What counts as ‘innovation’ and how does the ‘new’ come to be, in an era when ‘innovation’ is assumed to be an unquestioned good? This research project with Lucy Suchman and Endre Dányi (Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University) reconceptualised innovation through a comparison of three different sites of social, technological and political invention: an internationally recognised centre of technology in Silicon Valley, USA; small-scale high-tech industry on the remote Orkney Islands, Scotland; and the centre of democratic politics in Hungary.
My fieldsite was made through a two year ethnography of how the future is imagined and made in the archipelago of Orkney, Scotland. Here, the landscape is filled with 5000 years of technological invention, from the Ring of Brodgar stone circle to the marine renewable energy test site of the European Marine Energy Centre.
What kinds of connectivity infrastructure would reflect the kinds of futures that people in the Orkney Islands might aspire to?
This digital booklet, commissioned by Intel Labs, is a response to that question. It draws on my ethnographic research (Relocating Innovation) to consider how the future is imagined and made in everyday practice in the Orkney Islands, an archipelago off the north-east coast of Scotland. It is intended to open up ideas about what infrastructure is, and how it might be imagined and designed differently.
International network for Social Studies of Marine Energy (ISSMER) has been established to bring together interdisciplinary researchers interested in the socio-cultural, economic, geographic, philosophical, organisational, and political aspects of marine renewable energy.
We welcome new members from academia, industry, and policy. Please get in touch via the website if you would like more information.
‘Writing Imaginaries, Making Futures’ is a 3 day PhD workshop @ Malmö University, on November 7-9 2012.
This is a practice-based writing workshop to explore diverse methods for writing material-semiotic ‘fictions’ – fictions that are both grounded in empirical evidence from fieldwork as well as generative and creative. This will be a supportive place for participants to experiment with different writing techniques and technologies, from short story to poetry.
It will also critically examine the potential effects of such writing interventions: writing is always a political practice that makes a difference in the world, and therefore participates in making particular futures (and not others).
Led by Laura Watts, the workshop is also supported by guest speakers (over Skype): Lucy Suchman, Anthropologist of Technoscience (Lancaster University), and Sarah Kember, science fiction novelist and Professor of New Communication Technologies (Goldsmiths, University of London).
To participate please send an email to Pelle Ehn, Professor of Interaction Design, Living Labs, School of Arts and Humanities
My PhD thesis (completed 2007) is now available to read online.
‘A Future Archaeology of the Mobile Telecoms Industry’ weaves together two ethnographic stories, one in London and the other in the Orkney Islands. It considers how futures are made in the made in the mobile telecoms industry, and how they might be made otherwise. Rather than simply critique the future of the mobile telecoms industry, the thesis develops two methods that enact two different interferences, and two very different futures. These two methods explore the effect of location and landscape on the making of the future, and the important role of writing-as-method within social studies of science and technology.
This was a performance keynote at 4S/EASST 2012 annual conference in Copenhagen. Lucy Suchman, Pelle Ehn, and myself were asked to consider the conference theme ‘Design and Displacement: Social Studies of Science and Technology’ and how that might be situated in Copenhagen and elsewhere. These messages were our response. We invite you to add messages to our mailboat, so that it might set sail on electronic seas…
(With thanks for inspiration to the Orkney Mailboats project)
The outcome of the ‘Making Futures, Challenging Innovation‘ workshop at PDC 2012 was a fanzine ‘Travel Guide to the Futures’. This is a oollaborative intervention into the practices that often count as ‘innovation’. It is a gazetteer, a guidebook, to the many places where the future is made differently. The fanzine is available to view online.
Online book. An anthology of writing from ‘Writing Imaginaries, Making Futures‘ PhD Workshop, Intergender Network, Blekinge Institute of Technology, 27-29 March 2012.
“What if the study and crafting of fiction and fact happened explicitly, instead of covertly, in the same room, and in all the rooms?” This is a question that Donna Haraway posed, following her concern with situated knowledge-making. This PhD course took this as an invitation to experiment with different forms of empirical writing practice.
The book is a collection of some of the writing created during the workshop by the students. All of the writing is an exploration of ongoing research and fieldwork.