Accepted Paper:

The formation of interest within "elusive networks" and the role of the anthropologist.   


Jonna Josties (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

This paper outlines the formation of interest and cooperation efforts of "elusive networks" that have emerged from the Silicon Valley ethos. In addition, the responsibility and the role of anthropological work in this experimental, high-tech driven and fast moving field are explored.

Paper long abstract:

The Silicon Valley ethos, established by the spread of start-up business models, has created a rich and specific set of experimental, high-tech-driven, fast-paced practices that are finding their way into all sorts of areas to realize ideas, processes and cooperation. In this paper I explore the example of a San Francisco cooperation in the search for a location in Berlin. I will show how the formation of interest within the form of an elusive network, such as the cooperation here, works through an interesting new kind of practice organisation, which is made possible by digital technology. While this practice organisation allows for certain cooperation, confluences and connections (e. g. network- wide), it tends to hinder other alliances that seem more obvious from a "conventional point of view" (e. g. with actors directly on site, such as the city administration).

The co-presence (Beaulieu 2010) in such fields of research provides the anthropologist with an astonishing data density; social interactions are stored, archived and even processed into statistics in the digital infrastructures used. Dealing with these collectivities of documents (Shankar, Hakken, Østerlund 2017) raises a number of methodological questions, the last but not least about the responsibility of anthropological work for a sensitive handling of data on social life. This paper reflects on the possibility of a collaborative agreement between the anthropologist and such unsteady fields on questions of permission to use existing data; and on a form of participation in the experimental procedures, which also provides space and time for observations necessary for anthropological analyses and contributions.

Panel C04
Productive frictions: co-laboration and confluence in the work of new alliances