Tuesday, February 25, 2003

We may talk to you about collaboration, and collaboration with artists, and collaboration with designers, and 24-29 hour monster collaborative sessions that take place in Rotterdam or Hastings, in museums or cages, with artists, designers, scientists, engineers or whomever, but now you can watch it happen live and streamed to the web. You can even chat with it (if you have a pc; sorry mac users). See Nina Wakeford inhabit the "Habituation Cage" with video artist Paul Wong, for 24 hours straight, as part of the launch of Code Zebra (gawk and chat here: www.codezebra.net) at the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival (DEAF '03). But hurry, they set her free Wed. 25th Feb. at 4pm GMT. Log on in the middle of the night to see whether they're awake.

Monday, February 24, 2003

As my first post to the INCITE weblog, I thought I should post something about weblogging. Big news in the blogging world: GOOGLE BUYS BLOGGER. Blogger is the largest host for weblogs internationally, and this purchase has a number of potentially interesting consequences. One immediate outcome is the fact that it appears the company have gone through all their blogspot subscribers and deleted all those weblogs which have not received a recent post; if this is true, it means the loss of a whole archive of early takeup weblogs, which is sad.
INCITE members met on friday for a new round of reading group sessions. First up was me; we discussed my ongoing research with UK webloggers and the different kinds of analytical approaches sociologists might take as compared to anthropologists [me]. The discussion once again returned us to the comparison between the study of art objects and texts; and in particular, the distinctions between the anthropology and sociology of art. In this regard, I still find Gell a promising starting point for my own attempt to think about what could be distinctive about the anthropological study of text [and in this case digital text].

Monday, February 17, 2003

Nina and I [kris] attended a good conference at Lancaster University at the end of last week. It was called “Things that Can’t Quite Speak” and is described this way on the website (see recommended links):

“This workshop starts by asking why do we so often think that texts are end-points in sociology and in STS [Science, Technology and Society]? It is informed by two senses: 1. that texts set limits to what can be studied, how study is undertaken, what can be known, and what can be effected or enacted; 2. that telling in texts - even in metaphorical form - can lead to inappropriate closure, rather than opening up and freeing space. The workshop will thus seek to explore other logics, and in particular other possible outcomes and material forms for research in sociology and in STS.”

Most papers questioned the plenitude of texts, revealing a widely-held suspicion: that written language (alone) is not adequate to the task of representing all topics. Sociology, STS, Women’s Studies, Psychology, Health Research, Cultural Studies, and Art were all present, as practices, but it was clear that for whatever our significant differences, all were practically concerned with (even worried about) representation, as a task and as an outcome of analysis. Most papers spoke _about_ the limits of written text; some spoke _at_ the limits of written text by presenting their work in the form of dramatic performance. This put us, as a workshop, in the interesting position of being able to work explicitly between written text, spoken text and dramatic performance in our discussions, and offered up Drama as a running sub-theme, a useful metaphor, and a practical tool. By day two, we had wound ourselves up into a genuine dramatic moment, which, interestingly, may have sparked the most productive discussion of the two-day workshop; it was certainly one of the most engaging.

Our ongoing collaborations with artists will give us the opportunity to continue thinking along these lines. –kris cohen

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Things are happening here. Digital music in the home, blogging and photoblogging, individualisation and digital video, the use of the internet in public spaces, mobility and immobility, witness appeal boards and forms of writing in, and on, the city: all are active areas of inquiry for INCITE researchers. What unites the projects is their basic approach to asking questions and seeking answers: each project draws on critical theory, ethnography, design, new media, and science and technology studies, and each in its own way is collaborative betwixt and between these disciplines. On the web, INCITE’s home is: www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/incite. Off the web, it all happens between London and the University of Surrey's Sociology Department, in Guildford, which houses INCITE's offices. Look to those sites for the stable information about us.

This blog will offer a more quotidian perspective on INCITE’s work: reports from the field, work in progress, things as they go. It will discuss issues methodological and theoretical, and it will try to provide insight into the inner workings of our various research projects. There are 6 researchers in all. Below, they are listed with a short description of their active areas of research. Use this as a key to future posts. And please check back; we will update the blog at least weekly.

[you can find full bios here: www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/incite/staff.htm]
Dr. Nina Wakeford (director of INCITE): oversees the researchers at INCITE, works on the group’s collaborative projects, and is often on the lookout for new ones. Currently studying design practice, technologies in the city, queer theory, and the perils of interdisciplinary translation. N.wakeford@soc.surrey.ac.uk

Zoe Tenger – Meeting and travel arranger, one who transcribes, coffee maker, biscuit buyer, and doer of all those things which make the office tick over and who brings everyone together from time to time. z.tenger@soc.surrey.ac.uk

Dr. Adam Reed (research fellow): researching blogging, political activism online, public texts in the city. Currently interested in material culture of reading and writing, anthropology of literature, the 'urban' and new technologies of perception. a.reed@soc.surrey.ac.uk

Kris Cohen (research fellow): researching mobility, digital photography and photoblogs. k.cohen@soc.surrey.ac.uk

Steve Smith (PhD CASE student): researching branding, digital photography and digital film. s.smith@surrey.ac.uk

Kate Orton-Johnson (PhD CASE student): looking at new technology in higher education, specifically student use of web-based resources and ideas about how technology is shaping the landscape of higher education; also interested in technology as both a fieldsite and a research tool, the object and means of study and how this affects the process of research methodologically and analytically. k.orton-johnson@soc.surrey.ac.uk

Gerard Oleksik (PhD CASE student): researching digital music in the home. g.oleksik@soc.surrey.ac.uk

That’s us. Please write if you have questions. See you in the posts below.