What questions or elaborations do you have about this artifact?


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Gabriel Grill's picture
August 15, 2020

I was intrigued by your answer on the overarching argument and also think it is important to name politics and also take a more radical stance at times. When and how to make an argument more critical or strong (e.g. through strategic essentialism) is something I have been thinking a lot in my projects. Should I e.g. refer to Big Data projects as 'not working', because in many instances they fail? Does it make that much sense to interrogate the accuracy frame when with these technologies it is often more about the politics they reproduce? When does it make sense to use emic or established terms and when are new ones more appropriate? How do you get detailed "enough" to make stronger or overarching claims while manging the risk of not beeing taking serious? I think audiences matter a lot here as well, e.g. when you know people with technnology background are reading your work, writing and argumentation strategies also change, and how and in what ways e.g. such more over-arching arguments can be made. Also positionality is important, if your are a famous scholar you can make bigger claims while being taking serious, but as a more junior person I think this can be much harder. Beyound being taking serious, there is also this risk of overimposing through too overarching or grand theories. I think these questions and tensions are also part of dealing with this boundry between academia and activism.

will become easier to parse for different contexts over time, also positionality matters a lot 

Gabriel Grill's picture
August 15, 2020

I found it interesting that the first graph seems RISI is sort of part of the almost "closed system" whereas in the second graph it is more of an externalities with a uni-directional relation. Without any backround, these grand theory diagrams are really hard for me to understand. In the 2nd one I am very unsure sure about these relations, like why is there no (direct) relation between fungi and plants (in the first diagram there is)? It seems like the 1st and 2nd want to describe different mechanisms? What do the relaitons and numbers mean? What is RISE and SINK? Humans are also much more central in the 2nd graph as they have very many relations. Also Energy conservation and information appear central to me. The first one is I think centered more on Plants and Production. I think the graphs also frame "Energy Source" sort of as the infrastructure which powers everything else, as the graphs seem to be for me about flows from energy source to the "SINK" and "RISE". If I did not miscalculate, then what comes in throug through the "Energy Source" equals to what comes out of the "SINK". In turn I wonder where and what the values that go into "RISE" represent? I feel like this graph almost confuses me more then it clarifies without context and carries very many assumptions. It caught my eye I think also because of its broad claims and almost panotic all-seeing gaze onto the biosphere.

August 15, 2020

Hi Hannah, 

In reading your response, I wonder if there are differences between scientific disciplines with respect to how 'open' each can/wants to be? For the 'micro' scale, you mention your interest in how scientists interact with technology, and I can imagine that norms and practices around technology use will differ substantially between disciplines and, as you mention, "enable or discourage open practices" in different ways. 

Nima Madjzubi's picture
August 14, 2020

This is a (loaded) question about Meredith Sattler's Biosphere 2 diagram. (I'm late and not participating in the related Sketch, but saw no response on the interesting input, found it a shame, and decided to pose my question anyway.)

Meredith, you write that you're interested in the readings and mis-readings of the diagram. How would you qualify my following reading?

Salient to me are the arrows that go everywhere and especially beyond a second group of thicker lines that resemble borders and domains. The domains order and arrange the textual symbols, whereas the arrows arguably defy this ordering. I am here reminded of what Bruno Latour calls the (Modern's) double process of purification (into domains, predominantly binary) and hybridization. Now, I can trust the arrows being actual relations lending themselves well to being traced, but what are the thick-lined domains outside this visualization, I wonder?

Do I read it right--or do I mis-read--that they reproduce or risk reproducing the good old nature-culture dualism?

Perhaps you want to relate to your area of experience in architecture and environmental management in responding; how would you assess the distribution of arrows (associations) and domains in architecture, and in environmental management?

Thank you for this and other inspiring contributions to this workshop

August 14, 2020

I am reviewing Meg Wiessner's Response to Sketch 4, the Wishlist 2070 activity. I see a few topical interests and research commitments peeking through, like design, media, and environment. In a broad sense, this artifact makes me want to ask what inspires the author. Around what career trajectory(ies) might these projects and stray theories be organized? 

On a more particular note, I was interested in this wishlist item:

Materiality/immateriality as a central problematic in media studies, environmental studies, and critical theory

I think that insight is fascinating and warrants (or deserves) elaboration. What do media studies, environmental studies, and critical theory share that make this one problematic central to them all? Is it a problematic of these field or a problematic of our time, "modernity", or something else? What kinds of research might be done to understand this problematic?

Finally, reading this response made me think more about my own response. Two questions I would want to pose to everyone who did this activity are 1) Of these items, what comes next in your career trajectory, and 2) Would ordering this wishlist be a productive activity?

August 14, 2020

responding to Dan Santos's post here: https://stsinfrastructures.org/annotations/user/599/artifact/5089

My research focuses on open science and the transparency movement in academia (especially as it relates to technology), so Dan's work on democratizing biotechnology sounded familiar to me in many ways. I'd love to hear more about why the biotechnologists think democracy in their field is important and how they could characterize the state of the field now. In the open science realm, we see open advocates painting a picture of science as in need of improvement because we could be more efficient or be more creative or have higher quality research if we were more open. What "improvements"/state change are the biotechnologists seeking for their field? What values do biotechologists for democracy hold (other than a belief in democracy)? Why are they using the term "democratize" in the first place—what does it mean to them?

The term techno-optimism is new to me, but seems like it would apply to academic open science as well. What does that term mean for you and how do you see it in your data? Among open science advocates, there is a common perspective that "we have the technology" and, therefore, "we can be the open society we've always needed to be" (liberal paraphrasing there). I've been personally struggling with thoughtfully and respectfully engaging that perspective with theories and commmentary on technological determinism. Assuming you have the same struggle, how have you been dealing with analysis and reporting when your studied population seems to follow a path that STS has marked as naive?

As a last note, should it be helpful, the discourses that I'm relying on most in my own research (planning) are structuration theory, value sensitive design, and design with intent/persuasive technology. I'd be happy to swap bibliographies or just chat about sources!

Jonathan Wald's picture
August 13, 2020

Response to Selen Eren, SKETCH 1: Habits, Neuroses, Talents

Thanks Selen for sharing! Looking through all the responses, it seems like there are very few of us who identified ourselves closer to the “obsessive” side of the spectrum. I only count three (including Megh Marathe).

After reading Keller, I found myself wondering if anthropology in particular (and perhaps other disciplines involved in STS) tend to amass “paranoid” information gatherers. My original training was in philosophy were Keller’s “obsessive” personality is highly encouraged.  I’ve found the transition from philosophy to anthropology to be challenging in a lot of ways, and I wonder if this is a set of terms which provides some language for the differences.

I’m therefore curious if you or Megh find that your interests in “internal dynamics” set you apart from your colleagues? How have you found collaborating with more “paranoid” colleagues? 

Jonathan Wald's picture
August 13, 2020

Response to Katie Ulrich, SKETCH 2: Across Scales and Systems

Thanks Katie for sharing this! As someone also researching Brazilian responses to the climate crisis, I was very interested to read this breakdown of your work.

I was especially struck by your response to the question about the “nano” scale and found myself wondering how the answers to the other questions might diverge or overlap for the three “realms.” Of course, there must be real differences between these realms, but I take your skepticism to indicate that there must be shared experiences which are perhaps (intentionally?) excluded from considerations. What are the stakes of merging or distancing these different realms?

I find myself thinking about similar questions about the stakes of holistic versus particularist approaches to environmental science. When is it useful to think of everything as an interconnected system? When is it better to consider something in relative isolation? Considering the massive complexity and scales of energy economies and global environmental conditions, are there points where reduction is necessary, even if it carries risks?

Recently I’ve been engaging with this through Catherine Malabou’s engagement with Michel Foucault and Enrique Dussel (https://youtu.be/ZMXFuS5fnAI). For her, the question is about the status of an “outside” of philosophy, something which remains unthinkable in the terms of philosophy. For Foucault, this is about surrealism. For Dussel, it’s about the colonial peripheries. Guided by this, I wonder if there are elements in any one of the three realms which cannot easily be translated into the language of the other realms? Or are there other realms (indigenous communities, perhaps) which remain excluded from all three realms mentioned here? 

Megan Wiessner's picture
August 13, 2020

Hi Angela, reading these was great. I share an interest in the question of research ethics. In addition to the concerns and questions you named, I also think about how the ideas of extraction and the role of temporality.  Personally, time pressure and the peculiar activity cycles of academia sometimes prevent me from engaging in the sort of relationship-building that I think more ethical research probably calls for. I sometimes experience an inability to follow up, to engage in deep feedback processes, or even just to reach out to check in and say hello when faced with never-ending deadlines and jumps from one pool of funding to another, or one location to another. I wanted to ask if you have thoughts on structural ways academia could promote "slower" research, and whether you think that might impact some of the questions about representation, fatigue, and equity?  

(And, just noting that I also share an interest in imaginaries around embodied forms of expertise, although in my case, it's thinking about style and the performance of cosmopolitanism in design, art, and academia. Would love to hear more of your thoughts!)

Linda Huber's picture
August 13, 2020

Hi Aaron! I have a few questions that came to mind by placing your research interests into the "frame" of my research. In my own research I am currently studying in how platform companies like betterhelp/talkspace and others seek to scale therapy, and whether there are accompanying transformations in the actual goals and work of therapy. So following I guess the template of what I have seen in my own research, I am curious:

- How the goals and practices of Chinese medicine are being intentionally or unintentionally re-made in order to be *scalable* or exportable? 

- Are there limits to scalability that must be overcome? Components of Chinese medicine that must be left out or are left behind in the scaling and exporting process? 

- In the case of therapy, I am seeing that it must be remade somewhat to appeal to employers and insurance companies, to fit into a specific set of neoliberal capitalist goals around health and wellbeing (e.g. preventative care for cost reduction, wellness as productivity). How is Chinese medicine remade to accommodate both China’s political goals and to appeal to international consumers, and are there conflicts in those goals?