One of the final activities of the virtual ethnography collaboratory of the Virtual Knowledge Studio was the visit of TL Taylor. During her time in Amsterdam, TL focused on a book project, on ethnographic methodology for the study of virtual worlds, in which she is involved with other colleagues. She presented on part of this project in our research meeting, in a talk entitled ‘Ethnography as Play’.
Another part of the visit consisted in the preparation of a session on Fieldwork as Method and Process for Artful Encounters: on ethnography, art and conservation. TL and I had a great time interviewing each other, and we were very pleased at how generously the audience reacted when we turned the interview questions on them!
At a workshop on e-research organised by Nick Kankoswki in the framework of NCeSS 2009, we are presenting on the topic on ethics of e-research. This work is based on the experiences of the VKS in the past 3 years and on two workshops on ethics organised by the VKS in June 2008 and June 2009 (with KNAW). We have given our contribution a somewhat unusual form, putting forth our insights as a set of ‘frequently asked questions’. These FAQs can be found here. Reactions to these are very welcome, whether on the blog, face to face or via email.
We marked this anniversary with an installation presented by the VKS at the 8 May celebration at the Beurs van Berlage. The installations was developed around the work entitled Poser, by Constant Dullaart.
The installation articulated a fascination with social interaction and the possibilities of digital and networked media that is shared by the VKS and Dullaart. It emphasized practice and performance in relation to digital media, to social roles and to cultural rules.
In this installation, group photos, retrieved via Flickr were projected in a studio setting in such a way that the artist (and numerous participants to the evening) attempted to take on roles in these images.
This project was aimed at exploring new forms of interactions and of communication about the work we do at the VKS. Unlike a paper, a publication or even a poster session, this was very much an ‘event’, a concentrated period of interaction around the technological infrastructure of the installation and around the social gathering of the employees of the KNAW at the Beurs. This intensity was quite distinct from the usual way of communicating around our work, much more like a performance than the usual scientific communication. This made for an unforgettable evening, which left me with new insights about what we are doing at the studio and about various unsuspected talents of colleagues (there are some budding actors, talk show hosts and roadies in this building). Oh, and also with an aversion to the colour green, which I had unwisely been planning to wear.
This event came together through the generous contributions of Constant Dullaart, Dafna Maimon, Jeannette Haagsma, Charles van den Heuvel and colleagues of the VKS and Trippenhuis.
Bags as boundary objects
Dina’s generous interest in this project is multisided, and we started our conversation with her suggestion to think about bags as ‘boundary objects’. We returned to this issue at the end of our conversation. For Dina, this association between a concept that is very important for her dissertation and our request to participate in our bags project was a very stimulating one. In a small, concrete way, it gave a new dimension to her connection to work going on at the Studio. Reflecting on ‘bags as boundary objects’, Dina suggests that this might be a useful way to think about the work that bags do, as helping to move between social worlds. But, she also wonders, is the concept of boundary object useful when the boundaries are being crossed by a single person? Is the concept most useful when the work to be done involves multiple actors?
Dina’s Big Bag
The first thing that one notices about Dina’s bag is that it’s big and bright. We tried to make a photo that would capture the full volume of the bag and its huge potential for expansion.
It’s a bag that gets used for carrying work attributes, like papers and books, and a laptop (when it’s working) but also serves to carry water bottles or purchases, or to transport groceries bought on the way home. For Dina, this is THE bag—it accommodates all bag needs. Anything fits in there, and she therefore doesn’t have to bother thinking through which bag to use. This is it!
She bought her bag (like Ernst) in the US, during a stay of a few months there in 2005. This may explain why the bag seems to be a bit of a hybrid between a work bag and a piece of luggage. This bag was something of an ‘investment’ and the quality of this bag is much higher than the succession of cheaper bags she had before. She enjoys that it is a backpack, rather than a sling/shoulder bag. If the bag is especially heavy, she may strap it on to her bicycle, but otherwise she carries it on her back. It doesn’t bother her that she has to take the bag off her back to access its contents (for example to grab a bus ticket).
Dina is working at the Studio for a few months, writing her Masters dissertation. This also affects how the bag is used. In Denmark where she was a student, she didn’t have an office and therefore didn’t carry things to an office, but only to classes. Sometimes things remain in the bag and make ‘extra’ trips before they get unpacked at the appropriate location.
Posted in bags, ethnography, experiment, material culture of digital work, methods
Tagged bags, bicycle, big, boundary object, Dina Friis, dissertation, travel, volume
The next postings will be derived from a second set of conversations Sally and I have been having with colleagues about their bags. Although it is still early in this project, we have already had some very interesting experiences about the relation between ‘raw fieldnotes’ and these posts, about ‘voice’, and about how to articulate authorship. We are also still learning how to address the materiality of these bags-descriptions shift to function and seem to depart from materiality very quickly in conversation. On the other hand, making photos, and the discussion about how to do this, seem to help focus on the attributes of the bag. And of course we still need to think further about what we mean by materiality.