Sunday, August 09, 2009

a thesis as slices of stories

Daniel Pink's book, A whole new mind, lists the aptitudes for success in a conceptual era. These include
Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning.
I'm wondering if the academy can embrace the shift from the knowledge age with its logics and linear approach and instead value Pink's conceptual concerns of engagement.

Since i am writing a thesis informed by actor-network theory, how might Pink's attributes be demonstrated?
Design would encompass what 'makes things up' not as fantasy but very much as an empirical analysis of what is pulled together. For the thesis, design is also about form with function, design not being an act of titivation. I can use art work, poetry, allegory ... but not as a gimmick, it has to progress the story. And because the academy may not be attuned to work in a conceptual rather than knowledge era, such use needs arguing.

The 'story' tells of how other actors are seduced into such design. How we enrol others and peel them off from prior, or distracting, concerns. In addition, an ANT thesis presents the research story as partial, and or fractal and or overlapping. The multivocal voice need to consider all actors, human and otherwise, so voice is uncovered for such actors; what is the influence of the environment, or of the tools of the trade.
In Aramis Latour demonstrates the use of story to convey multiple stories of a mystery in Who killed Aramis, a nascent form of transportation. In the Body multiple, Mol demonstrates through the telling of empirical stories the multiple performances of practice demonstrating arteriosclerosis as a multiple entity.
Stories are not lineal in the making, they are made lineal retrospectively.To simplify this ignores the messiness that is part of the social (dis)order, and as Law suggests, to make such complexity simple may be to make a mess of it.
The storytelling is not to imply that fiction or facts are necessarily separate entities. In ANT all research is also partial, it does not stand in isolation from those who create it....all facts are creations. In addition, to tell of 'facts' may not suffice, our ability to access knowledge has never been greater, but of itself this does not result in changed behaviour. We probably all know of smokers who are well informed on the facts. Pink tells us "What begins to matter more [than mere data] is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact."

In symphony there is a pulling together, how might it be done with more deliberate intent, if one were wanting a particular shape what could be pushed, pulled, left alone. Here its worth the time spent with Itay on youtube for there is an art to great composition and to leading.

This symphony also takes into account the custodial role of telling the story, for the storyteller too has impact. The story chosen and the way it is shaped, and to whome it is told...all these are alo political acts of researcher involvement.
"The most creative among us see relationships the rest of us never notice," Pink says. And this too is the major part of an actor network informed analysis.

Empathy- having a critical imagination is to consider how unknown or unexperienced lives might also be shaped within a network. To not pretend a God like view from nowhere but to appreciate the person's own experience as that which is experienced. To have voice, to make voice. And to know when to make things more and less heard, to have empathy includes considering if whats invisible should be made visible, or not. Susan leigh Star writes on this in her ant approaches to research analysis. It is also a consideration expressed by Latour in saying always consider putting yourself at the peak of enthusiasm that has actors act the ways they do, do not play the sly one advantaged by hindsight.

; suggests that there are serendipitous acts that will not be fully known in advance, that there needs to be space for the unknown. To be playful is also about leaving space for being creative, to consider that new learnings may be told in new ways. And also that what is planned for doesnt usually consider failure and risk.

Meaning, and finally to make meaning is also to know that things might also be performed differently, there is therefore scope that things might also be performed differently.

Seems to me that a conceptual approach is congruent with Actor- network theory.

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