Seizing the Digital

  • Janet Vertesi Princeton University
Keywords: digital systems, information technology, laboratory studies making, STS


Digital systems pervade classic STS sites of interest, from connecting laboratories to mediating lay-expert divides. But STS has so far been reticent to build the theoretical and analytical perspectives necessary for embracing digital systems as an important element of contemporary fieldwork, research, and practice. This paper charts a course for bringing STS concepts to bear on digital systems and vice versa, bringing our lingering concern with questions from the sociology of knowledge to bear on digitally-enacted and mediated scientific and technical practices. It shows how we can eschew the language of technological determinism inherent to discussion about digital systems outside of STS, asking instead questions germane to STS theory and practice such as the configuration of such systems to include and exclude, the epistemic entanglements of using digital tools in research practice, and the potential to build new systems that suggest alternative arrangements.

Author Biography

Janet Vertesi, Princeton University
Assistant Professor of Sociology
01 Jul 2016
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