The project Network Realism embraces four different sites. The sites contrast in the extent to which, at first sight, they are associated with easily discernable institutions. The physical presence of the Tropenmuseum and of the Rijksakademie lend a certain tangibility to those sites, making them seem more amenable to fieldwork. The buildings, the spaces these institutions occupy are an important ressources in constructing the site. In other words, there is an obviousness (vanzelfsprekendheid) of the buildings that seems to extend to the ‘site’… and that seem to raise questions about the ‘where’ or ‘how ‘of the Flickr- and Funda-associated sites.
Yet, across the cases, we do our best to systematically formulate our sites as being “the practices associated with the web-based databases of Rijksakademie, Tropenmuseum, Flickr and Funda.” Though we are probably guilty of using ‘Tropenmuseum’ or ‘Funda’ as shorthands for what is quite a mouthful!
The point is that all these sites require constitution, and this involves:
- having theoretical leanings that make certain starting points seem desirable or obvious
- having practical constraints (whether physical, based on history with certain people, timing, etc) that make it more feasible to chose certain points of entry
- recognizing that affinities that can be both intellectual and affective, which makes us more likely to engage with certain activities
In terms of these, there isn’t really a difference between sites. The import of physical space for constituting sites, however, derives from a long tradition of fieldwork. This is why the concept of co-presence is so useful, because it helps to bypass the primacy of location as a way of constituting sites.