I suspect that the following video has been sourced in others’ posts (I spotted it on Daniel’s after posting), but I found it packaged Latour‘s sometimes rambling / sometimes ranting first half. I must admit, his critique of the Activity Theorists and Sociologists made me laugh at times — he’s clearly quite secure in his position as critic — but by the time I made it through the 2nd half of the book, I found his posturing a bit disconcerting, especially having just read Spinuzzi‘s chapter on Networks encouraging common ground.
Latour‘s work seems to be both theoretical as well as application — given his examples of “how it works” embedded throughout the text. But I actually found our second reading for the week, Spinuzzi‘s chapter “How Are Networks Theorized?,” to be a helpful translator for Latour’s book, written as it is to be an overview of the tensions between Activity Theorists and Actor-Network Theory proponents. Indeed, I’m finding myself drawn more and more to both Foucault and Spinuzzi’s ways of translating theory to real-world frames (certainly no surprise, given their alliances), all the while thinking of how much it seems we’re still grappling with genres — only this time, the theories themselves are the genres. This struck me especially when reading about the “contradictions” versus “alliances” Spinuzzi writes about in his “Network” article. The attempt by Latour to categorize ANT and AT by examining their conventions of practice and reference certainly reminds me of genre theory, and Latour’s and Spinuzzi’s insistence that we trace the contradictions and conflicts as a way of truly understanding the activity / actor node theorizing priorities, certainly echoes the advantages of genre tracing (Spinuzzi again).
But Latour’s attention to science as part of his argument really appeals to me, given my background. So much so, that when I found the following RSA – TED video, I thought to myself, “THIS captures so much of our discussion over the past few weeks.”
More thoughts on Spinuzzi’s Network Chapter and Latour’s 2nd half in Part II.