Hey Tonya, I also love STS!
In my current research engagement, I am trying to study the watershed (basin) as an emergent infrastructure and I could explore the idea of a collaborative infrastructure from this sketch as I try to engage with the invisible infrastructural work around watersheds.
I would also like to continue leveraging upon and contributing to the collaborative infrastructure as Joseph has discussed for himself through the virtual collaborative infrastructures.
I am involved in a large research project that brings together university researchers and industry practitioners. This is certainly a model that is favoured by governments, who are looking for 'practical' research outputs. The collaboration has been so fraught throughout though, with many failures along the way. However, with negotiation and compromise, there have been many generative insights, often rooted in failure! I've consciously dug around for gateways between different worlds, and have tried to stay with discomfort, friction, and encounter.
My own work is in science laboratories and how scientists communicate to build scientific theory. Certainly, repetition and "re-use with modifications" (Charles Goodwin 2018) are a key component of this process. The infrastructure scientists use (journals, email, University departments, banks of computers/servers) to achieve their goals are largely invisible to them and they often don't realize how the direction of their theory depends on the contingencies of infrastructure. Question: should the infrastructure be 'visible' or can it only do its work enabling productivity when it is invisible?
[I'm taking 'relate to my own research interests' here to mean 'relate to my own professional situation']
Although I'm a U.S. citizen and thus don't have to worry about needing a job in order to stay in the U.S., I also will need a job in order to support myself (paying for rent, food, etc.) as soon as this program is over. Because it's so diffcult to save on a grad student salary in NYC, I won't have more than a few months buffer. So perhaps there is a similar looming "countdown" feeling.
The idea of needing a back up career is something that also weighs on me. But as hard as a I know the academic job market is, I worry that going back into the professional world after 6 years away will be even harder (my work background before the job was a bit scattered between local govt and K-12 and outdoor education, the latter of which I'm really not interested in going back to. I really don't even know what field I'd be satisfied working in at this point.) Kim - I wonder how much of your time you devote to this "back up" plan, and in what ways? Personally, I'm putting all of my efforts time-wise into academia, and figure I will deal with sorting out Plan B if it comes to that, but I'd rather not take any time or effort away from Plan A (academic job.) I have recently been wondering if there are small and non-time-intensive things I could be doing to increase my skills and legibility for non-academic contexts, though, without really taking away from Plan A. Would love to hear if others have strategies they're using.
Your research sounds very interesting. In my PhD, I am looking at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), to which India contributes, as one of several case studies. I was wondering if you are also interested in ITER? Unfortunately, so far, I was only able to find European/American literature on the project, maybe you could point me to Indian references?
I hope we have the opportunity to chat about this during the workshop. I look forward to it.
Jessica, thank you for the three visuals you shared in regards to your very exciting field research in Mauritius. The first image of the converted sugar factory pulled me in right away and made me draw connections to my own research and teaching. In collaboration with the Whitney Plantation Museum in Southern Louisiana, I am currently working on a digital exhibit. The exhibit is designed for undergraduate students in the course Environmental Injustice, teaching students about the shift from domestic slave trade to petrochemical economy. Interestingly, the plantation was formerly owned by Formosa Plastics, with the aim to build the largest rayon factory in the United States. Due to activist pushback and shrinking global demand for frayon, Formosa eventually sold the property after 9 years. Having toured the Whitney last summer, I was struck by the image of the glitzy office stands, which stands in such a stark contrast to the violent history of plantation labor. That said, it would be fantastic to hear more about how you incorporate the history of sugar plantations in your own narration of biofuel and sustainability in Mauritius. And what do you make of the historic (?) picture printed on the office wall? How is sugarcane remembered by users of the office?
The political comic on resource extraction you selected is also sobering and visualizing "the point". Do you know more about the artist who drew it? Do you plan to include the visual in your dissertation, if yes why (or why not)?
I am not sure if the orientation of the electric car in your third picture was on purpose, but the world "upside-down" and out of joint seems spot-on, given the oil tanker disaster that is unfolding. I know you mentioned the disaster in your short bio and you must be following it very closely. It would be great to learn more from you how you think the disaster will impact sustainability efforts in Mauritius. I'm still relatively new to research on environmental injustice (and since moving to California, got socialized into learning a lot of US-cases). If not least to do a better job at teaching, this will be an important case that I'd like to understand better. Looking forward to what you'll have to share!
Not directly related to your selected visuals, but very interested to hear about your use of maps and sensory-multimodal methods (I'm also going through rounds of trial and error). What civic data, mapping and activism is currently prevalent in Mauritius? What more is needed?
PS: thanks for review on my Formosa visuals and pointing to Max Liboirons' work -- great inspiration!
Thanks for sharing your data collection and storage methods. One type of "data" that you've identified, Twitter conversations, has become increasingly important in my research as well. This brings up a question that I often grapple with: how "public" is public data and what steps must be undertaken to ensure that interlocutors are protected, especially in cases where this information may already be circulating on and through social media itself? In many cases, I've seen some interlocutors screenshot conversations from more "closed" social media forums, like WhatsApp and Facebook groups, and circulate these images on Twitter. This has been a hot topic in Mauritius (where I conduct research) as of late; there has been an escalation in attacks on freedom of the press and free speech, which comes hand-in-hand with a recent heavy fuel oil spill offshore and public critiques of government inaction. I wonder if, or to what extent, this may also be an issue for your research?
Sketch 6 _ response to Megh Marathe's and Angela Okune's posts, and Katie Ulrich's response _ Meredith Sattler
I'm thinking a lot about 'visual style,' and how it realtes to communication, in my work. Megh and Angela, in both of your posts, this issue also seems to be foregrounded. Megh, very explicitly in your research into the 'reading' of EEG data, and Angela [and Katie's response] in the 'flow diagram' arrows.
My visually based backgrounds in art and architecture have proven time and again, that content and form are difficult to tease apart [is this binary even exactly the right binary?], particularly in visual representations, where in many cases, the signified and signifier are collapsed, and they all have a 'look' or visual style to them. Clearly, content and form are also present in text [and numbers, perhaps to a lesser extent], but I suspect that in western culture [particularly American], we have more background/training to 'read' texts within their standard forms/styles [I'm thinking of categories such as prose vs. technical, etc.] than visual images. Hence, we have more skill and experience teasing apart content and 'style' in text form. This might contribute to some of our confusion between visual content/form. Perhaps as a culture, we just haven't been educated to 'read' images at a more nuanced level [very dangerous in a media saturated society[!] but that's another topic].
Both content and form, of course, communicate and are simultaneously imbued with norms, values, ethics, memory triggers, etc. [While I haven't delved deep into the theory/philosophy of aesthetics, I suspect there's a depth of knowledge related to these topics developed there.] Megh, initially this tension between visual form and content seems to be at the core of your interests...? I love thinking about your identification of an 'ugly' EEG as both a constructed category, and for how the 'ugly' judgement the graph engenders might prove transferable, potentially with significant implications.
Angela and Katie, I've been thinking a lot about the form of the flow chart [with arrows]. For all the good the flow chart does, it is a sneaky form of representation because it appears to be relatively spatially and temporally explicit, but in fact, in many cases, despite its ordered, analytical, and maybe even quantitative appearance, it resists those attributes. Flow representations show boundaries well [they require them, even where they might not be present], and put discreet entities in relationship with one another, often sequentially, and of course, they show a 'complete' system, somewhat like a map [BUT, they are NOT spatially explicit]. Ultimately, they often show a top-down idealized version of a situation. Because of their form, they are largely not capable of representing 'on the ground' complications, surprises, and abnormalities...the 'reality' embedded within many of the situations they depict. Here, 'style' stands-in for control: clean boundaries around entities, clearly defined relationships and pathways of circulation; yet no real communication of duration or geospatial position. If their form were to accomodate all of that information, the diagram would quickly become so visually complex, it would be illegible.
What they do do well, is COMMUNICATE a simplified, ordered, [highly biased] world. I also increasingly think they are very useful visioning/worldmaking design tools...but very dangerous when not intimately coupled with other design processes and representations.