Understanding the context of bodynets implementations
Ana Viseu's work seems very interesting with regards to wearable computing, human/nonhumans interactions. Her PhD work: "Sociotechnical Worlds: The Visions and Realities of Bodynets" seems to be very appealing to my current readings about STS studies about IT.
Bodynets are bodies networked for (potentially) continuous communication with the environment (humans or computers) through at least one wearable device—a body-worn computer that is always on, always ready and always accessible. Bodynets can be thought of as new bridges between individuals and the environment (constituted by humans & nonhumans, or things and non-things). (...) For my doctoral research I propose to study how this new interface/bridge between the individual and the environment is developed and put in place, and how the relationship between both is redefined. In other words, I will study the development and implementation of bodynets and the emerging sociotechnical worlds that sustain them. (...) The study outlined in this paper is composed of two parts. In part A I propose to survey the field of bodynets, focusing on the visions drive its development and prototyping. This survey will provide data regarding the development/innovation phase of bodynets, that is, the expectations, goals, problems, solutions and activities of those involved (directly or not) in the field. Since bodynets are, in many ways, representative of the ‘dreams’ of the new information age, the research conducted here will also provide useful data relating to the values and ideals that guide our understanding of everyday life. For this purpose, three interviews with bodynet developers, from Europe and the United States, have already been conducted. Data is also being collected from a variety of sources, including books, newspapers, popular and scientific journals and websites.
Part B will consist of an in-depth case study focusing on one or two concrete artefacts and settings. This case study will provide a thick description (Geertz 1973) of the mutual adaptation of humans and bodynets. Like Part A, this part will trace the development phase of a bodynet, (i.e., the ways in which the technological artefact came to be. However, this study will be more systematic and in-depth, the aim here is to investigate the archaeology of the project and its current reality. Different actors (human and nonhuman) will be interviewed, offering their views on the project. This phase will also focus on the reactions of the users/wearers once the product leaves the lab and hits social reality.
The goals of the studies proposed here are the following: To understand the motivations, negotiations, problems and solutions behind the different actors involved in the process of developing and implementing bodynets; and, to understand the new social and cognitive dynamics that arise from the introduction of this new sociotechnical artefact.
Why do I blog this? lately I am interested in the "why" question of technological development... this research seems to address that issue in a very interesting way (the methodology used).