Liveblog Summer School 2011
Monday: Infrastructures and PoliticsBlog by Koen Beumer
The values and infrastructures at play introduction
After a warm welcome by Teun, who shortly introduces himself and Willem, all participants gave a 90 second presentation about their own work, using only a single slide or an object from their fieldwork. This included McDonalds flags, Indian cotton, all-including breakfast drinks, fancy videos, nanotechnology markers, and over-dated brain enhancing drinks.
Participants came all the way from Netherlands, Thailand, India, Belgium, U.S., Nigeria, Zimbabwe and France. Topics that are studied by participants include mobile phone radiation, Alzheimers disease, carbon-capture infrastructures, children at risk, telecare technologies, transitions in energy technologies, knowledgeable patients, neurotechnology, post-humanism, nanotechnology and public debates.
Willem shortly introduces the ‘pasta-bridges’ exercise. The exercise follows from the remark, often made to STS-ers, that “if you don’t like out technology … can you do better?” And so we will. We have to make a better bridge, a value-sensitive bridge. We should divide ourselves in six groups of five people. And because we are actually making something, there are also several design constraints that make us deal with materiality. We have to make an actual bridge, not just dream the perfect ethical bridge, but make one consisting solely of spaghetti, rigatoni, lasagna and tape. It has to cross 50 cm. The strongest bridge won’t win. The key issue is to imbue the bridge with ‘values’ somehow. And last but not least: the reader is also a tool! We can use the Winner discussion to construct a bridge.
First lecture Geoffrey Bowker – Time and infrastructure
In this lecture Bowker will discuss time and infrastructure. Time has been central to his work and he discusses different kinds of time, now and later in the week.
Bowker starts with providing some personal information to his work. Bowker did a degree in history. While working as an English teacher in Cameroon he read Claude Levi-Strauss‘ fascinating methodologies, tracing systems of myths across cultures. This was his entry into science studies. As Christianity lost its ground as the authority of knowledge, science entered. And science has its own priests and conventions.
Then he got into Michel Serres. He was particularly interested in his metaphor of the north-west passage, a fable that would take you across from Europe to the United States through the northern seas. Serres uses it as a metaphor asking how you could get in between the world of science and humanities. His conception that there is not one passage. There are different ways of bringing those two different worlds in contact. His work attempts to find principles of navigation for how to get from there to here.
And of course infrastructures are a central theme in his work. Infrastructures are all around us. Just the room we are in already contains thousands of standards. We live in a highly infrastructural world. His interest is in the relation between the infrastructure where information is organized and structured, and the ‘real’ world ‘out there’.
A central message of his talk is that – as a quote by Pynchon shows – that ‘it could have been otherwise’. We very easily get caught up in narratives of how modernity should look, how science should look, that makes us forget this important lesson.
One thing we information infrastructures for is to record. One of the early forms of such infrastructures, mentioned in ‘From memory to written record’, is a moment when legal evidence shifted from trusted witnesses to written records. And this involved all sorts of innovations, including material ones. For instance, at the time, paper documents were easy to forge. One way to deal with this was to write the same statement on two side of the same paper and rip them apart. Each party would take one side and together they constitute a unique document.
Bowker shows various kinds of informational infrastructures with various consequences. Notably he discusses the book. This form in which we record our information has a strong impact upon our ideas of space and time. Bowker notes that Galilean time – stretching forward and backward – directly follows from the book. Physics only comes later. In books time is recorded linearly, from left to right, with a beginning and an end. We cannot build an information infrastructure that does not already represent ourselves in one way or another. For instance the personal computer very much reflected the way that companies worked, the modes of office organization. Bureaucracy is often the central issue.
The force of such conceptions of time can for instance be seen in a quote from Charles Babbage, writing that until the invention of printing “the mass of mankind were in many respects almost the creatures of instinct”. This was the hype of the book, that it was the perfect medium for storing knowledge. This contains a flat notion of time. Today this is completely untrue.
An important moment in the history of the information infrastructure – often missed – is the rise of the database when looking at the history of information infrastructures. Bowker shows an example of the bar-coding of patients according to their behavior. At that stage, we are speaking of the late eighteenth century, we really believed that we could hold all knowledge in the pocket of our hand. It was the time of the encyclopedists, trying to capture all knowledge of mankind in a single series of books.
Diderot and d’Alembert caught knowledge in a series of categories and they thought those categories would last forever. We still have this dream of encyclopedias today. It was also predicated upon information infrastructure. They used machines to create their categories, of which Bowker shows an example for allowing to insert new entries in the alphabetical order. New technologies emerged along with new forms of databases.
In classifying knowledge at this stage we also start classifying people. Huge census were organized in order to make people governable. No longer a town-based economy where everyone knows everyone else, people needed to be categorized. It is also the period where we first started thinking about managing the planet. We recognized that we are no longer dealing with resources in an affluent society.
In order to understand the role of databases today, so Bowker argues, we need to go back to those periods. Also in the nineteenth century information technology made a big difference. In the 1820s people believed that the steam ship and the train were annihilating space and time and changing our conceptions of space and time. The United States opened up in grid form. You are rendering the world, a gridded world. The dream was to create a clockwork ocean – despite the ocean being essentially fluid. The steam boat was part of that, destroying the distance between the United States and Europe, also taking cholera along.
In the nineteenth century the question raised how we order the knowledge that we have got? How to organize them in a way that makes sense for us to tell a story? Bowker shows the famous first tree of life, with humans on the top. He likes that it shows a single origin – something that can be disputed. We still think very much in terms of the tree of life. Bowker notes that it always breaks off at one point. Although biologists believe it could split in three or four lines, there are always only two.
Gender is another example. Three or four percent of children are born intersexed. Doctors then often decide at birth to chose one of the two genders, often not telling the parents. It is a strong example of how uncomfortable we are with the idea of three sexes. Darwin’s tree of life is more complex. Not only ICT make a difference. Also technologies like the wooden desk make a difference. They were used to make the natural history survey, allowing easy classifications in different boxes. In the nineteenth century we were creating vast archival boxes. In general they are very difficult to access, for instance having difficulty in cross-referencing, etc.
The information tools that you are working with deeply affect the kind of knowledge that you can produce. Bowker shows the geological map of the U.S. They ran into huge problems while trying to do edge mapping. Each local administration had build its own division of past geology, so when putting them together the land suddenly jumped from pre-Cambrian to Devonian periods at the borders of state administrations.
Marshall McLuhan once nicely wrote that we look at the present through a rearview mirror, we march backwards into the future. We often try to conceive our new technology in the terms of how things were like before. We think of organizing our computers in terms of files and folders. We still organize knowledge in those nineteenth century modalities – often very linear and singular modes of organization. This is not how time works, nor how we experience time, but just the way we record time. Perhaps realizing this can help thinking about time in different ways, beyond current constraints.
In conclusion Bowker notes that we often look mostly at the technologies. Of course, when we want to understanding infrastructures and technologies, technology is certainly important. But it should not be the only focus. It is organizational, technical and social all at the same time. It is intrinsically political and ethical.
A second conclusion concerns Serres. Bowker notes that Latour and Serres met in the 1970s in southern California and instantly fell in love. One way of reading actor-network theory, so he will publish soon, follows from a bridge that Serres build to cybernetic. A lot of ANT insights can be found in 1950s cybernethics, such as the idea of the black box, or the hybrids in networks. What Serress did was to metaphorize the idea of cybernethics. Latour later learned from him, not reading cybernethics. ANT re-invents 1950s and 1960s cybernethics, but through the metaphorical lens of Serres.
Anyway, Serres at one point talks about origins. Bowker shows an image of the origin of the Ganges river. From the point of the source everything flows in one direction, out to sea, the point that defines its linearity. But Serres points out that the source is not really a source. There are millions of things flowing, culminating in one point so that it becomes a source. Those are the things that merit our attention.
Second lecture Geoffrey Bowker – Do information infrastructures have politics?
The key point of this talk, so Bowker begins, is planetary management. At this moment 96% of all the world’s flowing water is engineered, the human race takes about 60% of the useable energy coming in from the sun. There is nothing left which we call natural. Perhaps only the Yostok lake is the last piece of pristine water left on earth. That is about it: nature.
When thinking about that management, how are we conserving our biodiversity heritage? Bowker notes that one of the key tools we have is classification. We classify organisms and individual species. This is a strange way of classifying. Different species have other species inside of them and there are all sort of relationships, as Serres for instance shows with the notion of the parasite. Following Serres we can also take the relationship as the starting point. Things, people, etc. come forward from those relationship. When doing so, we don’t have to conserve seeds and individual species, but we have to conserve relationships, that is, ecosystems. In other words, the focus on relations results in different conceptions of the environments future. ‘ The same structure can be seen with philosophy, that usually casts the mind inside the body. The skin can then be considered the philosopher’s last line of defense. The skin is where the self stops and the rest of the world comes in. When applying the same argument about relationships, we could say that outside our social settings our mind actually does not exist. This relationship-talk is similar to what ANT has been talking about for a long time. There is no nature here and society there: there are relationships from which nature and society follows. Similarly, as mentioned in the previous lecture, genders are no natural properties. We do the act, from which the two genders follow.
Talking about time, Bowker gives the example of the clock of the long hour. Every hour on the clock is a thousand year. The point is to create a calendar in practice. So for instance instead of calling something a year 2011, they call it 02011. They try to think over longer time periods. Interestingly, so Bowker continues, this generates huge ecological problems. For instance when doing forest management you do not cut one area and leave the other. You thin out the forest but this looks incredibly ugly. When driving in Canada you will be convinced there is thousands of miles of clear forests, but in reality it is just a couple of meters along the highway. This is the view-shed. This is what we manage instead of thinking long-term futures.
Taking the relationships-argument further, Bowker argues that when wanting to conserve the process of change rather than protecting species, you would act differently.
And like the time-scale, we can also start thinking about space-scale. Rip once wrote a nice piece about air pollution, which is almost by definition not contained to national boundaries. You cannot deal with such problems without a world governance, but there is no world governance for climatological issues. How to deal with that without a basic causality? We will need to break up causality in new ways..
Bowker talks about two ways in which infrastructures have politics. One in shaping time, the other in shaping space. First shaping time. Bowker notes that we often think that we know the past. But we are often wrong. For instance the example of everyone knowing where you were at a specific instant, such as during 9/11. Although we are often so convinced, these memories are often riddled with mistakes. This is the archetypical idea of memory, but these views of the past are often very much shaped, not only at the individual level, but also concerning infrastructures. When people start creating archives, they are also starting to destroy. But its nature the creation of creating an archive is also an act of destroyal.
The earliest example that Bowker found was by a Chinese historian Qian, reporting the emperor wanting to cut people off from a past which he did not want his people to remember. We do manipulate history on a very large basis, including through informational infrastructures. How do we do this? For instance think of burning books. Paper shredders. Data destroyer 5.01. Destroying stuff is a multi-billion dollar business in order for actors to make them look as if they acted legally, as if the past was rational. In reality the past was messy, acts transgressed the boundaries of classifications that we later applied to them.
How to build this? This is the question of deciding what should be in and out of the archive. Take the case of chemistry. The chemistry handbook made by Levasoir made a certain nomenclature that included some aspects of chemistry and excluded some others. Fine. His choice. But it followed that all preceding work in alchemy was consequently also excluded from the archives of chemistry.
Bowker stresses that all acts of classification are political acts. The real world is messy and the cleanup won’t be easy. For instance when reclassifying plants the initial work consists of messy hand written notes that only end up as clear-cut classifications after a lot of dirty work.
Then shaping space. Bowker is involved in a project called ‘thinking planetarily’. After all, so he notes, the nation state is such a useless unit of analysis. In the nineteenth century the British rules the world. Taking all resources from the colonies was the theft at the time (as Burgess called it ‘the underdeveloped world). Now there is a new theft, which is information colonialism. The underdeveloped world has incredible amounts of biodiversity. But the Western countries has the collections and information of that diversity. People of course talk about learning what the locals knew and paying them back (but what does it mean to be local in the first place?) but actually we take the knowledge, rework it, and sell it to the same underdeveloped world in the forms of pharmaceutical products. It is the same story all over again.
Some think that this won’t happen because information is free, but this is a ridiculous view on the internet. Internet is deeply political. Bowker shows a map of America’s war on terrorism. There is a dotted line called ‘the boundary of the non-integrated gap’, indicating that all countries within that line are not integrated in our civilization. As Bush would perhaps note, ´they are really just animal´, making all actions justified. We never torture an American. But Iraqi’s… Interestingly, this map completely maps on the internet flow. If you are not part of this ‘world of connection’, than you are not part of human rights, of resources, of travelling, etc. Internet may not cause this, but it accompanies this new divide as it grows up. It is an economy of empire. This is an example of the political change reflecting changes in information technologies. This goes both ways.
As with different temporalities, it would be interesting to play with different spatialities. Bowker shows some examples, such as a pan-geographic map made in New Zealand. As a country surrounded by water, they made a map focusing on the seas. When taking water as focus of biodiversity you do not look at formations of continents, but you look at little elements called terrains.
We build information politics to reflect our interests. Linnaeus classification would have been extremely different when originated in New Zealand. Linnaeus for instance gives disproportionate attention to plants that are either good for us (staple crops, etc) or bad for us (toxic). And his work is strongly influenced by the information infrastructure with which he was working. He creates a system of information that has just enough classifications for people to keep in the mind. So it is formed by the cognitive constraints of people rather than the natural world. It seems such a well-rounded piece of knowledge, but it only does so when we don’t look at what is excluded.
Take the history of medicine. Bowker notes that it is almost impossible to publish negative results. Failure is consequently excluded from the archive and thus a skewed view of the way the world works appears, just as we think Apple and Google work in our best interests simply because they say they do no evil and because we cannot find any traces of them doing evil. But this does not mean it does not happen. We do not talk about failure but only about success. This causes a huge psychic weight on us.
Or take different kinds of time. Flat time is imagined as being infinitely forward and backwards, with us in an eternal present. This notion of time is still there, after all, we talk about ‘conserving’. There is no way in the world that we will ‘conserve’ the current climate. The climate is always changing, by definition almost. And yet we attempt to freeze the eternal present.
Associated with this notion of time is the view that the world is only real at the moment that we are now in. We think the current is more or less stable now but will go downhill. And this is very much connected to the informational infrastructures. This apocalyptic vision of time also holds us back from seeing that we can really make things really different.
Susan Star also tries to rethink infrastructure. Bowker shows an a slide with five twins growing up together. They became very famous in the U.S. Every day of their lives was charted out. Their input, output, manner of play, cognitive development. There were massive files about them, many of which were released to the public. Eventually one of the twins killed herself, one became depressive, others live in isolation. A total panopticum. We don’t have panopticums, we have what Latour calls oliopticum: little spaces with some lines, just enough to hold things in place.
Bowker provides another example of this notion of time. On a little island near Hawaii, once starting off as a lepra colony (which is never mentioned – another example of the erasure of the past), became a place where local Hawaiians live. They created it as a place where modern culture could not come in order to conserve the traditional way of living. The ultimate conservatory effort.
Some interesting counter-examples can be found in studies around local knowledge. Peter Western, head of Kenyan conservancy, brought a set of Massai farmers to work with Americans in the South-West of the U.S. They have the same environmental problems, with grazing areas cause erosion. Instead of piping Massai knowledge in universal databases, let’s just put them together and let them play them together. Knowledge is not just about what is written down in a book. It is about relations with specific cows, etc. that together will allow completely different ways of knowledge to travel from one place to another.
Bowker concludes that he believes in the power of stories. He shows a picture of an aboriginal lady in Australia that only tells stories, but she says she cannot tell a story and have it written down. She must have the land around while telling the story.
We tend to have a simplistic vision of memory. So we want to repair the acropolis ‘as it once was’. Bowker shows the nice example of an old wooden building in Japan. It is re-build every twenty years, since 1014 A.D. preserving technique is actually very interesting to do. We know how to conserve the artifact, but not the technique.
Bowker notes that we tend to have the idea that it is the great generals that change the world. But the truly great general never goes to war but steps in the river at a strategic moments and place that it changes the stream of the water, preventing the war and reaching his strategic goals.
So let us think about different kinds of interventions. Ways to step in the stream in a way that we never have to do the imperial, colonial ways of developing the planet.
Presentations by participants
Jan van Baren – Inscribing genomes. Re-ebodyment and re-narration of human identify through bioinformatics.
Jan starts with introducing his main concepts. Bio-identities are identifies informed by biological sciences: basically everything to do with genes. Bioinformatics is the science occupied with the analysis of biological data with information technology as central factor.
In the 19050s the genome became to be regarded as an information structure. Crick formulated the dogma that genetic information is an instruction for making the body. The organism therefore is the product of genetic information. Information comes before matter, making it into a sort of disembodiment. In the 1960s and 70s there was a re-focus on complex organisms. Genes became regarded as a part of a more complex system.
Since the 1970s computers came to occupy a central role in analyzing sequence data. New techniques were required to analyze the massive amounts of data, which resulted in the discipline of bioinformatics. This allowed to get a broader view on the body. Eventually a re-embodiment was taking place. But, so Jan stresses, the form in which this body and narrative re-appears is different from that preceding genetics.
Marijke Hermans – Framing public controversies: the dynamics of risk, science and uncertainties in local mast siting controversies
Marijke investigates the public controversy on mobile phone base stations. Sometimes people protest against the base stations from a fear for the devaluation of their property and aesthetical reasons, but most often protests emerge from a fear of risks to human health – often making the comparison to asbestos. Another comparison that protesters love to make is between mobile phones and passive smoking.
Marijke’s project thus focuses on a contemporary technology that has become subject of public controversy. The benefits of that technology are not contested but there are increasing concerns for human health risks. However, in contrast to other technologies, this has not led to a decrease in the sales rates. Even the ones protesting often rely on the same mobile phone technologies to get their message across.
In a nutshell her project aims to understand why the technology became constructed as a health risk. She is interesting in questioning how issues are framed. Secondly, she aims to understand the dynamics that emerge on this framing and the effect it has on those controversies. What happens to science in the public arena? What do her actors mean when talking about science?
Marijke is interested in the ambiguity in risk discourses. On the one hand risk is a political instrument – a means for politicizing certain issues in order to have social problems gain access to the public agenda. On the other hand risk is also a technocratic instrument – politicians decide to resort to science once public concerns are raised, making science the only legitimate actor to provide the answers but also believing science will actually deliver those answers without much trouble. In order to investigate this ambiguity she does six case studies on local protests in the Netherlands and Flanders, using interviews and document analysis with a variety of actors in order to create a thick description.
One early finding is that there is a remarkable consistency throughout the cases that people involved have become experts in their own right. The ‘expertisation’ of lay people, as Marijke nicely calls it. Another early finding relates to psychological studies, that are the bulk of studies on the risks of mobile phone base stations. The deficit model used in those studies could certainly use some STS input, but Marijke’s argument actually is that the question whether people know enough is not the relevant question as there are different constructions and representations of science, uncertainty and evidence. Third, she found that some aspects of the local setting (having nothing to do with science) were very important for how controversies developed. There is quite a heterogeneous mix of factors that all contribute to a local mast siting controversy. A challenge she deals with is to create a link between local and national findings.
Boukje Huijben – The prospects for high-efficiency nanowire solar cells.
Boukje notes that she is very new to the field of STS. Her project is part of a cooperation between the department of innovation sciences and the department of applied physics, as well as some industrial partners. The aim is to develop a new kind of solar cell, costing 50 eurocents per Wp, to be reached in 2020. The ministry of economic affairs financed it through a long-term energy subsidy. What is special about the nanowire solar cell is that it stacks solar cells on top of each other with each converting a different part of the solar spectrum. Why do we want such a thing? Only 0,34 percent of European land mass needs to be covered to meet the entire European electricity demand. Also it can be economically feasible. There are many advantages. But, although it is very promising, it is still not there.
The aim of her project is to generate a better understanding of the upscaling process of new technologies. She wishes to develop a new theoretical model. And secondly, her project is very practical as she works for industry and the governments. She will provide advice on how to implement them in practice. Her questions thus are which barriers exist that are related to up-scaling of the high-efficiency solar cells and how can these be overcome?
One of the approaches Boukje uses for understanding upscaling processes is strategic niche management. But this is not sufficient to understand up-scaling model so she wishes to include insights from business model theory. Both business model theory and strategic niche management look at the same thing, using different words. Business model theory is a very practical approach, allowing for easy comparisons. Strategic niche management, on the other hand, provides a better idea of the context in which a business model is embedded.
Boukje will study four different cases. First is the strategic use of the grid parity concept. This concept raises all sorts of expectations that may be used in a wrong way. For instance people assume that once grid parity is achieved, PV will be used on a large scale. But this may not be the case. The second area of study concerns some PV projects in the Netherlands. Third are some PV projects in emerging economies. Fourth are some very large scale PV projects in desert areas.
Tuesday: Integrations and ExclusionsBlog by Esther van Loon
Tuesday august 23 integrations and exclusions
9.00u. start: questions
Link title Jan: in reference to his presentation yesterday Jan asks how to make sure to get the point across? How to get the aggression out? Teun: How to make sure that your works is of interest to others, how is it made interesting towards others Geoffrey: assume that natives are just native. Informal contacts (getting to conferences, drink with them, just be there). Let them tell stories. Tell me a story about how …. Jan: but I need to report it back. For example to students. And to bring it back to the organisations I study Geoffrey: history of mathematics made him understand the mathematics. one of slides today is on domesticating wild knowledge. Let them know that what I’m interested here is the whole range, the whole setting. Not just your project. And I can talk about that Teun: different strategies to do this, e.g. find out what their problems are. Isolde: start with dialogue, get things out of them first Jan: want to just open discussion, not make a deal out of it
Teun and Willem had a discussion about Serres. Is this something that others have? Geoffrey: Serres is metaphorical and practical about parasites. Parasitism basic unit of analysis: between organisations, institutions. Different ways of building society. 1 [missed it sorry….???] 2. ANT: individual pursuing own interest. Parasite in the middle of it. Relationship sometimes works. Human body based on parasitism. It is in extreme way all about exchange It is also about reading French theory: difficult to grasp from normal way of being. For example Wittgenstein is not meant to be a whole philosophy. It is more inspirational than way of truth. French do not site sources (e.g. ANT is based on Foucault but not sited). For example if they use ‘discourse’ you know they refer to Foucault etc. People “own” some words. Teun: resembles thesises people have to write. Especially article based. Therefore we include this in WTMC Geoffrey: writing culture: book on on-ethnographic work …. They write about as if they were out of society, not a part of it. God’s eye. He argues that ethnographic / anthropology changes. There is less experimental writing in STS. Is a pity. With a lot of people here there is policy involved thesises, Geoffrey argues for the way to see them as two different worlds to write for: to write for academic worlds and for policy worlds. To split audiences you write for so to make your point twice for different groups
2.1 Activity: Quality of dissertation
Link title Main questions for the discussion in subgroups What criteria does this imply? What is the point of the dissertation? How this relate to the context and career plans?
Geoffrey adds what is the research question. Is it explicitly stated?
Reporting back of the dissertation assignment → see PPT that will be on the wiki Dissertation is a way to prove that you are a ‘good’ researcher, a way to find your central passion. A PhD is now an entry point of getting into the academic world. Yvonne: But not everyone is keen on working in academic world afterwards.
2.2 Guest lecture Johan Schot: infrastructure and the integration of Europe
Link title Johan Schot is preparing a book within a book series on governing Europe. History of Europe can be written in different ways for example - conflicts among countries - European integration - EU path towards creating peace and compete with US in economical sense What types of history are they writing: transnational history: Europe is emerging out of a set of networks, contexts e.g tourism, relationships between experts, etc and outside of Europe (experimenting with new modes of landscaping ‘the European way’ this knowledge brought back to Europe)
Context for talk: Where does Europe end? Iceland? North Africa? Borders of Europe always contested. Move towards integrating Eurasia or Eurafrica. Europe as a project is included in their research.
Today he wants to look at infrastructure and role of experts and European integration in broader sense. Treaty of Rome (1957) is the end of long process of negotiations. Transport infrastructure should unite to create common infrastructure.
Jump in time is made: Movie of European union of infrastructure policy. Question what is in the movie, what is left out? Who has agency? This in relation to text of Badenoch. Text and picture and how does it work together? Movie is of EU, general PR movie of the EU in which they try to explain their policy.
Inventarisation of what did we see? Emphasis on trade; private consumers invisible. East and West differences Authorative use of EU commission experts Nature /mountains need to be overcome. rhetoric of modernity to overcome nature as a problem Nation state is to blame (e.g. Spain that does not have a connection with France) that there are no connections between countries. Countries referred to as ‘member states’ while Switzerland is not a member state but crucial to the transportation in Europe Connections outside Europe are silenced.
Business had a role in creating better infrastructure Second fall of berlin wall → Europe became bigger more need to focus on transportation
The movie does not include earlier efforts to create a common infrastructure in Europe What did the EU do before? Many initiatives were done but they failed. For example to integrate the railway system.
Some of the plans come from Hitler planning for a united Europe – and from before them.
Back to the treaty. After WOII there was a plan to look forward instead of backwards. treat of communism. Europe integration was developed in this context. Problem how to rebuilt Germany. controversial. Only to be done as part of larger Europe. Europe needed larger market to become competitive with US. Is common textbook story. Infrastructure never mentioned, but it is crucial.
Movie from Marshall aid (clearing the lines 1951). Impressions of the movie: American perspective on Europe by showing touristic properties. War is not mentioned. Only things they mention about is ‘we have had some difficulties in the past’. By technology (man made achievements, man made restrictions) Rhetoric used: Experts are peace-loving people, politicians make restrictions Nationalism has bad press. Myth of the network: When connections are made materially, they will better understand each other therefore they never get into war. This rhetoric was strong 19th century (technological determinism) (globalization was strong in 19th century, according to some more than now in terms of trade and immigration).
Emergence of transnational network, diplomats one of the actors among private actors and experts. Network was mobilized for the course of Europe. To prevent war, build larger markets. Experts communities were brought in and myth of network was brought in.
Schuman declaration (1950) seen as first attempt to create EU integration. The connection is perceived as easy. First connect technological, what was perceived of as easy, then the rest will follow itself.
In the 70ies there is no mention of infrastructure any longer. But in the years 50-60 Europe is booming economically. So not the EU but other transport organizations made the connections e.g. International railway union European conference of Minister of Transport
Questions: Q: Marshall aid movie connected to myth of the network. How is the connection made? A: roads were used for war but not mentioned (referred to napoleon not Hitler) Experts good, politicians use roads merely for war Hammer not meant for killing, bad people do that. Contradiction not really solved
Q; experts are they a homogeneous group and what makes them experts? A: definition is difficult but he uses it ‘situated’. Others perceive experts as experts within a given context. Real decisions are made on lower level. Knowledge component is also important (e.g. difference technocrats and technicians in article). Debates and conflicts are fundamental/inevitable. Disagreement will lead to solution. However in the article there are deep differences and conflicts between experts (e.g railway versus road experts)
Q: He pleas for an acknowledgement of experts in the discourse. Should we reassess the value of expert networks? A: making visible role of technology and role of people behind it (e.g. experts) they are there so we should acknowledge them. Hard to trace them since they are often speaking in secrecy / confined spaces. Role of expertise is often left out of the discussion. Experts need to have there own space.
Q: academic freedom is in a way a myth; publishing pressure. disciplines are good at disciplining. experts are political animals. Aligning themselves with others, they never separated from the policies. A: they manage the boundary. like we do. they want to get a free space at one side, sometimes there space is smaller and sometimes there space is bigger. At the same time they are not political animals. They believe in their myths. Experts create connection
Q: states create strong borders for immigration, for example in Italy, but want to integrate with Europe. A: rhetoric’s of free movement does only apply to some. Infrastructures sometimes set up for one-way distribution (goods from east to the west)
Q: Thevenot which road to follow. Network myth; silly myth in a sense. How does that relate to transnational Europe? A: Network myth not naive but only one part of the story. In history when you promote something invisible visible than inevitably you are seen a proponent of the things. If your make experts visible you seem to promote it. End story will be that there are many ‘Europe-s’, fragmentation. Expert is only one of the actors.
2.3 Activity 3 Core Reading: Summerton and Lansing
Link title Themes/subjects/thoughts that came out of the discussion of Summerton and Lansing - Perception of time is difference: linear / circular time - Important to acknowledge values in all technological system - Actors as unit of analysis/ in analysis - Fluid technologies / CSCW: if rituals are forgotten technologies will be broken down - Understanding the Balinese system: imagining the way in which this works - S. states if we understand really understand a LTS than we can change it in any way. L. if we could better understand the system then we could prevent the breaking down. - Educated Balinese people: did they really not know the rituals? Reflected on our own rituals but we could not find them. Rituals are hard to explicate (Jan and the missing toothbrush) - Ritual versus routine? Can our practices be described as rituals? Does it make sense to do so? We are not used to thinking in this way. Routine has ritual aspects in it. But is less strong. - S. does not have a sense of ritual, L. does. Is it a way of making meaning? Rituals remain but in practice no one understands why this act is done. So what is then the ritual? - The life of the ‘nacirema’: reverse way in which developed countries are being observed and analysed by underdeveloped countries
2.4 Lecture Geoffrey Bowker: the archive
Link title Comment on earlier discussion: Question of master narratives/ dominant narrative. Dislikes the word in a way. But certain narratives are dominant. Counter narratives are there. There is more to it than seeking out resistance. Sites of positive change as well. System of professions (book) professionalisms of medical professional. Makes a difference, which groups win, in agonistic battle. Political kind of intervention determines the space. In reference to Johan Schot’s lecture secrecy in experts: secret language is a part of expertise. That’s why social theory is never perceived of as a real science by the public, because we have no secret language.
Rituals: Rituals become visible in their breakdown. E.g. infrastructures become visible by their breakdown. Breaking is also a sociological technique
Archive Derrida: ‘Arkhe’ is referred to as commencement and commandment. The language and the archive one group is using is essential to be able to included in the archive. Internet is global archive. But it makes that we not look back to the past. That’s problematic
Quote of Manovich: language of new media. Point raised in this quote is that database and narrative are each others enemies: competing for the same territory. Bowker disagrees with this. There are common features of databases. There is a set of stories you can or cannot tell out of databases. e.g. Sensus. American sensus cannot tell anything about class. A database cannot include everything. Database will have to do an act of exclusion. Certain stories can never been told. Act of exclusion build nature and state. Nature is about information. Bioinformatics e.g focuses on certain stories but others are left out. Getting back to dominant, really powerful narratives these can be told again again and again, since it depends upon what is being archived and what not. E.g. invention of homosexuality: Foucault. When starting to measure it the entity starts to take place. Another example Hacking: category child abusers If you don’t use this language you will not get resources.
What is cyberinfrastructure? Involved in projects on cyberinfrastructure. In Europe referred to as E-science. E-social science. No longer thinking in disciplines as such but in terms of problems (pollution. etc.). CI is different things: Supercomputers, visualization, …. (list see PPT). Comes to hardware together with collaborations.
Curated databases = make databases compatible.
Two types of archives: - The empty archive. To think is to compute (Hobbes) The quest for a universal language. We don’t need to remember things since it is coded in our language. e.g biodiversity we don’t need to look at the past, about biodiversity E.g. Is it possible that the antonym of ‘forgetting’ is not ‘remembering’, but justice? It is only worth remembering if we are the same people - The archive as a plenum: Each fact is recorded and stored. But there is no point in collecting all the information possible. E.g. HG Wells: the worlds brains E.g. Amazon Turk: HITs When we have all the data, what are we going to do with this. Talked of in terms of Ontology and knowledge base. What is wrong with this picture? It assumes that all ontologies are fixed while they are in fact not fixed but changing.
How do you go from ‘wild knowledge’ to archive 1. scale up: 2. pragmatics: we are not going to make any discussion unless we all agree e.g. climate discussion 3. rain check: don’t include it. Than it disappears 4. represent the uncertainty
[checks his watch, is in shock and speeds up tremendously so a great deal of the message could not be recollected. sorry] Enrolling the community frontstage vs. backstage
Part of PPT quote of Cerf: “collaboration across discipline whose tools and data types can differ greatly “ Uncertainty does not travel well between disciplines Tacit knowledge is not written down and does not travel
Conclusions: “skip that skip that skip that…I’m right”
Q: 2 dominant archives? Missed second A. plenum: world is full of things.
Q: mention in presentation that he disagrees with Manichov’s point. Where more. databases as stories was a breakdown point of Geoffrey from Manichov’s point. other ways where breaks down from yellow pages. YP has story. so is not opposite of Film is database: you make a collection of it, which is a film, otherwise it is a story
Q: it is oke to forget, holocaust. is it not about letting the remembrance go A: best way to learn about mistakes. If justice is achieved than remembering is no longer necessary to remember. Remembering has bad effects. Certain groups are left out: remember Jews but not the polish that were slaughters, Apologizing to aboriginals now. Injustice is there. Apologising is stupid thing since those who apologize are not the same persons.
Q: remembering is not problem but classification of remembering A: historical events should be remembered differently. Is role of historians. Justice is form of remembering that is no longer in your consciousness. Technically we are remembering but not the specifics. So in that sense justice is a form of remembering.
Q: Turning wild knowledge in an archive. In practical sense, how does that work out in a PhD in doing justice to the material? A: notes are central to what we do. Note taking practice is underdeveloped in teaching how to do it. Organization of the data. Think strategically about that. Paying attention to that is important. Bad answer: reflexive about how to do your work. Don’t feel shy about words you use (e.g. nature, good innovation) without ‘…’ force of argument needs to be strong enough so ‘…’ is not necessary. Tricks of the trade: Quotes of everything interesting, categories, chapters, book. rule of faith. Have to account for every quote that is in there, everything needs to be accountable. Never ignore data. Random rule or a trick. More generally classification is necessary in intellectual work. Reflexive about classification system. What am I not telling and not seeing. Way to be honest with your data. Aim I telling the full story? I write things as the whole truth.
Q: Rain check is left out in the answer A. Stop collecting data when it does not interest you any more, stop reading when it is boring for you.
Q: How does it relate to databases or perhaps quantitative material? Indicators and counter indicators but not what is not answered Look in educational databases
Q: [missed sorry] A: wrong Manichov quote. Exact phrase he uses is that when you analyse literature: multiple structures are underneath it. Feminist reading, momentalirity reading etc. so there is one text but multiple structures to analyse this text with Databases are structure but multiple narratives can be gained from it. Counter readings are possible but to one. With respect to the theologist. e.g. spirituality in science
Q: we have a fairly negative perception of narratives with numbers. But is powerful. Financial infrastructure built in infrastructure. A: sketches some answers. Micro finance ties you into a system. Turns them into consumers. Force consumption is problematic. Capital always wants to move faster. Ties with Internet speed up. Problematic
2.5 halebridge: values in electronic medical infrastructures
Link title For this activity we played a game envisioning the medical health record in the near future (2015). It was based on the issues raised in studying electronic health records by Marc Berg. Playing the game revealed how there are all kinds of assumptions in medical health records that pose problems in their use (e.g. assumption of completeness of information, secondary use of information, information and their relation to the context, issues of privacy etc.).
Wednesday: Values at Play in STSBlog by Jan van Baren
Question: What is Ontology, epistemology, cosmology
Answer by GB:
Epistemology: how can we know things about the world, how doe our knowledge systems work.
Euclidian, that which flow from set of axioms.
Hypothetic: deduce conclusions from that and test it.
Induction: We watch what happens and induce general laws about it: the sun rises every day in recorded history, so it will happen tomorrow. (What or how can you know).
Ontology: how do you recognise what kind of things there are in the world. What makes up the world. Make up each as individuals, more complex: what is the nature of this gathering today: teaching setting, social gathering etc. So ontology is about how do you break up the world.
So last few days: see ourselves as individuals, but like more to see myself as part of social realm, nature, ecology. So what kinds of things make up the world. Very much like categories.
Object oriented programming is example of ontology: defines units and a set of relationships between them. Computer scientists basically decides what the objects are that they want to see the world trough their computer.
Phenomenology: what is your lived experience in the world. But not necessarily from point of view of humans. Though often it is from human viewpoint.
Cosmology: what is your theory of the universe: big bang, steady state, what went before that: theory of origin of the universe. Also what is going to happen with the universe in the end. Is the universe sub-atomic particles or strings with 11 dimensions. Cosmology can also be religious.
Ontics: crossover phenomenology and cosmology. Ontic conclusion: if you do lot of articulation work: invisible work for example: written out of the story, but lived anyway. Cosmology have their own ontlogies. For philosophers ontology is bit more about underlying structure of the world.
STS wars between phenomenology and multiple ontology: stuff gets done in different ways.
Lots of STS topics comes from epistemological questions, phrasing them in sociological terms. This leads historically to tensions with scientists who feel threatened, because science was first put into question.
Lecture by Geoffry Bowker: Values in design
Values in Design is an emergent field. Other term is value sensitive design. Started with Hellen Nissenbaum together with different players from engineers to STS.
What is infrastructure is a hard question. - Transparency. It becomes visible on breakdown Embodies standards. We are hooking on in all kinds of ways that you don Build on installed based. It does not come out of nothing and nowhere. They don’t recreate the world but always embedded in previous infrastructures. - Membership. You don’t learn it (just) in school. You learn it as member of a community. - Links with conventions of practice. Example is e-mail. You don’t start with dear sir/madam and don’t sign very formally. But it has links with conventions of the mail. Also in CC: carbon copy. It is also rooted in office memo’s, which shows the structure much more. - Reach and scope: it is not limited to one household; it only has meaning when having reach and scope.
Next question was, what is the design space? Computer scientists think: we design a widget that is going to do something in the world. Connection to the sociology of the door closer by Latour. He asks: what is happening in terms of values in closing doors. Three options to close doors: someone at the door who closes and opens. You can put a sign at the door: please remember to close. Or you put door closer so you don’t have to think about it. So where do we put moral value of closing door: in conscious of person, in form of policemen or we put it in de environment. Traffic bumps are another example. So basically, where do you delegate the values to? So design space is not simply technical, it is socio-technical. So features of technology: social / technical. Most things can have technical and social fix.
So theory of value in design was lets widen design space: legal, social ethical as part of design space.
Chicken and egg: that answers that question. But there is no answer to this question. Technology – human causality goes both ways. That makes technology an agent.
Looking at infrastructure, there is no one story to be told. There are different stories on different layers. Technical, social political will all have different values in technology.
Infrastructure as set of clean pipes. But if you really look at it, it is really messy.
Future of Internet architecture. Platforms/projects to think the Internet anew for the future. NSF formed values in design council for these projects. No users where involved in the design, giving some preference to white male scientists. One important idea: much more mobile than computer based. Internet as backbone for culture. On other end of the scale there is Google: project by Google: destroy everything that you can’t find trough Google. In a sense this is true. Google’s algorithm doesn’t find Africa usually on the first few pages.
Rest of the talk: two issues. - Privacy, problem already for ages. To make society controllable, you have to compromise privacy in some way. Everything in UK is surveiled today, impossible to do that twenty years ago. Rapid shifts in society with issues like privacy. Privacy on the Internet. Spock people search, finding ‘anyone’. You can find peoples age and value of their house.
Zero privacy, how do you live in world with zero privacy? See how fast faces were recognised in British riots. Another example is of a game where people could map photo’s of individual faces on photo’s of crowds. A very popular game in the US for a while. It turned out to be initiated by the Iranian government to match faces from their archives in protesting crowds. Notions of privacy change with changing culture. We assume that people will develop new norms. Myth of Japan: you are formal during the day, but what you do in evening does not affect you.
Mobile devises design where you can connect with people who are doing similar ting. You can hide your location or you can lie about it. Hide is problematic because people think you are doing something wrong. So trade-off of value: in order to protect your privacy you need to lie. So the good value of privacy is also propagate laying to achieve it.
Project of IT specialists with aborigines: How do we design information artefacts for other, not western cultures. Knowledge introduced by tribal elder. Issue: structure access of knowledge according to category within the social structure. That not only excludes some. But we freeze traditional structures in the database. Young Turks say: all knowledge should be free. So it opposes youth’s changes.
User technology to preserve rain forest Blend of aboriginal dream lines super-imposed on satellite map.
Designing for other cultures: danger of not forcing them into our structures, excluding many parts of cultures aimed at.
Storytelling is key to many cultures, including our own. But not often embedded in structures. Example is embedding stories in landscape trough mobile devices.
Technology often inhibit value tensions. Shown for example by the group joystick.
STS has not thought enough of how to engage with the world. Values in design is one interesting ways. Designing systems that reflect our values. Engaging with IT specialists as well as users and other stakeholders.
--- Ways of engaging with technology by PhD students: - Engage by going to convening places of scientists: conferences, teaching etc. - Engage by taking part in technical design. - Direct involvement in project of technology design to include social aspects. - Observe and feedback design project. - Constructive technology assessment (CTA) workshops to show tensions in values.
--- It is not so easy to engage with science and technologies. Being accepted is not so easy. It can take years of effort to build a space and trust for really engaging. It is hard work on multiple fronts: analyses, funding agencies, train students to do the work, scientists. Train sociologists to think about design. You never now where the reverse salience is going to be.
Important there: it is not just power of argument why things have to change, it is making clear how what will happen is going to effect the people involved so they start to think along.
Q: Privacy on the internet: lot of focus on sociologists having understanding of issue. Opposite of privacy is audience. Maybe sociologists site of work is not technology, but cultural space. A: Taking design as technology is topsy-turvy. It is social as well. In context of privacy: In order to really say what you want to say, you also have to talk about yourself: putting the person in the picture. So audience is also a design constraint. Worry is with social engineering.
Q: Why so much focus on privacy. That is a bit oxymoronic with internet technologies, where we do put everything on Facebook. To want to be there and not want to be there. A: Yes privacy is easy target, it is a choice, but yes, it reifies the issue of privacy as dominant value. I believe privacy is dead.
Q: Conserving indigenous structures is an attempted effort. Do you want to preserve or change. A: Preservation often stands in the way of new forms of culture: old murals and modern gravity as example. Another example: English as world language to talk to each other. It doesn’t matter what language that is. Difference in English appears in sub-cultures. So it is a way of talking to each other, but it does not mean there will be only one unified language.
Q: Introducing values in design. Instead of making new technologies you can also work with communities to reassemble existing technologies to use in local context. Example: camera’s on kites on Westbank. A: Yes, this is important. Also recognising what is already out there in technical as well as community innovation and feeding that back into design process.
Q: In design: a lot is happening in marketing departments. So that is an important community to engage with, rather than just to hate. A: Aren’t we very much like marketers? Important to see design as continuous process between designers and markets interacting trough use and feedback and redesign.
Lecture by Brit Ross Winthereik: Monitoring “in the broadest sense” possible: Accountability in a Weedy infrastructure.
Research project: Chains of accountablilty
- some empirical moments.
- analysis of implications for collaborators and infrastructure researchers.
Looking at link between project of eco-tourism and financers.
UN Report: Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness, some pointers of how to increase effectiveness. Meant to implemented at national level.
Ownership, harmonisation, alignment, results and mutual accountability.
Mutual accountability: having effectiveness as mutually accountable.
So how does it work and what infrastructures are involved? Is there any way we can trace things that travel trough the chain?
Interesting were standards on intersections of organisations, looking how things turn into standards, making use of idea of standards as handshakes by Bowker. So aim is to find out what these handshakes are.
The infrastructure is not very high tech.
Water and sanitation project
Lot of access problems, only when giving up on seeing the entire chain it was possible to see infrastructure. The chain was not only a myth with the ethnographers, but also for the people in the project.
A kind of conceptual infrastructure between sites had to be designed by ethnographers because it was not there. Project is multisited, but there is no chain. The fieldwork is completely messy because there was no chain to follow.
State auditors themselves went into the field, regarding themselves as a sort of ethnographers.
NGO’s were more bureaucratic than regulatory agencies.
The researchers tried to also specify who’s side we were on.
Inspired by idea of Distributed, large-scale technological systems (Pollock & Williams). But there is no working infrastructure to begin with. Accountability infrastructures more diffuse than more material infrastructure.
An ecotourism project by WWF: International network of NGO’s working in nature conservation.
Strong conservationist agenda in discourse of biodiversity.
New modalities of care make it harder to trace money:
- program, not project support
- basket funding
New funding modality with emphasis on participatory ideal.
Conservation department worked close together with partners in network: (e.g. Vietnamese country office).
- Lots of pressure in organisation in the context of new demands through new monitoring and evaluation system.
- In workshops on infrastructure, it turned out that they never talked about monitoring an evaluation for so long. But also one of the reactions was that the definition of infrastructure was to need and too technical.
Infrastructure was clearly present but not findable.
First focus on IT, because that is simple. But the people from the project said not to go to the databases, it is dead end. As a result, they ended up with stacks of document. So infrastructure is in offices in forms of stacks of paper.
Preferred bureaucratic forms: documents and meetings, both embody material as well as social form. But they are also ornaments of modern bureaucracy. They are not passive, but performative.
Eco-tourism project brainchild of two consultants.
Baseline study and 5 evaluations showed three immediate objectives.
Most important is not fulfilling the goals, but to start change. Because objectives are not best review instrument.
Lots of intermediate objectives:
Being strategic partner
Desk study versus field study changed all the time. There was a difference between Vietnamese partners who preferred desk work and Danish partners who preferred fieldwork.
Meetings start with ritual opening, looking back and looking ahead, what are the stakes for everyone. That reflects the idea of the Danes: everyone is participant. Importance of open dialogue to bridge difference.
But meetings are also moments, defining points in time.
Two moments where partnerships were potential or actualised:
1. The long house
One of most material parts of the project. A place for tourism to prevent villagers going into the forest to take things. So alternative source of mony. Vietnamese WWF people don’t want to go there, but the Danes do. So Vietnamese go along unwillingly to translate. Creates a lot of tension in the meeting. Plus the villagers want to know when the tourist come, but the WWF doesn’t know. So there is empty space in the middle, only disappointment.
2. Moulding indicators
Discussion of relevance of a goal like 100 families having income from the long house. Indicators were moulded to reflect everyone’s look on them.
So two moments, one effective (2), one ineffective (1).
Adjusted indicators ended up in report, changing criteria. What doesn’t travel are the intermediate objectives. So actualisation of the partnership that creates the data is invisible for the donors.
Two ways of looking at moments becoming infrastructure. More information creates transparency in the whole chain
What should be cultivated? Danish bureaucracy may resemble wildness when seen from the point of view of Vietnamese.
Q: Infrastructure as invisible. Is this specific to studying infrastructure or can that also apply to other objects?
A: We are not quite sure about this. It is important to have some kind of object to study. That is a difficult. What infrastructure becomes accountability it is unclear what the object is, so what can we say about the object.
Q: shift from infrastructure to moments might change nature of looking at infrastructures.
Q: In how far do Danish also just want to have fun, really wanting to go to sites?
A: Yes, that is certainly part of it. While for the Vietnamese it is very hard to organise the trips, while this project is only one of many. But there was also a difference in regarding indicators. Vietnamese believed much more in indicators than Danes, who were social researchers themselves.
Q: When you extend the definition of infrastructure to tangible and social, than everything can become interesting. So how do you differentiate between ability to see it and fact that it doesn’t exit?
A: the bureaucratic forms are not invisible, there are documents and meetings. The longhouse for example was activated when they came back to Hanoi.
Q: Interplay between local knowledge as knowing what is going on and accountability measures. A: Yes, forms become separate activity from knowing what is happening. But also you lose a lot of knowledge when it is only in one individual. Could the Danes also create shared objects internally. All the photo’s they take for example do not have a big function except for nice illustrations of report covers.
GB: important general phenomena difference in agency between locals and people coming in. It is really hard to cover every bit of infrastructure. An interesting thing to think about is to use more researchers working to gather to look at different links.
A: Having a lot of people working at project would highlight cooperative work of ethnography.
Q: Why did the person had to remind you about the broader context. What implications does that have for us as researchers going to various sites.
A: It was a way of finding out what was a major concern for them: the battle between monitoring machine, taking 15% and the contextual knowledge. Also presenting what we think about infrastructure was taking a risk to get response that we have no idea about it. Which was the response. But it was also a way of finding out what their infrastructure.
Q: Where you seen as evaluators?
A: Yes, seen as part of review teams. Danes showed so much trust, it was difficult not to risk conflict by turning more to Vietnamese.
Activity: Finding Infrastructures in the wild
The assignment was: take your notepad, video and photo camera's and find an infrastructure and those interacting with it. Come back with a story involving the values of these infrastructures.
Roles per group: Editor, Photographer, Filmer, Interviewing ethnographer and Presenter The teams came back with stories on:
Dog shit, showing how the infrastructure for walking dogs is strongly developed in Ravenstein. Access to the knowledge involving this infrastructure is local, excluding some users and not others (canine as well as homo sapience).
Our presentation is called Rich shit! Reconfiguring canine feaces infrastructures in a local municipality. So what is the meaning of dogs in human life? Dogs are our friend or family member [slide with Brutus], helps blind people [slide with blind guide], save people in need [slide with St. Bernard], they help in fighting evil [slide police dog] and they provide us with security [slide with security logo]. So we take excellent care of them. We even provide them with food that improves the dog’s digestion [Picture of dog food]. In that way, dogs feel comfortable while shitting.On the other hand, it is not all beer and skittles. [Slide of Boukje stepping in dog shit]. Dog shit is something that annoys people in the Netherlands even more than war or rape. [Slide of top ten of annoyances]. So the problem is clear. Now what is our research question? Our research question is: who gives a shit? (Social infrastructure) And where (Material infrastructure) What is our methodology? Our methodology is multi-sited trans-temporal ethnography. First we decided to look for the existing infrastructure for canine faeces. For instance there are signs where dogs cannot leave their droppings.There are also signs where dogs actually can leave their droppings. And as you see, it much more spatial than the shit infrastructure for humans. And the inhabitants of the town even have a map showing the infrastructure for dog shit. However, we soon found out that this infrastructure is highly problematic. There are places where there are no signs. And there is dog shit everywhere. So how can we explain this? We found that there is a schism between local, possessing knowledge of the canine faeces infrastructure, the outsiders, coming from outside and lacking the local knowledge. We found that in order for the infrastructure to work, this local knowledge is essential.For instance outsiders do not have the map with the infrastructure. And outsiders cannot find the fields for dog shit. Also the boundaries of the infrastructure are not clearly demarcated. It is not clear where the shit field starts, and where the shit field ends. Even more, outsiders do not even understand the meaning of the symbolic order that constitutes the canine faeces infrastructure. However, we also found solutions. Outsiders bring along their own infrastructure.For instance we found a tourist lady that specially brought along bags, conventionally used to store sandwiches, and used them to pick up the shit. This user innovation can be seen as a mobile infrastructure, existing separate from the official one. So what can the municipality do to improve this? 1. Create a system of road signs that are lighted by night 2. Build an information infrastructure upon the existing tourist infrastructure. 3. Install garbage bins along the roads 4. Make the doggy bags more visible. 5. Although they are in the same line as dog food, so are other objects. So we recommend creating one separate line for dog food and bags for dog shit.
Fences of Ravenstein kept two teams going for half a day. While fences are an important part of human-animal relations in Ravenstein, they do fulfill some other functions as well. Examples are: flexible border object between private property and communal grounds and limited anti-suicide railway security, ending at the border of municipal responsibility?
Milk processing turned out to be a very high-tech infrastructure in Ravenstein. It involved cows with sensors for automatic feeding and a farmer with enough time on his hands for an interview. The cows were numbered in various ways, linking them to local as well super-national infrastructures of monitoring. Hot air balloons, functioning as 'scare-cows', take the role of main interrupters of this particular milk-infrastructure.
The group that visited a Halal Slaughterhouse opened up the black box of this national controversy in many ways: as infrastructure that hides the transition from living animal to meat, as well as infrastructure that carries political and religious values in a strongly entangled way.
The rain radar (buienradar) turned out to be a pervasive in Ravenstein. Everyone new it and nearly everyone looked at it. The availibility of radar information or lack thereof, changes dissensions on how some people spend their day. For others, mainly people who work, the immediate presence of rain is still the main changer of behaviour.
What do you get if you redesign an existing game with the restrictions of a value and an activity?
And what if you throw in a state and an atmosphere halfway the designer process?
Certainly you get a lot of fun and many hilarious moments. You could also get football for the benefit of everyone, with the added advantage that unemployed people who want to work can find a job; basketball with dinosaurs; chess involving drones and a mother ship; peck-man as pack-it where you have to dance to get pack-it to move; and so much more.
Thursday: Inversing Users and InfrastructuresBlog by Bart van Oost
Marlous shares her experience in the slaughter house. Dirk, Isolde & Bart went back to their ethnographic site in the morning and ran into some ethical questions. Meggie raises the issue: What is the added value of the notion of ‘infrastructures’, if it potentially applies to everything, like trees? GB: Question is indeed: is it useful to label something an infrastructure? If not, do not think of them as infrastructures. Using the concept is not a statement about what the world really is. It is rather heuristic device. Similar to labeling something actor-networks. Koen D.: So when it is a useful concept? Willem: Usefulness depends on your position in the field: are you trying to improve/criticize/describe infrastructures? Boukje: Regarding values: there are local – global values, time-dependent, depending on people’s viewpoints, etcetera. How to deal with that? Teun: One viewpoint is that the values are inside persons / stakeholders. Another viewpoint is to explicate the values which are embedded in things like infrastructures. GB: Wrong to think that you can just insert values. That would be equivalent to technological determinism. But: thinking about values in design can be interesting. It’s a heuristic tool to think differently about design. Not the same as stakeholder analysis. We [STS people] can start debate, as we are specialized in seeing through technologies, recognizing value contradictions, often earlier than designers, members of the public or other stakeholders. So not a solution to everything, but a tool.
PhD Presentation by Suyash Jolly
Title of the talk: ‘Upscaling’ sustainability experiments and niches through institutional entrepreneurship
Suyash introduces his project. In India, there is a lot of debate about the proper model for green growth. Middle class aspirations are on the rise, as it their energy consumption. It is therefore interesting to look at how to develop a low carbon economy. Idea: ‘Upscaling’ leads to low cost, although it takes time. Plus: technologies should be customized for different users with specific energy needs. So no standardization, but customization. Process is already been going on since 1980s, but not documented from STS or transition point of view. This is necessary, because there are critical issues to be examined: political problems, institutional change is necessary, there is a low success rate for entrepreneurial attempts. So: need for a systematic view. Small scale innovations were first successful in their own niche, but they were contained by the whole system around them. Suyash will take a multi level perspective on sustainability transitions (Geels & Schot, 2007), focusing especially on the role of institutional entrepreneurs. Problem: how can these agents transform the environment that they are themselves part of? Suyash will look at critical / trajectory events mapping.
Q&A Q: There are people in India studying this, but they’re not academics. They work in practice, talking to policy-makers. Could help you too. I am also facing problem with resistance from the field. Britt said yesterday: if your RQ is the same as the question that the institution has, than you might as well work within the institution. New kind of theories that are coming up from management studies is ‘how-to’ literature for intervention. Q: Question about scheme of Schot & Geels. Noticed that this approach is used a lot. But is there any empirical evidence that this approach works? A: More a historical approach, meant for historical cases. Q: OK, but can it also be used to change something in the future? (Willem: Yes, and who can do that? There’s no ‘you’ in the scheme) Q: The framework was also translated in a transition toolkit for managers, so that they can work with it, looking at the future and improving their projects. Q: Not about whether it works, but a perspective on how things happen. Results for me in convincing stories. Q: Model suggests to people in the field what they might do, for example creating a niche. Q: OK, but again: is there evidence? A: Methodology is useful for classifying information about historical changes. But best part of the methodology is that it does not prescribe role to specific actors. Q: Question related to energy is often: energy for what and for whom. It would be exciting if you could somehow include that question. Biomass for example rarely factored in the analysis. Can solar and wind be combined with biomass? Suyash: Biomass is very much directed to agriculture production ways. Basic point of entrepreneurs was also that building large plants does not meet diverse energy needs. Q: About multilevel perspective: Could you tell me your experience with it? I never know what the regime is and what the niche. I get the impression that the niches are sustainable, and the regime is the bad thing. It seems inevitable that this is the end of niches, because you don’t see the arrows that don’t go up: where do they go? Main question: how to differentiate between niche and regime? Suyash: Criticism has been expressed before. I can give you reference. GB: Honestly, I don’t believe in this kind of models [referring to scheme of Geels & Schot]. I see it as a useful rhetorical tool. You can explain to the development agencies why they will have a high failure rate. I don’t think you can use it to actually design stuff.
PhD Presentation by Trust Saidi
Title of the talk: Travelling nanotechnologies
Trust uses the “social construction of technology” as a theoretical framework in his research. He describes as case study that he did in Kenya. There, nanotechnology is studies at only two universities. With his respondents, Trust has discussed the challenges that they face, but few seemed typical for nanotechnology. Lack of infrastructure, funding and expertise is problematic for the development of other technologies too. Trust explains that he visited an institute of primary research in Kenya. The institute is specialized in developing medicines for neglected diseases in Africa, like sleeping sickness. Institute claims that they can develop nanomodels for testing the use of drugs, before taking the medicine to human beings. In 2008, collaboration between this Kenyan Institute and the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology started. Trust found that the latter is responsible for the development of nanotechnology, whilst the former is responsible for testing it. Kenyan personnel was brought to Belgium for training. The idea behind using nanobodies is to apply it to other diseases too. Once they people in the Institute have mastered using nanobodies, they hope to apply it to other diseases too. After visiting Kenya, Trust traveled to a South-African Institute, called Mintek. Here, nanoparticles are developed which can be applied in different context, e.g. water purification and diagnostics. Trust initially wanted to see the product that they had developed, but discovered that there are no products already on the market. All are still in the research phase. This triggered him to ask: why are they not on the market? Trust emphasizes that that going from the lab to the market is not a linear process. Rather, various factors are at play. Mintek is involved in applied research. Institutes with promising ideas bring it to Mintek, where people try to develop it further and bring it to the end users (see slide for Mintek’s strategy). Trust tried to explain why the technology is not on the market yet. See graph on sheet: technology ‘travels through’ various stages of implementation, each taking several years. But, there are risks involved in this traveling too. For example: investment risk is big in the beginning and gradually decreases. Trust continues by discussing the other curves (on development cost and sales value) too.
Q&A Respondent compliments Trust on the interesting case studies and rich data. Suggestions: focus on one technology, because now it is e.g. difficult to determine who the end-users are. About the presentation: it is sometimes difficult to imagine the situations that you were in. Sharing pictures could help there. The term ‘travelling’ is interesting, but what exactly does it mean: is it different from technology transfer? Why do you use this word specifically? Maybe you can say something more about the way of travelling changes the technology itself. Can you say something about that? Especially because you gave the interesting example of the water pump a few days ago. For the case of Mintek: who do you see as end-users? And one of your RQ’s is how it changes the environment: at what level are you looking at the environment? Trust: For me, travelling is the same as technology transfer. Initially, I use it when talking to my respondents too, whilst elaborating on it later. For me, ‘traveling’ is broader, e.g. also includes me travelling as a researcher. Which product am I focusing on? First, I take a broad approach and wanted to look at technologies that can help to reach the millennium development goals. Now I have made it broader still, looking for case studies which are relevant for the development of Africa. At Mintek, the people offering ideas for basic research, they want Mintek to develop it further. For doing that, changes will take place. In interviews, I don’t ask for the changes but will try to make my own observations. Q: Your graph (”Example…cycle”) reflects a business oriented perspective, instead of SCOT. Why do you use this graph? Trust: Good question. This model is business oriented indeed but in explaining the travelling of nanotechnologies, economy is often a critical factor. It affects the end-users too (example of water filters that are too expensive). Mintek said too: if there is no profit in developing a product, government support is needed. Business model might explain some of the concepts that I am using. Q: You could also use this graph as a description of how your actors see the world, without adopting it yourself as well. It doesn’t have to be your view. That could solve the inconsistency that Suyash is talking about. Q: My question is related to this. I have also been to the Laboratory of Nairobi. When you were talking, I got the feeling that you weren’t there. Have you been to the lab? Have you been there on several occasions? Trust: I have been to the lab. When I went to South-Africa, I found out that they are still working on the development of solar cells. So in my field work on South-Africa, I reflected on that. Q: Still the question of: what kind of research are you doing? GB: One of the difficulties with nanotechnology is that it’s a moving target. What exactly is nanotechnology? You didn’t really problematize that. There are so many different understandings of what it is. I was wondering if you had a quick simple definition that applies to all the cases. Trust: My definition is that nanotechnology is about manipulation of material at molecular scale. Unifying factors of what I am studying is the scale and size. People sometimes tell me: what you are studying is not nanotechnology, you just read the on the internet. The funding for nanotechnology influences that as well. So the term has become a buzz word and has sometimes been abused.
PhD Presentation by Pankaj Sekhsaria
Title of the talk: Reconfiguring materiality as ‘technological jugaad’
Pankaj starts by thanking the organizers for granting him permission to give a second presentation at the WTMC. Today’s presentation stems from Pankaj’ work on “cultures of innovation on nanotechnology in India”. This involved a lot of lab work in a different lab than the one discussed earlier. Next to the presentation, Pankaj prepared an abstract and is looking forward to comments.
[summary of Pankaj’ talk will follow soon]
Q&A: Respondent: What are the consequences of doing jugaad? Is it the way to do the same, but only with lower costs (because of resource constraints)? Or, and this would be far more interesting, does it lead to specific knowledge and does it change what goes out of the lab? Do you need to be an Indian to do it, and/or to appreciate it? Pankaj: Indeed, what is the consequence of doing jugaad? That might indeed be interesting to look at. GB: Translation is really interesting. Something unsystematic cannot be a paradigm. It reminded me of Foucault’s ‘technical dispositif’. He’s talking about the set of arrangements which go along with technology. Untranslatable to English. You bring that out as well: the way you interpret the word makes a big difference. Walter Benjamin wrote a fantastic article about translation. Each translation is a form of creation. Pankaj: “Briccolage” originally had a negative meaning too. Maybe the fact that you are taking a risk…the same in gambling…maybe there is something there. Interesting paper on science education in India. The article has a Hindi translation, where briccolage is translated into jugaad. Q: Yesterday, we were talking about the slaughterhouse. You said that in India it is impossible to exclude yourself from the experience of slaughter. Here this is very different. Plus: many different narratives coexisting all the time. So, if you have many narratives, will they converge into an ecology? Maybe here: if the different ways of slaughtering have to talk to each other, they have to shake hands. So, jugaad may be a way for two systems to co-exist…? Pankaj: I see it as a way of continuous existence, but maybe that’s an extention of existing together. In that sense it’s an ecology, including predator and prey… Q: This reminded me of maker fares, which is connected to the hacker community in a material way and the medieval kind of fares. The maker fares don’t aim at the old, but what’s been done is recreating stuff from stuff. So turning crap material into something else. There it’s a game. This as a suggestion for comparison. Pankaj: There are a lot of example for comparison. But there is a difference: hobby and leisure are not present in jugaad. Aimed at survival. A struggle to exist. So jugaad is generally not something in which you indulge. Q: Interesting that jugaad in the lab is not only about the briccolage of instruments, but also about briccolage of paradigms. The other thing is an ethnographic point: in US there is a slang term, called ‘janky’. Also not a nice term, you just use whatever is there. Innovative but also inferior in some sense.
Willem welcomes Nelly Oudshoorn. Time for a break.
Guest lecture: Nelly Oudshoorn
Title of the talk: ‘Unraveling telecare infrastructures: a techno-geographical approach’
Nelly explains that the theme of this Summerschool [Infrastructures] fits well with her research on telecare technologies. They are ICT infrastructure which are introduced in, and developed for health care (e.g. electronic scale, electronic modile ECG recorders, etcetera) and expected to be used by patients, after which feedback is given to patients. Aim of technologies is diagnosis and monitoring of health condition of patients. Novelty is often described as ‘care from a distance’: patients don’t have to visit the doctor anymore or vica versa. At a material level, the ICT structures integrate clinic centers, consulting rooms and patient homes. So you see that healthcare becomes dispersed over different places. For Nelly, the novelty of telecare was an inspiration to write about it. We are now facing a new system in health care, but no one had written about what it will mean in practice and for daily healthcare.
The RQ of the project was: How do telecare technologies participate in changing the order of care and the spatial dimensions of healthcare? When starting the research, Nelly was annoyed by the dominant discourses on telecare technologies, e.g. those of the producers. She considered the discourses problematic, as they would often talk in terms of mobility and flow, thus neglecting the places where the technologies are situated. A similar problem is visible in the work of Castells and ANT: both focus on mobility and the flow of actors through the network, instead of places and nodes of the network. But Nelly is modest: the criticism has been articulated by Thomas Gieryn too. In the last handbook of STS, they emphasized that places are important. But they focused mainly on the production of knowledge. Nelly wanted to emphasize the role of users too. To do this, a new metaphor was needed. Metaphors really produce matters. Given Nelly’s criticism, she concluded that the metaphor of network didn’t suffice and opted metaphors from human geography, where people are trying to investigate the importance of places (although they, in turn, tend to neglect the role of technology). Analyzing geographies, you are able to recognize changes and shifts in the order of who cares.
Nelly continues by giving an overview of her approach. The first process is geography of places: technologies are participating in changing the landscape of care, redefining the meaning of these places and creating new sites where care takes place. The second process is where technologies contribute to creating interdependencies and distributing responsibilities between people, places and technical devices. Here, the notion of ‘geopgraphy of responsibilities’, introduced by Akrich, has been influential. The approach meant that Nelly focused on the role of 1) invisible places, 2) silenced actors (and the invisible work that these actors do, which is crucial for the success and failures of these technologies and 3) (hidden) values. She explains them in turn.
1) Invisible places In dominant discourses, the patients’ homes were often absent or depicted as a tabula rasa. The idea was that the telecare technology could simply be inserted into the home. Nelly’s question was: what can technologies do in changing the meaning of the home? And the practices of home, when patients start to use medical devices to monitor their health conditions? Take the example of heart-failure telemonitoring device. By using such a simple device, the home is reconfigurated in 3 ways: a) Home becomes electronic outpost clinic The question than became: How do the new inhabitants of the home [the telecare medical devices] work? Nelly has studied this together with Ivo Maathuis. They found that the devices were really active. First, the technician installs a wireless connection, scale and blood pressure meter. And a small box which is required to send the data, usually set next to the TV. That’s still rather passive, so what’s the matter here? The researchers realized that this small box has a very active presence, because the system was designed in such a way that when it was transmitting, there was an orange flashing light, which kept flashing until the patient answered. For Nelly, this active presence (largely unanticipated by the designers) facilitated the domestication of this technology in the home. The flashing light for example could trigger questions by visitors. This showed that the devices became, in a playful way, domesticated. Not just by patients, but by their families too. Secondly, home is also transformed by disciplining bodies. Patients told a lot of stories about this, for example how they had to observe precise schedules. And equally important: the script of the device assumes that the patients are home-bound, which Nelly considers a problematic aspect of this technology: patiens were told to be at home to answer the messages of the medical centre. Nelly explains that the technology requires a form of co-presence (Goffman & Zhao). In the studied case, the co-presence was asymmetrical. Patients were expected to be home, even in the weekend. They would receive message through which they are expected to answer. But patients were not allowed to contact the medical centre. The third way in which telecare devices changed ‘home’ was by redefining social relations. During interviews for example, sometimes the partner of the patient would answer the researchers’ questions. First, they were annoyed by that. But later, they saw it as informative. It showed that family is affected too. This is one of the aspects that is absent in the dominant discourses on telecare. To summarize: the home is transformed in a home hospital hybrid. It is transformed from a private place into a more public space, where via the infrastructure people can invade your house. And most importantly, it’s not so much about privacy. Patients didn’t talk a lot about that. But more that home was connected to the scripts of the clinic. There are patients who resist the technology too. It was very important for Nelly and her colleagues to follow those patients too. Her suggestion: to understand practices of usage, you should also study practices of non-usage.
2) Silenced actors The first impression that you have when reading about a new technology can be very telling. Nelly talked with a representative of Philips about their medical devices. Without understanding their technology, she expected that it would be about patients. But when she looked at their discourses, patients were invisible (or only described in instrumental terms). STS literature (Anselm Strauss, Leigh Star) was important here. Nelly explains that Leigh Star was present on her previous WTMC talk: “We miss here a lot. So much of our work was inspired by her. Particularly this very simple message: look at invisible actors and invisible places.” Nelly stresses that you need to develop a specific sensitivity or skill for this. For telecare, patients are not simply using the system. They have to do important other invisible work too. They have to learn to read their bodies. Nelly calls that ‘identity work’: emotional work required to learn to cope with a failing body. Articulation work and domestication work are connected, but she separated them to have a clear heuristic device. Of course, studies on invisible work have been done for a long time. But they are still important today and often neglected by policymakers, designers, but also scholars. In Nelly’s case studies, there are clear scripts. Patients that can not comply with these scripts, run the risk of being excluded. And it is not just about exclusion, but also about how patients tend to shift to selective use if something doesn’t work or fits into their lives. So: it is important to study not only non-use, but also selective use.
3) Values Telecare is not introduced in a vacuum. It fits a shift towards a neoliberal mode of healthcare (in Europe, at least). Healthcare is now defined as a market and the technologies are evaluated in terms of cost reduction. This type of discourses and these promises have consequences for the patients and type of care offered. According to Nelly, three changes in values are at stake in this move towards a neoliberal approach. Firstly, patients are seen as clients / health consumers, which changes relations. Secondly, power relations between the actors shift. Health insurers start take on the role of owners of telecare centres and you can expect that they advocate the neoliberal approach and think about healthcare in terms of cost-effectiveness. Thirdly, there is the idea to replace humans by technology, due to the emphasis on cost reductions. Face to face care is based on physical proximity. The physical proximity, which touches upon some of the core values in health care (being able to touch and see the patients) are replaced by a new form of proximity. The proximity doesn’t disappear, but it changes into digital proximity. Nelly emphasizes that there are big differences between the two forms of proximity in the terms of norms of care. Face-to-face care facilitates contextualized, personalized care, in which open communication and dialogue with patients and their partners are valued as important. And not just about the medical side, but also about psycho-social care on learning to live with a heart disease. Digital proximity is individualized and immediate and about daily surveillance. Nelly stresses that you can see the differences in norms of care.
Time to come to a conclusion. Nelly’s main argument is that places matter. She has strived for a conceptualization in terms of geography, by focusing on a) how places stabilize and destabilize identities and b) how technology plays a role in defining the meaning and practices of places. The shift towards geography is an important heuristic to make visible the shift in distribution of responsibility, which restricts or silences the agency of others.
Nelly concludes with an explanation of how she does research. Summary: 1. You need a focus. Chose something where your heart is. And following that traces is very important. For Nelly, coming from a feminist background, this is user-technology relations. 2. Look at resistances and silenced actors. This is crucial for understanding what happens to technology. 3. At field level, is important to look at related discipline that can tell us new things. Not only for inspiration, but for STS as a field, Nelly considers it important to have conversations with other people. 4. Nelly has both an academic and a political agenda. For the politics of STS, it’s extremely important to do work that reconceptualizes technological change in a way that captures how it changes our lives and cultures. Donna Harraway was inspirational here, introducing different ways of conceptualizing politics. This doesn’t have to be action-oriented, but it can also be by trying to change discourses.
Q&A: Q: Thanks a lot. 1) You talk about silenced actors instead of silent actors. What’s the reason for this? 2) Related to the values part of the talk: One of the primary values is ‘health’ or the ‘healthy life’. Did you find that the meaning of this value was also transformed through the introduction of this technology? Nelly: 1) I use silenced because it depends on the places that I go to. Patients have stories, but you have to go to them. In that sense I call them silenced. It is the agency of part of the discourse that their stories are not included. 2) ‘Health’ is indeed changing. When we talk about daily monitoring: this changes health from something which was rarely checked until something constantly monitored. The question is also: what is monitored? Telemonitoring adds to seeing ‘health’ in terms of hard data. Ivo Maathuis is for example looking at patients’ diaries. You see that most are about hard data too. Q: You compare policlinic with telecare technologies. The standardization in telecare struck me. All of a sudden there has to be a reason to call patients: often they generate odd data. I wondered: why is the telecare technology so standardized? Is that inherent to the technology? Nelly: I looked at user practices instead of design practices. Ivo focuses more on design practices now. Design is flexible by nature, so they could do anything. The fact they have chosen to standardize the monitoring system, well: standardization always involves network technologies. But there is another story too: they really wanted more control on patients every day. So it not just a design decision, but health care practioners also prefer standardization. Q: Question relates to that: the two types of proximity. The telecare was protocol based but individualized. This surprised me. Would expect that the face-to-face was more individualized… Nelly: I use the term ‘individualized’ more to say that some system have one standard for all patients. But this system using the blood pressure and weight is individualized in the sense that it uses the patients itself as a standard. Also advertised as individualized care. You point to different kinds of individualization. Face-to-face care may be more individual from a holistic perspective. I use the term differently. TO contrast protocol driven versus individualized. Q: Can you give example of other disciplines which are useful as contrast? Nelly: Many. Q: One of RQs: to what extent does the technology participate? How do you think about it now: does it participate? Is that positive or negative? Plus: I was thinking about the aspect of the new technology. It takes time for people to get used to something. Do you think it takes more time for people to get used to the technology? Nelly: On purpose I use the term ‘participate’. I explicates that the technologies are there, they do something, but I try to put them on equal footing with the human actors. Other question: whether it will take time. I like to look at novel technologies, because then you can still see technologies in the making. It’s not yet black boxed, people know what they liked about it or not. We are in the middle of change. That’s an important nexus to study. Having said that, one of the problems with our research is that I could spend five years on this research, but actually I would like to follow it for 20 years to see how it develops. Would be much richer. It could be interesting to see that people who were active users in the beginning may become non-users. I don’t have the luxury to do long term research, unfortunately. Q: I was curious about the study of invisible work. Practical question: how to study it? Getting access to research field may be difficult. I like how you say that you have an academic and a political agenda. But this political agenda may stop you from getting access. Nelly: I never position myself as being critical. But still indeed: getting access is very hard. But what usually helps a lot is that people like to hear and are eager to hear our stories. Not to say the least that companies like to know how/what other companies are doing. Ivo will remember this as well: we planned 2hours, but sometimes we were there for a whole afternoon. They have someone who listens. In that way, you should find a way to introduce yourself as someone who can help to shape things. So never position yourself as critical. Plus, you can be critical of certain discourses and not of persons. Q: Could you elaborate with the notion of ‘articulation work’? Nelly: Refered to work of Schmitt & Simone. Basically about work which is often not spoken about, but the practitioners know about. Reason why ICT systems fail so often: they overlook articulation work. Q: I like your approach to link STS with human geography. In my research, I try to link STS with philosophy. I’m always afraid to leave important authors out, because it’s so difficult to have an overview of two or three fields. How do you do this? And: which important authors of human geography do you refer to? Nelly: Of course, it’s more work. But sometimes you find a key text and can look for key authors from there. It’s a lot about intuition in that respect. I can send you references regarding human geography. See also upcoming article in Social Studies of Science. Q: Yesterday, we looked at values in the design stage. Today, we talked about neoliberal values going into this technology and the disciplining effects. I have the idea that the technology here could also embody different values, like: autonomy or freedom. So what would be needed for this technology to embody different values? A completely different technology? Nelly: Again, ICTs are very flexible. Not changing them is a political decision. The technology can definitely embody different values, but we should avoid technological determinist answer. When talking about design choices, the work of Ivo Maathuis is relevant here. Q: Fascinated by two aspects. A) the technology seems to change the way that diagnoses are made and B) you said that some patients don’t want to use it because it makes them feel sick all the time. So does this change our notions of what is ‘health’ or ‘sick’? Nelly: You can only answer this by tracking such devices. It is not clear-cut to say: you’re sick or ill. Maybe you feel more sick in a hospital, because of all the medical devices and better in the coffeeroom afterwards. While for the monitoring, this is always there. GB: Comment picking up on changing the technology.The flow of information is not asymmetrical. Leveling this out by e.g. a chat-window with the nurse might help. So the possibility is definitely there. Q: How is accountability taken care of? Nelly: Serious issue. Didn’t look at it, only for the German firm that I studied. Very expensive double back-up system, in case of failure. Even more consequential if it concerns health issues. During crisis, this issue of accountability pops up. What happens if the system makes a mistake? That’s unsolved. Q: I’ve known your work as political. And admired that. Could you reflect upon how your style of being political has changed over time? How do you do politics? Playing the devil’s advocate: STS 20 years ago was an outsider discipline, telling the scientists that they said they were doing science while doing politics. When looking at ourselves now: we’re doing politics! How do we account for our political decisions? Nelly: We have a long history, on which we should reflect. Some of us come from an activist background. I come from a feminist background. Interesting: I can still play the same role today as back then. Used to be active, for example in the media. But things have changed: Remember science wars: were being criticized of doing politics. I try to find my way by introducing myself, sometimes as a social scientists, sometimes as biologist. But by the questions that I ask, I can always refer to the politics. Also: the obligations that you take: our work should be readable for outsiders. If you look at the 4S and EASST conferences, you see that politics are back, so to say. That used to be different. More about defining our own discipline. So the politics that I am doing now is building bridges with different fields. And having conversations with the people that I study. Q: I’m trained as geographer, so appreciate that you put the two fields together. Proximity and serendipity has been written about before. You talk about relationships with patients, but there is also this notion of relations between patients – building support network. Is there a digital form for this? Nelly: Of course, there are many ICT systems in place. Some have a chat function. But what I left out in the book is these meetings in the waiting room, indeed, I realize now. Q: I’d like to emphasize that there are various neoliberalisms. We attach certain roles to it, but every regulatory system has the objective of cost cutting. Question – you focused on telecare at home, and there you see that the home is turned in a medical setting. In my work on hemophilia homecare you see that the hospital becomes very socialized. Elements normally left outside the hospital are broad in: the sociological reading of this is often that is about medicalizing the home setting, but such devices could also lead to more touching, talking, also in the hospital setting. Did you see that at all? If not – it’s interesting to see why? Nelly: About the clinics – the systems are fixed and protocolized. Different from Annemarie Mol’s study. Telenurses never see a patient. The patient goes back twice a year to the cardiologist. I didn’t focus on changes in that practice. In the home: it is less socializing because there is no one physically there. Different from other forms of home care. Of course: I don’t by into the dualism of socializing or desocializing the home.
Guest lecture: Donna Harris
Title of the talk: 'Inverse infrastructures'
Donna start by emphasizing that she will present an exploratory project and is hoping for discussion. She will present an edited book, called “Inverse infrastructures: Disrupting networks from below”. For this book, 11 different people were asked to present case-studies. As an historian, Donna was invited to take part and orchestrate. Classical infrastructures are related to water, railroads, electricity, etcetera. But this talk is about inverse infrastructures. Donna and her group focus on such infrastructures, as they see them as alternative to the Large Technical Systems (LTS) approach associated with classical infrastructures. Some examples: Think of the internet or Wikipedia (developed by users). Or a case in Denmark, where a farmer hobbyist was interested in building a windmill, succeeded and produced more electricity than he needed for himself. In turn, this grew into a small, user-driven grid, that functioned outside the larger grid. Or think of the ‘petty bus’, which was started by parents who got tired of driving their kids to school. It was too dangerous and kids got no exercise. So the parents came up with the idea of taking turns on picking children up and walking to school. This developed into a ‘petty bus’, including signs by the road etcetera. Donna considers this an interesting example, particularly since there are no technical components involved in the infrastructure. So what is characteristic about inverse infrastructures? They are user-driven, user-owned, user-controlled and often users are also the ones doing the maintenance. Furthermore: inverse infrastructures often start from small individual investments, have decentral or limited control and there is also reciprocity involved in it. They are not doing it to make a profit, but mainly to meet their own needs (think of ‘petty bus’). This in contrast to traditional, designed infrastructures, which are often government driven, top-down made, top-down coordinated and centralized, about market economy. Donna stresses that a new trend may be signaled in the development of infrastructures, which is largely invisible to policy-makers as they don’t fall in the regulatory systems and emerge outside the traditional infrastructures (even though the inverse infrastructures often dependent on them). Today, Donna want to talk about the history of this development and asks: what is new about this? She will a) talk about the policy implications and b) mention a few things about development in the non-industrialized world, because some have argued that inverse infrastructures is the way to go for those regions. Included in the WTMC reader was an inaugural lecture. Donna asked the participants to read this, as the author here coined the term ‘inverse infrastructures’ and first recognized them. He also recognized that there is a policy gap between inverse infrastructures and policy. The project that Donna was part of got motivated by that speech and questions were asked like: can we identify in that infrastructures outside ICT, or is the concept specific to ICT? How widespread are the processes? And what are the policy implications? After all, we have regulatory bodies (regional, national and transnational) which regulate infrastructures, but they are all based on the idea of classical infrastructures. Will all these inverse infrastructures become LTS, as they did in the past, and run like most infrastructures? Donna expects that this will not be the case. Going back to the simplified case of wind mill systems in Denmark – they wanted to deliver back to the grid and got into a debate with the government. This lead to a whole new way of looking at electricity generation and resulted in a negotiated tariff. In the Netherlands however, it worked out differently. There have been less examples of negotiating a good buy-back tariff. Donna’s point is: the fact that people are generating their own electricity has lead to a whole new policy needed to be negotiated and planned, which no one considered before. The faith of the ‘petty bus’ is interesting too. Busses that were held in control by the parents continued to function. In cases where the schools took offer, the initiative tended to stop. Once the parents aren’t involved in running it, they’ve lost their incentive. They want to have their control themselves. People feel that they are empowered and are controlling their infrastructure. Donna’s point: users are critical to the success of these infrastructures (which in turn may cause new policy issues). So what problems may arise around these inverse infrastructures? One could say that they are selforganizing and therefore need no intervention. But Donna stresses that different questions could also be asked, like: may citizen-owned infrastructures be tapped for national interest? That’s a different take. Or: How do you manage local generation with national distribution? There could be disruption in the large scale technical systems due to the rise of inverse infrastructures. Donna stresses that these are questions to which she also has no answers.
Then the less industrialized countries. Some people have emphasized the promises of inverse infrastructures, especially in the field of ICT and perhaps energy generation. So what’s different about developing countries? [Donna refers to problem of ‘the last mile’: bringing infrastructure to remote regions is very expensive. Inverse infrastructures might help here..]. Donna gives the example of DEKNET, a system of mobile access points. Someone with a computer-capacity can download information (ordered by others) at one point and drive with that information to a village. In some cases: people will send their shopping list through this access point and than a person will pick it up. DEKNET is owned by small owners and can be considered an inverse infrastructure, but with developmental tensions.
Donna then explained the background of the research project. At TU/Delft, there is a huge project called “next generation infrastructures”. A lot of people are studying such infrastructures, but few have an STS background. Economists, engineers, technical backgrounds, etcetera. Most are looking at large scale infrastructures, with a strong technical component. Within this context, the inaugural speech that you’ve read was given and caused a lot of stir. Donna and her colleagues were looking for cross-sectoral work on infrastructures. There is not much there, so most researchers are from Delft and one from Twente. Donna finishes with food for discussion. Users matter, that’s clear. But is there a reasons to believe that inverse infrastructures are more sustainable? Are they more vulnerable maybe? Should we promote them? Or not? Can we just leave them to grow and self-organize? Will they continue to function as infrastructures of trust and good wealth? How can we think about them with care in the context of the developing world?
Q&A Q: Point about self-regulation – it seems to be a movement from driver to public. An institutional movement. So it’s from technology to infrastructure in a sense. But the actual journey seems to be from something that you do for yourself, and becomes something…It reminds me of the way that people in India use the world ‘public’. You say public when you mean everybody other than you. Like “the public will not like this”. Think of the petty bus…there is no infrastructure, it goes from a private to a public. Q: Could add that making the petty bus has created a new ‘public’. Q: Interesting talk. Would like to comment on the promotion of inverse infrastructures and the self-regulation. In the NL, there is a new trend going on: citizens trying to organize themselves and provide themselves with solar energy. One of the main issues with these initiatives (by some labeled as ‘local renewable utilities’) is: who is responsible for the management? The people do it voluntarilty. Now there is a company related to the Postcode Loterij, trying to help these initiatives. So, in NL there’s already promotion going on. What motivations do you see in the start of inverse infrastructures? Have you got examples on this? [Describes Dutch solar project in more detail] Donna: Incentives can be varied. Technical interest. Empowerment. I have also heard that citizens are more critical. Geoffrey: Interesting. Have heard of a case where municipalities are suing those collecting rain water, because they say that it’s the property of the municipality. Thinking historically: communities like the Amish make a theological point to be disconnected from the grid. SO, they’re on local infrastructure. Very interesting technologically on how they achieve that. Often a trade-off. Another community: communist. Many are deliberately off the grid. So there are some historical examples to look at. Donna: Another interesting American case about being off-grid. Financial institutions have reacted to this. Banks in Hawaii for example don’t give loans to people who are off-grid. Q: I have a problem with understanding the notion ‘inverse infrastructures’. Probably because of the term ‘inverse’. You said it isn’t a new thing which turns out to be a LTS. Why called ‘inverse’? Donna: Important to see that it’s not the same as reverse. If you invert something, you turn it upside down. So a visual metaphor would be the LTS model of infrastructures with top-down developments, control and decision-making, and the ‘inverse infrastructures’ are bottom-up. Is that clear? Q: I see infrastructures as building upon each other. So why inverse? I think the bottom-up and top-down difficult too. Donna: Yes, they’re fuzzy concepts. There is indeed interdependence between inverse and traditional infrastructures. Q: You mentioned the case of Wireless Leiden. I think that’s a perfect example of an inverse infrastructure. Stefan Verhage just finished his thesis. That could be interesting . He claims that 2 things become problematized: 1) when it becomes professional and 2) when it becomes commercial. So the management of these two is crucial. Q: I had a question about normativity. This sounds nice and beautiful. I was wondering whether you had a liking for these initiatives? Small is beautiful? Is it about the local community? What is valued about these inverse infrastructures? Donna: I’m not in a position to say whether they’re good or bad. Reason: I like to understand how something works, but don’t like to make normative judgments. But there are many people out there who do that: give advice to policy-makers. Q: But you do give a list of things to look at: sustainability, vulnerability, … Donna: Yes, but those are just suggestions based for evaluation. Most based on ignorance. Q: The examples are rather optimistic, not about for example networks of cross-borders terrorism. Because it’s issue-based, it suggests that these are right issues as well. Donna: They are examples of failure too. Q: This links to a previous question and the issue of policy and values: I understood that inverse infrastructures happen. They can not be made to happen. It’s a contradiction in itself, in that sense. So the policy recommendations seem to be whether we can engineer policy to allow inverse infrastructures to happen, because we can’t reach them. That’s problematic: if innovation just happens, who can you make it happen? So the policy recommendation would be: if you want inverse infrastructures, than the best way is to deny them everything else. In such a situation, I would rather have it the other way around: why don’t you bring me the other infrastructure? Donna: But the issue is that this not happens. Q: Can you make a policy situation which allows it to happen? Donna: Think of the Maasvlakte 2 for example. There, the goal is to make it the most sustainable in the world. Now there are efforts being made to encourage companies to build inverse infrastructure for sin-gas. Not one company to pay for this lay-out, but there are industry-people and academics involved. They are coming up with financial incentives to encourage having an enclosed infrastructure. Argued in the book that this is a hybrid infrastructure. You could also think of government subsidies to stimulate inverse infrastructures. Q: But that’s not inverse infrastructure. Donna: Your point is well-taken. GB: Really interesting point. Hints at the question: what is the role of government. And that is infrastructure. So it can only work if it doesn’t work. Q: First about the policy issue, I was thinking about ‘broedplaatsen’: deserted industry which are given to people like artists. Q: One version of the story. They first took away the squatters which were already there. Q: You said you didn’t expect inverse infrastructures to turn into LTS. Why? Are there examples of things which remain stable in infrastructures? Donna: Would have to think about that some more. Q: Example: sewage system and the way that it deals with human feces. Started small scale too, a guy being paid to pick it up and carry it outside of the city. Developed into an LTS. But there is the example of Osaka, where until the 1960s there were still people being paid to pick it up. Q: I was thinking of the same thing as Pankaj, policy and the difference between the developed and less-developed world. It seems like very different things. Is that something which is done at ‘the last mile’? Are there people able to connect themselves? GB: Careful with the terms developed and underdeveloped. I disagree with the way of speaking. Q: In your case-studies, did you find cases where people ran into the disadvantages of the inverse infrastructures? Q: Triggered by the discussion of a negative example, because I also heard the word ‘failure’. Can you give examples of success and failure? Donna: Next time I’ll talk more about whether the projects fit the concept, in terms of top-down and bottom-up. Grey area between success and failure is something for the dinner table. Q: Again, it’s described as promising. But what policy could we build on it? Donna: I have to take that back. Other people are saying that it’s promising. GB: It’s always tempting in academics to defend your ideas and get people on your side. Would like to compliment Donna for not doing that. She was open enough to take suggestions, saying that things were not clear yet. In turn, we managed to just have a jam session of ideas. This is the model of how it should be. Compliments for that.
Activity: Writting reviews
The groups have discussed their reviews and report back. A lot of issues come up: Style was discussed: how to review style and what should be the style of a review? How long should a review be? How much expertise is needed for a review? What about cultural differences in reviewing? What to do if you think the article does not fit the journal? What should the review look like: what goes to the editor and what to the author? What if you think you know the author? What if you don’t consider yourself a suitable referee? How much time are you going to spend? Is the category “revise and resubmit” used most? And, in that case, does the system still work? After the issues are collected, Geoffrey Bowker stresses that there is massive editing expertise in the room (with Willem, Teun and himself present). Every editor has a different style. Revise & resubmit is indeed a deadly category. Many journals try to do away with it completely: either accept or reject. His advice to the authors of the discussed article would be: when you are writing a paper, you are having a conversation. Refer to stuff which has already been published in the journal, explain what is missing in the journal. In sum: look at other articles and see what they are writing about. It is possible to send remarks the editor, which are not for the author’s eyes. Teun: Remember that writing a review is not the same as giving comments to a colleague. You have to judge whether the piece can be rewritten within a limited period of time (not half a year). Geoffrey Bowker: Speed is important for our careers. I generally see that as a reasonable request. People differ on that. Unfortunately, we’re still in a ridiculous phase in academic where it’s all about publications. Don’t forget: you are all qualified to read this paper. So your comments about how it was pretty dense and hard to follow, is something which other readers will also feel. Bowker emphasizes that will also give good reviews on papers that adopt a different methodology than his own preferred one, if the paper is a good example of the genre. Take for example scientometrics. It is unfair to reject this, just because you feel it shouldn’t mess up the journal. Writing reviews is also an exercise of trust. You can find out who the papers are by Googling. GB urged the participants not to do that. It’s part of the moral contract that you got. Some people also try to find out who the reviewers are. Don’t do that – don’t go down that path.
Friday: Reconfiguring knowledge expressionBlog by Rosanne Edelenbosch
Koen B: WTMC debate in December: Sally Wyatt is going to present about how to deal with issues of coauthorship with supervisors. Can send Koen. an email about experiences and can pass on to Sally anonymously.
Q: all these values are really good. Security, prosperity, health, justice. If we talk about values we can miss out something because of this positive connotation.
R: positive values often have a negative downside.
R: For example, the value of privacy and value of lying.
R: it is like a trade-off between values of veracity and privacy. Again two good things ‘fighting’ each other
G: Donna Mehos started off with 3 very good examples, but it would have been better to start with 2 good, 1 bad. All of the values discussed this week are to me completely ambivalent. Like security, and the theatre of security at the airport. Every value has its dark side. It is important to stress these dark sides.
W: I suppose if you look at research in infrastructure, it is good to look at both the good and bad sides.
R: values are very general, but you also have to look at for whom, it becomes more relational
Frans Sengers: Transnational Dynamics in Sustainability Transitions
Subtitle: a ‘beyond the nation state account of experimenting with green mobility in urban Thailand’
Struggling on finding a good research question, help is welcome.
Persistent environmental problems are of a different order of magnitude than issues in 70s and 80s. New persistent problem require more structural solutions, transitions. A transition is a major technological transformation in the way societal functions such as transportation, communication, etc. Not only involving technological changes, but also changes in elements such as user practices, regulation, industrial networks, infrastructure, and symbolic meaning (Geels 2002)
Transition studies, focus often at national but in a globalized world this should be taken into account. Frans is studying Thailand.
In field of transition studies there are many models that can be complimentary but also conflicting.
Multilevel perspective: rooted in evolutionary economics and STS. About the part of society/reality that is concerned with social technical transitions. Three levels: central is regime (sociotechnical configuration that is dominant), niche (technological learning takes place here, tries to break into the mainstream and in the sense is a small regime in itself, competes for dominance with regime) happens against the landscape (endogenous background). Levels of structuration: it’s not about the levels themselves but about the interaction.
Central focus on time, space usually forgotten. Not clear how it is reworked from one context to the other. And not how transitions reconfigure places. Within geography this is an important discussion. Role of cities, mostly global cities, that have their own agenda that deal with certain issues. What is the role of nation-states and cities?
History of technology. Transnational history can mean that you - look at cross border linkages - international organizations shaping contemporary world - to question the nation state as key category
Will do case studies: 1. Traditional account to get started. 2. Second case study is comparison of number of medium sized cities, which has not been done a lot. Especially in Thailand it is interesting that after Bangkok there are a number of medium cities more or less same size. Gut feeling that they will all have different urban mobility regimes. 3. the bus Rapid Transit system in Bangkok. Interesting in context of technological niches, often about electrical systems. Busses not electrical. Not clear what a bus rapid transit system constitutes, recombining the idea of what a bus does and what a metro does. Cheap and works well at this point. Interesting link between global cities with this city. ITDP brings these actors together, example of how international organizations shape the world.
Maybe other case studies. Together they will give him a different idea of what transnational transition is like.
Goal: beyond the nation-state account
Questions: How do transnational dynamics impact transitions towards greener mobility in urban Thailand?
Discussant: Not a concrete place. Studying local initiatives but interested in transnational dynamics. Q: how are you going to study these much larger places? What aspects of these larger dynamics will you take into account? Q2: notion of landscape and niches also sort of relate to space, space kind of model. Notion of space as a metaphor in the theory. Q3: looking for a good case. Have the same issue. Ask myself: what makes a good/bad case for me? Wonder what your answer will be. Q4: language?
Frans: going to start a course in September. Can’t really do expert interviews with the Thai. Q1 answer: studying the home… looking more at another scale. In the model itself it is not conceptualized to what extent you zoom in, not explicit, you can do it in many ways. Q2 answer: the space is more a functional space, it has a societal function. Landscape is also more about time than space, long term development, trends. Like nuclear power. Q3 answer: good case… frame research question in such a way that one case will provide answer to a certain question. Would also like to know what you think it yet. Another case which is also interesting is the idea for electrical tuktuk, all these interesting dynamics. There is a prototype. You need spare parts, emphasizes role of maintenance in developing countries. Perhaps if you don’t need as much maintenance
Willem: good suggestions in methodology books… Frans: but often is used to legitimize the choice you would have made anyway.
R: 1. Your research is still contained within the nation state. 2. Delhi does not have a BRT. Interesting discussion, timing of two infrastructures. You might want to look at some of the discourses around that.
G: The issue of language in Thailand is fairly important. If you are only going to people that speak English they will be educated. To understand the system you have to speak with users. Spend funding on translator. 2. BRT: you were talking about flows, would think people, things… is that an idea or an idea plus?
R: Q1: Debate in geography where the way the transnationalism is produced materially as well. How does the existence of the bus help the spread of the bus. Cultures of circulation, talks about flows. Q2: boundary object and multilevel perspective?
W: link to trust about travel
Answers: I think it is possible to get translator. Flows: mainly about learning, how they learn from one another, structure of cities is different. Basically knowledge flows, not physical. 2: Grin argues boundary objects because many different fields use the multilevel perspective in a different ways. Tool that allows different fields to communicate. Not sure exactly. What does Geoff think?
G: Useful word in this context because… disciplinary boundaries don’t actually exist, more like subcultures. Using simultaneously to mean different things, different interpretations but still able to work together.
Isolde Sprenkels: ‘growing pains’ in a digitsed society- children identiy and the digitization of everyday life Funded by ERC, in university for applied sciences in Maastricht
Project: DigIdeas: Social and Ethical Aspects of Digital Identities.
Aims to identify and reframe social and ethical aspects of digital identities
Many theoretical frameworks… (?) ANT, SCOT a.o.
Isolde focuses on personal and profitable identities
Increasing digitized society in which new forms of media and society offer new ways to interact, communicate and exchange information, goods, services and money. Traces out of personal control, can be monitored because of voyeurism, safety concerns, profitability.
Isolde was high school teacher. She addressed issues of personal identiy. ICTS offered the a lot. She would like to analyze and understand the implication of living and growing up within this kind of society. Focuses on children from 10-14, who experience many changes, deal with new situations and people, new people, transfer from schools, change in relationship close parents, relations with friends, more independence and social status. These changes appear to be reflected in their change of new media and ICTs.
Identity is conceptualized as multi-layered concept. Phrase of growing pains, identity is dynamic.
2 perspectives on identity and ICT: 1. Individuals constructing, enacting their identity through ICTs 2. Identity enacted, occurs in the context of social and cultural expectations. Embedded in socio-technical practices.
Together: identity can be seen as produced or performed in the very interaction between technology, persons/bodies, discourses institutional arrangements and practices.
Case studies in 3x3: commercial organizations, brands, schools, parents and caretakers. 3 icts: database tech, gaming tech and web 2.0 technology.
Focus on advergames, games used by brands to give commercial message: conference paper about OLA Ice Age. Ice cream professor captures childrens dreams to make ice cream, like the rocket from a boys dreams. Children invited to become associate ice cream professors. Conclusions: Ola wants to build brand awareness, stimulate product purchase, generate consumer data, build personal relationship. Comparison with 2005 study by N. Schull about gambling machines. Normally advertisements are clearly separated from editorial content, in this case not.
Conclusion: redesign in use (verran and Christie 2007). So companies serve their own interest, while they are also convinced they offer a playful etc environment. Double speak- double think.
D: timely because you look at the first generation that use this way of play. Case studies fit together well but also stand alone. Discussion of identity was nice, used in specific way, easy to understand. You could also, when you talk about literature, make it more specific what concepts you study with what theory. Ideas: not just at marketing games, but also product placement, form of gamevertisiment. Also, the kids often don’t use the game as the marketers expect. That’s also quite interesting. Often public discourse is about the games hurting them etc.
Reaction of Isolde: initially interested in monitoring software and advergames. So built model around it. Not sure about focus groups with children… anyone any ideas?
R: cool to make kids respond to marketers.
Q1: interested as user rather than researcher. Have 10 year old in company of friends. Went camping (?) but rained a lot, but there was stuff in the tent but never complained. Playing roleplaying games they would play on the computer normally, and one could even play it in itself.
Q2: Involve parents? A: yes
T: role of identity in relation to these games. One of the ways you can follow that up is with performativity of economics, discussed in terms of framing in shop window, explicit and concrete. Children being performed as economic actors in the games.
Q3: amazed by fact the cases were split up like that… missed in technology analysis is: if you want to do research about children and ICTs, also look offline, how it affects daily life.
Q4: how do you research the different aspects of identity? Second part the Ola assessment the game itself became very central. What is the central point in the presentation/ research? Do you involve a keurmerk?
Q5: seemed to finish with ethical and social implications of marketing practices, which is another theme than the construction of identity.
G: really interesting. Look at Mimi Ito’s work, several million-dollar project around children and new media. Quite approachable. Minor point: difficult to read marketing on the double speak, you cannot know. The mobile phone should also be interesting. When you run out of time in presentations: practice beforehand, or think beforehand which slides you can ditch.
Answer: keurmerk there is some debate about that.
Lecture by Geoffrey Bowker: Emerging Configurations of Knowledge Expression
Basic idea: whenever you change an information infrastructure, the kind of product that you make, changes as well.
Example: Odyssey: epic poems to fixed scripts, one version Iliad, one Odyssey. Storyteller would get between marker and maker. Switch media, from oral to written and change nature of the product.
Book culture. Monographs and scholarly articles are the core of knowledge transmission. No reason why this should stay the same. We have a fundamentally new information infrastructure. Will probably take 100-200 years to change. We expect to be able to judge a book by its cover, look at the index etc. Not a fixed form. Will argue that it is changing and in what ways.
Enlightenment: Quote Bacon from Novum Oranum (foundation text in history of science). Building a system of science. Just after enlightenment- order of disciplines, each reduced to the other, division of labor. The nation-state is in some ways part of this formation. Enlightenment system of knowledge, more or less consistent to current day.
19th century: Royal Society turning out the ‘archives of…’ idea that the article would give all you need to know about a scientific problem- Science was a gentlemanly pursuit. Fairly small group of people, intimate conversation. Darwin’s book about laughters based on correspondence circle.
21st century There are more scientists alive today than the collection of scientists ever, still true. Explosion. Consortiums writing as a collective. No standards for ranking the authors. Could be the lab manager, the most senior scholar, or could be the doctoral student. Databases are really important. Are actually theories, developed with skill and care. How do we cite a database. Algorithms also cannot be cited. You only become professor with article discussion. There are many ways to contribute, and the worst way is the article. Nobody reads them, or cites them after 10 years. Knowledge isn’t progressive in many ways. Issues like free will and determinism, we have certain forms, but these discussion were also discussed before by for example Ecrinus. Foucault probably going to be cited for a few hundred years, About Latour the jury is still out. Bowker himself doesn’t read everything. Becker said he only reads what has been recommended to him by 2 independent people.
Electric dynamo’s replace steam dynamo’s. Productivity went down for 20 years because people kept thinking about the dynamo as it used to be. Same happened when typewriter was replaced. When computer introduced at workplace, many companies bought them in and then scrapped them. Used them as very bad typewriters. Gap in thinking the new technology.
1970s: complete cannon of classic Greek literature online. Fixed readings of all the texts. In old days classical scholar had to go from library to library all over the country. TLG fixed that. 10 years after TLG: the problem is: they are still asking the same questions, only getting faster answers. Most scholars do not do large scale textual analysis.
Many people start think differently about the book. Example of a Koran, visual as well as textual.
Vectors: experiments with new forms of academic writing and expression, example of piece about New Orleans disaster relief, which includes, text, pictures audio and video, all integrated in a beautiful design. Can be read at random. This kind of products can help us rethink what the nature of academic writing is.
We also think of research enterprise as a lifetime enterprise. Most scientists keep data in boxes that get thrown away after retirement. Data-reuse: how to visualize big data, but also to think problems that are new, new questions, not in 3-5 year cycles of funding. LTER: database over hundreds of years, better idea of what happens ecologically. Comparing international data. More useful. Problems, however, are funding, and again the reward system. Creating a long term comparison of datasets is extremely difficult.
Example of maps, which are actually database objects.
Mary Douglas: Thinking in Circles, which talks about her reading of the Book of Numbers in the Bible. Generally conceived as the worst book in the Bible. Reason because when you read it in a linear form, is a total mess. If you arrange it in a circle, and start looking for markers in the text, you will find transition markers. As you move around the circle you find different axes. Thinking in circles used to be a skill that we have. We got so accustomed to the linear system, we lost the ability to read circularly. As you shift infrastructure, you lose stuff as well.
Example: photographers tracking graffiti in SF over 10 years: pictures of Mao→Halloween→wiped clean by government→etc etc. Different layers. This is a kind of data we didn’t have in the past.
Example: Walter Benjamin wanted to capture the aura of the city from day to day. He conceived of it through leaflets, pamphlets. Last work before death.
Archeology is only discipline in which they will bury their data. Bury it if they can’t access it properly. Michael Shanks: virtual archeology. The old problem: archeologists built the site as they conceived it, each was a hypothesis. Couldn’t undo it. Now they do it on the computer. Example: statue of Diana- is it a bank or a temple of Diana? Figured it out virtually.
Blank slide of PowerPoint. Computer scientists talk about hardware, software, meatware (brain) and slideware. Lots of knowledge is being circulated through PP. G. performs to perform knowledge. Beautiful new art form, experimenting with for example Prezi. People trade in slide, use slides, but not recognized as a product, but as an adjunct to words. TED talks (ted.org)
Writing is also changing. Example of swipe, which traces trajectories in a smart phone. Much quicker than typing. Gestures of writing are changing.
Critical Software Studies: humanists and critical theorists that read code as a cultural object. Recognize as art form and cultural product.
Invented scripts: no reason why we should be fixed to linearity of text. Video example.
G.B. is increasingly getting into performance. Dance is becoming a medium of expressing knowledge.
In conclusion: book and journal great forms. Journal broken as a form of academic writing. Books will continue on but will not remain the main way in which we express ourselves. We have to change the infrastructure and take risks.
Comic Art- Logicomics, beautiful book.
Q: everything visual? R: Yes, main focus but other things are interesting as well.
Q: will everything be digital, do they have no choice? R: I think everybody has no choice. Spread of mobile infrastructure in African countries goes much faster and deeper than in America.
Q: images of nanotechnology, solid forms. But at a nano-scale they are too small to reflect light. Artists who cooperate with scientists, glove in which you can feel vibrations at a nano-scale. Spoke to artists, proposed to publish. Scientists blocked it even before the journal. R: planetary view, even though we could not see it that stage. Very influential of development of chemistry, shape your imagination. Make you look for some things and not others. Response Teun: thinking about telecare, thinking from existing practices of care, rather than thinking of new possibilities. G.B.: yes, as our own field we have to be reflexive about our own practices.
Q; 2 questions. Visualisations, also thinking of metaphor. Why would you choose to use a metaphor in your work? 2. About your (G.Bs) performance this week. How do you build your argument and how do transform it to this performance? R: The science studies have their great figures, and we tell their lives very well, but never allow scientists to tell their own stories. Q1: metaphors as they operate…. Analogy example: grounded theory. Why is a priest like a prostitute? You cannot understand one by looking at the other. They each bring a single member of the public into a small dark room to share intimate secrets . And afterwards they slide onto the street again. W: you can also compare prostitutes to academics. G.B. That’s too easy. Q2: as I read, have fairly old way of doing it. Word files by article or by book. Create one huge file and sort everything into categories. Take notes online by marking it with square brackets, series of categories. Decide that it’s a story and tell the story. When I write history I never do it linearly, but in chunks. I would recommend to write memoranda as soon as you got an idea. Helps against writers block.
Q: Interface of data is very influential, in that sense you are right, new era. Great examples. Still sit behind our pcs clicking these things, what are we winning with these websites? R: interface is very traditional, through the screen. Donna Haraway said we live in a multiscreen environment, check stuff during a talk. Get away from a single screen. Fred Turner is doing history of multiscreen, pulls back to Bauhaus designers in the 1940s.
More comments from G.B. Lev Manovich has fantastic group called software studies institute. Interesting also to look at the Public Library of Science, (PLOS) completely digital.
3D embedded object. Think the journals will go away, scientists are clamoring for it.
Q: what are the discussions you have about this in STHV? R: we take a lot more traditional articles than we would like to take, but agree we should be opening up these spaces. We can get away from it through online publishing.
T: had to think about a nice article by Douwe Draaisma critiquing that medical professors adopt other fields and start to write other stuff. Have also seen bad performances and read bad poetry. It is very hard to write an article in the first place, to adopt another field.
Q: Is it something that can be taught and are their institutions that teach it? W: books on PP. G.B: I had a good teacher in Latour, Serres who can perform as a great storyteller from the past. My technique is also borrowed from that. She never refers to any talks. Was the scariest thing for me to do. No words and no notes. That makes it alive, but is a skill I had to teach myself. But gets easier. Picasso: if I could tell you what this painting means, it wouldn’t be a painting. Although multilingual audiences love text on a pp. Look around for interesting styles. We do not generically teach performance in the way that we should as a discipline. Also see Larry Lessing.
R: also an expression of your personal way, should you be taught? R2: but also technical part
G.B: I think prezi is much better than powerpoint. Need 2 weeks.
T: but work with it in ways that strengthens your argument
G.B. the best institutions in STS teach performance, because it is all down to the talk. You have to charm, dazzle and wonder at the performance. Here it’s a difference process. There a popularity contest based on your personality.
W: Ted.org and Presentation Zen by G. Reynolds
Putting pasta bridges to the value test
Group number 1: Movable, community, equality, aesthetics. Mind the values and beware of the values. ← strongest!
Group number 2: history of place: natural area with flora and fauna. Road separating 2 areas. Biodiversity got lost. Bridge to connect the animals again. Animal trail, animals can go both ways. Bridge only has fences on both sides to prevent the animals from falling off bridge. Camera to follow the animals for biological research. Investigate what the animals do, how often they go over the bridge and what happens with the biodiversity. Solar panel to provide energy for camera. Functions during the night, send to bbc, discovery channel. All material we found in the neighborhood. Aesthetics not important.
Group number 3: The ‘this is not a bridge’ bridge. Ornaments that obstruct it. Connection and disconnection. Equality because no one can cross the bridge. Edibility. Blurs boundary between food and art.
Group 4: The black box. This is not easy for group number 4 because they don’t have a bridge. Liberating not to have to use the pasta. Cooked it instead, it stuck together but overnight it split open. Don’t want to give into the value of wasting the pasta and not eating it. Presentation of the black box: it’s a pasta salad! Failure is not at all bad, if there is pasta to be had! We all take some pasta and stand in a line while holding a bucket. So pasta bridges the gap. ← winner!
Group 5: Talk about process. Paralyzed by all the values they wanted to build in this bridge. Think of the bridge as a non-human actor. Two lessons from Geoff: change and diversity. Bridge renews itself, creating new bridges.
W: Copy machines that can reproduce itself. What are you going to do with the risk? A: its science fiction. And we will prevent this by hanging a bucket from it
Group 6: The basic value of this bridge is freedom. Willem told us to spend our breaks building bridges. We started to hate each other. So decided not to spend more time on it than that allocated to bridge building in the reader. Not meant to cross, but to be. Recreational. The idea of having it as a spiritual bridge with temples. But didn’t get around to it because we found the value of freedom. Q: difference between freedom and laziness? Just wanted to make sure that people don’t get the wrong impression…
Presentation Willem: Pasta bridges to the test: what you are up against… Pasta and glue, sticky. First idea: bridge for trains and bicycle with automatic suction for bicycles. Duck tape too strong.
Geoff comes in: “we have a winner! Number four, failed bridge. Loved the fact that it brought you closer together. Not compromise values because you want to make it structural. T: stuff can fail, and that something very wonderful can come out of failure.
World record video: 440 kg
Willem: Basically there is no politics of a pasta bridge. Red herring. You made the context around it in which a bridge can be political. Politics with this thing is that you are playing with something that you need to eat.
Picture of bridge near Ravenstein, which was recently renovated. Issue of noise.
Struck him that many followed the Winner article. Interpret this exercise in a different way, it is about the story that you tell rather than the thing itself.
Sticks two reader together as a bridge. (since we were allowed to use the reader)
Testing of the bridges:
What could have been different or better? Stuff we might not have had the chance to do something with. Or regular comments.
R: the assignment for the fieldwork could have been the whole day. It was really good. It was useful because everyone could see how we work, would have been good to do it for longer.
T: that’s quite difficult. G: you didn’t have enough time for analysis, only 45 minutes.
R: astonishing how much we got out of the activity. We should do more of these exercises. Shows we can also get a lot out of our own PhDs.
R: maybe outside the context of WTMC, just one day for everyone who wants to do it.
T: wonderful inverse infrastructure.
R: this was a workshop with a little bit more play than before, but I think for the attention span, but even for the theoretical part, I had more time to think about that. Good minimum amount of play.
R: some more examples, focus on more areas where values might be at stake
T: still find it difficult to bring the reading into the discussions we are having. Maybe reading less- can be better. So we can actually discuss the text.
R: maybe you can put in the reader why certain texts are there, we put it in here for this and this reader.
R: how would one discuss it?
T: well, they’re not just there for the lecture, but also just because they are important texts.
R: sometimes I have the feeling as well, why did I read all this text? But in the end, I’m here to get a background in STS which I didn’t have before, but I feel I do have more now.
R: I also see it more as a sort of compass before you come here. For me it wouldn’t make much difference to make it explicit again.
R: maybe this could be told to the presenter. Maybe we could make a wall with questions, towards articles, but also to try to see connections between articles.
R: during another PhD course we had to write a small paper about the texts. That is another way to deal with the text.
R: I like doing core reading, but also we could think more about just bringing in more texts. But we reached a point that other texts could also have focused on more.
R: combine the writing examples with the text and reading, so for example write a research proposal making use of the texts.
Next WTMC: 23,24,25 february: science and musea
April 25,26,27 with Teun and Willem
27-31 august, theme modern culture
October: CTA workshop.
Two workshops with guest coordinators
Inform your supervisors about what we did here!