Hope infrastructure: enacting expectations in bloggers’ material practices

On 06/05/2010 by Adolfo

I will be presenting (dios mediante) a paper in the next conference of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST), Practicing science and technology, performing the social. I will discuss a part of my PhD dissertations currently under work. Here it is the abstract:

This paper discusses the material dynamic of expectations among a collective of intensive bloggers in Spain and how they are enacted in the everyday blogging practice with the participation of the blog material infrastructure. I will argue that expectations on the power of blogs for transforming society are based in the massive material inscription of blog/blogger interactions. Empirical data has been produced during 18 months of fieldwork focused on the study of intensive bloggers, a collective defined by recognizing themselves as bloggers, blogging everyday, and being deeply involved in the construction of the Blogosphere in Spain. Empirical data has been obtained in three different contexts: the Internet, face to face events and bloggers meetings and interviews (online and face to face).

Common among intensive bloggers is a reflexive practice focused on the discussion of their own blogging activity;  key element of this reflexive discourse are the expectations posed on what is conceived as the power of blogs for transforming different domains of societies (mass media, science, private companies and education, among other). Analyzing this reflexivity I will first present a set of expectations that circulate on the public discourse of intensive bloggers and drawing on the concept of inscription (Latour, 1999) I will then discuss how these expectations are enacted in the everyday material practices of bloggers with the participation on the blog infrastructure.

Any interaction among blog and bloggers produce material inscriptions like log files, hyperlinks and registries of visitors. A whole set of artefacts have been elaborated in the last years that manipulate these traces for elaborating different types of representations like statistics of visitors or lists of incoming links. Blog infrastructure has progressively integrated all these devices along the years and they have been incorporated by many bloggers into their everyday practice.

I will focus my discussion specifically on the extensive use of statistics of visitors. Drawing on the distinction between regimes of truth and hope (Moreira and Palladino, 20005) I first discuss the dynamic of facts and expectations that takes place when these inscription devices are mobilized in the everyday blogging practice and I problematize the common definition of expectations as predicate of the future; I will argue that expectations are formulated as uncertain predicates of present state of affairs. I will first show how these inscription devices perform materially present facts: number of visitors that are usually represent as a temporal line; but at the same time power of blogs and new expectations are then materially enacted as a deviation of the expected number of visitors when exceptional facts as a sudden deviation from the expected number of visitors are represented. The same inscription device is at the same time an artefact for performing present and routine facts and new expectations of the future. I will then argue that the massive inscription of the present by the blog infrastructure is the condition of possibility for enacting future expectations among intensive bloggers. The material infrastructure that takes place in the inscription process is a infrastructure for hope.

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