with others. They can build community.

More Ideas for Watch Parties

Watch parties can also expand the conference in their own right. Beyond organizing a spectating watch party, you can choose to have a Watch and React party, where you actively engage with 4S events at the conference at your watch location. Instead of just watching the Making and Doing session pitches, and then walking through them individually, think of ways of experiencing these installations together with your watch party. Organize a watch party that engages directly with a panel, plenary, or social event on chat that involves active participation locally. Are there current issues in your city that dovetail with a 4S event? Are there people beyond the academy who are exploring the themes at the conference? If so, organize a watch party that engages the conference locally, extending the conference themes and critiques. This might involve conversations, discussions, or making sessions around panels at the conference. The more diverse the group you are able to attract, the more interesting your discussion/ activity.

Being a Good Host

A good host supports an accessible space for people to gather and act together. Here are some suggestions on how to be a good host.

Before the event

  • Understand what it means to be a good guest. Many of us live and work on land that is not ours. What it means to acknowledge this reality will depend on where you are and whose guest you are.
  • Build a team that can work together and steward different aspects throughout the process.
  • Let people know about your watch party well in advance so they can organize transportation, child care, and access needs.
  • Provide your code of conduct before the event. The code of conduct can make people feel supported, influencing their decision to attend.
  • Learn about and plan for the access needs of those who want to be part of your event. Accessibility guidelines below can help you with a basic framework, but people can have distinct access needs. In places where access infrastructures are not common, you can negotiate creative solutions to provide access. It can be a good idea to charge one or more people with learning about access needs and working with your team to make access pathways to your event.
  • Make sure basic infrastructure like water, bathrooms, quiet spaces, and sources of food are available or nearby. Evaluate whether those basic provisions are available and how in/accessible they may be, and share detailed information about the set up so others can evaluate for themselves.
  • A hybrid party might combine remote and physically copresent events, or enable remote access options to your in-person convening. Enabling remote access might mean providing a laptop and microphone that makes in-person conversations available to people who cannot be there physically. People might not be able to come because of transportation constraints, immunovulnerability, child care, or other reasons.
  • Assign a safety person or team that plans for how to respond to those who feel unsafe or harmed and can respond to address the issue. They should have knowledge of how to hear people without judging, as well as capacity to have uncomfortable conversations or remove people if necessary.
  • Assign a person to receive and support access requests. If your safety person has experience supporting access, they might also fill this role. See additional access guidelines below.
  • Envision how to support different forms of participation, both serious and joyful. Diverse forms of spectatorship, conversation, and play can make room for people with different needs to connect. They also enable communities to form in many modalities.
  • Be mindful of modes of participation that perpetuate subtle exclusion. For example, alcohol-focused events might exclude Muslim communities or those who avoid alcohol for other reasons.
  • Publicize your local watch Party and invite others to join.
  • Assign a tech support person or team who can figure out and equip video screens, check your network infrastructure, and amplify audio. If your watch party will be hybrid, with physically copresent and remote participants, this team could also help set up microphones and cameras that can stream the room to remote participants.
  • Develop materials to support people getting to your watch party, including maps, directions, public transport or ride sharing options, and varied access pathways.

During the event

  • Introduce your organizing team so people know who to talk to if they need assistance.
  • Introduce your safety person or team so everyone knows who they can go to when potentially harmful situations come up.
  • Call for volunteers who can help you clean up, take and post notes, or take care of other infrastructural details. Nothing wrong with the organizing team getting extra help.
  • Where appropriate, ask for volunteers to take notes on conversation and encourage people to share this necessary labor. Notes can help support understanding for people with varied learning or sensory modalities and also help you share out any interesting conversations to your wider community.
  • Be adaptable. Let people help you out with ideas or adjustments, even if it means things don’t go completely according to your plans.
  • Consider posting photos or conversations from your event to the online conference discussion rooms or social media using the tag #4s2021.

After the event

  • Send a message connecting people who came to one another if they consent to having their contact information shared.
  • Consider posting reflections about your event or the conference to social media.

Setting Up Your Watch Party on Midspace

Each watch party will have publicly viewable shared chat and the ability to add some information and directions for others to find you on the platform (if the organizers choose).

Before the event

  • Let us know you are planning a watch party and where you will be joining us from: meeting@4sonline.org with Watch Party in the subject line. Tell us:
    • Name of organizers + contact emails (must be registered attendees)
    • City / Location of watch party
    • Timezone
    • If you want to show up on the platform
  • 2 weeks before the event you will be able to add a brief text description to the platform with information about how to join your watch party.

During the event

  • Encourage attendees to add the following information to their profile, this will allow them to find each other on the platform:
    • Tag: watch party
    • Tag: location name
  • All registered watch parties will be listed on the platform
  • A/V: If you are projecting or publicly sharing sessions or plenaries at your watch party you can use your own Midspace account to log in, following the Virtual Platform documentation we have prepared for the event (or skip directly to the Midspace support: Getting Started on Clowdr).

Tech Support 

Before the event

  • Make sure you have someone onsite who is good at troubleshooting tech
  • Consider attending the 1 hour training session for session chairs and watch party organizers in the 3 weeks prior to the event

During the event

  • During the conference we will have Student Volunteers providing tech support. Reach them during conference hours (when sessions are scheduled) by joining the Lobby, following the Virtual Platform documentation we have prepared for the event.

Additional Accessibility Guidelines

  • Inquire if anyone needs accommodation. You can model your questions on our 4S 2021 access questionnaire.
  • Make sure there is a clear point of contact and set of procedures for receiving, communicating about, and meeting access requests.
  • Access troubleshooters: Assign one or more people to troubleshoot access needs during the event and whose primary focus can be on access. This should be someone who has some experience with access support.
  • Ensure the gathering or virtual space is as accessible as possible
  • Communicate clearly about the limits of what you can support.
  • Be specific–rather than say if something is or is not accessible, provide detailed information so people can decide for themselves if something is accessible for them.
  • Be aware of conflicting access needs. What increases access for some will decrease access for others.
  • For detailed tips on creating access for virtual events, see this resource from Rooted in Rights.
  • Captioning: Providing captions is a great way to increase access. For many D/deaf or hard of hearing people, auto-captions (generated by AI) are not sufficient, and live captions provided by a professional stenographer are required. Otherwise, you can provide auto-captions using these instructions [Rua link]. This can improve access for a range of people regardless of disability.
  • Note taking: Collaborative note taking can help facilitate understanding and participation for people with a range of cognitive and communicative modalities. Consider access needs when choosing a note taking platform, and ensure notes will be available and accessible to all (eg Miro is not compatible with screen readers, google docs can be challenging for screen readers, but less so, and participants can use voice-to-text to contribute)

Remember, good access practices should create the conditions for good self and collective care.

Code of Conduct

A watch party should be a harassment-free environment for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, class, or indigeneity. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form. In addition to the tips below, please consult the 4S 2019 Events Ethics Policy.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to

  • Unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices
  • Deliberate intimidation or antagonism
  • Exclusionary jokes or comments
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or physical contact
  • Sustained disruption of meetings, events, or online discussion
  • Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease
  • Comments that reinforce social structures of domination (related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, class, indigeneity)
  • Unwelcome photography or surveillance
  • Threats of violence

We ask participants in to:

  • Exercise consideration and respect in your speech and actions.
  • Listen as much as you speak.
  • Make an effort to understand and learn from people who come from different contexts.
  • Avoid making assumptions.
  • Attempt collaboration before conflict.
  • Presume that everyone’s ideas, skills, and contributions have value.
  • Prioritize input from those who have been marginalized in AI spaces.

In addition, we ask participants to be aware of their own positions of privilege and oppression and engage accordingly; owning their voices and positions in ways that are healthy and open. If a participant violates the code of conduct, the organizers or a panel moderator may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from events and online forums. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the organizing team immediately at [insert email address]. Your question and identity will remain confidential to the organizing team unless you give consent.

This Code of Conduct is based on a similar code from Civic Tech Toronto, itself derived from the Recurse Center’s Social Rules, and the anti-harassment policy from the Geek Feminism Wiki.