Designing knowledge: An interdisciplinary experiment in research infrastructure for shared description


Preface This report brings together two halves of a long-term project, carried out through 2004 and 2005. Each half has been presented and distributed privately, but not previously published. A single publication based on this work may be produced at some time in the future. However there is sufficient demand for access that I have prepared this version simply by placing the two halves together, with this preface and a brief postscript summarising experience since the second half was written in August 2005. The report presents the experimental development, evaluation and refinement of a method for doing adventurous design work, in contexts where academics must work in collaboration with corporate and public policy strategists and researchers. The intention has been to do applied social science, in which a reflective research process has resulted in a " new social form " , as expressed in the title of the research grant that funded the project. The objective in doing so is not simply to produce new theories, or to enjoy interdisciplinary encounters (although both of those have been side effects of this work). My purpose in doing the work and writing this report is purely instrumental – working as a technologist among social scientists, the outcome described in this report is intended for adoption as a kind of social technology. I have given this product a name: the " Blackwell-Leach Process " for interdisciplinary design. The Blackwell-Leach process has since been applied and proven useful in several novel situations, and I believe is now sufficiently mature to justify publication of the reports that describe both the process and its development. I would like to thank James Leach for his collaboration in this project, Marilyn Strathern for her initial welcome, patience and encouragement, and my colleagues in the Crucible network for helping to develop these ideas. I am grateful to the ESRC for funding the project Social Property and New Social Forms, and to the other co-investigators, research assistants, and workshop participants who have participated in the project (many of whom are mentioned in the body of this report). Interdisciplinarity is widely recognised as a good thing for academics and for technology research. Funding bodies give additional credit for interdisciplinarity when assessing research funding proposals, academic promotion panels give special recognition to interdisciplinary effort, and many academics take pride in advertising their work as interdisciplinary. This report describes an event within the …

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@inproceedings{Blackwell2006DesigningKA, title={Designing knowledge: An interdisciplinary experiment in research infrastructure for shared description}, author={Alan F. Blackwell}, year={2006} }