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June 2 @ 09:00 - June 3 @ 15:00
Under the theme “Living with Ruptures: Repair, Maintenance, and (Re)Construction”, DASTS 2022 is happening in Aarhus from the 2nd to the 3rd of June:
“The world seems to be filled with ruptures. Ongoing migration issues, pandemics, mistrust in institutions, climate change catastrophes, among other chronic and unresolved crises. It is compelling to interrogate the status and demands of STS-oriented research in the moment during, after, with, and despite ruptures: How do we live with them? Should we (re)construct or maintain the “normal”? What do we leave behind and what do we repair?”
“DASTS 2022 provides a platform to gather and share ongoing and emergent STS-related research, particularly in Denmark and the Nordic space. Here, we want to discuss how the current landscape of STS methods and theories inform and impact maintenance practices and reactions to ruptures.”
The full programme, including a full list of speakers and abstracts, is available here: DASTS22
Among the speakers is a long list of TiPsters:
TRACK 5: Art, Science, and Technology Studies (II)
Chair: Adam Bencard
Thursday, June 2, 4pm-5.30pm, 2022 – Nygaard 184
Udredning-Udtrykt / Expressing ’undergoing diagnosis’
Parents to children undergoing socio-medical diagnosis (udredning) in Denmark live through a range of unfamiliar experiences with authorities, institutions, the child, and themselves as families. It would be an understatement to claim that this situation is often marked by uncertainty, it is resource-draining, and it is a situation in which it is difficult to find a stable foothold. One common theme amongst such parents seems to be that they must often become the ‘project manager’ or ‘their own caseworker’, as the institutions and institutional actors they encounter when seeking a diagnosis quickly multiply and are in many cases not wellcoordinated. Or in the parlor of STS, they become the partial managers of the infra-structure for their child’s diagnosis. For instance, parents often become the caretakers of the increasingly complex story of their child, which is important not only in the various encounters with institutions for something to happen, but also in relation to their families, neighbors, and friends. This talk is a report from an ongoing research trough design project on giving expression to this situation. It first consisted in conducting a qualitative investigation of the experiences of parents to children, who have been through such a process. Followingly the project has been concerned with transforming the empirical material gathered into an art/design installation which may hopefully work to enable a broader conversation on the issue. The presentation will be about how the research developed from its initial motivational ideas – to its present state.
TRACK 9: Caring and Commoning in/through STS interventions
Chair: Giacomo Poderi & Maurizio Teli
Friday, June 3, 9am-10.30am, 2022 – Nygaard 184
Adam Veng & Irina Papazu
Controversy mapping and the care for climate commons – Re-assembling the Danish climate movement by counter-mapping digital network maps
The Danish general electoral campaign in 2019 saw a unifying culmination of the “climate movement”, as a diverse assembly of green think tanks, school children and direct-action protest groups succeeded in turning climate into the paramount political issue of the election. The government has since signed the “most ambitious Climate Act in the world”, however, the climate movement, alongside several scientific experts, has since expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s politics on the green agenda, while the government itself and its established networks of cooperate “climate partnerships” maintains to uphold an ambitious climate politics. This paper is based on nine months of mixed-methods research, using the digital tools Hyphe, Gephi and CorText to map the relations between different public Danish actors (NGO’s, businesses etc.) and their “matters of concern” (Latour 2004) in the controversy of the Danish green transition. Inspired by literature on counter-mapping data science (Dalton and Stallmann 2018), it introduces an interventionist methodological experiment in using network maps as props for material participation (Marres & Lezeaun 2011) in a workshop setting with invited activists. As such, the paper seeks to explore how critical discussions of network maps can become a ‘prototype for prefiguration’ (Jimenéz 2014) for mapped entities to collectively evaluate and re-invent both their position in a controversy and their methods for obtaining public impact. The experiment is framed by a discussion of the potentials of research collaborations with state-opposed commons and their politics of world-building (Zigon 2017, Caffentzis & Federici 2014) in the field of controversy mapping.
Maintain-ability. On Life Alongside Computer Software
This paper, based on my recent thesis (Ojala 2021) examines what lessons about living with technology can we learn from software maintainers who struggle to keep digital infrastructures – at least most of the time – in good running order. The empirical material of the research was collected at four events as programmers convened to discuss breakage. Drawing on STS, I identify themes which concern programmers as they give testimony of their lives lived alongside computer software. The findings firstly challenge the imaginary of existing software as an stable object, and secondly nuance and specify the notions of maintenance documented in research literature. Themselves well versed in conceptualizing breakage, software maintainers exercise considerable agency over the immediate material in their care; code. However in doing so, they also find themselves having to articulate dynamic, interdependent and hybrid networks of relations which they are intimately entangled with, and whose durability depends on the success of their ongoing, indeterminate reconfiguration. Both the programmers and the software they maintain must continuously navigate risks of breakage, burnout, bugs or falling into obsolescence. Inspired by feminist technoscience and in response to so-called broken world thinking (Jackson 2014), I theorize the concept of *maintain-ability* and demonstrate its application to foreground the situated, fragile and often underappreciated capacity to not only give but also receive care which holds together more-than-human worlds at the dawn of the third millennium.
TRACK 10: Ruptures Through Re-politicizing Technified ‘Facts’ on Sustainability
Chair: Julia Kirch Kirkegaard
Friday, June 3, 9am-10-30am, 2022 – Nygaard 192
Steffen Dalsgaard & Rasmus Tyge Haarløv
Facts and Politics of Air Pollution in Copenhagen
The introduction of Google’s Project Air View (PAV) in Copenhagen has re-invigorated local concerns over air pollution. In contrast to established techno-scientific networks which deploy well-known air pollutants as visible in accordance with European limits, the PAV has both contributed with fine-grained measurements as ’technified facts’ at street-level and it has amplified the visibility of new and emerging objects of aerial governance such as ultrafine particles and black carbon over which there is yet to form scientific or ’factual’ consensus. The objective of this paper is twofold: Firstly, we analyze the divergent and heterogeneous identifications and representations of air pollution in Copenhagen. Secondly, we discuss how groups of concerned citizens in their push against entrenched ways of thinking about air pollution are empowered by the PAV’s fine grained air pollution visualizations in different ways. While some citizens deploy the PAV to (re)politicize pollutants stemming from aviation, busses, and smaller vehicles, others propose novel urban green designs in dialogue with municipal authorities. At the same time corporate and some governmental actors attempt to depoliticize the problem of air pollution by deferring responsibility to established conventions for which air pollution ‘counts’. All in all, we argue that Google’s contribution to the (re)politicization of air pollution in Copenhagen is a multi-facetted process, which solidifies existing political environmental contrasts rather than depoliticizing or solving them.
Caroline Anna Salling
The Competition of Heat Pumps
This paper analyses the politics of competition through the policy-incentivised simultaneous installation of large and small heat pumps in Denmark. The heat pumps are prepared for competition with both old heating solutions as well as with each other in order to electrify and decarbonise. As district heating pipes are extended into new areas of towns and cities with the help of large heat pumps, small heat pumps are in policy and marketing offered as solution mainly to households that not (yet) have access to district heating. I have ethnographically followed district heating engineers in the city of Odense, Denmark, in putting heat pumps to work to utilise excess heat from servers within the nearby Facebook datacentre. The excess of hot, usually lukewarm, air from industrial machines is raised in temperature and converted into water that can flow in the pipes of the district heating and assist in phasing out fossil fuels. Through three events – a course taught on thermodynamics to employees, the installation of heat pumps next to the datacentre, and a lobby meeting – competition is analysed as emerging through the implementation of thermodynamic theory and policy incentivising technology instalment. Experiencing competition is a rather new event for the district heating sector, which happens in contrast to the arrival of the monopolistically governed Big Tech hyperscale datacentre that draw several benefits from attaching itself to the community form of energy arrangement, as district heating is often described to be.
Infrastructuring the trouble: Sustainability reports, facts & expertise
Danish and European law requires large corporations operating in Denmark to report on their sustainabillity initiatives. Simultaneously, financial markets are increasingly interested in investing in companies which perform well in Economic, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings and similar benchmarks. This has lead to a steady rise in the quantity and importance of sustainability reporting, a process through which corporations purport to document how they are becoming more sustainable, decreasing their emmissions and doing good in the world through measurements and the creation of facts. Corporate’ greenwashing’ and CSR spin is no new phenomenon, and it is thus easy to dismiss such reports as nothing more than branding. However sustainability reporting is simultaneously a practice which companies pour many hours of work into, procuring data, developing calculations, conforming to standards and which many corporate actors genuinely believe represent an attempt at positive action. It thus represents a ‘trouble’ (Haraway, 2016), in the sense that it is a pervasive practice which we may want to disregard as an expression of frivilous corporate non-action, but nevertheless is a site of practical fact-making. This paper documents how a particular conception of corporate sustainability is being produced in this reporting practice, through the mobilization of particular laws, data, standards and expertises, before being expressed in reports. The reports are thus material- semiotic actors that hold the potential for systematic study, interrogation and, perhaps, repoliticization. The paper finally outlines how digital and quanti-qualitaitve methods might help facilitate this work.
TRACK 13: Approaching Platform Work
Chair: Kalle Kusk
Friday, June 3, 11am-12.30pm, 2022 – Nygaard 184
House cleaning platforms in Denmark: How does the past fit in the imagined future?
In recent years, there has been great concern that contracting remote or localized work through digital labor platforms will shape the future of work and employment relations (e.g., Ilsøe & Larsen, 2020). Despite a lack of agreement within the literature on whether the platform economy has been growing in steady, fast or exponential ways, it is rather safe to admit that working through platforms is a consolidated work form in the global labor market, challenging traditional full-time, dependent employment. Both the Danish government (Regeringen, 2019) and EU institutions have stressed the need to cover growing demands for flexible employment through platforms which “create jobs and improve competitiveness” (European Commission, 2018). This paper combines digital ethnography, document analysis and interviews with housecleaners and stakeholders to investigate the nexus between flexible and precarious employment in Danish housecleaning platforms. It argues that the composition of the labor force working through these platforms and the everyday practices within platform housecleaning challenge the positive character attributed to the state-supported sociotechnical imaginary of the Danish platform economy and goes further to question whether such an imaginary exists or if it forms part of a broader Danish sociotechnical imaginary of the digitalization of everyday life (cf Jasanoff, 2015). In line with this year’s DASTS theme the paper claims that digital housecleaning platforms build on the affordances inherent to the platform business model (cost-efficient algorithmic management, performativity of ratings, competition etc.) while sustaining “normal” (atypical, low-paid) employment conditions for the highly gendered and racialized workforce of housecleaners in Denmark.
TRACK 14: Designing the Socio-Technical Design Research & STS
Chair: Stefanie Eggers & Christian Lepenik
Friday, June 3, 11am-12.30pm, 2022 – Nygaard 192
Simy Kaur Gahoonia & Christopher Gad
Prototyping the future, prototyping citizens – the Danish trial of ‘technology comprehension’ in public school
This paper explores how the Danish school sector currently performs and reworks students’ engagement with digitalization through prototyping. Public schooling is routinely mobilized by the state as part of the solution to perceived societal problems. By law, Danish schooling should prepare students for participation, co-responsibility, rights, and duties in a democratic society. Recently, this includes preparing students for life in an increasingly digitalized democracy. We investigate the Ministry of Children and Education’s trial of ‘technology comprehension’ (2018-2021). This was an experimental effort to determine how to introduce ‘understanding of technology’ into compulsory schooling as a generally formative, creativeconstructive, and critical subject matter combining societal reflection, computer science and design approaches. The curriculum suggested that design approaches, especially, were conducive to agency and empowerment in digital democratic life, making it imperative that students learn to materialize digital artifacts through prototyping. This takes prototyping beyond its traditional use in design and systems development, making experimentalism central to the conduct of citizenship and social life. We examine prototyping across the trial: the curriculum; the trial’s design; the classroom; and the trial’s evaluation. We argue that prototyping functions as a device for intervention in the complexity and uncertainty of a digital democratic future. In this situation, the capacity of prototyping is to keep matters of concern both open and closed across scales, and bind different sites of the trial together. We critically examine the role of the prototype in a democracy in ’perpetual beta’ and the response: educating students to cultivate a design attitude.
We have four regular events
- The TiP Salon runs weekly during the semester. We convene around constructive engagement with new publications, visitors to the group and work in progress. The meeting is open, and runs at 12:00-13:00 on Wednesdays. Please contact Lara Reime to sign up to the email list.
- Shut up and Write runs weekly during the semester. Based on the model promoted by Inger Mewburn, we commit to writing projects on the whiteboard and write in shorter sessions with breaks. For more, see here.
- The TiP Invited Speaker Series has been running since 2018, and each year 3-4 invited speakers present their work in a public forum. All welcome.
- The TiP Writing Workshop takes place twice a semester, where contributions from all members of TiP are welcome. The purpose of the workshop is to give and receive feedback on ‘in progress’ work. Practically the workshop entails reading all participants’ submission, being a ‘caring opponent’ on one particular text, and participating in constructive debate about the texts.
When PhD students are at the right stage of their studies, they resurrect the longstanding institution of the STS Reading Group. Previous seasons of the Reading Group can be found here (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017).