This project has a lot to do with ‘co’ as it being placed at MEDEA, a centre of co-production, and its focus on media, innovation and participation.
In this text I will think a bit about the ‘co’ and its link to Mode 2 research.
New knowledge production refers to a novel way of scientific knowledge production. It is what Gibbons et al (1994) and Nowotny et al (2001) mention when they bring forward the thoughts on Mode 2 research: academia as co-production. Where Mode 2 research is context-driven, problem-focused and interdisciplinary, Mode 1 research is investigator-initiated and discipline-based. This would point to that Mode 2 research processes are more co-operative, and participative, as Reason (1999) proposes. This would also mean that there is an ‘intentional interplay between reflection and sensemaking on the one hand, and experience and action on the other’, as Heron and Reason (2001, p 179) claim.
New knowledge production is linked to ‘new media’, i.e. information and communication technologies; digital media. New media is associated with more possible of interaction and participation than ‘old media’, often comparing mass media as top down with networked media as bottom-up. Hine (2006) suggest, that technology development is facilitating new ways of doing science. Jenkins (forthcoming on Transformative Work) builds on concepts of convergence and participatory culture, and declares possibilities of transformative work where the ‘aca-fan’ and academic activism are new interactions.
I start with the phenomena of ‘co’, as something acknowledging ‘a distinct shift from a culture of autonomy to a culture of accountability’ (Nowotny et al, 2005:42) and as something empirically based. Being part of a co-production academic setting since August 2009, this text and my work can be called a self-reflective scientific participative work, or what Nowotny (2005) name as co-evolution, a more integrated system society-science interaction.
New knowledge production has as many discourses on ‘new’ been criticized for not being new, as something that has been there all the time just more or less in different places. I use them as ‘reflective essayes’ (Nowotny, 2001) as valuable analytical propositions for how to think and do co-production from a knowledge production perspective.
Approaching the ‘co’ in this context means making acquaintance with different attachments. So far I have mentioned co-production, co-operative, co-evolution. Co-production is traditionally associated with the making of a film or television programme which is produced by several organizations. In this case it is supposed to signal knowledge production where academic institutions are making knowledge together with organizations and persons outside academia. Co-operative is furthering this production perspective by implying working or acting together toward a common end or purpose. Best highlighter in this triple is co-evolution, as ‘reciprocal interactions between agents and processes to form co-evolutionary dynamics’ (Garnsey and McGlade 2006:10).
The foundations for the ‘co’ can be found in the meanings of dialogue. On a common sense-level dialogue means a conversation between two or more people where there is supposed to be an exchange of ideas or opinions. The opposite of dialogue is monologue. Compare this with Mode 1 and Mode 2 research, where Mode 2 research is supposed to be integrated system society-science interaction; a conversation with exchange of ideas or opinion.
Another relevant attachment to ‘co’ in this context is co-creation (Winsor, 2005; Ramaswamy and Gouillart, 2010) and co-design (King et al, 1989; Seybold, 2006). Both concepts are used in the context of knowledge production with a stronger focus on creativity and innovation value. This interest in collective creativity has its foundations in Pierre Lévy’s work on collective intelligence (Lévy, 1999). Embodied in concepts such as open source, user generated, open innovation, sward intelligence, crowd sourcing etcetera. The argument is that knowledge societies and networked societies need collective intelligence ‘use collaborative work as a mean to develop collective intelligence’ (van Weert: 31).
In my work as a researcher I use the concept collaborative to go into empirical depth of co-evolution. My main argument is that collaborative naturally embodies both a positive and a negative meaning of co-evolution. To collaborate is to work with another or others on a joint project, but it can also be to cooperate as a traitor, an enemy occupying one’s own culture/nation/country. With ‘collaborating’, I want to pay attention to not only the how of collaboration but also noticing collaboration for what and for whom and with which consequences? Being collaborative cannot be just for it’s own sake. To be able to make meaning of situations of collaboration it must also involve articulating resistance.
Coming close to the ‘co’ is looming around the proposition of a collaborative turn, and recommending a focus on the methodological necessities of collaboration as a performative act. This intends adding a layer to the ethics of cyberspace (Hamelink, 2000) with the ethics of collaboration. How are we to ethically deal with digital media’s participatory possibility as researchers? How are we to resist the individualistic mode and at the same time recognize the self?