Thursday, December 7, 2006

Fleshing out, finally

I've finally gotten around to annotating my presentation from Fleshing Out in Rotterdam last month:

Of seams and scars: Tracing technological boundaries and points of attachment (pdf)

Looking at my notes, I see that it conveys some of the breathlessness with which I delivered my presentation, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. But I think there are some good ideas here, and I'm very grateful that I've been given the opportunity to further explore them for another conference in the spring. Anyway, I've received quite a bit of email that I'd like to briefly address by means of an introduction to the content. My presentation was about metaphor and materiality in "wearable interfaces, smart materials and living fabrics." My focus on scars completely ignored literature on the grotesque, although I was particularly interested in what scars actually mark. This is something I'll have to look into more. My focus on seams extended current approaches to ubicomp design by Matthew Chalmers and others by explicitly engaging the political and the ethical. So rather than just focussing on making technological infrastructure more visible, I wanted to start thinking about what kind of "infrastructure" we were talking about, and what kinds of politics and ethics that allowed. My presentation traces my early thinking along these lines and offers questions for further research. As always, comments and questions are welcome.

(cc photo by splorp @ flickr)


Anonymous Francois Lachance said...

The image and its layout is breatheless in a wabi-sabi kind of way. Its gorgeousness is so striking that it provokes a second look and draws one in further to meditate not only upon what is being covered but also what is being stretched to make the covering. Nicely stitched colour scheme too!

Anonymous anne said...

omg, thanks for reminding me! i've uploaded a new copy of the file that properly credits that very cool photo. it is by splorp @ flickr, and is available under a creativecommons license.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello anne. i'm an "interaction design" student aspiring to do design research. i've got a multidisciplinary study history, which doesn't contain bits of science and technology studies or social science - though i am a bit aware what is happening there. my background explains the reason why i've been puzzled by one particular concept, which appeared also in your slides, so i decided to make this post.

namely, the concept of technosocial. you talk about techno-social assemblages, which to my understanding are some types of actor-networks(?) of people and technology.

so, here's my question: if there is a technosocial assemblage in which people and technology "do work", is there then something like "techno-social activity", which consists of the composite activities of people and technologies in the assemblage? if so, how is this conceptualized?

i won't post more now, as i might be totally in the dark here.. please, help an ignorant one! :)

Anonymous anne said...

dear anonymous - normally i prefer to know a name for the person i'm talking with, but here we go:

what you call "techno-social activity" is generally understood through forms of practice and/or practice theory. it should be distinguished from activity theory, although HCI and ID do rally Etienne Wenger's work on "communities of practice" which may be familiar to you as well, and share something in common with actor-networks.

in any case, i do generally approach practice or agency (or activity, if you prefer) from an actor-network perspective, which involves a distinct methodology for "following actors" in the world, and attempts to explain how actor-networks are formed, maintain themselves and/or dissolve.

for a short answer to your question, including an outline of the key processes of "translation," i suggest reading the wikipedia entry for ANT and if you're genuinely interested in how these notions compare and contrast with some of the other perspectives above, then i highly recommend reading latour's latest book, re-assembling the social.

hope this helps!


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