One thought on “Creating ‘laboratories’ for Creating Publics

  1. Simon Smith says:

    This editorial’s well worth a read, Nick, for a spot of lateral thinking.
    Grabher, G. (2002) ‘Guest editorial. Fragile sector, robust practice: project ecologies in new media’ Environment and Planning A 34: 1911-26.
    Grabher describes a similar search for the right organisational form in the new media industry, suggesting that its formal dynamism in response to disturbances from a rapidly-shifting environment carries much wider relevance. He argues that new media firms have evolved a ‘project ecology’, understood as an organisational form that facilitates the distribution of knowledge and design, responsibility and accountability across professional domains and organisational boundaries. But dissatisfied with the level of precision of this term, he throws up several more concrete models that project ecologies in the new media industry have cohered around in particular times and places – studio, agency, consultancy and partnership models, for example. He points out that they are all models that have been borrowed, not invented. What’s important, I think, is to be reflexive as to the genealogy of the available reportoire and how choices are made. They all come with historical baggage!

    Your post also made me think of Michel Callon’s distinction between ‘confined’ and ‘open air’ research. For him, the public engagement challenge was not about admitting the public to the laboratory so much as letting loose the molecules outside the lab!

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