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WHAT
What’s in a controversy.
Deploying the folds of collective action
Tommaso Venturini
tommaso.venturini@sciences-po.fr
In the heterogeneous collectives
where we live… United Federation
of Planets Council
“In which way would the non human actors be included in a
parliament or in any kind of institution? How do you articulate
their participation?
Non human actors are "real" actors, with influence on every phase
of human-collective-social life, and no collective life could be
thought without then. But in a way, aren't they just an interface
for human actors/human relations?”
… action is not
what used to be
Aristotle 4 causes
Action is always collective
(acting as collecting)
Action is always mediated
(acting as aligning)
Action is always convoluted
(acting as deviating)
Action is always defining
(acting as being)
Acting as collecting:
the Pasteur-Pouchet controversy
Pasteur and his microbes
Bruno Latour, 1988
The spontaneous
generation debate
Religion
Politics
Ces recherches n'ont été qu'une digression obligée parmi celles que je
poursuis depuis plusieurs années sur les mystérieux phénomènes de
fermentation, phénomènes si voisins de la vie, plus voisins peut être encore
de ceux de la mort et des maladies, surout des maladies contagieuses
…
Aussi manquerais-je peut-être de sincérité si je n'avouais qu'en essayant
d'appeler sur ces travaux l'attention du Souverain, j'ai le désir secret
d'acquérir les moyens de les développer avec plus de liberté et de fruit.
Ce petit laboratoire, monsieur, où vous m'avez fait l'honneur inattendu de
venir un jour constater l'un des résultats de ces travaux ne suffit plus à mes
projets d'études.
Letter to the colonel Favé,
1862
Economics
Le vin constitue l'une des plus grandes richesses agricoles de la France … on se
préoccupe d'améliorations ultérieures dans l'espoir d'augmenter le nombre et la
qualité des vins qui peuvent être exportés avec profit.
Malheureusement, nos connaissances en ce qui concerne cette précieuse boisson
laissent beaucoup à désirer ...
Je me livre depuis 5 ans à des études sur les fermentations. La fermentation
alcoolique sur laquelle repose la fabrication des vins m'a occupé particulièrement.
Or le progrès de mes recherches me conduit à désirer de les poursuivre par
l'examen sur place ...
J'ai l'intention de consacrer à ce travail mes prochaines vacances. Ce serait six
semaines environ de voyages et d'études, avec un aide et quelques appareils et
produits chimiques indispensables. J'en évalue la dépense à 2500F.
Letter to the Minister of
Education, 1864
Micro social context
Social allies?
Pasteur Pouchet
Microbes as ‘divine creatures’
spreading life against materialism Religion
Spontaneous generation as
‘continuous divine creation’ against
trasnformationism
Controlling microbes helps the
Emperor controlling contagions in
the army
Politics
Through the fame of its scholars the
city of Rouen can resist the power of
Paris.
Controlling microbes allows
controlling fermentation in cheese
and wines
Economics Son of a rich industrialist
The 1861 and 1864 Commission of
the Academie de Science were
sympathetic to Pasteur
Micro-context
Pouchet had been an esteemed
‘correspondant’ de l’Academie de
Sciences for 20 years
Who tipped the
scales?
How Pasteur enrolled
microbes
How Pasteur enrolled
microbes
A very unspontaneous generation (a very
collective action)
Pasteur, for all his wits, wouldn’t have won
his controversy without help from:
The divine creation
The army of Napoleon III
The French wine industry
The Science Academy
The swan necked flask
The microbes
Acting as aligning:
the Boa Vista controversy
How is scientific truth
constructed?
How is scientific truth
constructed?
The cold chain
What is conserved by the
cold chain?
The ‘Pedofil’ of
Boavista
Bruno Latour (1995)
Common Knowledge 4(1)
The scientific chain
The scientific chain The Pedofil of Boa Vista
Bruno Latour (1995)
Common Knowledge 4(1)
The scientific chain The Pedofil of Boa Vista
Bruno Latour (1995)
Common Knowledge 4(1)
The advertisement chain of
transformation
http://vimeo.com/4097606
Constructivism René Magritte
The Two Mysteries, 1966
« Il semble que la référence ne soit pas ce que l’on désigne
du doigt… mais plutôt ce qui demeure constant à travers
une série de transformées » (p. 63).
« Propriété essentielle, cette chaîne doit demeurer réversible.
La traçabilité des étapes doit permettre, en effet, de la
parcourir dans le deux sens. Qu’on l’interrompe en
emporte quel point et voilà qu’elle cesse de transporter le
vrai, de le produire, de le construire » (p. 74).
The chain of reference The Pedofil of Boa Vista
Bruno Latour (1995)
Common Knowledge 4(1)
Acting as composing:
the Starfish-Scallop controversy
1972
Éléments pour une sociologie de la
traduction Callon, Michel (1986)
L'année sociologique 36:
169-208
Éléments pour une sociologie de la
traduction Callon, Michel (1986)
L'année sociologique 36:
169-208
1972
1. Problematization
2. Interessement
3. Enrolment
4. Mobilization
4 Deviations to establish a
scientific facts
escape predators
secure long term
profit
study
shellfishes
1. Problematization
escape predators
secure long term
profit
study
shellfishes
1. Problematization
(obligatory point of passage)
escape predators
(but accept
domestication)
secure long term
profit
(but become
farmers)
study shellfishes
(but domesticated)
1. Problematization
(obligatory point of passage)
2. Interessement
2. Interessement
3. Enrolment
3. Enrolment
4. Mobilization
laboratory
director
leaders of the
fishermen
associations
larvae attached
to the cages
4. Mobilization
5. Controversy
5. Controversy
5. Controversy
5. Controversy
Acting as being:
the TSR2 controversy
To establish a technical artifact
It takes: two network…
a vast external network
to provide resources
a tight internal network
to assure stability
Trajectory of aircraft 1
What is an aircraft?
1. interpretative flexibility
External network Aircraft 1a (GOR 339)
Royal Air Force  a new aircraft
M. of Defense  not a strategic bomber
Treasury  none or one (cheap) aircraft
Navy  none (adopt Buccaneer)
M. of Supply  a push industry concentration
Manufacturers  a source of contracts
Aircraft 1b (571) Internal network
Weapon-system integrated
Short take-off (large wings) Vickers
On wings engines
Aircraft 1c (P17A)
Supersonic (short wings) English Electric
In-fuselage engines
Trajectory of aircraft 2
What is an aircraft?
2. black-boxing
External network Aircraft 2a (OR343)
Royal Air Force  a versatile tactical strike
M. of Defense  and recognition aircraft
Treasury  manufactured by Vickers
Navy  and English Electric and
M. of Supply  combining their submissions
Aircraft 2b (TSR2) Internal network
Weapon-system integrated British Aircraft Corp.
Supersonic (Vickers + E.E.)
Medium take-off Vickers: systems
In-fuselage powerful engines E.E.: aerodynamics
To establish a technical artifact
It takes: two network…
a vast external network
to provide resources
a tight internal network
to assure stability
… and an obligatory point
of passage
a project interface controlling the
transfers between the two
a vast external network
to provide resources
a tight internal network
to assure stability
Trajectory of aircraft 2
Maintaining the coherence
External network Internal network
Tech committees ignored cost problems
Cost committees  ignored technical problems
Royal Air Force  upgraded specifications of aircraft design
Treasure  delayed issuing subcontracts
M. of supply  retarded buying foreign navigation
External network Internal network
Various committees obtained favorable decisions  subcontractors
M. Of Supply imposed its engines on  Bristol Siddeley
Maintaining the coherence of the project
costed more time (multiple delays)
and money (budget increase)
Trajectory of aircraft 3
What is an aircraft?
3. De-construction
Aircraft 3a (TSR2) Internal network
management failure BAC lose credibility
technical failure  B.S. engine exploded
External network Aircraft 3b (US F111)
Royal Air Force  cheaper more certain plane
M. of Defense  none (reduce army industry)
Treasury  cheaper aircraft
Navy  none (adopt Buccaneer)
Labour party  none (cut on defence)
The agency of
scientists & engineers
Action is always collective
(acting as collecting)
Action is always mediated
(acting as aligning)
Action is always convoluted
(acting as deviating)
Action is always defining
(acting as being)
Pasteur and his microbes
Boa Vista and its forest
Saint-Brieuc and its scallops
UK and its aircrafts




The fortunate wreck of
sociology of science
“Whereas [our closet colleagues] have decided that social
theory works even on science, we have concluded that, overall
and in details, the social theory has failed on science so radically
that it’s safe to postulate that it had always failed elsewhere as
well” (p. 94)
“By taking this failure as a springboard – no social explanation
of science is possible – a new path opens up for social theory:
the social has never explained anything; the social has to be
explained instead” (p. 97)
Bruno Latour (2005)
Reassembling the social
Associology
“to renew the feeling for social connections I had to oppose two
different types of methods. One that I called ‘sociology of the
social’ tries to keep together as firmly as possible and as long as
possible elements which it claims are made of some
homogeneous stuff;
the other—which I referred to as ‘sociology of associations’—
tries to fathom controversies about the range of heterogeneous
elements that may be associated together” (pp. 160-161)
Bruno Latour (2005)
Reassembling the social
Actor-Network Theory Tomas Saraceno, Galaxy Forming along Filaments,
like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider’s Web
Actors are always networks
Wait, did you said network?
node
(or vertice,
or point,
or end)
edge
(or arc,
or line ,
or arrow)
Wait, did you said network?
undirected
unweighted
directed
unweighted
undirected
weighted
directed
weighted
Are we talking about the same thing?
Are we talking about the same thing?
Why we love networks
(the three affordances of networks)
1. networks are graphs (computation tools)
2. networks are maps (visualization tools)
3. network are interfaces (manipulation tools)
1. Network as graphs Euler, 1736,
Solutio problematis ad
geometriam situs pertinentis
Network as graphs
(train routing)
Network as graphs
(information routing)
Network as graphs
(information routing) Paul Baran, 1960
Network as graphs
(information retrieval)
Lawrence Page
Pagerank Patent (6285999)
2. Networks as maps Jacob L. Moreno, April 3, 1933
The New York Times
Network as maps London Underground
1920 Map
homepage.ntlworld.com/clivebillson/tube/tube.html - www.fourthway.co.uk/tfl.html
Network as maps London Underground
1933 Map (Harry Beck)
homepage.ntlworld.com/clivebillson/tube/tube.html - www.fourthway.co.uk/tfl.html
Force-vector algorithms
Force-vector algorithms
Network as maps
(or rather territories) Kevin Lynch
The Image of the City (1959)
What maps are good at
Exploratory
data analysis Tukey, J. W. (1977)
Exploratory Data Analysis
Exploratory data
analysis
Tukey, J. W. (1977)
Exploratory Data Analysis
3. Network as interfaces Pajek
vlado.fmf.uni-lj.si/pub/networks/pajek
Network as interfaces Ucinet
www.analytictech.com/ucinet
Network as
interfaces Guess
graphexploration.cond.org
Network as
interfaces Gephi
gephi.org
User-friendlier
interfaces
vlado.fmf.uni-lj.si/pub/networks/pajek
www.analytictech.com/ucinet
graphexploration.cond.org
gephi.org
Graph manipulation in
Gephi Gephi.org
The contradiction of
controversy mapping
Controversy Mapping
as a teaching and research method
Controversy Mapping
as a participation
method
Observe controversies
in all their richness
Provide the public with
readable descriptions
The contradiction of
controversy mapping
Controversy Mapping
as a teaching and research method
Controversy Mapping
as a participation
method
Observe controversies
in all their richness
Provide the public with
readable descriptions
VideosNetworks
The contradiction of
controversy mapping
Observe controversies
in all their richness
Provide the public with
a readable description
too rich too poor
The complexity-simplicity slider
From where we stand
to how we move
Controversy atlas
WHAT: from statements to debates (the tree of disagreement)
WHO: from debates to actors (the actors-arguments table)
HOW: from actors to networks (the actor-network diagram)
WHERE: from networks to cosmoses (the scale of dispute)
WHEN: from cosmoses to cosmopolitics (the controversy dynamics)
WHAT? from statements to debates
From statements to debates (what)
From debates to actors (who)
From actors to networks (how)
From networks to cosmoses (where)
From cosmoses to cosmopolitics
(when)
Tree of disagreement
http://jiminy.sciences-po.fr/labs/guidedtour/contents/tree.mp4
WHO? from debates to actors (who)
From statements to debates (what)
From debates to actors (who)
From actors to networks (how)
From networks to cosmoses (where)
From cosmoses to cosmopolitics
(when)
The actor-argument table
http://medialab.sciences-po.fr/controversies/2007/marees_vertes/schemassi.swf
HOW: From actors to networks
From statements to debates (what)
From debates to actors (who)
From actors to networks (how)
From networks to cosmoses (where)
From cosmoses to cosmopolitics
(when)
Actor-network diagram
(scientometrics)
Actor-network diagram
(web cartography)
http://www.medialab.sciences-po.fr/controversies/2010/Hadopi2/index.php?
cat=ondaweb&subcat=carto
Actor-network diagram
(text analysis)
http://controverses.sciences-po.fr/archive/neutrinos/
WHERE? from networks to cosmoses
From statements to debates (what)
From debates to actors (who)
From actors to networks (how)
From networks to cosmoses (where)
From cosmoses to cosmopolitics
(when)
Debate scale / table of cosmos
http://medialab.sciences-
WHEN? from cosmoses to cosmopolitics
From statements to debates (what)
From debates to actors (who)
From actors to networks (how)
From networks to cosmoses (where)
From cosmoses to cosmopolitics
(when)
Debate dynamics
http://controverses.sciences-po.fr/archive/gardasil/
tommaso.venturini@sciences-po.fr

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What’s in a controversy. Deploying the folds of collective action

  • 1. WHAT What’s in a controversy. Deploying the folds of collective action Tommaso Venturini tommaso.venturini@sciences-po.fr
  • 2. In the heterogeneous collectives where we live… United Federation of Planets Council “In which way would the non human actors be included in a parliament or in any kind of institution? How do you articulate their participation? Non human actors are "real" actors, with influence on every phase of human-collective-social life, and no collective life could be thought without then. But in a way, aren't they just an interface for human actors/human relations?”
  • 3. … action is not what used to be Aristotle 4 causes Action is always collective (acting as collecting) Action is always mediated (acting as aligning) Action is always convoluted (acting as deviating) Action is always defining (acting as being)
  • 4. Acting as collecting: the Pasteur-Pouchet controversy
  • 5. Pasteur and his microbes Bruno Latour, 1988
  • 8. Politics Ces recherches n'ont été qu'une digression obligée parmi celles que je poursuis depuis plusieurs années sur les mystérieux phénomènes de fermentation, phénomènes si voisins de la vie, plus voisins peut être encore de ceux de la mort et des maladies, surout des maladies contagieuses … Aussi manquerais-je peut-être de sincérité si je n'avouais qu'en essayant d'appeler sur ces travaux l'attention du Souverain, j'ai le désir secret d'acquérir les moyens de les développer avec plus de liberté et de fruit. Ce petit laboratoire, monsieur, où vous m'avez fait l'honneur inattendu de venir un jour constater l'un des résultats de ces travaux ne suffit plus à mes projets d'études. Letter to the colonel Favé, 1862
  • 9. Economics Le vin constitue l'une des plus grandes richesses agricoles de la France … on se préoccupe d'améliorations ultérieures dans l'espoir d'augmenter le nombre et la qualité des vins qui peuvent être exportés avec profit. Malheureusement, nos connaissances en ce qui concerne cette précieuse boisson laissent beaucoup à désirer ... Je me livre depuis 5 ans à des études sur les fermentations. La fermentation alcoolique sur laquelle repose la fabrication des vins m'a occupé particulièrement. Or le progrès de mes recherches me conduit à désirer de les poursuivre par l'examen sur place ... J'ai l'intention de consacrer à ce travail mes prochaines vacances. Ce serait six semaines environ de voyages et d'études, avec un aide et quelques appareils et produits chimiques indispensables. J'en évalue la dépense à 2500F. Letter to the Minister of Education, 1864
  • 11. Social allies? Pasteur Pouchet Microbes as ‘divine creatures’ spreading life against materialism Religion Spontaneous generation as ‘continuous divine creation’ against trasnformationism Controlling microbes helps the Emperor controlling contagions in the army Politics Through the fame of its scholars the city of Rouen can resist the power of Paris. Controlling microbes allows controlling fermentation in cheese and wines Economics Son of a rich industrialist The 1861 and 1864 Commission of the Academie de Science were sympathetic to Pasteur Micro-context Pouchet had been an esteemed ‘correspondant’ de l’Academie de Sciences for 20 years
  • 15. A very unspontaneous generation (a very collective action) Pasteur, for all his wits, wouldn’t have won his controversy without help from: The divine creation The army of Napoleon III The French wine industry The Science Academy The swan necked flask The microbes
  • 16. Acting as aligning: the Boa Vista controversy
  • 17. How is scientific truth constructed?
  • 18. How is scientific truth constructed?
  • 20. What is conserved by the cold chain?
  • 21. The ‘Pedofil’ of Boavista Bruno Latour (1995) Common Knowledge 4(1)
  • 23. The scientific chain The Pedofil of Boa Vista Bruno Latour (1995) Common Knowledge 4(1)
  • 24. The scientific chain The Pedofil of Boa Vista Bruno Latour (1995) Common Knowledge 4(1)
  • 25. The advertisement chain of transformation http://vimeo.com/4097606
  • 26. Constructivism René Magritte The Two Mysteries, 1966
  • 27. « Il semble que la référence ne soit pas ce que l’on désigne du doigt… mais plutôt ce qui demeure constant à travers une série de transformées » (p. 63). « Propriété essentielle, cette chaîne doit demeurer réversible. La traçabilité des étapes doit permettre, en effet, de la parcourir dans le deux sens. Qu’on l’interrompe en emporte quel point et voilà qu’elle cesse de transporter le vrai, de le produire, de le construire » (p. 74). The chain of reference The Pedofil of Boa Vista Bruno Latour (1995) Common Knowledge 4(1)
  • 28. Acting as composing: the Starfish-Scallop controversy
  • 29. 1972 Éléments pour une sociologie de la traduction Callon, Michel (1986) L'année sociologique 36: 169-208
  • 30. Éléments pour une sociologie de la traduction Callon, Michel (1986) L'année sociologique 36: 169-208 1972
  • 31. 1. Problematization 2. Interessement 3. Enrolment 4. Mobilization 4 Deviations to establish a scientific facts
  • 32. escape predators secure long term profit study shellfishes 1. Problematization
  • 33. escape predators secure long term profit study shellfishes 1. Problematization (obligatory point of passage)
  • 34. escape predators (but accept domestication) secure long term profit (but become farmers) study shellfishes (but domesticated) 1. Problematization (obligatory point of passage)
  • 45. Acting as being: the TSR2 controversy
  • 46. To establish a technical artifact It takes: two network… a vast external network to provide resources a tight internal network to assure stability
  • 48. What is an aircraft? 1. interpretative flexibility External network Aircraft 1a (GOR 339) Royal Air Force  a new aircraft M. of Defense  not a strategic bomber Treasury  none or one (cheap) aircraft Navy  none (adopt Buccaneer) M. of Supply  a push industry concentration Manufacturers  a source of contracts Aircraft 1b (571) Internal network Weapon-system integrated Short take-off (large wings) Vickers On wings engines Aircraft 1c (P17A) Supersonic (short wings) English Electric In-fuselage engines
  • 50. What is an aircraft? 2. black-boxing External network Aircraft 2a (OR343) Royal Air Force  a versatile tactical strike M. of Defense  and recognition aircraft Treasury  manufactured by Vickers Navy  and English Electric and M. of Supply  combining their submissions Aircraft 2b (TSR2) Internal network Weapon-system integrated British Aircraft Corp. Supersonic (Vickers + E.E.) Medium take-off Vickers: systems In-fuselage powerful engines E.E.: aerodynamics
  • 51. To establish a technical artifact It takes: two network… a vast external network to provide resources a tight internal network to assure stability
  • 52. … and an obligatory point of passage a project interface controlling the transfers between the two a vast external network to provide resources a tight internal network to assure stability
  • 54. Maintaining the coherence External network Internal network Tech committees ignored cost problems Cost committees  ignored technical problems Royal Air Force  upgraded specifications of aircraft design Treasure  delayed issuing subcontracts M. of supply  retarded buying foreign navigation External network Internal network Various committees obtained favorable decisions  subcontractors M. Of Supply imposed its engines on  Bristol Siddeley Maintaining the coherence of the project costed more time (multiple delays) and money (budget increase)
  • 56. What is an aircraft? 3. De-construction Aircraft 3a (TSR2) Internal network management failure BAC lose credibility technical failure  B.S. engine exploded External network Aircraft 3b (US F111) Royal Air Force  cheaper more certain plane M. of Defense  none (reduce army industry) Treasury  cheaper aircraft Navy  none (adopt Buccaneer) Labour party  none (cut on defence)
  • 57. The agency of scientists & engineers Action is always collective (acting as collecting) Action is always mediated (acting as aligning) Action is always convoluted (acting as deviating) Action is always defining (acting as being) Pasteur and his microbes Boa Vista and its forest Saint-Brieuc and its scallops UK and its aircrafts    
  • 58. The fortunate wreck of sociology of science “Whereas [our closet colleagues] have decided that social theory works even on science, we have concluded that, overall and in details, the social theory has failed on science so radically that it’s safe to postulate that it had always failed elsewhere as well” (p. 94) “By taking this failure as a springboard – no social explanation of science is possible – a new path opens up for social theory: the social has never explained anything; the social has to be explained instead” (p. 97) Bruno Latour (2005) Reassembling the social
  • 59. Associology “to renew the feeling for social connections I had to oppose two different types of methods. One that I called ‘sociology of the social’ tries to keep together as firmly as possible and as long as possible elements which it claims are made of some homogeneous stuff; the other—which I referred to as ‘sociology of associations’— tries to fathom controversies about the range of heterogeneous elements that may be associated together” (pp. 160-161) Bruno Latour (2005) Reassembling the social
  • 60. Actor-Network Theory Tomas Saraceno, Galaxy Forming along Filaments, like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider’s Web Actors are always networks
  • 61. Wait, did you said network? node (or vertice, or point, or end) edge (or arc, or line , or arrow)
  • 62. Wait, did you said network? undirected unweighted directed unweighted undirected weighted directed weighted
  • 63. Are we talking about the same thing?
  • 64. Are we talking about the same thing?
  • 65. Why we love networks (the three affordances of networks) 1. networks are graphs (computation tools) 2. networks are maps (visualization tools) 3. network are interfaces (manipulation tools)
  • 66. 1. Network as graphs Euler, 1736, Solutio problematis ad geometriam situs pertinentis
  • 69. Network as graphs (information routing) Paul Baran, 1960
  • 70. Network as graphs (information retrieval) Lawrence Page Pagerank Patent (6285999)
  • 71. 2. Networks as maps Jacob L. Moreno, April 3, 1933 The New York Times
  • 72. Network as maps London Underground 1920 Map homepage.ntlworld.com/clivebillson/tube/tube.html - www.fourthway.co.uk/tfl.html
  • 73. Network as maps London Underground 1933 Map (Harry Beck) homepage.ntlworld.com/clivebillson/tube/tube.html - www.fourthway.co.uk/tfl.html
  • 76. Network as maps (or rather territories) Kevin Lynch The Image of the City (1959)
  • 77. What maps are good at
  • 78. Exploratory data analysis Tukey, J. W. (1977) Exploratory Data Analysis
  • 79. Exploratory data analysis Tukey, J. W. (1977) Exploratory Data Analysis
  • 80. 3. Network as interfaces Pajek vlado.fmf.uni-lj.si/pub/networks/pajek
  • 81. Network as interfaces Ucinet www.analytictech.com/ucinet
  • 86. The contradiction of controversy mapping Controversy Mapping as a teaching and research method Controversy Mapping as a participation method Observe controversies in all their richness Provide the public with readable descriptions
  • 87. The contradiction of controversy mapping Controversy Mapping as a teaching and research method Controversy Mapping as a participation method Observe controversies in all their richness Provide the public with readable descriptions VideosNetworks
  • 88. The contradiction of controversy mapping Observe controversies in all their richness Provide the public with a readable description too rich too poor
  • 90. From where we stand to how we move
  • 91. Controversy atlas WHAT: from statements to debates (the tree of disagreement) WHO: from debates to actors (the actors-arguments table) HOW: from actors to networks (the actor-network diagram) WHERE: from networks to cosmoses (the scale of dispute) WHEN: from cosmoses to cosmopolitics (the controversy dynamics)
  • 92. WHAT? from statements to debates From statements to debates (what) From debates to actors (who) From actors to networks (how) From networks to cosmoses (where) From cosmoses to cosmopolitics (when)
  • 94. WHO? from debates to actors (who) From statements to debates (what) From debates to actors (who) From actors to networks (how) From networks to cosmoses (where) From cosmoses to cosmopolitics (when)
  • 96. HOW: From actors to networks From statements to debates (what) From debates to actors (who) From actors to networks (how) From networks to cosmoses (where) From cosmoses to cosmopolitics (when)
  • 100. WHERE? from networks to cosmoses From statements to debates (what) From debates to actors (who) From actors to networks (how) From networks to cosmoses (where) From cosmoses to cosmopolitics (when)
  • 101. Debate scale / table of cosmos http://medialab.sciences-
  • 102. WHEN? from cosmoses to cosmopolitics From statements to debates (what) From debates to actors (who) From actors to networks (how) From networks to cosmoses (where) From cosmoses to cosmopolitics (when)

Notas do Editor

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  2. 15/10/12 The controversy we will describe is the one that opposed Luis Pasteur and Félix-Archimède Pouchet in the second half of the XIX century. The object of the Pasteur-Pouchet controversy was the possibility of the spontaneous generation of life. ‘Spontaneous generation’ is the theory according to which life can spontaneously emerge from the rotting on non-living materials. In the XIX century Pouchet was one of the greatest champions of this theory while Pasteur opposed this theory and claimed instead that the rotting of materials is in fact generated by the action of tiny invisible living beings: the germs. The fact the we all know Pasteur’s name and that none one remember the poor Pouchet tells unequivocally who won the controversy.
  3. 15/10/12 The second controversy is an historical one and has been narrated by Bruno Latour in a book published in 1988.
  4. 15/10/12 And yet, at the beginning of the quarrel, Pouchet was by far the favorite. Since Aristotle, spontaneous generation was the paradigm of western biology. Tradition was therefore on Pouchet’s side and so was common sense. Anyone can do the experiment: if you forget a glass of pure water on the table and leave for your holiday, changes are that you’ll find a lot of little animals swimming in it by your return. Starting from a disadvantaged position, Pasteur had to turn the odd on his side and to do so he needed allies.
  5. 15/10/12 Pasteur found powerful allies in the catholic Church. The theory of spontaneous generation may in fact be read as to imply that life can emerge without any divine intervention. Germ theory instead is perfectly compatible with the idea of a God creating the world and all living things.
  6. 15/10/12 Pasteur also found other allies in politics and in particular in the Napoleon the III. In the slide, the extract of the letter that Pasteur sent to one of the attendant of the emperor to ask money for his researches. In the letter, Pasteur implicitly promises that his research could help alleviate the problem of contagious epidemics scourging national armies since the invention of mass war. Pay my researches, says Pasteur, and your army will be healthier and stronger.
  7. 15/10/12 In this other letter instead Pasteur is trying to find allies in the economic field. Here he is writing to the Minister of education to ask for money to study the wine fermentation “one of the greatest agricultural richness of France”
  8. 15/10/12 Finally, when the Academie des Sciences decided to close the Pasteur-Pouchet controversy by nominating a special scientific commission, many observed that Pasteur living in Paris could more easily influence the composition and decision of the commission. Pouchet being in Rouen, had less leverage on the French academy of science.
  9. 15/10/12 So Pasteur had many social allies in religion, politics, economics and in the Academy of Science. Was that enough to win the controversy? Not necessarily because Pouchet had also powerful allies in the same domains. So what did tip the scale in favors of Pasteur?
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  11. 15/10/12 Eventually the ally who made the difference, the one who won the war for Pasteur were the microbes themselves. It was because Pasteur succeeded in enrolling the microbes and convince them to fight for his cause, that he could eventually defeat Pouchet.
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  13. 15/10/12 And to enroll microbes to his causes Latour used another ally, this time a technical artifact: the swan-necked vase, a vase that was build to let the air pass but not the microbes.
  14. 15/10/12 Thanks to this vase Pasteur can demonstrate that, contrarily to what Pouchet affirmed, it was not the lack of air that impeded the rotting but the lack of microbes. The proof was that the an infusion could remain sterile for months in a swan-necked vase and then rotten in a few days as the neck was broken or the vase turned over.
  15. 15/10/12 This controversy teaches us that scientific facts do not emerge spontaneously. The The divine creation, the army of Napoleon III, the French wine industry, the Science Academy, the swan necked flask and the microbes themselves were necessary to impose the germ theory and build its truth. All this actors had to be mobilized, enrolled and coordinated. Science may be a construction, but certainly it is not just a human construction.
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  20. 27/08/12 The question therefore becomes how is scientific truth constructed or to be, more precise, what is the difference between a well-constructed scientific theory (one that is solid, objective, true) and an ill-constructed one (one that is fragile, subjective, false)? Bruno Latour’s answer is that scientific truths are constructed in a way that resembles the way in which frozen fish is transported: that is to say through a chain.
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  22. 27/08/12 The cold chain is not meant to conserve the form of the fish. What is always conserved in the cold chain is temperature (that have to remain far below zero). This is the crucial element of the cold chain, the one the whole chain is meant to maintain. And the most important feature of the chain is that it is uninterrupted. It is this continuity that allows to preserve the temperature and that distinguish a good cold chain from a bad one. Continuity, as we will see, is also the crucial feature of the scientific chain.
  23. 27/08/12 To study the properties of the scientific chain, Bruno Latour embarked on another project of laboratory anthropology. This time choosing not biology, but another discipline where the features of the scientific chain are more visible: soil science. In his famous article “The Pedofil of Boavista”, Latour followed the expedition of a team of French soil scientists in Brazil. The questions the scientists were trying to answer was in which direction was moving the savana/forest border.
  24. 27/08/12 To answer this question, the scientists followed a complex scientific protocol composed by several steps, necessary to reduce the complexity of the phenomenon and make it readable.
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  26. 27/08/12 The result of this complex chain of transformations is the diagram in the slide. It is evident that the the initial phenomenon (the savanna/border) and the final diagram are very different. A few thousands of kilometers of bushes and trees do not resembles to a 10 square centimeters of printed papers.
  27. 27/08/12 Through the scientific chain something is lost and something is gained, but what is sure is that the form of the original phenomenon is not conserved. Whereas the initial phenomenon is local, particular, material, multiple and continuous, the final diagram is relatively universal, standard, textual, movable and discontinuous. To be sure, this transformation is neither an error nor a by-product of the scientific work, but its very objective. It is precisely because the diagram is different from the border that it is useful for the scientists. In the diagram something that was invisible to the naked eye becomes something that can be observed by everyone who has the journal in his/her hands.
  28. 27/08/12 If form is not conserved, if there is no direct correspondence between the original phenomenon and the final representation of it, what is it that distinguishes the scientific chain of transformation from other transformation chains?
  29. 27/08/12 According to positivism scientific truth is defined by the direct correspondence between the phenomenon and its representation. The simplest observation of the reality of scientific work, however, reveals that such correspondence is everything but direct as the final representation depends much more from the work of the scientists than form the original phenomenon. The relativist conclusion, therefore, is that scientific truth do not exist. But is there another possibility? Is there a way to distinguish the specific transformation of science, from the many other types of transformation. If truth as nothing to do with correspondence, as the famous paintings by Magritte illustrates, what is scientific truth?
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  31. 27/08/12 To understand what scientific truth is. Think about the analogy that I mentioned before. In the cold chain it was the temperature (and not the form) that was conserved. In the scientific chain, what is conserved is the reference: that is to say, the possibility to follow the chain in both senses and confirm each of its steps.
  32. 15/10/12 Responsible for this decrease in the scallops population is one of the most frightful predators of the animal world: the starfish.
  33. 15/10/12 The role played by non-human beings and the fact that it can be described in terms of action and agency is also evident in another controversy described by another French sociologist: Michel Callon. The controversies takes place in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc and begins in the 1972, when a conference is organized to discuss the problem of the decrease of the scallops in the area.
  34. 15/10/12 The role played by non-human beings and the fact that it can be described in terms of action and agency is also evident in another controversy described by another French sociologist: Michel Callon. The controversies takes place in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc and begins in the 1972, when a conference is organized to discuss the problem of the decrease of the scallops in the area.
  35. 15/10/12 To protect the scallops from the starfish, three French scientists proposed a clever solution. They observed that in Japan, scallops are bred in cages and proposed to try the same things in the Saint-Brieuc Bay. The objective of the scientists was to prove their theory that the European scallops can de bred in captivity. To achieve their objectivity they had to go through four different steps.
  36. 15/10/12 The first step is called ‘problematization’ and it consists in refining the identity of the other actors in order to make alliances possible and desirable. This is done by persuading the other actors that alliances are necessary to obtain their objectives.
  37. 15/10/12 In the example of the Saint-Brieuc, the three scientists worked hard to establish themselves as indispensible allies for all the other actors. To do so, the scientists ‘translated’ the objectives of the other actors in order to define themselves as a “obligatory point of passage” for the satisfaction of their objectives.
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  39. 15/10/12 The second step is what Callon called ‘interessement’. This steps is necessary to transform the definition of the situation proposed in the problematization into a hard reality. The goal of this step is to untie old associations and tie new ones. The three scientists, for example, tried to interest scallops to their experimental setting by convincing the them that by attaching to the cages, they would have been definitively detached from their terrible predators. If the problematization consists in proposing a new identities of the actors, the interessement consists in proposing a new set of relationships for each of the actors of the situation.
  40. 15/10/12 The second step is what Callon called ‘interessement’. This steps is necessary to transform the definition of the situation proposed in the problematization into a hard reality. The goal of this step is to untie old associations and tie new ones. The three scientists, for example, tried to interest scallops to their experimental setting by convincing the them that by attaching to the cages, they would have been definitively detached from their terrible predators. If the problematization consists in proposing a new identities of the actors, the interessement consists in proposing a new set of relationships for each of the actors of the situation.
  41. 15/10/12 Of course, in order establish the new situation, it is not enough to stabilize the connection with each one of the actors, it is necessary to stabilize them all. A collective situation is not a series of bi-lateral connections, it is a systems of multilateral relations in which each connection reinforce the others. Enrolment is the process of coordination necessary to make sure that all relations are consistent. In the case of Saint-Brieuc bay, for exemple, the scientists had to obtain the support of their research community in order to find the resources necessary to set up the cages and the cages was meant to cut the relation between the scallops and the starfish but also the relations between the scallops and the fishermen, that had to accept to give up their identity of fisherman to turn into breeders.
  42. 15/10/12 Of course, in order establish the new situation, it is not enough to stabilize the connection with each one of the actors, it is necessary to stabilize them all. A collective situation is not a series of bi-lateral connections, it is a systems of multilateral relations in which each connection reinforce the others. Enrolment is the process of coordination necessary to make sure that all relations are consistent. In the case of Saint-Brieuc bay, for exemple, the scientists had to obtain the support of their research community in order to find the resources necessary to set up the cages and the cages was meant to cut the relation between the scallops and the starfish but also the relations between the scallops and the fishermen, that had to accept to give up their identity of fisherman to turn into breeders.
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  44. 15/10/12 But the actors of any collective situation are always too many (thousands of scallops, hundreds of fishermen, thousand of scientists). Being impossible to coordinate all the actors of a collective situation, it is necessary to focus on some of them, on a few actors that seem to be able to play the role of ‘representative’ or ‘spokeperson’ for all the other. Instead of all the scallops of the bay, the scientists negotiated with those larvae that agreed to participate in the experiment by attaching to the cages. Instead of all the fishermen, they negotiated with the leaders of the professional associations. Instead of trying to convince the whole scientific communities, they tried to convince the director of their laboratory. The problem with such strategy, of course, is that negotiating only with spokespersons is risky as it is never clear how representative they are of the populations there are supposed to represent.
  45. 15/10/12 But the actors of any collective situation are always too many (thousands of scallops, hundreds of fishermen, thousand of scientists). Being impossible to coordinate all the actors of a collective situation, it is necessary to focus on some of them, on a few actors that seem to be able to play the role of ‘representative’ or ‘spokeperson’ for all the other. Instead of all the scallops of the bay, the scientists negotiated with those larvae that agreed to participate in the experiment by attaching to the cages. Instead of all the fishermen, they negotiated with the leaders of the professional associations. Instead of trying to convince the whole scientific communities, they tried to convince the director of their laboratory. The problem with such strategy, of course, is that negotiating only with spokespersons is risky as it is never clear how representative they are of the populations there are supposed to represent.
  46. 15/10/12 In the case of the Saint-Brieuc bay, for exemple, they turned out to be less representative that what the three scientists had hoped. And that is why the story of Saint-Brieuc bay ends with at fifth step: controversy. In the end, the greatest majority of the scallops did not attach to the cages. The starfish started to eat them again and also the fisherman did not resist the temptation to fish the scallops falling from the cage (against the instructions of their associations). The experiments failed and the scientific community stop supporting the three scientists.
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  62. 27/08/12 Against the expectations of many, Bruno Latour did not took the side of his fellow sociologists. On the contrary, he admitted that Science Wars marked the failure of the sociology of scientific knowledge and, more generally, the failure of sociological relativism. He claimed that “social theory has failed on science so radically that it’s safe to postulate that it had always failed elsewhere as well”. Up until now we mostly focused on the first failure of sociology (the one on science). Today we will move the focus from science to society and observed how sociology (or at least sociological relativism) fails on society as well.
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  64. The 1 st objective of C.M. exploration is to describe how the actors’ identity is built through heterogeneous networks of action.
  65. The two examples have in common that they use networks as a tool to show the connections (or if you prefer “the actor-networks”) that build up a controversial industrial system. In both cases, the visualization was use to denunciate such system, but the visualization would have been just as effective had it be used to support, manage or optimize the same situation. The fact is that networks are powerful tools for visualizing socio-technical systems because such systems, as you have learned in the first semester, are networks. And yet, as you have learned in the first semester, most of us are not used to think of sciences and technology in terms of networks. Therefore networks are as dangerous as effective. To exploit their power you have to be able to prove that they are not just based on your subjective appreciation of the situation, but that they root on something more solid. In the next three lessons, this is what I will try to teach you. But first let me give you three additional reasons why we are so fascinated by networks. Networks encapsulate in one single object three powerful devices: a device for computation (for networks are also graph), a device for visualization (for networks are also maps) and a device for manipulation (for networks are also interfaces).
  66. As you probably know, the mathematics of graphs was born when Euler solved the famous riddle of the Konigsberg walk. The Königsberg bridge problem asks if the seven bridges of the city of Königsberg over the river Preger can all be traversed in a single walk without passing twice through the same bridge Euler was the first mathematician capable of demonstrating that such walk cannot exist and to do so he set the foundations of graph mathematics.
  67. After that graph mathematics has found countless applications, from train rooting (without graph mathematics, to avoid collisions, each train would have to have its own rails)…
  68. … to information rooting (before graph mathematics which made packets commutation possible, each communication had to have its own dedicated connections) …
  69. … to information rooting (before graph mathematics which made packets commutation possible, each communication had to have its own dedicated connections) …
  70. … to information retrieval. As you probably know if Google works (and makes billions of dollars) it is because its founders, Lawrence Page and Sergey Brin, found an smart way to use incoming hyperlinks as proxies of the interest of a web-page. Google Pagerank algorithm rank the results of you searches computing how many hyperlinks point toward each of the pages that contains your query and how many hyperlinks point toward the pages linking those page and so on recursively. Easier said than done it you have billions of pages in your index and you want to rank them in a fraction of seconds.
  71. But networks are also maps. One of the first proof of this had been provide in 1933 when the sociologist Jacob Moreno published on the NY Times this image. The network portrays the relations of friendship in an elementary school. The title of the article reads “Emotions Mapped by a New Geography”, explicitly stating that the purpose of the visualization is to represent social relations as in a geographical map. Once you know that the triangles in the image represent the boys of the class and the rounds represent the girls, the genre separation becomes evident as well as the first (romantic?) relationship within the class.
  72. Networks can be interpreted as geographical maps because the proximity of their points is significant: it means something. Of course there is a capital difference between geographical maps and networks. In the former, the position of the points is depends on a system of coordinates defined before and independently from the points. In the latter, on the contrary, it is the nodes and their relations that define a space that has no autonomous existence. The clearest illustration of this difference can be drawn from the history of underground maps. Until the 30s, underground maps were designed by placing the stations according to their geographical coordinates and then drawing the lines that connected them.
  73. Then came Harry Beck and he understood that he could legibility by positioning nodes according to their connectivity, rather then their coordinates. Nowadays all underground maps are designed this way. This does not mean, of course, that the distance in the underground maps has lost all meaning: only that its meaning has changed from a geographical distance to a distance in connectivity.
  74. In this course, however, we will spatialize networks by using a set of algorithms called ‘force-vector’. These algorithms works by arranges the nodes in the space by simulating a physical system where nodes repulse each other while arcs bounds them like springs.
  75. When the algorithm is launched, the nodes are moved by the opposite forces until they reach a situation of equilibrium.
  76. Finally besides being graphs and maps, networks are also interfaces, devices that can be employed to manipulate data. This last affordance of networks derives from the recent development of a series of computer tools that allows interacting with the graph.
  77. Here are a few examples and as you may remark their interface is becoming more and more user-friendly and more and more and more visual.
  78. Just looking at the urls where these tools can be downloaded reveals the simplification efforts done to make these tools available to a larger public. In this course, in particular, we will teach you how to analyze networks using Gephi: a piece software that has been developed precisely to minimize the need to know the mathematics of graphs and maximize the point-and-click interaction with the networks.
  79. When Mathieu Jacomy, one of the senior engineers of the médialab team, invented the network analysis tool Gephi, he was trying to develop a “photoshop for graph” meaning a tool to translate networks mathematics in a series of manual actions that one could perform handling graph as tangible objects. One of the consequences of such decision was that the spatialization (the act of disposing the nodes in the space according to their connectivity) is not performed in the background (as in all other software), but takes place under the eyes of the user that can interfere with it. Moving node around, filtering them, grouping and deleting them while the spatialization algorithm is working is one of the most interesting featuresx of Gephi. The success of Gephi, currently the most popular software for network analysis proved the success of this strategy.
  80. 27/08/12 Another example is the artist Mark Lombardi whose works represent as networks the intricate connections among the exponents of US politics and economy and national criminals and international terrorists. Lombardi’s work has been considered transgressive and even subversive and rumors say that few weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI closely inspected an exhibit of Lombardi’s work at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
  81. 27/08/12 Facenuke is a visualization published by Green Peace France the 13 of April 2012. It depicts the network of the people who influence the French debate on nuclear power. It shows, in other words, the alliances that construct in France the science and the technology of atomic energy and defines what nuclear industry is.
  82. 27/08/12 This visualization has been both incredibly successful and extremely controversial. In less than one month it has been viewed by thousands of people and linked by hundreds of websites and in less than one month it has been shut down by Green Peace itself under the threat of heavy legal retaliations by many of the people represented in the visualization.
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  88. 12/10/12 12/10/12 12/10/12 Other concatenations would be certainly possible, what is important is to break down the richness of a controversy and then rebuild it through a chain of subsequent representations. 1. From statements to debates (what) - Tree of disagreement 2. From debates to actors (who) - Actors-networks diagram 3. From actors to networks (how) - Network analysis - Scientometrics - Web cartography - Text analysis 4. From networks to cosmoses (where) - Debate scale - Table of cosmos 5. From cosmoses to cosmopolitics (when) - Debate dynamics
  89. 12/10/12 12/10/12 12/10/12 1. From statements to debates (what) . The first map is meant to show that statements in controversies are never isolated, but always connected in a dialogue made of endorsements and oppositions. It is therefore crucial to show how different discourses question and answer to each other. Of course, there are many ways to do so. One that is popular among the students of our controversy mapping courses, the ‘tree of disagreement’, is as old as greek philosophy and Porphyrian trees.
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  91. 12/10/12 12/10/12 12/10/12 2. From debates to actors (who) . The second map consists in re-attaching statements to the their speakers. This movement is important because it gives materiality to the techno-scientific debate. Controversies do not happen in the vacuum and they oppose social actors rather than platonic ideas. Proposing an argument (as well as supporting or refuting it) is never a mere intellectual move. In controversies, each act is a speech that carries a meaning and every speech is an act that binds alliances and digs oppositions. Plotting who shares which argument with whom, the ‘actors-argument table’, is therefore the very basis of controversy mapping. It is important to remind that, descending from actor-network theory, controversy mapping has a very extended definition of what is an actor of a techno-scientific debate: scientists and engineers, of course, but also lay experts, activists, decisions-makers and not only individual actors but also collective actors (research institutions, enterprises, lobbies…) and non-human actors (instruments, theories, laws, natural elements…).
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  93. 12/10/12 12/10/12 12/10/12 3. From actors to networks (how) . Exactly as statements are never isolated in controversies, so are actors. As you should know by now, the hyphen in actor-network does encourage researchers to look at one and the other, but to consider actors and networks as one thing. This is particularly evident in debates, where the position of actors is determined their alliances and oppositions and, conversely, networks are defined by the actors that they connects. The ‘actor-network diagram’ is meant to visualize the simultaneous movement of individualization and clusterization that characterize controversies. Not an easy task, to be sure, but one that is becoming less impossible thanks to the growing digital traceability of scientific citations, hyperlinks, texts and many other forms social connections.
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  97. 12/10/12 12/10/12 12/10/12 5. From cosmoses to cosmopolitics (when) . The last bar of this section is certainly the most difficult one. Besides presenting what controversies are about, who fights them, how they join or oppose their forces and where battles and wars take place, cartographers must also show how all these elements evolve through time. Add to this the fact that the time of controversies is often the most heterogeneous (different part of the same controversy may remain dormant for ages and suddenly burst into the quickest developments) and the complexity of cosmopolitics will be evident. This is why, though crucial, the dynamic of disputes can only be introduced after all other elements have been set into place.
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