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Slides and literature highlights from the recent PhD course at CBS

The PhD course ANT: from methodological principles to concrete strategies for managing the in-between was held September 20-23 2010, hosted by the Virtual Worlds Research project, Ursula Plesner & Maja Horst at the Department of Organization at CBS. Guest faculty included Anne Beaulieu, Virtual Knowledge Studio, Amsterdam, Mike Michael, Goldsmiths, University of London, Barbara Czarniawska, University of Gothenburg.

You can find the slides from the talks of Mike Michael and Anne Beaulieu and read some selected highlights from the course literature below:

“By using co-presence rather than co-location as a starting point to conceptualize and articulate fieldwork, new aspects of knowledge production are foregrounded in ethnographic studies [Co-presence is] an epistemic strategy that pays close attention to non-lab based knowledge production that can embrace textuality, infrastructure and mediation […] It enables STS to develop the ethnographic study of highly mediated, distributed or non-lab based fields, such as the humanities, e-research and e-science”Anne Beaulieau (2010): ‘From co-location to co-presence: Shifts in the use of ethnography for the study of knowledge’ in Social Studies of Science 40(3), 453-470

“…we feel the need to develop new understandings of field sites that do not over-invest in the notion of physical, face-to-face copresence, that can have variable scales, and that can include mediated traces of action as witness to sociality. To include these elements, we need to construct cases differently […] a focus on time rather than place or space, to constitute cases; the inclusion of researchers and infrastructures in fieldwork; and emphasis on interaction between methodological approaches and new representational forms” Anne Beaulieu et al (2007): ‘Not Another Case Study: A Middle-Range Interrogation of Etnographic Case Studies in the Explorations of E-science’ in Science, Technology and Human Values 32(6), 672-692

“The term action net has no analytical ambitions; on the contrary, it tries to minimize the a priori assumptions before the study can begin. Usually, a study begins with the location of actors or organizations; what I wish to emphasize is that such entities are outcomes rather than inputs of organizing […] The notion of action net permits the capture of both actual and virtual connections; there is no reason to differentiate between them a priori. The difference between action net and network lies not in space but in time. Network assumes that actors exist who forge connections, building a network. Action net reverts this assumption, suggesting that connections between and among actions, when stabilized, are used to construct identities of actors” Barbara Czarniawska (2008): A Theory of Organizing, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK (ch.2)

“…why might one actually want to invest time and effort to produce maps of CMC? Mapping is particularly useful for virtual research since so much of the ‘terrain’ of study, the social phenomena and the online places in which they occur, are composed of immaterial software (in essence they are just lines of code and database records) and are to a large degree invisible. Consequently, this ‘terrain’ can be hard to comprehend, and maps are an obvious tool to help make the virtual tangible” Martin Dodge (2005): ‘The Role of Maps in Virtual Research Methods’ in Virtual Methods: Issues in Social Research on the Internet (ed) Christine Hine, Berg, Oxford

“Unlike the autoethnographic approach, the anecdote is, as we shall see, useful for explicitly incorporating the performativity of research – i.e. the way that research is not a mere reflection of something (e.g. one’s experiences in relation to social or cultural process) out there, but is instrumental in, and a feature of, the ‘making of out theres’ […] The anecdote relates events which have, in one way or another, affected the story-teller in ways which make those events ‘anecdotalizable’. Here, performativity lies in the way prir events come to enact the story-teller as just that – one who ‘anecdotalizes’ and renders the past in the form of an anecdote” Mike Michael: ‘Anecdote’ in The happening of the social: devices, sites and methods (eds) Nina Wakeford and Celia Lury

[‘Cultural Probes’ is] a design-led approach to understanding users that stresses empathy and engagement. Probes are collections of evocative tasks meant to elicit inspirational responses from people – not comprehensive information about them […] Asking unambiguous questions tends to give you what you already know, at least to the extent of reifying the ontology behind the questions. Posing open or absurd tasks, in contrast, ensures that the results will be surprising” William W. Gaver et al (2004): ‘Cultural Probes and the value of uncertainty’ in Interactions, Vol XI.5, 53-56

“What happens when we introduce a little ‘poetry’ into mediating technologies? […] we have attempted to trace a number of ways in which the home’s connectivity can be affected y three threshold devices – the video window, the local barometer, and the plane tracker. These devices introduced a range of novel flows through the home, respectively of videoed cityscapes, of advertisements, and of GoogleEarth depictions […] The world beyond home enters in a complex, ambiguous, unpredictable, multiple, heterogeneous stream that triggers quizzicalness, confusion, frustration even, but it also prompts exploration, memory, allusion and affect” Mike Michael and Bill Gaver (2009): ‘Home Beyond Home – Dwelling With Threshold Devices’, in space and culture

“Any communication technology needs to be considered in relation to the multiplicity of other communication practices and technologies that circulate within a particular community, or assemblage – that is, a communicative ecology” Mike Michael: ‘The Cellphone-in-the-Countryside: On Some of the Ironic Spatialities of Technonatures’ in Technonatures

“Language has been granted too much power. The linguistic turn, the semiotic turn, the interpretative turn, the cultural turn […] How did language come to be more trustworthy than matter? Why are language and culture granted their own agency and historicity while matter is figured as passive and immutable”

“…the primary epistemological unit is not independent objects with inherent boundaries and properties but rather phenomena

Karen Barad (2003): ‘Posthumanist Performativity: Towards an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter’ in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(3)

“Although I welcome the way that Latour seeks to revisit the question of value (and in doing so, to rehabilitate moralists), I want to propose that it is worth extending his politics of reality to a politics of virtual reality in order to attend to more than the processes – of exclusion and inclusion, externalization and internalization – by which things come into existence […] Minimally defined as a dimension of the actual that is neither observable nor accessible in itself, the virtual offers a ‘beyond’ actual states of affairs for the social scientist to look to” Miriam Fraser: ‘Facts, Ethics and Event’

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