Call for Proposals: Digital STS

We invite one-page proposals for an edited volume on “digitalSTS” that advance our understanding of digital objects, phenomena, processes, and methods in Science and Technology Studies. Proposals will be solicited and adjudicated in one of three categories: (1) Theories and Cases, (2) Methods, and (3) Making. To best tailor your proposed submission, we outline the three categories and their expectations below.

Strong contributions will draw direct connections to topics, literatures, and inquiries of central importance to STS. They may also engage contributions from intersecting fields such as anthropology, communications, media studies, computer-supported cooperative work, and human-computer interaction. We encourage the broadest possible participation from individuals and groups working across Science and Technology Studies and its constitutive or intersecting domains.

In line with the principles and practices of the growing digitalSTS community, this Call for Proposals (and Things!) was generated by community members at the digitalSTS Workshop at 4S in October 2013. Submissions will be discussed and adjudicated in an open, online peer review format before the Editorial Team will select and solicit papers. We welcome all members of the STS community to participate in the process of reviewing proposals.

Online Submission System will open in early April, 2014
Submissions Due May 15, 2014
Review period: May 16, 2014 – June 15, 2014

Please see our FAQ, or email the digitalSTS editorial team at

Jump to the full descriptions of the three sections here:

(1) Theories and Cases
(2) Methods
(3) Making.

Theories and Cases (a.k.a. “the Handbook”):

Submissions to the “Theory and Cases” section should explore or propose significant or novel contributions to STS theory through new empirical engagements with digital environments, objects, or practices. Through such studies, we aim to not only build a corpus of theory around the digital within STS, but also to contribute to larger theoretical and methodological debates within the field (for example: social construction, actor-networks, ontologies, expertise, feminist STS, policy, etc.). In its broadest form, work in this section will address itself to two very general questions: How can STS help us think, act, and engage differently around ‘the digital’? And how can engagement with the digital help in turn to change the way we imagine, theorize, and practice STS? To this end, we invite papers that explore (but are not limited to) the following questions and domains:

  • Materiality and Ontologies: Digital artifacts challenge the “hardness” or “obduracy” of objects in unexpected ways. What type of material is the digital or in what ways is it material? What difference does (digital) materiality make? And what do digital materials do? Specific topics might include: the relationships between users, designers, and other workers; algorithmic processes and constructivism; embodied aspects of the digital; specific textures of the digital such as determinism, obduracy, pliability, enabling and constraining; digital spatiality and material practices; digital object relations and the embedded networked artefact.
  • Power, Politics, and Participation: The digital is commonly taken to be universal, but empirically is rarely so. Further, shifts toward “big” and “open” have pressed upon previous configurations of designer and user, empowered and underrepresented, reconfigured certain constraints of time and geography, and/or produced new forms of circulation to attend to. What influences the uneven circulation of knowledge, artifacts and people? How do big and universal things get big and universal (and what are the consequences for things that don’t)? How do digital forms and infrastructures reveal, extend, or reconfigure power relations (including those built around gender, class, ethnicity, race, age, location, or possibly new and emerging lines of division we haven’t yet thought to theorize? How should we study and think about things like platforms, algorithms, networks, and other sites at and through which politics and publics are configured?
  • New forms of work, organizing, and labor: The digital produces new forms of organization and labor: crowdsourcing, contract work, DIY and pro-am communities, mechanical turk, user innovation, etc. Many of these live within and embed particular values, experiences, and ideologies of work (e.g. start-up culture). Further, there are significant shifts in the core collaborative practices of science, business, government, and transnational commerce associated with the move to digital tools, systems and technologies more generally. How are the boundaries and experiences of work being reconstituted, and along which lines? How can we understand the status of digital work, workarounds in practice, and the artful interworking between formal infrastructures and informal interaction? How are hierarchies of value and reward in digital labor established (e.g. design vs. repair, head work vs. hand work), and how do they get challenged and contested?

We also welcome papers and submissions on related topics such spatiality, temporality, postcolonialism, gender, race, personhood and subjectivity, affect, and digital utopianism.

Section edited by Janet Vertesi and Steve Jackson. Back to top.

Methods and Methodologies (a.k.a. “the Fieldguide”)

Today, studies of science, technology, and the digital span a wide range of socioeconomic, political and material contexts. With this diversity comes a variety of methodological approaches, from temporary design interventions to long-term online field research. In some cases, the very nature of these settings and their organization invites researchers to integrate existing methods in new ways or develop new approaches altogether. How might we characterize these novel methods? What do digital approaches bring to more established forms of inquiry? What kinds of methodological work cut across varying digital domains?

We seek submissions that address methods and methodologies for studies of the digital, broadly construed, and novel approaches that draw on the enabling capacities of digital methods for investigations of STS topics. The digital presents many novel topics and also provokes a re-examination of existing objects of analysis for STS. We are open to many styles and approaches for these submissions, such as demonstrations of particular methods through exemplary studies, reflexive responses to familiar methodologies, or accounts of hands-on practical approaches.

In particular, we encourage contributions that engage the following five themes, generated by the methods team of the digitalSTS workshop at 4S in October 2013. These themes only scratch the surface of possible methodological topics to explore, and we hope will serve to inspire submissions that explore all forms of engagement with questions of method:

  • How are the Field Site and Archive Constituted? What is a field site or archive in the age of distributed practice, online interaction, proliferating non-humans, and multimediated communication? How do we investigate them? How should we rethink past field sites that may have always been more virtual than previously thought, such as labs? How do we combine the methods that have become central to STS with emerging approaches, such as network analyses, design and making? What can the multiple lineages of ethnography and archival research in STS and beyond contribute to the study of the digital?
  • Appropriating digital methods: Just as those we study are increasingly working in distributed and interdisciplinary teams, so too are STS scholars. What are the unique challenges, lessons learned or best practices for STS scholarship that is online, team based or cross-disciplinary? Further, in the recent past of STS we have been more likely to analyze formal methods, such as quantification and classification systems, rather than drawing on their analytic strengths in our own work. And yet, perhaps the tide is turning, opening new avenues to draw on network analytics, automated forms of data collection and combinations with archival and ethnographic methods. How should these methods be brought into the field, what dangers may we face?
  • How do we participate and intervene on our objects of study? What is the role of intervention and participation for STS? How do we contribute to the world? How does participation contribute to our scholarship? These questions are not new to STS, but does the digital offer new opportunities, challenges or dangers? How do we as STS scholars intervene with new publics within or outside the academy? How do we participate in the waves of archive digitization and increasing data collection and storage?
  • Ethics, Justice and Dangerous methods: What are the dangerous methods? Either because of the findings they produce (too thin ethnographically? To ahistorical?) or because of their ethical implications (i.e., screen scraping of sexuality apps). What will the proliferation of new traces reveal about the worlds of science and technology and how can we prepare for futher developments?
  • Ephemera that may only fit into a digital text: For the online publication, we will consider research ‘ephemera’ that usually do not appear in final published manuscripts. We will consider experimental or exploratory pieces, such as recounting terrible mistakes in research, sharing research protocols or sharing untold stories. We welcome new formats, multimedia and interactive submissions. What is the role of design thinking as an STS method? Finally, as sharing data becomes more important across the academy, STS too will be confronted with the challenges of curating our data to preserve it for future reuse, along with the critical issues of privacy, and proper documentation to sustain meaning in new contexts.

Section edited by David Ribes and Daniela Rosner. Back to top.

Making: A Call for Things (a.k.a. “the Scrapbook”)

This section of the Handbook issues a “Call for Things” targeted at an audience of scholars, designers and makers as well as hybrid identities such as scholar/makers. The call is intended to bring together texts as well as visual materials (such as diagrams, images, prototypes, videos) that use design/making to engage with themes and theories about STS (such as power, materiality), design/making for STS (such as how visual materials and hands-on methods can be incorporated into STS) and design with STS (such as collaborations between scholars and makers).

  • Objects/Artifacts, including: i) Objects, artifacts, diagrams, maps, pictures, images, prototypes, videos (along with the evaluation guidelines and/or criteria for assessing the work); ii) Theory/Methods Cards (short text, image and example of an STS concept/theory that could be useful to practitioners OR a design/making methods that could be useful to STS scholars); or iii) Submission for an Exhibit of Things.
  • Texts, including: iv) Text about STS engagement with design/designers/making/makers; v) Texts about professional/personal scholar/maker identities (music, hobbies, cooking, knitting); vi) Texts about collaborations between scholars/makers; vii) Texts about how to evaluate or create systems of peer review of these things, artifacts and objects.
  • Examples, Criteria and Guidelines, including: viii) Texts that provide criteria for evaluating/validating prototypes; ix) Platform examples (useful for critique and peer review); and x) Examples of made things that have value for advancing theory/methods within STS.

The envisioned publication format currently involves an electronic edition and hard copy of the book. However, digital publication is evolving rapidly and we are actively investigating opportunities that allow for interactive media. We encourage creative responses to this call that engage with the challenges of publication, evaluation, and display of digitalSTS objects.

Section edited by Carl DiSalvo, Laura Forlano, and Yanni Loukissas. Back to top