Considering more-than-human participation in co-design with older adults: Implications for a material gerontology

Yesterday the first online symposium of the international network on Socio-Gerontechnology took place with more than 100 participants*. The network brings together researchers from different social science and design disciplines who are interested in critical studies of age(ing) and technology. Disciplines include public health, gerontology, sociology, science and technology studies (STS), design research and socio-informatics. Common to the scientists is an interest in the increasing digitalisation of our lives and its effects on the lives of older people, but also our image of age(ing) and the resulting (socio-)political dynamics.

Together with Helen Manchester (University of Bristol) I gave a talk entitled “Considering more-than-human participation in co-design with older adults: Implications for a material gerontology”. In this paper we argue that many gerontechnologies understand age as a problem that requires a technical solution. A good example is the recent article in the New York Times on monitoring technologies that allow children to “keep an eye” on their elderly parents in times of the Covid-19 pandemic. The problem of quarantine is presented as a “matter of fact” that needs to be solved. In our talk, we argue that design should not be understood as problem-solving, but rather as joint problem-making. With this different focus, new actors in design processes emerge and need to be involved. Design is moving from a focus on “Matters of Facts” to a practice that is concerned with “Matters of Care”.

All contributions and a recording of the event will soon be published on the network’s website.


Sozialverantwortliche Technikgestaltung und Partizipation

Der September stand für mich unter der Überschrift “Sozialverantwortliche Technikgestaltung und Partizipation”. Zunächst habe ich auf der Mensch und Computer in Hamburg am 8. September am Workshop “Partizipative & sozialverantwortliche Technikentwicklung” teilgenommen und ein Positionspapier zu “Co-creating digital citizenship: Considering the reconfiguration of participation in digital public service design” vorgestellt. Im Workshop trafen sich Wissenschaftler*innen aus ganz Deutschland und diskutierten über die Potenziale und Grenzen des Partizipativen Designs. Anschließend wurde entschieden, dass wir in der Gesellschaft für Informatik eine neue Fachgruppe zu Partizipation gründen möchten. Sie soll einen Raum schaffen, in dem Informatiker*innen sich über (neue) Herausforderungen und Chancen von Partizipation austauschen sowie Konzepte und Methoden weiterentwickeln können.

Am 25. September stellte ich bei der Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Informatik in Kassel einen Beitrag im Track: “Socio-technical Design and Value Orientation” vor. Der gemeinsame Beitrag von Ulrike Gerhard, Herbert Kubicek und mir fasst die Herausforderungen und Chancen der Technikgestaltung mit älteren Menschen zusammen. Er ist in den Lecture Notes in Informatics zu finden.

Schließlich habe ich am 26. September bei der DigitalisierungsConvention einen der beiden Impulsvorträge unter dem Titel: “Paradoxon Künstliche Intelligenz: Chancen und Risiken einer digitalen Gesellschaft gehalten”. Der zweite Impulsvortrag wurde von Roland Becker, Geschäftsführer der Just Add AI GmbH und Initiator von BREMEN.AI gegeben. Die Teilnehmer*innen der DigitalisierungsConvention waren ein bunter Mix aus Vertreter*innen der Wirtschaft, Verwaltung und Wissenschaft. Senatorin Kristina Vogt hielt ein Grußwort, gefolgt von Björn Portillo (bremen digialmedia) und Daniel Schneider (Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Bremen). In meinem Vortrag bin ich darauf eingegangen, warum es wichtig ist zu verstehen, dass Technik Mittel zur Strukturierung sozialer Ordnung ist und Technikgestaltung immer ein sozialer Aushandlungsprozess. Eine gemeinwohlorientierte Gestaltung unserer Zukunft, bedarf daher der menschzentrierten und partizipativen Technikgestaltung.


20190926_Digitalisierungs-Convention (84)

20190926_Digitalisierungs-Convention (81)

3rd Data Power Conference

On September 12 and 13, the third international Data Power Conference took place in Bremen. A total of 170 people from 37 countries took part. More than 120 studies were presented in 34 sessions. The participants came from disciplines as diverse as media and communication studies, geography, sociology, law and computer science. They are united by their interest in critical data studies when researching phenomena such as the increasing quantification of social life, in which data-driven decision-making and governance aspects play an increasingly important role. The aim of the conference was to discuss and reflect upon data power in a global perspective. The keynote speakers of the conference contributed their experiences from China (Jack Linchuan Qiu), India (Nimmi Rangaswamy) and USA (Seeta Peña Gangadharan).

I was involved in the organising committee (which consisted of members of the Universities of Bremen, Sheffield and Carleton). In addition, I presented my joint research with Hendrik Heuer under the title: “The Public Availability of #MachineLearning and its Harmful Secondary Effects”. The next Data Power conference will take place in two years, the location has not yet been decided. Next summer we will publish an edited, open access book with Palgrave featuring some of the most interesting papers of the conference.


04 05

Fotos: Beate C. Koehler

Call for Papers: Considering the performativity of our own research practices

I am delighted to announce the call for papers for our track at 4S/EASST 2016 from 31st August to 3rd September in Barcelona. I’ll be running the session with Lisa Wood and Lucas Introna from Lancaster University. Deadline for paper submissions is 21st February 2016. Please see for more details here.

Short Abstract

What happens if we take Barad’s call for ethico-onto-epistemology seriously? How can we perform STS ‘by Other Means’, open the black box of ethnographies, and participate in their performative enactment more reflexively and creatively? Paper presentation and discussion facilitated by a respondent.

Long Abstract

STS has a strong history of reflecting on the epistemic practices of others. Yet, in spite of a strong methodological focus, STS scholars often only partially consider the performative conditions of their own research practices—not always acknowledging that their own epistemic practices are not merely ‘capturing’ the world, but rather enacting it. As Barad (2007) argues ‘”each of us” is part of the intra-active ongoing articulation of the world in its differential mattering’ (p.381). Through our methods we make particular cuts and we need to acknowledge that these cuts are performative, and that other cuts are possible. How we practice our research is constitutive of what becomes enacted as knowledge (Whitehead, 1978). This has important ontological and ethical implications. Barad asks us to consider an ‘ethico-onto-epistemology’ which appreciates this intertwining of ethics, knowing and becoming.

We invite empirical or theoretical papers relating (but not limited) to the following themes:

● The performative conditions of methods and methodology in STS;

● Production and entanglement of subjects and objects through methods;

● The performativity of ethnographic work (also, reconsidering ethnographic work in terms of alternatives such as autoethnography or digital ethnography). What does doing ethnography differently enact, and why does it matter?

● Ethical, policy, practice and dissemination implications of the performativity of epistemic practices;

● How and what do epistemic practices such as participant observation, interviewing, transcribing, coding, and qualitative analysis enact, and why does it matter?

● What do enactments of epistemic practices offer in relation to everyday practices?

Call for abstract: Performing openess and practicing ‘minga’ in government, education and software development

Raoni Rajão (UFMG, Brazil) and I are organising a sub-theme at next year’s LAEMOS (Latin-American and European Meeting on Organization Studies). The title of our sub-theme is “Performing openess and practicing ‘minga’ in government, education and software development”. For those who are not familiar with the notion of ‘minga’, it is a Latinamerican concept for a collective job done in favour of the community. Hence we are interested in discussing the performance of openness, and ways in which it matters in civic tech contexts in particular.

You may find the call for abstracts here and more information about the conference to be held in Viña del Mar (6-9 April 2016) here. The deadline for abstracts (1000 words) is 10th November 2015. LAEMOS is the premier conference on Latin American and European Organization Studies and supported by EGOS (European Group for Organizational Studies). Its purpose is to strengthen the Latin America–Europe scholarly link by encouraging interdisciplinary studies of organizations in Latin American and European societies. The conference takes place every two years.

European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium

DSC_0324 (2) The 31st EGOS Colloquium took place in Athens from 2nd to 4th of July 2015. I participated in the sub-theme 45: Materiality, Human Agency and Practice which was convened by Eleni Lamprou (ALBA), Nathalie Mitev (King’s College London) and Lucas Introna (Lancaster). The participants included scholars from design research, IS, anthropology, technology studies, gender studies and many more; and covered topics ranging from digital book publishing to 3D printing to fertility treatments. I had the great opportunity to meet a number of scholars whose new work I greatly enjoyed hearing about, in particular Wanda Orlikowski, Susan Scott, Matthew Jones, Séamas Kelly, François-Xavier de Vaujany, Leon Hempel and Roser Pujadas. Overall it was an inspiring track and conversation that demonstrated the width of current research on materiality and practice-based approaches.

I presented a paper entitled: Considering the practicing of sociomaterial research and its enactments. You may find the paper and presentation slides here. → full paperpresentation slides

Data Power Conference

2015-06-22 15.40.00-1Over the last two days I participated in the first DATA POWER conference at Sheffield University which featured a great collection tracks, topics and speakers (see here for the programme).The conference took place in the beautiful Cutler’s Hall.

My presentation was entitled: Open government data practices: Producing ‘open publics’ through civic hacking and included some of the first thoughts and insights on my postdoc project. You may find the full presentation here. → presentation slides