Darren Wershler, Lori Emerson, Jussi Parikka: The Lab Book: Situated Practices in Media Studies (2022)

23 May 2022, dusan

“From the “Big Science” of Bell Laboratories to the esoteric world of séance chambers to university media labs to neighborhood makerspaces, places we call “labs” are everywhere—but how exactly do we account for the wide variety of ways that they produce knowledge? More than imitations of science and engineering labs, many contemporary labs are hybrid forms that require a new methodological and theoretical toolkit to describe. The Lab Book investigates these vital, creative spaces, presenting readers with the concept of the “hybrid lab” and offering an extended—and rare—critical investigation of how labs have proliferated throughout culture.

Organized by interpretive categories such as space, infrastructure, and imaginaries, The Lab Book uses both historical and contemporary examples to show how laboratories have become fundamentally connected to changes in the contemporary university. Its wide reach includes institutions like the MIT Media Lab, the Tuskegee Institute’s Jesup Wagon, ACTLab, and the Media Archaeological Fundus. The authors cover topics such as the evolution and delineation of lab-based communities, how labs’ tools and technologies contribute to defining their space, and a glossary of key hybrid lab techniques.”

Publisher University of Minnesota Press, March 2022
ISBN 9781517902179, 1517902177
x+333 pages

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Christina Dunbar-Hester: Hacking Diversity: The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures (2020)

21 December 2021, dusan

“A firsthand look at efforts to improve diversity in software and hackerspace communities.

Hacking, as a mode of technical and cultural production, is commonly celebrated for its extraordinary freedoms of creation and circulation. Yet surprisingly few women participate in it: rates of involvement by technologically skilled women are drastically lower in hacking communities than in industry and academia. Hacking Diversity investigates the activists engaged in free and open-source software to understand why, despite their efforts, they fail to achieve the diversity that their ideals support.

Christina Dunbar-Hester shows that within this well-meaning volunteer world, beyond the sway of human resource departments and equal opportunity legislation, members of underrepresented groups face unique challenges. She brings together more than five years of firsthand research: attending software conferences and training events, working on message boards and listservs, and frequenting North American hackerspaces. She explores who participates in voluntaristic technology cultures, to what ends, and with what consequences. Digging deep into the fundamental assumptions underpinning STEM-oriented societies, Dunbar-Hester demonstrates that while the preferred solutions of tech enthusiasts—their “hacks” of projects and cultures—can ameliorate some of the “bugs” within their own communities, these methods come up short for issues of unequal social and economic power. Distributing “diversity” in technical production is not equal to generating justice.

Hacking Diversity reframes questions of diversity advocacy to consider what interventions might appropriately broaden inclusion and participation in the hacking world and beyond.”

Publisher Princeton University Press, 2020
Princeton Studies in Culture and Technology series
ISBN 9780691182070, 0691182078
xi+271 pages

Reviews: Jenna P. Carpenter (Tech & Society, 2021), Rebecca Ortenberg (Lady Science, 2020), Samantha Shorey (International Journal of Communication, 2020).

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Matthew Fuller, Eyal Weizman: Investigative Aesthetics: Conflicts and Commons in the Politics of Truth (2021)

2 November 2021, dusan

“A new field of counterinvestigation in journalism, human rights, art and law

Today, artists are engaged in investigation. They probe corruption, human rights violations, environmental crimes and technological domination. At the same time, areas not usually thought of as artistic make powerful use of aesthetics. Journalists and legal professionals pore over opensource videos and satellite imagery to undertake visual investigations. This combination of diverse fields is what the authors call “investigative aesthetics”: the mobilisation of sensibilities associated with art, architecture and other such practices in order to speak truth to power.

Investigative Aesthetics draws on theories of knowledge, ecology and technology; evaluates the methods of citizen counter-forensics, micro-history and art; and examines radical practices such as those of WikiLeaks, Bellingcat, and Forensic Architecture. These new practices take place in the studio and the laboratory, the courtroom and the gallery, online and in the streets, as they strive towards the construction of a new common sense.

Matthew Fuller and Eyal Weizman have here provided an inspiring introduction to a new field that will change how we understand and confront power today.

To Nour Abuzaid for your brilliance, perseverance, and unshaken belief in the liberation of Palestine.

Publisher Verso Books, London, August 2021
ISBN 9781788739085, 1788739086
259 pages

Review: Chris Hayes (Tribune, 2021).

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