We are proud to announce that Brit Ross Winthereik and Marisa Cohn will have both a panel and a paper in the 2nd Nordic Science and Technology Studies (STS) Conference – May 27–29 2015

Brit and Marisa are initiators, founders and key researchers for ETHOS Lab.

Below you can see the description of their panel and the abstract of their paper:

Panel: Engaging with digital methods
Recently, the use of digital methods and tools for studying and following controversies or issues has become a novel part of the toolbox for the STS-researcher. The MACOSPOL project initiated by among others Bruno Latour seeks to develop tools and methods for mapping controversies based on the ambition to enable citizens broadly speaking to navigate the complexity of contemporary techno-scientific controversies and societal issues for insuring and supporting core values of democracy.
Arguably, the complexity of contemporary societies and knowledge production has lead to the seemingly paradoxical situation, where scientific knowledge is increasingly produced and demanded, while at the same time scientific knowledge is challenged and relativized by both other scientists and citizens.
According to Latour and others, it has therefore become of great importance to develop tools that may enable us to dive into various controversies and issues in order to enable us to participate in democratic processes and decision-making. These digital tools are impressive and often open source tools that ideally allow the user to harvest, visualize and analyze huge amounts of online data. However, these tools are also black boxes and the huge amounts of data they are capable of collecting become by definition very difficult to manually assess and scrutinize.
Having taught, read and experimented with digital methods, we, the conveners, wish to discuss and reflect on the use of these tools and their ramifications. We wish to debate some of the in- build assumptions and discourses of controversy mapping. Or discuss the practices of using digital tools and doing controversy mapping. Or consider how controversy mapping contributes and interferes with other research practices. Or how we may develop teaching of controversy mapping.. or? We invite other STS-scholars interested in these matters to present and contribute to the panel.
Marisa Cohn, Assistant Professor, IT-University of Copenhagen
Brit Ross Winthereik, Associate professor, IT-University of Copenhagen
Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen, Associate professor, Centre for Science studies, Aarhus University Peter Danholt, Associate professor, Centre for STS-studies, Aarhus University


Paper abstract: Why a feminist cartography of controversies? Speculative figuration as a way forward in controversy mapping

Marisa Cohn and Brit Ross Winthereik
IT University of Copenhagen

This paper compares and discusses modes of controversy cartography that we have encountered in our teaching of the graduate course: Navigating Complexity: Mapping, Visualization and Decision-making. In the course we have used a set of open source tools developed by the Paris school of controversy mapping. These tools have been effective for teaching students how to recognise technoscientific controversy and get analytical handles on concepts such as inscription, black boxes, and translation. However, in our paper we show how certain values such as transience and embodiment/mediated vision are difficult to keep in the analysis when using the digital tools available. Using examples from class, we show how we have used insights from feminist STS to remedy what we saw missing in the students’ projects. Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, adding in these insights created troubles. We show how these troubles have nevertheless been effective pedagogically in not only helping us create space for transience and embodiment but also for equipping students to work through the mutually constitutive relationship between the digital tools and their adjacent theories, and better account for the complexity of this relationship. In our own research we find our experiences with teaching valuable for further experimentation with the relations between data and knowledge infrastructures and public communication.