ANDREAS BIRKBAK

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

TANT RESEARCH GROUP MEMBER

Phone: +45 2879 9316
E-mail: ab@learning.aau.dk

Why did you join the lab?

What is ‘the lab’ in a field like techno-anthropology? I enjoy this challenge. If we take inspiration from natural science, where labs are abundant, a scientific laboratory is a place where controlled experiments can be carried out. What would a controlled experiment look like in a techno-anthropological context? I am not sure, but I would like to be part of exploring such questions. Another feature of labs is that they can facilitate collaborative research. This is another aspect that I am enthusiastic about. The lab creates a space where data sets can be investigated by more than one person.

 

What do you do at the lab?

So far, most of my time in the lab has been spent on grabbling with digital data sets. We have a screen, a projector, a couple of whiteboards, all of which make it easier to explore digital data sets together through various visualizations, for instance via the open source dataviz software Gephi. This is useful, not least for moving quickly back and forth between data collection and data interpretation, which is one of the exciting things about digital methods in techno-anthropology.

 

How did you get to call yourself a techno-anthropologist?

Easy question! I was the first member of the techno-anthropology research group to finish my PhD while part of that group, so in a way this makes me a techno-anthropologist by training. But it started earlier than that for me. I got interested in techno-anthropology, or science and technology studies, already when I was half-way through my bachelor in sociology at the University of Copenhagen. I remember discovering the writings of Latour while working on an assignment on philosophy of science. Latour was not on the curriculum, but somehow I managed to write my exam paper about his thinking. Since then, my interests have been quite techno-anthropological, so perhaps by now I get to call myself a techno-anthropologist.