Doing Intervention and Enacting the 'Everyday': How Users Figure in Innovation Projects


The Interaction Research Studio and CSISP, Goldsmiths, invited you to: 

Doing Intervention and Enacting the 'Everyday': How Users Figure in Innovation ProjectsSpeakers: Torben Elgaard Jensen & Morten Krogh Petersen

(The Technical University of Denmark)

16th May 2012 | 16:30 ~ 18:30

NAB LGO1 (New Academic Building)

Goldsmiths, University of London

New Cross, London

SE14 6NW, UK

This seminar included two 30 minute presentations (abstracts below) followed by a discussion.

Intervention By Invitation

Torben Elgaard Jensen

Over the past three decades, STS has increasingly moved from a position of often ‘studying up’ to a position of often ‘being invited’ into scientific, technological and political projects. As a consequence, more and more STS researchers now find themselves having access not only to the sites, but also at times to the discussions and the decisions. With these new points of entry, the key question about intervention may no longer be if STS will be heard, but rather how the contributions from STS will combine with those of other participants in joint projects. The article investigates how Danish STS researchers were invited to intervene under the auspices of a national programme to promote user-driven innovation, and how they gradually developed new versions of the well-established conceptions of the users known from the STS literature. The new versions of the user raised higher hopes about the innovative potential of users, and evoked deeper fears about elusive publics and disloyal customers. Finally, the article considers the peculiar ‘middle management’ position that STS researchers may hold as mediators between users and projects, and it proposes the term ‘intervention-as-composition’ to designate the type of intervention that may result from mediating between previously unconnected actors.


The everyday enactment of 'the everyday' in an innovation project

Morten Krogh Petersen 

The everyday is often believed to hold an important key to innovation. Hence, private and public sector organizations alike are currently developing a keen interest in descriptions of the everyday lives of users, consumers, citizens, employees etc. (Thrift 2006; Cefkin 2009; O'Dell & Willim 2011). Through a wide range of methods and activities, everyday lives are laboriously scrutinized and attempts are made at bringing the resulting descriptions into innovation processes. Scholars within the field of STS on innovation and users have noted this development and conceptualize the everyday in different and programmatic ways (e.g. Akrich 1992; Suchman, Blomberg et al. 1999; Halse, Brandt et al. 2010; Pantzar & Shove 2010). But what is this everyday and how, more precisely, is it handled in innovation projects? The paper develops the argument that the everyday is by no means an unproblematic field of investigation ready for scrutiny and subsequent utilization in innovation projects. It does so through a close analysis of how the everyday is studied, enacted and handled in a Danish, government supported user-driven innovation project concerning work practices at an outpatient clinic. The analysis shows how different versions of the everyday at the clinic are enacted and handled in the innovation projects different user involving activities. It is argued that this handling of the users’ everyday is an important aspect in understanding how innovation happens – or not – in contemporary innovation projects. Actually, finding ways of handling the everyday innovatively may be one of the crucial challenges of current user-driven innovation projects.


Joseph Dumit (UC Davis) and Natasha Myers (York University, in absentia)

Tuesday 1st May 2012 5.00-6.30pm RHB137, Goldsmiths

Based on anthropological fieldwork with live-cell imaging biologists and 3D immersive visualization-using (CAVE) geologists, this paper analyzes how researchers are moved by moving images.  Through temporal and spatial scaling, what we find in both sites are experimentalists caught up in prolonged encounters with their data, instruments and stories. As one scientist explained, "The give and take, back and forth between you and the data suggests what to do next in the experiment." A temporal slice into what Hans-Jorg Rheinberger calls experimental systems.



Oncology and ontologies: a material-semiotic analysis of cancer assemblages
Jorge Castillo Sepúlveda. (Visiting Research Fellow, CSISP)

Seminar, Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP)

Thursday, 1st March 2012
5.00 pm – 6.30 pm
12th floor seminar room, Warmington Tower


This paper presents the main advances and conceptual tensions that emerge from on-going research, which addresses cancer as biomedical object informed by Actor-Network Theory. It conceives cancer as sustained from a series of assemblages in different scales of material-semiotic order, i.e., in the field of heterogeneous formations involving human and nonhumans. Moreover, cancer is related to a series of practices of regulation and it is linked to a several changes in the epistemic scope of biomedicine, which involves the thinking of life itself. These articulations provide us with conceptual mediations to think about an oncological ontology, reasoning on how cancer is constructed and depends of socio-technical performance. Initially, I will present the role of protocols in Catalunya, Spain, which mediate the relations between knowledge and practices, enacting what I propose as a new oncology ontology.  Secondly, I will show how these new assemblages may be understood as potential objects. Here I draw on the work of   A.N. Whitehead. Finally, referring to my case study of a breast cancer patients association in Barcelona, I will outline questions arising in my efforts to consider processes of patient (subjectification) transformations as a production of the same socio-technical cancer assemblages.