Geof Bowker is a Professor and Director of the EVoke Laboratory at The Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, at University of California, Irvine. Previously he was Professor of Cyberscholarship at the iSchool, University of Pittsburgh, and before that Executive Director and the Regis and Dianne McKenna Professor at the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara University (CA). Bowker’s research focuses on the information infrastructures deployed across scientific disciplines. He examines the ways in which social, cultural and political values get built into the knowledge generated by means of digital resources and into the devices we use to sense and act in the world.
Title: Have you ever been infrastructured?
Jacques Lacan once asserted that ‘language speaks us’, inverting the common acceptance that language is a vessel through which we communicate ourselves. I explore ways in which infrastructure performs us, how it sometimes performs this task badly and I look to new infrastructural forms which we might develop. While I concentrate on information infrastructures, I also examine our increasingly informated physical infrastructures.
Tim Ingold is Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He has carried out fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on animals in human society, and on human ecology and evolutionary theory. His more recent work explores environmental perception and skilled practice. Ingold’s current interests lie on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. His recent books include The Perception of the Environment (2000), Lines (2007), Being Alive (2011), Making (2013) and The Life of Lines (2015).
Title: Ethnography is not participant observation
I argue that we fundamentally misunderstand the nature and purpose of both participation and observation by treating them as techniques of qualitative data collection for ethnographic analysis. Rather, participant observation enshrines an ethical and ontological commitment to working together with people and learning from them. This commitment is not easily reconciled with the ethnographic principle that places our work in the service of writing them up.