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 Modest_Witness@Second_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.