Saturday, November 14, 2009

Performativity in social science research; what a haiku knows

Photo by Michael Flick, cc license, original at http://www.flickr.com/photos/17773534@N03/3078450238/

Void in form

When, just as they are,
White dewdrops gather,
On scarlet maple leaves,
Regard the scarlet beads!


Such poetry brings a reflexive stance to my understanding of what material semiotics and performativity can bring to my doctoral research. This Japanes poem by Ikkyu (translated by Stryk and Ikemoto,1981) stops me in my tracks.
In wonder I can think about what makes things so, what assemblages are required, how does the performance hold me as well as its assembly of actors and of spaces.

In iterating toward openness by David Wiley, I too wonder about what's needed to turn my educational institution into a place where I want to sit within and wonder at, rather than wonder why.

The frustrations of working in the academy where change happens either in incredibly small increments or tearing people distressed into a future they are scared by, are the issues that prompted my own studies into change and the use of emergent technologies.

Taking an actor-network approach is what helping me in making meaning of my world, as well as the worlds of others. I have come to appreciate that there are alternate realities. Sometimes these clash, sometimes they coexist.

Developing a network sensibility provides a fuller knowledge of the contingencies that hold certain actors in place.
This sensibility also provides for understanding that the social and the technical, that people and their technologies, are well enmeshed, that each actor is also a network.

Having this sensibility doesn't leave me stuck in despair though, for knowing the intimate details of how things are aggregated also provides insight that things can be done differently. Its a practical and pragmatic knowledge. There are potentials for adding to, taking away; working around; aligning alongside; or splicing into.

Trying to work change through lineal change theory approaches will clearly cause unexpected frustration.
Trying to use a rationale chooser approach similarly doesn't work. Logic and the wonders of an innovation do not of themselves create the conditions for a different way of being.

With wisdom shared by Seth Godin (2009), If you want to change what your boss ([or other people you work with] believes, or the strategy your company is following, the first step is to figure out how to be the best informed person in the room. To put this into actor-network terms, is to state the obvious, to reveal is to critique

Reference
Doolin, B., & Lowe, A. (2002). To reveal is to critique: actor-network theory and performativity in critical information systems research. Journal of Information Technology, 17(2), 69-78.

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