Yesterday, we presented an outline of our research to some of the employees of the Tropenmuseum and the Royal Tropical Institute. The weather was lovely, which made our wait for tram 14 a lot more pleasant.
It was very nice to be able to share our plans for the fieldwork at the museum, and to meet the people I will probably be spending lots of time with (as I will be doing the fiedwork in this case study). We had decided to talk briefly about our theoretical interest, before delving into the practical plans for carrying out the fieldwork. We discussed our specific focus (i.e. how images in web-based databases generate a new way of knowing we label network realism), and talked about two research strands that come together in our research. The first is work on web-based databases and knowledge production (f.i. Jenkins 2006 Convergence Culture; Bruns 2008 Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage), and the second is work on digital technologies and visual culture (Daston & Galison 2007 Objectivity; Bolter & Grusin 2000 Remediation: Understanding New Media; De Rijcke & Beaulieu 2007). We explained our understanding of network realism by contrasting (presumably) the oldest photograph with several slides on the interactive possibilities of the museum’s online database. We think the contrast between two very different practices of objectivity worked well (i.e. Daston and Galison’s mechanical objectivity versus our label network realism), and the audience was responsive of our proposal for the fieldwork. In the discussion afterwards, many interesting questions were raised and suggestions were made. People were open to the layeredness of issues of representation, and seemed willing to have us as a guest, to learn from them. One of the things we will hopefully look into during our stay at the museum (June-September), is the introduction of a new search engine called “digital association,” taking place in that same period.