Thursday, October 27, 2005

Martin Sønderlev Christensen checking in, check it out!

Hi INCITE aassociates and casual blogreaders. Encouraged by kat I thought I might shortly introduce myself as I have the privilege, not only to have access to this blog, but also currently to be associated with the INCITE group for a couple of months - October and November that is.

I normally reside in Copenhagen, where I’m currently doing the final stages of my PhD at the IT University of Copenhagen, so my visit at Surrey and INCITE is mainly one of getting away on my own for writing, and to see how research is done outside the configuration of my “normal” environment, which on a private note includes wife and two kids.

I should note here that I’m not a sociologist by training or by heart, my background is in Nordic literature and film/media studies – though I have while doing my master degree and within my PhD mainly concerned myself with what “goes on” between people and technology within late modernity from a cultural critic perspective. Including here the macro sociological thinking of Giddens, Beck, Lash and the lot of them. So while I haven’t had the micro-level empirical encounters as I find so prominent within INCITE, and that I have come to acknowledge that I would have liked to do, I do share the critical approach to technology positioned largely in Philosophy of Technology - mainly Andrew Feenbeerg, Don Ihde which in its (post)phenomenological outset has many threads to the works of Latour and Harraway – so the link is there I sense to core INCITE curriculum.

As for my project, it revolves around the concept of affect, which I approach as a central notion that has come to define what people do with and through technology and to some extend also what technology it self has become, an augmentation of our affect, our “outer” body rather than our effective rational one.

Affect is here understood not as a merely emotion, though it does point to the fact that people (formerly known as users) increasingly create, share and coordinate their experiences of everyday life through mobile and social computing. I therefore look at the ubiquitous mobile phones, digital photography sharing, blogs and subtract a number of characteristics from the use of these technologies allowing me to form a “genre” depiction denoted “Personal Affective Media Technologies” and I subdivide my study into three main parts of enquiry:

Firstly, what I call “Affective mediation”, how people connect to other people through technology? Covering mediated communication within social and cultural realm. Secondly "affective attachment", how do people connect to technology? Concerning the design of theses technologies - the interaction and the aesthetics of the genre. And Thirdly “affective augmentation” how do technology connect to people? Enabling me to reform a framework for seeing human technology relations as affect.

Affect here is rather a social and cultural phenomenon that allows us to critically talk about ways that people are enabled or imposed towards new ways of using technology – and to discuss the cultural implications as well as the aesthetical forms that follows from affective technological forms of life, to refrain Scott Lash. As it might be apparent from this the project is way to broad (and someway in between too ambitious and too naïve). Yet I feel it only covers half of the interesting and problematic issues I find in that critically important field where people and technology relations emerge and evolve.

Well that’s pretty much it. Only a few acknowledgement and your free to continue into the blogosphere. I would like to use the opportunity to thank all of INCITE particularly Nina and Katrina for being so open minded and helpful to bring me to UK and into the group, providing me ample space to work, knowing that I might be working from a different tradition and in different ways – it speaks highly for their academic openness and personal kindness. Also to Kris, Gerard, Steve and not least Sandeep for pleasant meetings. Now, it seems like I’m saying goodbye when this was suppose to be hallo.
Well, I’ll be around for another month before head home, so there are still time for more interaction, and if you, dear blogreader, have caught interest in my work OR find it deeply disturbing, you are most welcome to contact me on

all the best,


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Via Chicago

Hello INCITE and Friends of....

Chicago is great. Wish you were here. Autumn turns to Winter.

I carry your sociological sophistication with me, which I embrace and do not renounce, but find myself slightly...what?...relieved to be working with novels and films again—the sort of texts in comparison to which interview transcripts feel very stern to me (I always fear that I won't live up; that I didn't have the capacity to fully honour an interviewee's input). These kinds of texts, in contrast, feel permissive, somehow more promiscuous; which is to say, I feel more promiscuous around them, and promiscuity is good. My first paper is due next week, however, and I wonder if I'll remember how to do it (I'm working with a 19th c. American suffragist "composite" novel called The Sturdy Oak, placed in conversation with a book which I recommend to you all, Jodi Dean's Publicity's Secret).

yours faithfully,

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

hello from sandeep

Hello everyone. I am blogging for the very first time. Kat has already mentioned that i have joined as a PhD student in sociology this october and am all bits and bones in these first few weeks. I have a background in film, specializing in animation. I have previously researched two different story-telling traditions in India. In this PhD i will be doing a sociological investigation of story-telling in India, looking at translation of concepts between traditions, rural and urban and focus my concerns on the youth in urban India. Or that is vaguely what it sounds like in my head now. A few sociology books have landed on my desk, the wind has picked up the sails and i might be slowly moving. Sandeep.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

October update

sandeep telling stories

A new school year brings new faces to INCITE. Sandeep joins us as a PhD student from the RCA. He brings oodles of fascinating skills from his background in animation, both in terms of time intensive model and film work and hand drawn computer experience. I will leave it to him to introduce his proposed study into story telling in India soon on the blog. We also have Martin Sønderlev Christensen who is visiting us for two months from Cophenhagen. I hope he too will use the blog to share his current studies and plans for his time in London.

- kat

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

AoIR 2005 - Internet generations conference

the bean, originally uploaded by INCITE.

I have just returned from a week in Chicago, where I attended and presented a paper at AoIR 6.0 [the Association of Internet researchers]. Its theme this year was Internet Generations, which like most conference themes was deliberately broad and encouraging of all manner of papers. There were, as usual, an abundance of quantitative researchers who embrace the challenge of documenting who, how many, where and how often people use the internet, blogs and technological tools in numeric form. Whilst I find some of their theories, debates and kaleidoscopic diagrams interesting there is still a significant gulf between their concerns and mine. As Kris noted in his thoughts on AoIR 2004, there is sometimes surprisingly little common ground between papers of similar topics, such as blogging. This is not a complaint. It is actually very useful in contextualising my own work. For instance I was placed in a session called Visuals: Photoblogs and Visual Communication, in which the papers could not have contrasted more. They were not at all what I expected to enage with. One explored photoblogging as a new computerization movement whilst the other looked at socio-communicative orientation of student use of blogs. Both talked in terms of text and numbers and presented ideas in large scale graphs whilst I told stories and used images to describe my work. I am still chewing over how to make sense of these differences in terms of how I see my work and how to frame it in similar circumstances in the future.

I gave a paper about my bus research in which I looked at ways of seeing and researching with and through a blog; how the blog influences the research process and how my research influences the development of the blog. I talked about my experience of using a blog to gather, analyse and present data, about story telling (mine and other peoples via the 73 story blog), about managing multi-facted roles (how to cope with simultaneously being technical, a designer, blogger and researcher) and dealing with the transparency of an online process (how the act of blogging reveals the messy, awkward and ill-fitting fragments of research that are often cleaned and smoothed out in more formal research accounts).

It was an exhausting three and a half days, but I found the conference very useful in terms of how my area of research is being framed by different disciplines. It provided a supportive environment for networking and I found myself in much discussion after and around talks which was as valuable as the talks themselves (and sometimes more due to their brevity). Of particular interest to me was Lilia Efimova's paper on Not Documenting, Doing: Blogging as Research, Sonia Livingstone's keynote Youthful Experts? A Critical Appraisal of Children and Young People's Emerging Internet Literacy, and in terms of my Phd research, Alison Powell's The Politics of Visibilty; Wireless Internet Signals and Control of Urban Space.

Oh, and chicago was incredible. I was there just long enough to start planning ways and means to return.

- kat