Governing Technology: Material Politics and Hybrid Agencies
Thursday, May 9 in Mendenhall Library, McClatchy Hall, Stanford University
Friday, May 10 in the Stanford Humanities Center, Stanford University
Governance In a World of Things
Steven J. Jackson
How should we think about governance in science and technology today? How can we build new engagements with the forms of order that transcend, shape, and emerge from our interactions with a world of things? Drawing pointers and examples from empirical work (including those supplied by our workshop participants!), the talk will explore the work of governing technology across a range of contexts explored and inspired by contemporary STS research. It will also suggest some general relations that transcend the specifics of our separate sites: between governance by law and governance by things; between the production and maintenance of systems of order; and between systems of rule and the forms of life that challenge, exceed, and enliven them. We’ll talk through some practical and empirical challenges in bringing these insights down to earth, and strategies for building ‘thicker’ understandings of governance into some of the formal processes – policy, design, organization, etc. – by which governance in a world of things is accomplished.
Steven J. Jackson is a faculty member in the Department of Information Science at Cornell University, with additional graduate field appointments in Communication, Public Affairs, and Science and Technology Studies. He is also co-Director of Graduate Studies for Information Science. Before Cornell, Steven was on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Information, where he co-founded and directed the school’s Information Policy specialization. He also spent a year as a Fellow at the National Center for Digital Government (then at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government). He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and Science Studies from the University of California, San Diego.
Steven teaches and conducts research in the areas of scientific collaboration, technology policy, democratic governance, and global development. More specifically, he studies how people organize, fight, and work together around collective projects of all sorts in which technology plays a central role. He also studies how infrastructure – social and material forms foundational to other kinds of human action – gets built, stabilized, and sometimes undone. This brings him regularly into worlds of policy (especially technology, research, and development policy), organizational or institutional analysis, and occasionally into design (mostly as analyst and critic). He spends much of his time doing ethnographic and sometimes historiographic research, where he studies how shifting policies, emerging technologies, and cultural innovation meet complex and historically-layered fields of practice. He thinks a lot about governance – how order is produced and maintained in complex sociotechnical systems; time – how we experience, organize, design, and work around the temporal flows and patterns that shape and define individual and collective activity in the world; and breakdown, maintenance and repair – as sites of innovation, power, and ethics in complex sociotechnical systems. At the broadest level, Steven studies how things change and how they stay the same, in a world that is furiously doing both.