Monthly Archives: January 2015

Digital ways of knowing

We participated to the Conference Changing Worlds. Ideologies, Utopias and Ambitions in Science and Technology, held at the Department of Science and Technology Studies of the University of Vienna on 20–22 November 2014. We presented a paper entitled “Digital ways of knowing: the digital turn in social sciences and their epistemological utopias”, as a first attempt to give a more structured shape to an ongoing reflexion about the potentialities and challenges of digital technologies for research purposes. The empirical work in progress that is being carrying out in the project, as well as the variagate collection of scholarly “pieces of reflexions” published on personal/collective websites and blogs that we have been collecting so far, stimulated us to reflect on expectations and utopias – but also of anxieties and disbeliefs – regarding the contributions of the digital to academic work and to knowledge creation.

In this presentation we focused our attention on spaces such as the ‘media-labs’, that  are not defined by academic disciplinary cultures but explore new forms of knowledge production, offering an interesting perspective on the reconfigurations enabled by digital technologies and tools. The research project is giving us the possibility to approach – to some extent to interact with – the epistemic cultures of two medialabs, the Medialab Prado in Madrid and the Medialab-SciencesPo, in Paris, whose reconfigurations are modelled by imaginaries and particular utopias associated to the digital. While depicting the epistemic culture of Medialabs is far beyond our scope, we attempt to follow the associations/links between ideas, people, spaces, activities through which these utopias circulate and/or are generated. To some extent, it seems to us that following these associations can give us access to how particular utopias related to the digital are shaping different practices of knowledge production – including our own.

A pdf of the presentation is here. Drawing on this paper, we are currently working on an article that will be part – after peer review process – of a special issue from the conference on GJSS.

UPDATE! The article has been accepted for publication and will come out in late 2015.

Hello, digital methods!

In October and  November 2014 we finally had a series of workshops we planned for experimenting and discussing the potential of digital methods for social sciences and humanities. Digital methods are a set of methods aimed at supporting researchers’ ability to explore and display data or objects that can be collected through the Web (Dutton-Jeffreys, 2010). As Richard Rogers (2009) made clear, these methods could not exist or even be conceived without the web, as their mode of operation is based on objects/content/devices/environments that are natively digital, or born in the new mediumas opposed to the ones that simply “migrated” into it. According to other scholars, such as Venturini and Latour (2010), the potential of digital technologies for social sciences research could lie in allowing for the overcoming of the traditional micro/macro dualism, making possible to track both the actors and the interactions among them while collective phenomena emerge, and to develop analyses of social phenomena that achieve at the same time “breadth and depth” (ibid., p. 2).

We had the pleasure to have Tommaso Venturini,  Paul Girard and Benjamin Ooghe Tabanou as our instructors for two two-days workshops in which they showed us the tools they are developing at the Medialab Paris and guided us in applying them to a wide set of research questions.

Opened by a lecture for CES PhD students held by Venturini, the workshops involved 15 researchers from several Portuguese university that applied some of the methods to a wide set of research in progress, such as the case of the Portuguese memorandum during the recent economic crisis in the country, the EU discourse about scientific mobility, the development of the new European Data Protection Act.

The slide from the lecture and the workshop are here.

First session

Tuesday, Oct 28

Wednesday, Oct 29

Morning session9.30-13.00 Working with data and networks:

Afternoon session14.30-18.00 Tommaso Venturini, PhD seminar (lecture, CES, Sala 1; 14.30-17.30) Escaping the Great DivideHow actor-network theory, digital methods and network analysis can make us sensitive to the differences in the density of associations Extracting data

Workshop projects’ presentation:

  • Each participants (or group) presents what she/he wish to achieve during the workshop
  • The médialab team provide feedback on feasibility and operationalization
Dinner Dinner

Second session

Thursday, Nov 13

Friday, Nov 14

Morning session9.30-13.00 Projects advancement presentation:

  • Each participant (or group) show what has been achieved so far, problems and objectives.
  • Discussion on the planning of the work during the rest of the workshop
Work under the guidance of the médialab team
Afternoon session14.30-18.00 Work under the guidance of the médialab team Results presentation:

  • What worked what didn’t?
  • Feedbacks on methods used
  • Discussion on the next steps.
Dinner

Venturini_lectureresults8 results4 results5 workshop workshop5 workshop8 workshop9 resultsresults2