« Metaverse meets mash-up: | Main | Gaming McDonalds: »

June 07, 2006

Networked things and the old/new objectivism



"...In any case, what strikes me in this "renaissance of things" is the creeping tendency to fetishise (to reify?) the object. This happens too in social software, and user-centred design. Both 'the social' and 'the user' become paramount, yet remain unexamined. More people are citing Latour's influence, often summarised along the lines that objects have agency too, which is technically correct. But Latour isn't interested in objects, he's interested in relations - in actant-networks, collectives of humans and non-humans, and processes of translation.

If we actually follow Latour, or any of the critiques of ANT, then it's not the things themselves that are interesting, but rather the imbroglios they comprise. Julian and Nicolas suggest this when they claim "a new kind of digital, networked ecology in which objects become collaborators," but objects have always been collaborators. The word 'object' comes from Latin 'to throw in the way,' which may explain why people fall back on the idea that we now need to integrate all of these objects into our understanding of the digital. But, at the risk of stating the obvious, the digital is always already material and real. So why a "renaissance" at all?..." From Networked things and the old/new objectivism by Anne Galloway [blogged by Anne on Purse Lips Square Jaw]

Posted by jo at June 7, 2006 05:34 PM