Cell imaging, air quality mapping and synths: what do they have in common? Well, one could say they all entail inventions and negotiation of technological devices and infrastructures. Last week on June 3-5th our department hosted the international workshop SCOT coming of age: New challenges and opportunities ahead, co-ordinated by Knut H. Sørensen and Margrethe Aune. As some of you know the acronym SCOT stands for “Social construction of technology”, which has its origin story (or myth) in the paper “The social construction of facts and artifacts – or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other” by Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker, published in Social Studies of Science in 1984. As the workshop organizers state:
“The SCOT model together with the social shaping of technology, large technical systems and actor network theory emerged in the early 1980s to mark the development of what used to be called ‘the new sociology of technology’ (now more commonly is put under the label of ‘technology studies’). This gave a boost to social science and humanities’ approaches to the analysis of the making and use of technology, making technology studies a fairly large and vibrant field of research.
The workshop is intended to serve three main purposes. First, it will provide a retrospect on the emergence of the social construction of technology approach. Second, the workshop shall engage with assessments of what has been achieved during the 30 years that have passed since the publication of the initial SCOT paper. Third, we hope that the workshop will be an arena for debates about the way forward. What are the exciting new theories and concept that may guide technology studies in the years to come?”
The workshop consisted of a mix of invited talks, presentation of papers, and poster sessions. Keynote speakers included Wiebe E. Bijker, Trevor J. Pinch, Nelly Oudshoorn, Ranjit Singh and Robin Williams. From our project professor Merete Lie presented key points from her article on the domestication of IVF, focusing on imaging as a way of making cells appear as tangible and graspable entities (forthcoming in the European Journal of Women’s Studies, abstract). PhD candidate Anja Johansen presented a paper on artistic inventions and interventions with technoscience, discussing Beatriz da Costa’s coordination of a collective, amateur science initiative for mapping air quality in Los Angeles called Pigeon blog, and Christian Nold’s Bio Mapping project, focusing on his engagement with local communities and city developers in Britain.
Trevor Pinch also held a public presentation about the invention and development of the Moog Synthesizer at Rockheim – the museum of rock in Trondheim – on June 5th, in the evening. The presentation included a demo of the Moog as well as sound clips by musicians who used the synthesizer in their compositions. Afterwards the audience got to try out for themselves – a real bonus!