The World Wide Lab: future of sciences as envisioned by Latour
Sorting my office at the lab, I ran across an old issue of Wired in which there was an article by Bruno Latour that I enjoyed reading: The World Wide Lab. In this article, Latour basically advocates for a paradigm change in research.
Science was what was made inside the walls where white coats were at work. Outside the laboratory's borders began the realm of mere experience - not experiment. (...) Today, all this is changing (...) First, the laboratory has extended its walls to the whole planet. Instruments are everywhere. Houses, factories, and hospitals have become lab outposts. [and the example that Latour takes is about GPS: locative-enabled science] (...) Second, you no longer need a white coat or a PhD to research specific questions. Take the Association Francaise contre les Myopathies, a French patient advocacy group that focuses on ignored genetic diseases. The AFM has not waited for the results of molecular biology to trickle down to patients in wheelchairs. It has hired researchers, pushed for controversial procedures like genetic therapy, and built an entire industry, producing at once a new social identity and a new research agenda. (...) Third, there is the question of scale. The size and complexity of scientific phenomena under scrutiny has grown to the point that scaling them down to fit in a laboratory is becoming increasingly difficult. (...) As a result, contemporary scientific controversies are emerging in what have been called hybrid forums.
Why do I blog this? I am quite interested in this way of describing the future of research (though it does not mean that the same research questions will be addresses). Besides, I really like this idea of the world as a lab (closer to my practices it reminds me this Living Lab initiative)