Tuesday 4 May 2004
I had taken a break from writing my online diary for the following reasons. Firstly, I didn't feel like it's always
easy to keep the scientists confidence and not sound strange about things. For example, and this is something that
affects gay and lesbian people who aren't out about their sexuality. It's called the "pronoun" game. Basically, in order
to avoid lying, when asked a gay person might never mention the gender of the person they are attracted to, thereby
not lying to a person, but maintaining their secrecy. Using the terms "roboticists" and "scientists" is impersonal.
No that there is anything wrong with being impersonal, in fact being impersonal on occasion is necessary, but I think in
this case when I'm talking about people (and the person's identity is essentially connected with the stories I tell about
them -- their work, their responses to their work and their responses to the environment and people around them). Therefore
I have found the "impersonal" difficult in that situation.
On the other hand, keeping a daily diary of the events here allows me to write about the work, give it a kind of scope
that writing privately wouldn't. After all, the same kind of issues of confidentiality and respect for others privacy
is a methodological matter. And so, in an effort to escape or rethink my concerns, I have decided to continue with edited
extracts of the day to day happenings in the humanoid robotics lab at MIT. The work is also highly stimulating at present
due to the controversy and conversations that emerge from the new setting of the Gehry building.
This week the Stata Center will be open to the public. Any resident who cares to visit the building can come and visit
and tour the interior on Friday.
The press have been here on Wednesday. Two scientists in our lab will be giving presentations on their projects (members
of the public can see them in action on Friday).
There has been so much happening here. I went to a few MIT events that are considered a notorious part of the life, such
as a party as "Senior House" called "A Steer Roast" (where apparently they used to roast a steer and now only steer parts of
a roast). Anyway, it was a great party, though my friends and I were exhausted the next day. I often imagine
my adventures of socialising with MIT students as an anthropologist, is similar to stories I have heard recounted of
anthropological experiences in Amazonia. It has been noted that anthropologists themselves often participantly engage
in "drug" use during shamanic rituals. I was just engaging in my own variety of "rituals" at MIT
I have now established a collaboration with an MIT archictecture group who are planning to conduct a case-study
on the Stata Center. This group is interesting in formulating a case-study methodology that could be used to
examine the impact on space on working practices. As this building has now become a large part of my own ethnography,
as much is centered around the new buildings, and as an "outsider-insider" I have both observed the affects this
building has had on working and social behaviour, whilst at the same time I am subjected to the same kind of influences.