The Tools of the Trade / The Tools for the Job

— Jeremy Hunsinger —

Jonathan LeRoy Biderman’s paper reminded me of some of the excellent work that I’ve seen at the Media Ecology conference and at 4S in the past that do deep on-sight engagements with technology in creation. His work engaged questions around the tools used in modernist cooking and molecular gastronomy while relating them effortlessly to innovations in our at-home kitchens.

The second paper was by Zara Mirmalek of Harvard and her colleagues. She presented on the question of socio-political engagements around tool adoption and non-adoption in NASA’s BASALT project. The project simulates life on Mars, and tests tools and problems around tools in those environments specifically engaging questions of the time delay found in Deep Space communication. The team’s findings show that the primary reasons for adoption and dismissal of tools depends on various communicative engagements and surprisingly less on the qualities of the tools, then on the communication around the tools.

Kerk Kee and I developed the third presentation, which centred on our literature review surrounding questions of career transitions related to cyberinfrastructure tools for early career scientists. Kerk and I have been discussing this project for many years and decided to engage the topic with a literature review to see whether our questions were being engaged. The results of the literature review indicated that career transition explanations related to tools is not present in the literature and is a ripe area for investigation.

Kohji Hirata from KEK, High Energy Research Association presented his work on deliberate chance taking in technology by examining the social and political dynamics around using increased luminosity in a high energy physics experiment. The research explored the engagements of scientists with their broader contexts including citizen scientists, and public understanding of science in order to understand how the risk or deliberate chance was mediated.

Andi Dixon discussed the big data interpellations into the careers of street level bureaucrats like teachers, police, and firefighters. She discussed the problem of knowledge surrounding this data and how we need to reconstruct a different sense of data literacy for the future, as the effects of data illiteracy are going to cause significant problems the operations of vernacular careers.