Really I’d like to introduce this collectively as
We are the Facebook actor-network theory group, we hang out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/220398254694166/ and chat about all thinks related to the loose assemblage of ideas and methods that get grouped under the term “actor-network theory”.
I like that – it includes groups, ideas and technologies together and suggests something dynamic and changing, heterogeneous and non-individual However, if instead the introduction was written in more conventional terms what would happen? I’ll try:
Hello, I’m Steve Wright. I work as a Learning Technologist and Qualitative Data Analysis Software teacher and consultant at Lancaster University. I completed my PhD in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning in 2014 in which I drew extensively on ideas from actor-network theory and some of it’s intellectual roots and methods from ethnomethodology – to explore how sensory assessment (specifically beer judging) is learned and assessed and certified. I’m interested in methods and the relationships they have to theory, the place of technology (and how technology is understood or considered) in that counts as “technology” and how those relationships are and can be translated into actual practices of researching, teaching and learning.
That statement marks me out as a bounded, defined individual who has achieved certain qualifications, rather than a shifting network of more-or-less ephemeral traces and representations. It writes out all the technologies and tools that enable that statement to appear on your screen and grants me sole authorship of the statement rather than the spell-checker that sorted out my hasty typing among the numerous other tools and technologies, standards and systems which got it to your screen. In doing so it helps enshrine an individualist view that there is a definable “I” who has interests that are somewhere in me (presumably my head?), rather than being distributed and enmeshed in other locations, tools and systems. Or maybe it’s the ideas that are the agents and I am just a host?
So: if you reply and introduce your "self” - and please do - what would you be writing out? What are all the links in the chains that connect you to the message above in order to reply? What are those links dependent on and enmeshed in? And what agency do they have in shaping how you respond? Are those connections engaged with, acknowledged or incorporated into your research, work or practice? How?
I suggest that exploring and considering those questions are at least some of the contributions Actor-Network Theory has made, and can make, to the field of Networked Learning research and practice – which we’ll be exploring a little in this hot seat. Hopefully that collective exploration will open up some ideas and assumptions that aren’t always considered, and through doing so hopefully we’ll all learn a little more about what ANT ‘does’ – which seems a better question than what ANT ‘is’. Of course if you’ve never encountered ANT before and are still wondering what insects have to do with networked learning and can spare 3 minutes then this is a useful intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2YYxS6D-mI
Steve (and the FB ANT group)
PS. If you have a little more than 3 minutes, then these 17, surprisingly readable pages by John Law do a far better job of introduction than my ramblings thus far http://www.heterogeneities.net/publications/Law2007ANTandMaterialSemiotics.pdf