STS Italia conference: Sociotechnical Environments

I’m pleased to be presenting at the STS Italia annual conference this November. The theme is “Sociotechnical Environments” and the organizers describe the theme thusly:

“…we are conscious that everyday and professional environments we inhabit are increasingly shaped by science, technology and innovation processes. However, these environments are not mere results of technical solutions and rational choices, but they rather emerge from a collective, dynamic and open-ended process of co-production, involving social arrangements and technoscientific processes, human actors and material artifacts, natural resources and cultural frameworks. At the same time, reflecting on the sociotechnical co-production of our social world brings to the foreground the relationship between technoscientific innovation and natural environment, turning environmental practices, politics and materialities as decisive focal points for the current research in multiple fields and intellectual domains.”

I’m presenting in the track entitled “Communicating Research in Public” and my paper, “Artist as Science Communicator”, looks at the practice of artists which could also be considered a form of science communication, and how the novel methods of production and display by artists contribute to STS dialogue on publics of science.

Hope to see you in Trento!


Updated abstract

With the current reading I have been doing, and through discussion with my supervisor, I am refining my possible direction/research question.

I’m suffering a little bit from typical first year PhD student syndrome: everything is interesting and I can’t decide. But so far, from a quite vague statement about Innovation in Extreme Scenarios I have now narrowed things down a bit further, and my updated short abstract is below.

Here is an abstract of my current proposal.

Abstract: Social Innovation in Extreme Scenarios: Non-Expert Experts Remaking Tools Into Something Usable

My research will investigate the reinvention and repurposing of tools by communities of “non-expert experts”: in other words, highly creative and high-functioning amateurs. Social innovation is often seen as a top-down developed world export in the form of charity apps, microloan services, and projects such as One Laptop Per Child. What happens when groups of high-functioning amateurs hack corrupted, purposefully-broken systems to meet their needs (a current example is Angolan hackers using Portuguese Wikipedia to embed large downloads of pirated material)? What can we learn from their ingenious methods, borne of urgency? How can we overcome the barriers that cause Silicon Valley to ship broken products (if they ship anything at all) to communities that are not wealthy, white, and male?



Abstract and bibliography

Here is an abstract of my current proposal and draft bibliography.

Abstract: Innovation in Extreme Scenarios

My research will investigate the instrumentalization of the digital media industries as a state tool for economic growth as articulated within current European Union innovation policies. Insights into how innovation happens in practice (obtained from field study and literature review) will be compared and contrasted with the actual implementation of evolving EU policy. Highlighted in my research will be the particular role that digital media and high tech creative companies play in the emergence of social innovation.


Bauman, Z. (2013). Liquid times: Living in an age of uncertainty. Polity.

Berkun, S. (2010). The myths of innovation. O’Reilly Media, Inc..

Bernstein, P. L. (1996). Against the gods: The remarkable story of risk. New York: Wiley.

Caves, R. E. (2000). Creative industries: Contracts between art and commerce (No. 20).

Cunningham, S. D. (2002). From cultural to creative industries: Theory, industry, and policy implications. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: Quarterly Journal of Media Research and Resources, (102), 54-65.

Deborah, G. (2012). The social construction of technological systems: New directions in the sociology and history of technology. MIT Press (MA).

Flew, T. (2011). The creative industries: culture and policy. Sage.

Gielen, P. (2013). Creativity and Other Fundamentalisms. Mondriaan Fund.

Horizon 2020, (2014). What is Horizon 2020?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Sep. 2014].

Lessing, L. (2001). The Architecture of Innovation. Duke LJ51.

Liuhto, K. (2010). Rosnano and Skolkovo are Russia’s best innovation promoting measures, but they are not enough to modernise Russia as a whole. Edited by Eini Laaksonen.

MacKenzie, D., & Wajcman, J. (1999). The social shaping of technology. Open University Press.

McKenzie, J. (2001). Perform or else: From discipline to performance. Routledge.

Micallef, S. (2014). The Trouble With Brunch: Work, Class, and the Pursuit of Leisure. Coach House Books.

E.C. Martins, F. Terblanche (2003). Building organisational culture that stimulates creativity and innovation. European Journal of Innovation Management. (6:1, 64-74)

Mumford, L. (2000). Art and technics. Columbia University Press.

Saal, Harry J. Personal interview. October 11, 2011.

Taleb, N. (2012). Anti-fragile: How to Live in a World We Don’t Understand. Allen Lane.

Turkle, S. (2008). Always-on/always-on-you: The tethered self. Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (P. 121-137)

Verhagen, M. (2011) To the Top: Towards a New Enterprise Policy. Retrieved from: