Returning to Whistler

In the preceding report, I talked about how DH was being taken up within STS (science and technology studies). This report reverses the relationship, and looks at what DH could learn from STS. I was invited to give the opening talk at the annual INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments) gathering, held on 19-20 January in Whistler, Canada. The key lessons from STS for DH are:

1.Technologies could have been otherwise (Bijker & Law, 1992) – in the past and in the future, with consequences for our methods and for our results.
2.New technologies and old social forms (Williams, 1990) – digital methods are taken up within traditional social forms such as universities and publishing.
3.Users matter (Oudshoorn & Pinch, 2003) – technologies continue to evolve in practices of use.
4.Artefacts have politics (Winner, 1980)/politics have artefacts (Joerges, 1992) – technologies are never neutral.
5.Radical reflexivity (Woolgar, 1988; Ashmore, 1989) – as a reminder to question what kind of knowledge we are producing, with or without digital methods, techniques and forms of representation.
The rest of the meeting was taken up with a series of excellent lightning talks on themes of open social scholarship, scholarly communication and production, new knowledge models, design, and the future of cultural institutions. Twenty-five short talks, plus a further twelve demos, so far too much to summarise here.

As usual, the organisers will publish a selection of papers. The results of the 2015 Whistler gathering are published in the Journal of Scholarly and Research Communication.