The Asylum: Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddly Toys
"Metal spinning is a technical process, where metal sheets are formed around massive wooden moulds while rotating. Through the generations hundreds of wooden moulds have accumulated in the stock shelves of Hugo Bräuer Metallwaren. Their original function, used in the making of hubcaps, lids or shades, has long been forgotten. The designers Sebastian Summa and Hrafnkell Birgisson blew the dust from the wooden manufacturing history and transformed it into crispy baked delicacy. In collaboraton with the craftsman Thomas Bräuer and the pastry-cook Martina Griese they developed series of six hand-spun 'baking bowls' made of high quality aluminium. The cakes, which are baked in the moulds, describe in their contours a piece of design history from the beginning of Industrialisation until the present."
"We thought, How can we tell the story of this old process? We saw the molds as cakes," Birgisson says. "And we wanted to integrate the user into the project: when they make the cake, they are re-creating the old forms."
"Within the mass, one runs across, bumps into and brushes against others; interaction is established, crystallizations and groups form ... [T]hese tactile relationships, through successive sedimentations, create a special ambience - what I have called a diffuse union ... Although it should be the height of banality to say so, there is no harm in repeating that the originality of the sociological procedure lies in the fact that it is based on the materiality of the being-together. God (and theology), the Mind (and philosophy), the individual (and economics) step aside for this regrouping. Man is never considered in isolation... Thus, in order to seize the shared sentiments and experiences at work in the various social situations and attitudes of today, it is a good idea to take a different tack: the aesthetic angle seems to me the least bad. By aesthetics, I mean the etymological sense of the word, as the common faculty of feeling, of experiencing ... I spoke earlier of the 'materiality' of the being-together; the oscillating mass-tribe is its illustration. It is possible to imagine, instead of a subject-actor, being confronted with interlocking objects; like a nest of Russian dolls, the large object-mass conceals smaller object-groups which are diffracted to infinity..."
-- Michel Maffesoli, The Time of the Tribes, pp. 73-75
"[W]hat is the ground or condition of collective life (zussamensein)? Sometimes the idea is expressed as a strict morality taking the form of an overarching, universal and rigid category, a logic of duty which privileges puritanism, planning, productivity. At other times, on the contrary, the idea embraces sensitivity, communication and collective motion, and is then more relative and dependent upon the groups (or tribes) that it structures: this then is an ethic, an ethos which comes from below...
Collectivities form according to circumstances or desires ... But the value, the taste, the admiration, the 'hobby' which is held in common and which cements the collectivity constitute ethical vectors. To be more precise, I would specify the ethical as a morality 'with neither obligation nor sanction', with no obligation other than coming together and being a member of a collective body, with no sanction other than being excluded should the interest (inter-esse) which brought me into the group come to an end. This is precisely the ethics of the aesthetics: experiencing something together is a factor of socialization ... It is an ethic in the strong sense of the term: which is to say something which leads me to recognize myself in something which is exterior to me. The exterior something may be another self like me, it may be another as Other, it may be an object... In a ceaseless movement of actions and retrospective effects, I recognize a sign by recognizing it with others, and so I recognize what unites me to others."
-- Michel Maffesoli, The Ethic of Aesthetics, Theory, Culture & Society Vol 8 (1991), pp. 7-20.
Soon in Japan, it'll be raining ads
"Researchers are working on 'information rain', taking advertisements to the realm of mock meteorology. A projector on a tall tripod shows images of raindrops hitting the ground and making ripples, in hopes that people will enter the 'rainy' area and hold out their palms. A camera tracks the entrants' movements and sends the data to connected computers. Then the projector shoots out a round-shaped advertisement -- which can post words such as 'SALE' -- right onto their hands."
"Many of these guys can strip and rebuild a mobile phone in minutes ... [A] lot of the hyperbole surrounding western hacker culture makes me smile compared to what these guys are doing day in day out."
a mobile/multimedia communication project, intended for groups without active presence in the mainstream media
prostitutes broadcast from mobile phones
gypsies broadcast from mobiles
LEON 2005 / LLEIDA 2005
taxi drivers broadcast from cell phones
MEXICO DF 2004
"[B]y concentrating single-mindedly on the important process of objectification, Marx's analysis fails to attend to the equally important process that Kierkegaard refers to as 'becoming subjective.' For both the world and human beings in the world, the process of becoming subjects proceeds hand-in-hand with the process of making objects. Becoming a subject is as much a matter of being addressed as addressing, as much a matter of hearing as of speaking..."
-- Steven Schroeder, A Laboratory for Civil Discourse
"Sorting out means groups of like-minded people are clustering together by choice. The process may result in discord but is not created by it. Splitting, on the other hand, is usually created by discord and produces even more. It implies that the groups people form are not merely separate but opposed ... Sorting does not necessarily imply that social ties are weakening. Splitting does. It is the difference between growing apart and falling apart ... Because sorting is a result of demographic dynamism, it is associated with growth and achievement as well as failure and divisiveness ... [But] because sorting out is a fluid process, problems can be put right relatively easily ... This is not to say that sorting has been a uniform blessing, merely that it mixes good with bad."
High costs deter hi-tech dreams
"[A]survey of 2,600 people plumbed attitudes to homes where information was happily swapped between computers, fixed and mobile phones, computers, digital images and movies, music and any other form of digital device.
While many people liked the idea of such a home, 80% thought it would simply be too expensive to go shopping for all the gadgets to make it a reality. The problems of getting such a system working by themselves proved too much for most and 70% said they would happily sign up with a company that did all the work for them...
When asked why they wanted more gadgets in the home most of those questioned, 56%, said it would help them save money. Others, 46%, said it would make their lives easier or, 34%, simply make home life more enjoyable.
The downside of the hi-tech home was acknowledged by survey respondents. Some, 40%, were worried by privacy and security problems. A smaller group, 33%, were concerned that equipment would become obsolete quickly."
"First, it's clear to me that STS is the Samsung of the social sciences. For decades, it's been fighting for acceptance and legitimacy; it's seen itself as rebellious, trouble-making, crazy brave, and able to see things that the rest of the world can't. Bad, rad, and dangerous to know ... STS has long attracted people who see their work as politics by other means, and who assume that teaching kids STS is a radical act. Wrong. STS is apolitical. Time to deal with that fact ... What's required for STS-- the field, not the ideas; the ideas have escaped the academic gravity well-- to succeed is new institutions, and a generation of practitioners who don't see themselves as the academic equivalent of Les Miserables, forever on the barricades."
"[A]nti-determinist sentiments [in STS studies] seem to fall away in considering the future. While the present (multiple) usages, understandings and identities related to any technology can be called on to hold to account any apparent determinist or essentialist rendition of a technology, renditions of the future appear to be held less accountable. This relative freedom from accountability through shifting attention toward future orientation is a neat but not uniquely futuristic trick..."
"[T]he active and embodied process of translation of the data becomes crucial in the collaboration. This behaviour is not a mere process of 'channelling the user' in terms of the voices of those we have interviewed. It involves explicitly producing an active and engaged sociological or anthropological interpretation for an interdisciplinary audience."
"We argue for an approach to teaching that values permanent unresolve; proceeds by indirection, obliquity and unknowing; revels in scrambled, broken moments; and enjoys recursive undecidability. The posture of the professor is one of 'not knowing': a positionality that celebrates nonmethodical methods, abandoned meanings, insurgent, incomplete meanings, an 'intoxicated midnight' in Nietzsche's phrase... Rather than trying to help students tidy up experience, the classroom itself can be seen as an aesthetic and carnival project of undoing identities and helping us to inhabit the chaos, fragments and messiness of a postmodern world. We go so far as to suggest that the postmodern classroom is an emerging space of intensity for articulating endless uncertainty about both the professor's and students' positions, identities and stances."
"In contrast to earlier STS studies that focussed on the early stages of technological development, I propose to concentrate on conceptualizations of the process that involve the negotiations and attempts at undoing the sociotechnological status quo in a city, changing the taken-for-grantedness of its reality, and making its obduracy flexible."
"Because the elements of a network are closely interrelated, the changing of one element requires the adaptation of other elements. The extent to which an artifact has become embedded determines its resistance to efforts aimed at changing it."
Have a great long weekend!
Interesting approach. I think it's a bit off to suggest that sociologists aren't overly concerned with individual agency - the structure/agency debate has been ongoing for decades now. Anthropologists have also suggested that a focus on individual agency is very much rooted in particular cultures and histories, and should not be applied as a universal. Furthermore, in claiming that Castells' space of flows leaves "not much room for agency", Brown is able to side-step the critique of discrete subjects and objects and return to an ethnomethodological focus on discrete actions. Although ANT's notions of interessement, translation and enrolment have their own share of problems, they can also provide a productive starting-point for understanding how we negotiate (non-discrete) relations between people, objects, ideas, actions, locations and events - including how and why we move.
The question of mobilities has perhaps been most extensively investigated by Lancaster University's Centre for Mobilities Research (see also a brief profile in TheFeature). For example, their 2004 Alternative Mobility Futures Conference brought out some really interesting work and they recently set up the Cosmobilities Network to "address social scientists, planners, engineers, and researchers interested in questions of technology, knowledge and the philosophy of science (STS)."
Laura Watts, a PhD student at Lancaster's Centre for Science Studies is also asking really interesting questions about mobile futures from an archaeological and ethnographic point-of-view: "From a record of its places, materialities and practices, what futures does a mobile telecoms industry foretell? What futures does it construct for itself? And, what other futures may be constructed from those fragments of evidence?". Her online papers on fables and myths of the mobile telecom industry are fascinating, and not least because of her creative approach to ethnographic writing. Worth a read. She also works on the CeMoRe Travel Time Use in the Information Age research project, where she investigates journeys as "translation and transition".
(Thanks to Thomas for pointing out Brown's paper and to Jorge for the Cosmobilities Network link.)