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Place Making: A Theory Of Knowledge Work

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Globalization and technology change the work place. Place making is the dynamic motor of innovation, even in the midst of Internet and other advanced technology.

Globalization and technology change the work place. Place making is the dynamic motor of innovation, even in the midst of Internet and other advanced technology.

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  • Selling your ideas is challenging. First, you must get your listeners to agree with you in principle. Then, you must move them to action. Use the Dale Carnegie Training® Evidence – Action – Benefit formula, and you will deliver a motivational, action-oriented presentation.
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    • 1. Place making A theory of knowledge work Trond Arne Undheim Society for the Social Study of Science, Milwaukee Thursday, Nov 7th 2002, Session 2 (1045-1230)
    • 2. Trends
      • Globalization (many, many voices)
        • Information society where knowledge is capital and networks rule (Castells 1996)
        • Visionary figures shape the technological future (Bill Gates)
        • mobility
      • Participation (few, but significant voices)
        • Consumers counter-act, domesticate (Silverstone, Sørensen), reinterpret, shape and choose
    • 3. The nature of work is changing
      • innnovation, offices, meetings, face-to-face, video-conferences, research, dialogue, pitching ideas, going to conferences
      • People travel, yet stay somewhat connected with their office (telephone, fax, cellphone, email, videoconference)
      • Travel patterns shape up to a network with world cities as hubs, connecting it
      • We know this already, even in a research community with less money to be first adopters
    • 4. But what is ’really’ happening?
      • As Science and Technology (STS) people we need to ask some basic questions:
        • Who’s advocating the ’change’? (follow the actors)
        • How much of the change is mere hype? (be critical of actor definitions)
        • What processes does work consist of? (decompose the question itself)
    • 5. First STS attempt
      • Social/individual
      • Dispersed/based in global cities
      • Virtual/physical
    • 6. Social/individual
      • Teamwork
      • Thinking space – alone time
      • creativity
    • 7. Dispersed/based in world cities
      • 28 world cities (above 8 million inhabitants) and growing
      • A hierarchy of cities, yet also clusters of cities that perform different functions (Peter Hall, Saskia Sassen, regional geographers of various schools)
    • 8. Virtual/physical
      • The Internet has given some opportunities to communicate, present, interact, and influence from afar
      • The physical component of work – is it still relevant? What does it consist of? Psychology of face-to-face? Materiality?
    • 9. Emerging doubt
      • What is the nature of networks?
      • Is opportunity structure the same as motivation?
      • How to understand not only what people do, but how and why they do it
    • 10. Key problem
      • The role of technology in knowledge workers’ daily life
      • invent, document, convince, share, distribute, communicate, improvise, travel, focus, execute
    • 11. Second STS attempt
      • Work (knowledge practices)
      • Tech (Internet)
      • Play (social processes)
    • 12. Visionary influences
      • Work
      • Knowledge management (Nonaka 1996)
      • Tech
        • The Network Society (Castells 1996)
      • Play
              • Nomadic applications. communication is everything (mobile telecom business)
    • 13. Academic opinion
      • Work
      • Organization theory, Globalization theory, Geography of innovation
      • Tech
        • Network sociology, CyberMedia theory
      • Play
      • Psychology
    • 14. knowledge practices
      • Knowledge is tacit (Polanyi, 1966)
        • What you know can’t be spelled out
        • ” sits in the walls”
      • Knowledge is embodied (Bourdieu, 1996)
      • Knowledge is ephemeral (Undheim, 2002)
        • Activates when people meet
        • Convincing work
      • ba – a common thinking and action space (Nonaka, 1996)
    • 15. Tech (Internet, network)
      • IP-based communication is integral to business infrastructure
      • High tech presence in the workplace
      • No man is without email, laptop, PDA, or cellphone, ICT powers just about every business process
      • Artifacts are actors (Latour, 1999)
    • 16. Network society indicators
      • In Castells (1996) mind these are:
        • Increased interorganizational activity and networking
        • Global informationflow measured in bytes
        • Informatized work processes
        • Globalized travel patterns
        • Studies of economic activities between ”global cities” like New York, London, Tokyo, Frankfürt og Singapore
    • 17. ” Space of flows”
      • Flows of electronic nature that enable the exchange of informational resources through and between world cities
        • Internet
        • Corporate Intranets
        • other élite information networks
      • This enables access, communication and action across great geographical distances
        • Actors experience places as limited by territorial boundaries
        • The ‘Space of flows’ has boundaries as well - you are either inside or outside (switched off)
    • 18. ” spaces of flows”
      • Big paradox: while the material foundation of social interaction has become IP-based, the physical encounters between élites is still important but, in general, physical places are unimportant
      • Castells says most people don’t ”experience” this change (the delusion of the masses)
    • 19. ” spaces of flows”
      • Spaces that consist of the patterns of the separate but connected flows of people, capital, ideas and culture (Appadurai 1996)
      • Flows of electronic nature that enable the exchange of informational resources through and between world cities. Function like network spaces in which people are only relevant because of their links (Castells 1996)
    • 20. ” spaces of flows”
      • People flows (workers, refugees, migrants, tourists, terrorists)
      • Capital flows (cross-border)
      • Technology flows (PDAs, IP-networks)
      • Idea and Information flows (Internet, media, closed corporate or political networks)
      • Media flows (cultural products, Hollywood films, consumer products)
    • 21. Tech (questions)
      • How important is information technology?
        • Does this change with business fads?
        • What functions does ICT carry out?
        • Is network society only technology?
        • Can all business processes occur online?
        • Are workers becoming virtual nomads?
    • 22. Play (social processes)
      • Mobile telecom business says all people are nomads, on-the-go
        • We need information when running around
        • We want to move around for mobility’s sake
      • Social encounters intensify and multiply
    • 23. Play (social processes)
      • Social encounters intensify and multiply
        • companies abolish offices in favor of open spaces
        • team offices instead of individual offices
        • gourmet food all the time, flexible kitchen
        • basic services (laundry, shopping, kindergarden)
        • endorse leisure activities as part of the workday (ping pong, running, cultural activities)
    • 24. Nomads of the present carry everything they need around…alone…
    • 25. Play (questions)
      • What happens when work becomes home and home becomes work (Hochshild, 1997)
      • Are organizations well advised to maximize sociality?
      • What about the old-fashioned offices? Did we loose something on the way?
    • 26. Tech Talk Cisco Trolltech Telenor Hardware Software Telecom ” US-global” ” European postgeographical” ” globo-Norwegian”
    • 27. Findings
    • 28.
      • Knowledge work is a set of composite practices
      • non-social practices (isolating, thinking, concentrating)
      • social practices (thinking, pushing, pitching)
    • 29. ” knowledge work processes”
      • Domestication
        • Interpretation of the material possibilities before us
        • occurs in all spheres (home, when travelling, in café talks, at work) and technology is no unique driving force (Silverstone 2000; Sørensen 1998, Undheim 2002)
      • Mobilization
        • Acting upon your insight
        • Convincing others
        • Creating facts (knowledge)
      • Inscription
        • Providing scripts (instructions for use materially manifest in the artifact or document you produce)
    • 30. Towards a theory of p lace making
      • In knowledge work, online and offline spacemaking occurs simultaneously. Castells calls this process ”spaces of flows”. I prefer to talk about ”place making”. It co-occurs with the spaces of flows, but is the mover
        • We are merging the two experiences and information gathered into one
        • This process occurs in physical and mental places, not as systems and structures beyond us as cognitive and creative individuals
    • 31.
      • While a non-place (Auge, 1995) is a waiting area, with no real experience attached to it, places contain spaces
      • Humans tend to produce meaningful connections to feel safe and ”in place”
      • Place making activates ephemeral knowledge through pitching initiatives, convincing and stabilizing
    • 32. Tension. ’Hyperspace’
      • Intensified place and space relations
        • High tech firms both embody such practices and (try to) transcend them at the same time
        • Reintroduction of physical places with new meaning (Silicon Valley, New York)
        • Global cities more than just hubs
      • Fingerspitzengefühl is required to find the relevant configuration of ’knowledge that matters’
      • ” place making” is physical, yet network enabled
    • 33. “place making”
      • Place making is based on all six senses and serves to re-translate the relationship between information, capital, ideas, people and material resources in order to produce
      • (1) identity, safety, local preferences
      • (2) insight, knowledge, actions
      • (3) fusion between place and space
      • It seems to be a generic human process
    • 34. The 3-stage place making process
      • Stage 1. Pick a certain site based on some idea or previous team work success. Observe and interact in physical proximity. This produces possibilities
      • Stage 2. Engage in a stirring-up process, like what happens when you stir up water that has been lying still (activate, energize, convince, negotiate)
      • Stage 3. Freeze ideas, establish boundaries, connections, consequences. Then spread the core findings, product or concept and continue to push, receive feedback, refine, and network
    • 35. The place making theory
      • My inspiration for the place making theory is found in the works of:
        • Classical sociology, especially Durkheim (1911), Latour (1999), Hannerz (1992), Merleau-Ponty (1945), Bourdieu (1996), Lie & Sørensen (1996), Berger & Luckmann (1967) as well as among Gestalt psychology theorists of sensory perception who discovered ‘insight’ learning
    • 36. What places produce
      • A defined setting
        • a boundary against the outside and the outsiders
        • a certain atmosphere
        • typical situations, routines, habits
      • locality - a sense of one’s place
      • priority for proximity
      • nationalism – regionalism – bourgeoisie
    • 37. Model of knowledge production in ‘real virtuality’
      • Spaces of flows (moving items)
      • (people, capital, ideas, culture, technology)
      • TENSIONS  Real Virtuality (potential)
      • - Hybrid reality - Symbolic, material and virtual presence
      • Place making (ongoing sense making)
      • - constructing boundaries between online/offline
        • Encounter space – freeze, defreeze Case 1: High Tech work
        • Infrastructure – activate, negotiate Case 2: Terrorism
        • Social & psychological needs Case 3: Open Source
    • 38. Conclusion
      • Place making is the generic principle that ties globalization processes (the space of flows) to real experience
      • Place making theory says work is an ongoing sensemaking exercise where both social and non social activities play a key role
      • Place making theory builds on domestication, mobilization and inscription
      • Place making is how knowledge is made durable
    • 39. Bibliography
      • Augé (1995) Non-places . London: Verso.
      • Bauman (1998) Globalization . Cambridge: Polity.
      • Beck (2000) What is Globalization? Cambridge: Polity.
      • Castells (1996) The rise of the Network Society . Oxford: Blackwell
      • Dam (2001) The Rules of the Global Game . Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
      • Friedmann (1999) The Lexus and the Olive Tree . New York: Anchor Books.
      • Giddens (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity . Stanford: Stanford University Press.
      • Held & McGrew (2000) The Global Transformations Reader . Oxford: Polity.
      • Latour (1999) Pandora’s Hope . Boston: Harvard University Press.
      • Sassen (2002) Global Networks: Linked Cities . New York: Routledge.
      • Sklair (2002) Globalization . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
      • Storper (1997) The Regional World . New York: Guilford.

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