A new article on pluralising critical technical practice that I co-authored with Daniela van Geenen and Karin van Es has just been published in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.
The article gathers and reconsiders some of the ways in which the notion of critical technical practices has been taken up in different fields and reflects on contributions to a special issue that will be published early next year.
In this special issue, we turn to ideas of and approaches to critical technical practices (CTPs) as entry points to doing critique and doing things critically in digitally mediated cultures and societies. We explore the pluralisation of ‘critical technical practice’, starting from its early formulations in the context of AI research and development (Agre, 1997a, 1997b) to the many ways in which it has resonated and been taken up by different publications, projects, groups, and communities of practice, and what is has come to mean. Agre defined CTP as a situational, practical, and constructive way of working: ‘a technical practice for which critical reflection upon the practice is part of the practice itself’ (1997a: XII). Communities of practice in which the notion has been adopted, adapted, and put to use range from human–computer interaction (HCI) to media art and pedagogy, from science and technology studies (STS) and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) to digital humanities, media studies and data studies. This special issue affirms the pluralisation of CTP, and serves as an invitation to (re)consider what it means to use this notion drawing on a wider body of work, including beyond Agre. In this introduction, we review and discuss CTPs according to (1) Agre, (2) indexed research, and (3) contributors to this special issue. We conclude with some questions and considerations for those interested in working with this notion.
Image: “All Gone Tarot Deck” co-created by Carlo De Gaetano, Natalia Sánchez Querubín, Sabine Niederer and the Visual Methodologies Collective from Climate futures: Machine learning from cli-fi, one of the special issue articles.