What are you reading?

Hap­py to have the short con­ver­sa­tion I had with @danielarosner pub­lished in Inter­ac­tions Mag­a­zine’s reg­u­lar “What are you read­ing?” col­umn. We exper­i­ment with a brief inter­change about two won­der­ful books: Anna Tsing’s The Mush­room at the End of the World and Sarah Ahmed’s Liv­ing a Fem­i­nist Life.
Below is the long-wind­ed ver­sion before tidy­ing and editing.

Tsing, A. L. (2015). The Mush­room at the End of the World: On the Pos­si­bil­i­ty of Life in Cap­i­tal­ist Ruins. Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press.
Ahmed, S. (2017). Liv­ing a Fem­i­nist Life. Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press.

Platypus blog post

The Com­mit­tee for the Anthro­pol­o­gy of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy & Com­put­ing (CASTAC) and Rebekah Cul­pit kind­ly gave me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to write a piece for Platy­pus (the CASTAC blog).
Titled “Becom­ing More Capa­ble”, the blog post sketch­es out some of the ear­ly ideas I’ve been think­ing with in con­nec­tion to dis/ability. Specif­i­cal­ly, it takes up a gen­er­a­tive (fem­i­nist inspired) posi­tion, that under­stands capa­bil­i­ty as col­lec­tive­ly achieved, as a ‘becom­ing-with’. The Platy­pus post is here, or see a longer un-edit­ed ver­sion below.

We need to exer­cise the imag­i­na­tion in order to elbow away at the con­di­tions of im/possibility.

Ingunn Moser & John Law (1999: 174)

What is it to be capa­ble? How might we elbow away the con­di­tions that lim­it abil­i­ty, to become more capa­ble? (more…)

Talk at RCA, Design Products

I had a very gen­er­ous slot for pre­sent­ing to some in Design Prod­ucts at the RCA this week.

Slides from RCA Design Products talk Feb 2017

In this talk, I want to sug­gest we have spent too much time work­ing with the lim­its of capability—the lim­its of the per­cep­tu­al appa­ra­tus, the lim­its of cog­ni­tive capac­i­ties, and the lim­its of how crit­ters (whether human or non­hu­man) inter­act and relate to one anoth­er. Draw­ing on a fem­i­nist techno­science and using exam­ples from recent field­work, I’ll aim to show that, togeth­er, we make our­selves capa­ble. That capa­bil­i­ty isn’t lim­it­ed to some pre-giv­en, indi­vid­ual state, but comes into being through (inter)action, through entan­gled rela­tions between actors of all kinds. This, I’ll claim, gives us a very dif­fer­ent way of think­ing about our rela­tions with tech­nol­o­gy and espe­cial­ly the promise of AI and machine learn­ing. Rather than machines aim­ing to repli­cate human capa­bil­i­ty, I want to pro­pose an expan­sive project that allows us the chance to imag­ine some­thing ‘oth­er-than’ finite capa­bil­i­ties, that sees capa­bil­i­ty as a ‘becom­ing-with’, and lays open the pos­si­bil­i­ties for much much more.


I’m hop­ing to fine-tune and do a lit­tle tidy­ing of these ideas for this talk at the Knowl­edge Lab (Insti­tute of Edu­ca­tion) lat­er this month.


Paper presented at 4S/EASST meeting

At the com­bined 4S/EASST meet­ing this year, Sarah Kem­ber and I pre­sent­ed a paper titled:

Writer­ly (ac)counts of finite flour­ish­ings and pos­si­bly bet­ter ways of being together

As Sarah’s intro­duc­tion to the paper out­lined, our co-writ­ings were an attempt to think with the emerg­ing strate­gies of fem­i­nist count­ing, account­ing and re-counting.
Below, I present my part to the co-authered piece. It’s long, so I put it here more for the record than any expec­ta­tion it will be read. I must add that the ideas I present draw on work done by . With­out her ener­gy and always thought­ful invest­ment in the field site, this reflec­tion would not have been pos­si­ble: (more…)

… work­ing from Newcastle’s Open Lab

Back to interaction (a reply to Barry)

I’m grate­ful to Bar­ry Brown for his com­ments on my short Inter­ac­tions piece, “After Inter­ac­tion”.
Bar­ry, as always, you’ve forced me to think more care­ful­ly about my mean­der­ings. Indeed, my inten­tion was to append a short reply to your com­ment, but your ques­tions have demand­ed more and, pre­dictably, words have got the bet­ter of me. This post, then, is my long-wind­ed response. Thank you for giv­ing me the chance to expand on my thoughts.

First, let me respond to your crit­i­cisms regard­ing the inter­min­glings of humans and non­hu­mans. (more…)

Reading Data matter(s)

Wil­son, M. W. (2011). Data matter(s): legit­i­ma­cy, cod­ing, and qual­i­fi­ca­tions-of-life. Envi­ron­ment and Plan­ning D: Soci­ety and Space, 29(5), 857–872.
Real­ly help­ful paper from Matthew Wil­son on the inter­min­glings of data and geog­ra­phy. Although more con­cen­trat­ed on a par­tic­u­lar aspect of com­mu­ni­ty life (name­ly report­ing prob­lems or dam­age to local facil­i­ties etc.), the paper has some strong rel­e­vances for the Teni­son Road project. Espe­cial­ly use­ful are Wilson’s thoughts on mat­ter­ing in rela­tion to fem­i­nist techno­science and of course 

Wil­son cites:
Har­away D J, 1991 Simi­ans, Cyborgs, and Women: The Rein­ven­tion of Nature (Rout­ledge, New York)

Har­away D J, 1997 [email protected]_Millennium. FemaleMan©_Meets_OncoMouse™: Fem­i­nism and Techno­science (Rout­ledge, New York)

Har­away D J, 1999, “Knowl­edges and the ques­tion of alliances”, in Knowl­edges and the Ques­tion of Alliances: A Con­ver­sa­tion with Nan­cy Hart­sock, Don­na Har­away, and David Har­vey (Kane Hall, Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, Seat­tle, WA)

On always already

The phrase “always already” is, in the main, attrib­uted to the post­struc­tural­ist philoso­pher Jaques Der­ri­da. It has, how­ev­er, come to be a trope for the new mate­ri­al­ists and it is in this usage that I mod­est­ly take it on. Specif­i­cal­ly, my guid­ing sources are from the fem­i­nist techno­science schol­ars Don­na Har­away and Karen Barad, both of whom make heavy use of the phrase to trou­ble the bina­ries abound in sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy (sub­ject-object, mind-mat­ter, inside-out­side, past-present, etc.).
For some back ground read­ing see The New Mate­ri­al­ist “Always Already”: On an A‑Human Human­i­ties.