The CRC 1187 “Media of Cooperation” is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for another 3.5 years until December 2023. The beginning of the second funding phase falls in the middle of the ongoing exceptional situation of the COVID 19 pandemic, which the CRC will address scholarly on October 27 and 28, 2020: “Pandemic Cooperation: Media and Society in Times of Corona” is the title of this year’s annual conference, in which researchers from more than ten countries will meet in six thematic panels to analyze the ongoing effects of the pandemic on cooperative relationships mediated by digital media. Two keynote speeches by Sarah Pink and Arjun Appadurai/Paula Kift will round off the program of the annual conference, which is taking place completely virtually for the first time
Siegen, Germany, 5-8 May 2021
The phrase “off the grid” is commonly understood to refer to the voluntary decoupling from established infrastructure networks such as electricity, water or gas supply. The implication is one of material independence and a self-sufficient lifestyle. Going “off the grid” means making yourself invisible by rebuking the social and technological structures that normally organize our lives. It is entering, or returning to, uncharted territory. The grid from which you disappear is often imagined like a web that we are woven into, at once providing security – of cultural connectivity, opportunities to work, or societal participation – while also limiting individual, political or technological agency.
The grid also speaks to the geographic coordinate system, an all-encompassing global structure which makes it possible to accurately locate any point on earth. This unified grid represents a dominant ordering principle for everything “locatable”. It is part of the technological infrastructure of many platforms, services and applications which fall under the definition of geomedia, most prominently the Global Positioning System (GPS). In this regard, “off the grid” is a move away from such Cartesian notions of space towards a situated relational account of (quotidian) practices carried out with, through, or in relation to, geomedia.
Going off the grid has also been seen as a form of renunciation of the conveniences of the late capitalist (media) world in order to lead a supposedly slower, less stressful and eventually less superficial life – as inspired by the transcendentalism of the likes of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. But with so many people relying on the grid for purposes of work and entertainment in recent times, what does this mean for our relation to geomedia? What does going off the grid look like now? This presupposes, of course, that there is ipso facto a grid – an infrastructure – which one can connect to freely at any time. But a great number of people do not get to choose to decouple from the grid – a fact that speaks to questions of access to the socio-material infrastructures underpinning geomedia and associated communities and practices.
Arguably, practices of surveillance and countersurveillance concern the implicit or even involuntary participation in corresponding infrastructures. Here, optimization for a range of tasks and activities routinely involves a certain kind of surveillance; a default setting in the running of all kinds of media platforms used for navigation, video streaming or online gaming. In this, surveillance is wrapped up with profit-seeking practices, and the extraction of value from the ‘data fumes’ of platform users, who enter a form of “cooperation without consensus” as they stream movies, hire taxis, host videoconferences, ride public transport, or go on dates. In these various iterations, surveillance might look different, and/or be practiced in distinct ways to traditional forms of state or corporate surveillance, increasingly dependent on technological protocols and standards that not only underpin the grid but also govern our use of geomedia. One consequence is that the relation between private and public spheres is transformed, and introduces new questions of governance, exploitation and marginalization. It is of crucial importance, who is online, and who is offline might as well not exist. Yet these optimization processes are also subject to countermeasures that constitute new modes of existence – from anonymous accounts and the use of VPNs, to location spoofing, and other tricks and techniques to hide, erase, or obfuscate user activity and location.
Yet the grid is not all-encompassing, nor all-powerful. Whilst countersurveillance efforts resist, fight back and oppose, alternative geomedia projects imagine the grid differently – sometimes even plotting its demise. From community broadband initiatives, to independent media organizations, post-capitalist streaming platforms, and citizen science projects; there is a continued, concerted effort to build alternatives to state-based, or company-owned geomedia, operating at various scales from the hyperlocal to the global. Through these efforts, organizers and participants question the foundations of our collective social and technological infrastructures, redefining what it is to care, share, distribute, cultivate or reallocate funds, resources, opportunities and ideas – bringing new geomedia, and new imaginaries of hope (or perhaps fear), into existence.
PDF with detailed information and contact details
A selection of talks from past CRC annual conferences can now be watched on the video portal of the University of Siegen. The 25 videos uploaded so far cover a broad range of topics across the conference themes of “Infrastructures of Publics — Publics of Infrastructures”, “Varieties of Cooperation” and “Data Practices: Recorded, Provoked, Invented”, including keynote talks by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and David Ribes. The video collection is part of the new CRC public relations strategy in the second funding period which aims at addressing different academic and non-academic publics across various channels of communication, and simultaneously serves as one key element in setting up an institutional archive documenting the discussions on media research in Siegen for the years to come. Additional videos will be uploaded in the following weeks.
Direct link to the video collevction: https://video.uni-siegen.de/?f%5Bunit_ssim%5D%5B%5D=SFB+1187
Jun-Prof. Dr. Claudia Müller (Teilprojektleiterin A05) berichtet von einem geglückten digitalen Experiment. Der Bericht ist HIER zu finden.
Annual Conference 2020
Pandemic Cooperation: Media and Society in Times of Corona
University of Siegen | 27-28 October 2020
While the political reactions to the spread of COVID-19 worldwide have led to disruptions and interruptions of firmly established chains of cooperation in many areas of everyday life, the ongoing development offers unique opportunities for researchers to investigate the highly dynamic socio-technical effects of the corona crisis from various angles, more than ever drawing on the ethnomethodological “unique adequacy requirement” in motion. We are witnessing a controversial public debate about the appropriate measures to contain the health risks, but also the economic, political and social consequences of the pandemic. At the same time, all manner of socio-technical infrastructures are being subjected to considerable stress tests: from the basic healthcare infrastructure and logistics for food and daily consumer goods, to the digital communications infrastructure and issues of privacy protection. Far-reaching restrictions to contact and curfews, travel restrictions, geopolitical distortions, increasing requirements for domestic, elderly and child care work, very acute health risks to citizens – the CRC 1187 understands these developments as a large-scale and unanticipated social breaching experiment that renders visible the everyday ongoing accomplishments of interactional practical infrastructures and technical infrastructures alike. The annual 2020 conference brings together scholars and practitioners from various fields to develop an understanding of the unfolding crisis in media and social theoretical terms.
Thus, instead of asking what the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic might be for society, politics, the economy or the planetary environment as a whole, the CRC annual conference 2020 aims to closely investigate the (micro-)social dynamics and infrastructural experiments unfolding at the present time. The assumed ubiquity of an invisible pathogenic agent affects practices of cooperation on various scales: from the pragmatic interactional challenges of navigating public space while wearing a breathing mask and maintaining distance from other people, via expressions of solidarity towards risk groups (in isolation) and vocal public protests against governmental restrictions on mobility and personal freedom, up to the dimension of international political cooperation between nation-states and supra-national entities. At the same time, a multiplicity of data-intensive media infrastructures and control mechanisms are rapidly being developed to keep track of the spread of the pandemic, to mitigate its effects locally and globally and to offer alternatives to established routines of social cooperation: these range from digital monitoring tools like smartphone contact tracing apps, to escalating innovations of video-conferencing and sensor-based crisis infrastructures comprised of drones and cobots, among others. The intertwined dynamics of publics and infrastructures are accompanied by a deluge of data that serves as the foundation for political decision-making and – in the form of data visualizations distributed widely via social media – as public knowledge resources to reorient individual and collective opinions and behaviors. However, at the same time, the corona virus SARS-CoV-2 is shaping new communities of practice and making the cooperation conditions within a society visible, e.g. when we see how the phylogeography of a virus shapes the conditions and triggers breachings of interactional spaces.
Topics for contribution might include, but are not strictly limited to
- Practices of living and working under corona conditions: from contact restrictions and social isolation to technology-supported integration and its risks and failure – in public and private spaces, in families, work environments and in caring communities
- Cooperative media technologies and practices put to the test: the development of contact tracing apps, trials on monitoring social distancing rules with the help of drones, the boom of collaborative robotics in workplace environments, the employment of chatbots for corona support infrastructures
- The role of data in managing and mediating the pandemic: disputed facts, fake news and disinformation, new metrics and forms of data visualization, as well as challenges to data-based journalism and new formats of science communication like podcasts made by virologists and science influencers
- The unfolding and breaking of Corona Boundary Objects as infrastructural and public media: We highly welcome case studies and critiques of statistics, dashboards, visualizations, certificates, apps, issues, conspiracy theories, and masks
- Disruptions to microsocial interactional infrastructures, bodily techniques and relationships of trust between co-present social actors, due to new social distancing rules and the widespread wearing of masks in public spaces
- Investigating claims of digital sovereignty in relation to an ongoing dependence on global supply chains and coordinated technology developments
- Attempts to document the crisis in situ and in actu: Corona blogging, (auto-)ethnographic Corona diaries, social media analysis with digital methods and tools
- Exploring methodological challenges to ethnographic research in an ever-changing global pandemic: exploring alternatives to traditional fieldwork and participatory research designs, inventing, adjusting and evaluating digital tools
- Historicizing COVID-19 in relations to former pandemics, their infrastructural and public responses to medical necessities, and the social and economic responses to a global spread of diseases
The CRC 1187 “Media of Cooperation” welcomes contributions by early-stage and senior researchers from various disciplines, from practitioners such as journalists, data analysts, hackers and representatives of public institutions and associations, to artistic interventions dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-technical implications. The conference will most likely itself be affected by ongoing travel and contact restrictions, which is why it will explore new ways of combining pre-recorded virtual talks, moderated online discussion groups, and possibly selected face-to-face (or possibly: mask-to-mask) formats to bring together an international range of scholars, activists, artists and practitioners to investigate the challenges of pandemic cooperation.
Please send your abstract of approx. 300 words and a short biographical note to Dr. Timo Kaerlein by June 30th, 2020. Please indicate which form of presentation you would like to give (video, slides-and-text presentation, artistic format) and which time zone you will be presenting from.
More information will soon be found HERE…
At the beginning of the summer semester 2020, the CRC 1187 “Media of Cooperation” finds itself in an unexpected situation that presents new challenges for collaborative research, both in terms of organization and research. There is a controversial public debate about the appropriate measures to contain the health risks, but also the economic, political and social consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, various social infrastructures are being put under considerable stress tests: from the basic infrastructures of medical care and logistics for food and daily consumer goods to the infrastructures of digital communication. Far-reaching contact restrictions and curfews, travel restrictions, requirements for domestic care work and child care, very acute health risks for employees and students – all of this interrupts the established practices and the usual operation of a Collaborative Research Centre. Routines of research and scientific communication are being put to the test in the current situation: How can well-established formats of scientific communication be adjusted to the new situation, from lecture series with international guests to doctoral colloquia and workshops, to conferences and meetings? How can empirical-ethnographic research be conducted when access to the field is blocked? And especially with regard to the responsibility for the researchers in our joint project: How can we support employees who cannot participate in the research process in the usual way because they belong to a risk group or because personal care of family members has become necessary?
The CRC “Media of Cooperation” meets the challenge of the global COVID-19 pandemic in several ways. The subprojects, which investigate the ongoing reciprocal constitution and practical production of infrastructures and public spheres, also respond to the ongoing crisis situation.
In March 2020, the CRC started to build a Twitter-based social media archive on the topic of the novel coronavirus and related issues. Since the political reactions to the spread of COVID-19 worldwide have led to disruptions or interruptions of firmly established chains of cooperation in many areas of everyday life, the current development offers unique opportunities to investigate the effects of the corona-crisis in social media discourse: This concerns transformations of infrastructures and public spheres in general, the social role of data in the form of case numbers, statistics and test results, but also those of the very concrete research subjects of the CRC’s subprojects in particular (video telephony, contactless payment, personal assistants at home, disruptions in local public transport, etc.). Tweets are collected and made available for analysis in real time using the open source software DMI-TCAT . In the course of the summer semester 2020, a consortium of CRC members and external partners will begin to view and analyze the data in joint (online) data sessions. The long-term plan is to make the Siegen Corona Archive and the associated research results publicly accessible.
In addition, in March 2020 the new blog Witnessing Corona has been included in the series of boasblogs supported by the CRC. In cooperation with the Global South Studies Center in Cologne and the blog medizinethnologie.net, contributions from numerous countries, including non-European countries, are published here. With ethnographic sensitivity, these contributions register and analyze the everyday pragmatic implications, social dynamics and political-economic distortions of the crisis from the perspective of the social sciences and (medical) ethnology. Clemens Eisenmann (subproject P01) and Ehler Voss (scientific coordination) currently take part in the production of a special edition of Curare. Journal of Medical Anthropology. Here, more extensive material in the form of (auto-)ethnographic corona diaries by authors from 25 countries to date is being compiled to document the dynamics of the crisis in situ and in actu.
Erhard Schüttpelz and Ulrich van Loyen reflect in Merkur on the body and cultural technical implications of wearing respirator masks in Western and Asian countries. Contrary to the Chancellor’s dictum that “at the moment … only distance can be an expression of care”, the authors ask: “Is the opposite also conceivable: A form of care for others would be the expression of the right distancing from oneself?” This change of perspective towards a liberal narrowing of the discourse and the arrogance of the Western world that often goes hand in hand with it is linked to a deeper reflection on “what constitutes civilisation and the need for protection for us and others and for all of us in the world”.
In its ongoing formats of internal and external research collaboration and communication, the CRC “Media of Cooperation” focuses on the greatest possible flexibility, taking into account the special needs of its members and guests. In detail this means:
- The lecture series “Interrogating Data Practices – Interdisciplinary Perspectives” scheduled for the summer semester 2020 will largely be postponed to the winter semester 2020/21. Individual lectures will be realized as online lectures with an internal CRC audience as part of the CRC Research Forum in order to continue the discussion about ongoing research projects and results of the subprojects in an adapted framework.
- The doctoral colloquium of the Integrated Research Training Group (MGK) will take place online on May 6th and 13th. This will be followed by an evaluation and a joint decision with the participants as to whether to switch to a face-to-face format or to a hybrid solution with individual participants on site and the possibility of online participation for the following two dates on 10 and 17 June.
- The first event of the “Werkstatt Medienpraxistheorie” will be held on April 28/29, combining an asynchronous online lecture and a joint online discussion. A decision on further events will be made and communicated in time, taking into account current developments.
- The Research Tech Lab will take place online on May 5th and 13th. For the following dates on June 5th and July 7th it will be examined, analogous to the doctoral colloquium, whether the changeover to a complete or hybrid face-to-face format is feasible.
- Workshops and conferences of individual CRC subprojects planned for the summer semester 2020 are equally affected by the measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The principal investigators of the respective subprojects are choosing different approaches to deal with this challenge: from postponing the events until the upcoming winter semester, to switching to collective text work or hybrid workshop formats in which international guests cooperate with the researchers from Siegen.
- At the beginning of the semester, all CRC staff members will be given the opportunity to take part in individual coachings on the challenges of teleworking and the compatibility of family and work under the currently tightened conditions.
At the start of the year 2020, the participating researchers could not foresee the current critical developments. First and foremost, the situation calls for solidarity with the particularly vulnerable groups of the population and with the countries currently more severely affected than Germany. The crisis also means that the ongoing research on media of cooperation in Siegen must prove its relevance and timeliness once more – from the history of video telephony (subproject A01), to normal interruptions of service (A04), the participatory design of autonomy-promoting infrastructures for the elderly (A05), media-supported cooperation in everyday hospital work (A06), the effects of digital media on family interaction orders (B05), the privacy and surveillance implications of digital media use in the
home environment (B06), the use of semi-autonomous systems such as drones as a new crisis infrastructure (B08), and the use and development of digital research tools in decentralised work environments (P03, INF). The CRC is ready to take responsibility to make a research contribution to dealing with the socio-technical consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the University of Siegen, as of 1 July 2020 the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1187 „Media of Cooperation“ offers
six Short-Term Scholarships
to promote the work of early-carrier researchers. The duration of the scholarships is 6 months. A longer-term collaboration with the goal of a doctorate within the CRC is envisaged. The basic amount of the scholarship is based on the maximum rate of the DFG (1.365,- EUR). In addition, an allowance for material expenses and, if applicable, a child allowance will be paid. The allocation of the fellowships is subject to the release of funds by the DFG.
The University of Siegen is an innovative and interdisciplinary university with almost 20,000 students, about 1,300 scientists and 700 employees in technology and administration. With a wide range of subjects ranging from humanities and social sciences to economics and natural and engineering sciences, it provides an outstanding teaching and research environment with numerous interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research projects. The University of Siegen supports a wide range of opportunities to combine work and family life. It has therefore been certified as a family-friendly university since 2006 and offers a dual career service.
CRC 1187 “Media of Cooperation“
The CRC is an interdisciplinary research network consisting of 15 projects and more than 60 scientists from the fields of media studies, science and technology studies, ethnology, sociology, linguistics and literature studies, computer science and medicine as well as history, education and engineering. It has been funded by the DFG since 2016. The CRC investigates the emergence and dissemination of digitally networked, data-intensive media and understands these as cooperatively accomplished conditions for cooperation. The research of the participating subprojects focuses on data practices that are explored in the situated interplay of media practices, infrastructures and public spheres.
The newly established short-term fellowship program of the CRC provides national and international doctoral students the opportunity to further develop their research project in the CRC, to get to know participating researchers and to exchange ideas with them. The research projects of the scholarship holders should be thematically related to the subprojects of the CRC, so that their work can be supported by the principal investigators and their teams. Scholarship holders are assigned to the newly established Integrated Research Training Group (MGK) of the CRC and benefit from its structured training program. The CRC offers scholarship holders an international environment for interdisciplinary media research as well as an extensive program of events and training in ethnographic, digital, sensor-based and linguistic methods.
Further information on the CRC’s research agenda and subprojects can be found at https://www.mediacoop.uni-siegen.de/en.
− Relevant, above-average degree in one of the disciplines participating in or related to the CRC, preferably in media and cultural studies, sociology or in the field of socio- or business informatics, human-computer interaction or information systems (equivalent to a Master’s degree, Magister, Diplom or Lehramt/Staatsexamen Sek. II)
− Individual research project in one of the above-mentioned disciplines within the subject area of the CRC. Ideally, you can assign the project to one of the subareas of the CRC – infrastructures, publics or praxeology
– Interest in methods of media research, the analysis of data practices and an affinity for working in an interdisciplinary research environment
– Willingness to participate in the international event program of the CRC and the MGK
– Very good written and spoken English language skills
Expectations of successful candidates:
– Regular participation and involvement in the events and the training program of the MGK (colloquia, workshops, summer schools, methodology workshops, interdisciplinary groups)
– Presentation of preliminary results of the individual research project within the MGK colloquium
Equal opportunities and diversity are promoted and actively practiced at the University of Siegen. Applications from women are highly welcome and will be given special consideration in accordance with the federal state equality law. We also welcome applications from people with different personal, social and cultural backgrounds, people with disabilities and those of equal status.
For further information contact Dr. Timo Kaerlein (Tel.: +49 271/740-5251)
Please send your application documents (letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, copies of certificates, 3-page outline of a project idea plus bibliography) by 15 May 2020 to Dr. Timo Kaerlein, Herrengarten 3, 57072 Siegen, Germany. Alternatively, you can also send your application in a single PDF file by e-mail (max. 5 MB). Please note that risks to confidentiality and unauthorized access by third parties cannot be ruled out when communicating by unencrypted e-mail.
Information about the University of Siegen can be found on our homepage: www.uni-siegen.de.
Erhard Schüttpelz hat in der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung einen Beitrag über das Verhältnis von Geistes- und Naturwissenschaften veröffentlicht. Häufig wird die Ansicht vertreten, der Konstruktivismus begünstige „Fake News“, befeuere die Konkurrenz der Wissenschaften und schwäche die Geisteswissenschaften. Schüttpelz argumentiert dagegen, dass Zweifel und philosophische Vorbehalte, Relativismus und Konstruktivismus gerade heute ein dringend benötigter Schutzschild gegen parteipolitische und kommerzielle Vereinnahmungen der Naturwissenschaften sein können.
Den vollständigen Artikel finden Sie HIER.
German translation by Brigitte Luchesi.
Figure: Auto pilot mock-up discussed in „The History of Gulfport Field 1942“
This volume makes available for the first time an unpublished report of wartime research, titled “The History of Gulfport Field 1942”, written by Harold Garfinkel, for the US Army Air Forces (AAF) in 1943. The report has both historical and sociological significance. It has value as a historical document that presents in great detail how AAF personnel involved in training aircraft mechanics at one site (Gulfport Field, Mississippi) managed to contend with the rapid construction and deployment of training necessitated by World War II, with its accompanying shortages of material and experienced trainers, and surpluses of persons to be trained. In the face of shortages, AAF commanders adopted a set of practical aims for the school that downplayed the importance of conventional instruction and relied more on “hands on” practice and “the will to win”. This strategy emphasized a priority of practice over theory that is particularly relevant to the development of Garfinkel’s program of ethnomethodology, his later hybrid studies of work and science, and their relationship to debates in sociology. The book contains a 48-page afterword by Michael Lynch and Anne Rawls.
You can order the facsimile edition (69,00 € incl. VAT) by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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