Thursday, October 20, 2005

Research inroads

Yesterday and today I focused on the field work aspect of my exchange to Sweden. For my research project I proposed interviewing staff at Ericsson or Sony Ericsson about the companys role in envisaging future work practices, particularly in relation to the office. These acts of imagining the future are a significant dimension of "high tech" companies. They contribute to the shaping of particular technologies as they emerge as material entities. This does not mean they are closed off at this point. Their "nature" is not sealed into a cultural and material form by these ideational exercises but they do nevertheless contribute to their becoming - what a technology might be or not be, who will use it or not use it etc. This speculative conceptualisation is a process that probably intersects with many staff, departments and practices of the company (or companies as they case may be). I am interested in crossing some of these paths as a researcher/student, to discover more about these practices of speculation and how staff reflect on them.

From Australia, I contacted the staff listed on the Swedish version of Ericssons web site. Not surprisingly the staff listed work in Corporate Communications. While their initial response appeared to be quite positive and suggested they were sending my email on to suitable staff, unfortunately I have not heard from them since despite my follow up emails. However, on my first day at ACSIS I was introduced to a senior researcher in the Department of Computer Science and Informatics at Linköping University. I found out he used to work for Ericsson and he was very encouraging of my research. He emailed me with a number of Ericsson and Sony Ericsson contacts yesterday and this morning I contacted them by email.

Research has much in common with travel I think, probably highlighted by the merging of the two in this exchange experience. The places or objects of study are vague, amorphous entities with little form but act as a kind of screen for the projection of ideas, feelings and expectations. Ericsson is such a place or site. As I encounter Ericsson, it is not, as you might imagine, a confrontation or meeting, a sort of front on collision between subject and object. There is no clear line that is traversed, that separates the place where I was with the place where I want to be but instead a process of encountering this place or thing called Ericsson from many partial connections and perspectives. The research object starts to come into view through these partial connections and perspectives that take place over time. And not just into view, since this privileges the visual encounter as the primary and single mode of knowledge. The 'site' gains definition through all my proprioceptive capacities mediated by the technologies through which I encounter it.
Ericsson does not become immediately present to me but becomes a place or a site as a series of names, a person I meet, a phone call, an email address...

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