When ANT met Cultural Techniques: Re-engaging with Network Cultures

Logo Making and Doing Transformations Amsterdam 2024ANT was a blast when it reached Media Studies. Its methodology, however, was based on a mediating “Connectivity of Things” that could be mobilized but hardly historicized. So how do we re-engage with research on networks as cultural technique to create joint future(s) of STS and Media Studies?

This is part of a panel at this year’s EASST-4S Conference:
What Is The Past And Future Of Actor-network Theory?
Traditional Open Panel P146
Amsterdam: Making and Doing Transformations
Friday 19 July, 14:00-15:30, 16:00-17:30

Actor-network theory heuristics and methodology have traveled quite a bit outside of STS. Media Studies, in its differing styles of thought, is a case in point. Within my contribution, I am going to contextualize a still recent constellation between ANT and German Media Studies. How did crucial elements of the French anthropology of technology (Marcel Mauss, André Leroi-Gourhan, Georges Haudricourt, Gilbert Simondon) become a common ground for both actor-network theory and the Germanophone research on cultural techniques? What can be learnt for future STS network methodologies from intertwining ANT with Media Studies of cultural techniques?

From the vantage point of cultural techniques, ANT might have lacked a critical, historicizing perspective on its own foundations and mode of operation. It generalized Leroi-Gourhan’s operational chains into sociotechnical networks. Yet programmatic initiatives for historicizing and criticizing networks were not wanting—for instance, Michel Serres’s ”History of Scientific Thought” or Bruno Latour’s ”We Have Never Been Modern.” But for ANT, everything that could be described analytically as a network (or “worknet”) qualified as an actual network. Claims were bolstered by the self-evidence of the lifeworld (and academic practice) of the 1980s and 1990s. ANT could only come about because of the flourishing sociotechnical networks of the day. In contrast, subsequent, more historically oriented studies of cultural techniques—and of the history of infrastructure and science, technology, and society—demonstrate reserve by stressing the material grounding of networks, their metonymic character, situatedness, and specificity. Networks have genealogies within a “Connectivity of Things,” but they are not themselves genealogies.

Theatre of Memory: Transdisziplinäres Symposium zur Neuronästhetik

Rauminstallation Sonapticon von Tim Otto Roth, Tieranatomisches Theater, Berlin 2024. Fotografie Sebastian Gießmann, CC-BY-SA
Mit dem Sonapticon von Tim Otto Roth wird Musik sprichwörtlich nervös: Ein ganzer Raum verwandelt sich in ein Netzwerk von interagierenden Tönen, die grundlegende Vorgänge in Nervenzellen widerspiegeln, die uns zu fühlenden und denkenden Wesen machen. Der begehbare, immersive Klangraum aus miteinander kommunizierenden Lautsprechern macht es nicht nur möglich, in die Netzwerkstruktur einzutauchen, sondern zugleich kann man mit dieser über Töne und Geräusche interagieren. Wenn man ein Gefühl für die Abläufe bekommen hat, dann lässt sich mit dem Sonapticon auf völlige neue Art und Weise musizieren – eine Musik, die eine Idee der kognitiven Prozesse gibt, die in ihrer Komplexität für uns nach wie vor ein Geheimnis bleiben.

Theatre of Memory:
Transdisziplinäres Symposium zur Neuronästhetik

Tagungsbericht [crossposting von imachination.net]
Berlin, 26. und 27. Januar 2024
In Kontext der Ausstellung des Sonapticon von Tim Otto Roth im Tieranatomischen Theater

„Theatre of Memory: Transdisziplinäres Symposium zur Neuronästhetik“ weiterlesen

Bar oder mit Karte? Warum wir neue Infrastrukturen des Geldes brauchen [re:publica 23: CASH]

Banner der re:publica 2023, CASH
Bar oder mit Karte? Oder doch per App oder Krypto-Wallet bezahlen? Wenn es um’s Geld geht, fehlt in Deutschland soziale Fantasie, Innovations- oder gar Risikobereitschaft. Diesen Zustand nehme ich nicht länger hin und frage: Welchen digitalen Euro braucht unsere Zivilgesellschaft?

Keynote auf der re:publica 2023: 6. Juni, 16.45 Uhr, Stage 1.

Hier klicken, um den Inhalt von www.youtube-nocookie.com anzuzeigen

„Bar oder mit Karte? Warum wir neue Infrastrukturen des Geldes brauchen [re:publica 23: CASH]“ weiterlesen

Netzwerke im Kulturtransfer

Poster Netzwerke im Kulturtransfer

Kulturkontakte und Kulturtransfer finden stets in Netzwerken statt: Sie sind von Beziehungen zwischen einzelnen Vermittler:innenfiguren und vermittelnden Institutionen, von materiellen und konventionellen Handels-, Verkehrs- und Kommunikationswegen, von den transportierten Gegenständen und nomadischen Medien, und von den impliziten Protokollen für jede der einzelnen involvierten Kommunikationen und Kooperationen abhängig. Der in den letzten beiden Jahrzehnten rasante und innovative Fortschritt der Forschung zu Netzwerken in etlichen Disziplinen bietet den Geisteswissenschaften deshalb auch in diesem Bereich neue Herausforderungen und Chancen.

Die zweitägige interdisziplinäre Tagung Netzwerke im Kulturtransfer untersucht Prozesse der kulturellen Vermittlung dezidiert mit dem Blick auf jene Netzwerke, die sie ermöglichen und die von ihnen performiert werden. Es gilt, neue Verfahren und Begriffe zu entwickeln, die dem Fortschritt der Netzwerkforschung Rechnung tragen und zugleich grundlegend zum Verständnis gerade grenzüberschreitender kultureller Netzwerke beitragen – von der qualitativen und quantitativen Netzwerkforschung über Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie und Akteur-Medien-Theorie bis zu Profilierungen zwischen system- und netzwerkorientierten Ansätzen.

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Circulating Indexicality, Cyberspace and the Early Web

logo the web that was

Looking back at 1990s representations of cyberspace always makes one feel alienated, a bit dislocated, and amazed at the same time. Did the American and Western European grasp of the World Wide Web really mix it with imaginations of cyberspace, all of the time? How could the mundane interfaces, modems, and slowly loading websites give rise to such an enthusiastic mapping of online spatiality, creating an unique visual culture of new cyberspaces? Some explanations for this are easier to give: Cyberpunk, Gaming Cultures and Media Arts had been engaged with online spatiality before the Web grew exponentially in a short time. Interlinking public, and especially urban space with representations of digital cities and information landscapes also did not start with the Web, as Kirsten Wagner has shown as early as 2006 (Wagner 2006). Yet some of the Web’s practices became quickly engaged with a translation of urbanity into cyber-urbanity, and affording a new situationist dérive while surfing. John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of Independence” attempted to remove the cyberspace from the realm of old statehood and legality, while addressing its representatives at the highly localized 1996 World Economic Forum in Davos.

A lot of this resonates in and with Martin Dodge’s and Rob Kitchin’s seminal work of “Mapping Cyberspace” (2000), which we want to revisit here. For them, the “Web has become such a powerful interface and interaction paradigm that is the mode of cyberspace, particularly for the mass of users who only came online since the mid-1990s.” (Dodge/Kitchin 2000, p. 3). Along with Dodge and Kitchin, a slightly more systematic explanation can be made about the dynamics between locating the Internet, and the Web, topographically while at the same time accounting for its feelingly new information spaces and attaching a topological spatiality to them. Relations between topography and topology are, as I would like to argue, always shifting and relational, thereby relying on the evaluations of what kind of indexicality a mapping wants to achieve. So neither is topography bound to mimetic mappings of actual geographic space, nor is topology something only to be found in the realm of abstract diagrammatics and mathematics that refrain from any geo-indexicality. Methodologically, Dodge and Kitchin appropriated the whole range of digital cartographic options at hand, including a multitude of distributed mappings of geographers at universities and telco companies. Geo-indexicality thus almost always remained topical, even if it was absent in representations of, let us say, a hyperlink topology between websites like Ben Fry’s Valence (1999). “[G]eography continues to matter, despite recent rhetoric claiming the ‘death of distance’.” (Dodge/Kitchin 2000, p. x.)

„Circulating Indexicality, Cyberspace and the Early Web“ weiterlesen

Standards Revisited

Thursday, 24 January 2019, University of Siegen
Herrengarten 3, 57072 Siegen, room AH 217/218

13:15 Opening Remarks: Standards Revisited
Sebastian Gießmann (University of Siegen) / Nadine Taha (University of Siegen)

13:30 Anna Echterhölter (University of Vienna)
Red and Black Boxes: Standardization as Mesuroclasm in German New Guinea

14:30 Nadine Taha (University of Siegen)
George Eastman and the Calendar Reform

16:00 Geoffrey C. Bowker (University of California, Irvine)
Standard Time: Computers, Clocks and Turtles – via Zoom Conference

17:00 Lawrence Busch (Michigan State University)
Markets and Standards – via Zoom Conference

Friday, 25 January 2019

10:00 JoAnne Yates (MIT, Sloan School of Management)
A New Model for Standard Setting: How IETF became the Standards Body for the Internet

11:00 Thomas Haigh
(University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee / University of Siegen)
The Accidental Standard: How a Box Became an Industry

13:00 Sebastian Gießmann (University of Siegen)
Standardizing Digital Payments

14:00 Anne Helmond (University of Amsterdam)/ Fernando van der Vlist (University of Amsterdam / University of Siegen)
‘It’s Graphs All the Way Down’

Standards are not easy to come by. As infrastructural media they coordinate the social to an ever-growing extent, thus creating conditions of cooperation. Standards do so not just by their sociotechnical power, but also by public uptake and controversies that put their accountability into question. They can also be understood as engineering and bureaucratic media that form a basis and condition for cooperation.

Historically, practices of standardization can be traced back to antiquity, especially in the history of coins, writing, and measurements. But pre-modern standards were bound to flounder and dissipate. Early modern knowledge cultures – partly – realized standardization via hand-made scientific instruments that extended metrological chains. While pre-industrial attempts to standardize the aggregation of information in administrative forms have been limited in scale and scope, 19th century industrialization interconnected with nationalized politics extended the territories of standardization. Media infrastructures such as the postal service and telegraphy became transnational through their administration in international organizations and a legal foundation via international treaties. Scale and scope of – inherently political and normative – standards and metrologies were at the same time constitutive for colonial prospection and rule.

Computing has given rise to its own regimes and obsessions of non-governmental standardizing. While early digital computers were unique, the trajectories of standardization were then tied to governmental contract research, commercialization and its coordinative and delegative practices. Serial production and the diffusion of architectural norms became a matter of economic competition in the era of mainframe computing in organizations. In multiple ways both the networking of heterogeneous computers and the success of the IBM-compatible PC did create a pathway to “open standards” that made computers publicly accessible. In the transpacific and global arena of hardware and software production, hyper-standardization has been an issue ever since. This also involves the questions of formats that mediate bureaucratic processes, textual representation, visual and auditory perception, and digital audiovisuality. Formats thus have become standards that mediate digital practices in their own right, just like network protocols and Internet standards. In many ways, the ecology of the World Wide Web is an ecology due to its standardizing bodies, communities of practice, and institutions like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Our aim is to understand how standards generalize and universalize media technologies, and to ask: How do metrology, industrialization, and imperialism/colonialism intersect with standards? What is the relation between standards, digital media, and coordination? How to explain the longue durée, ecology, and the enduring power of standards to configure cooperation? What is the relation between standards, delegative power, scale, and scope of media?

Collaborative Research Center Media of Cooperation, University of Siegen CRC project A01: “Digital Network Technologies between Specialization and Generalization

Repositories in Cooperation

Varieties of Cooperation poster It is my great pleasure to welcome you to “Repositories in Cooperation”. Our panel for “Varieties of Cooperation” developed out of preparatory work for the Collaborative Research Center „Media of Cooperation“, in which we have attempted to refocus and reappropriate Susan Leigh Star’s and James Griesemer’s original notion of the boundary object. Within our 2015 workshop on “The Translation of Boundary Objects” we have started to re-engage with a more specific understanding that returns to Star’s list of four type of boundary objects: repositories, ideal types, coincident boundaries and forms/labels. The results of this have now been published in German as “Grenzobjekte und Medienforschung”, along with a translation of ten seminal texts by Star and her collaborators. As Erhard Schüttpelz has shown in his commentary on “This is Not a Boundary Object” all four types deal with the relation between modularity and extendability, with the relation between “parts” and “wholes”. [1]

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