vendredi 25 avril 2014

Essential Fact.

Professor Bourbaki, IMG_0344, 2013.

The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumer’s goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new market, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates. (…) [These changes] illustrate the same process of industrial mutation – if I may use that biological term – that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. 

J.A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, socialism and democracy. London; New York: Routledge, 2013. (p.82-83)

vendredi 18 avril 2014

Dynamic Configuration.

Professor Bourbaki, Early Diagram, 2014.

The first notion mobilized by the author is that of diagram. This concept, borrowed from the work of Gilles Deleuze, extends the notion of “agencement socio-technique”. The socio-technical agencement is one of the central concepts of the anthropology of the sciences and technologies and, more particularly, of actor-network theory (ANT): describing a combination of human beings and technical devices that are caught in a dynamic configuration (the agencement acts), it emphasizes the composite and distributed character of all action and the impossibility of definitely separating humans from technologies. It is agencements that are primary and which give their meaning to categories such as States, markets, families or, more fundamentally, determine the relevance and significance of major divisions, such as those between humans and non-humans or between nature and culture. The notion of agencement is richer than that of dispositif (as defined by Michel Foucault), since it implies the idea of (distributed) action, whereas dispositif is more static. The concept of diagram makes it possible to stress the variety of different configurations to which agencements can give rise.

M. Callon, “Europe wrestling with technology,” Econ. Soc., vol. 33, no. 1, 2004, p. 121.

vendredi 11 avril 2014

Codified & Tacit.

Professor Bourbaki, IMG_2269, 2014.

Notes on Asheim et al.

Asheim et al. propose a typology of knowledge. It is a way of going beyond the binary argument of whether knowledge is codified or tacit (restrictively narrow understanding of knowledge, learning and innovation). Indeed, Asheim et al. (2011) offer an alternative conceptualization. The distinction between analytic, synthetic and symbolic knowledge was originally introduced by Laestadius (1998, 2007) as an alternative to the OECDs classification of industries according to R&D intensity. This classification tends to exclude engineering-based industries from high-tech industry statistics. Asheim & Gertler (2005) and Asheim & Coenen (2005) further developed the classification in order to “explain the geographies of innovation for different firms and industries using knowledge bases to show the broader organizational and geographical implications of different types of knowledge”. Symbolic knowledge was added in Asheim et al. (2007) to analyze the growing importance of cultural production. 

This is typological thinking at its best, in the form of “ideal types” (empirical input constituting the ideal type exists in reality, but the ideal type itself does not exist). I should look up the Weberian link to this notion, because it rings a bell and could build a connection with German sociology. Pre-Darwinian typological thinking is based on the idea that morphological functions perfectly match the environmental structure a given entity lives in. This perfect fit forms a timeless kind (remember that in pre-Darwinian science this was often used as an indication of the existence of a benevolent Designer as shown in Lane et al. [2005]). 

Analytic: Economic activities where scientific knowledge based on formal models and codification is highly important (i.e. biotechnology, nanotechnology). University-industry links and networks are important and more important than in other knowledge bases. Codification is more frequent because knowledge is based on reviews of existing studies; knowledge generation is based on the application of scientific principles and methods; knowledge processes are more organized (R&D departments); outcomes tend to be documented in reports, electronic files or patent descriptions. Activities require specific qualifications/capabilities of the people involved such as analytical skills, abstraction, theory building and testing. The workforce needs research experience or university training. Knowledge creation in the form of scientific discoveries or technological inventions is important and may lead to patenting and licensing. Knowledge application is in the form of new products and processes and is often carried out by new firms and spin-off companies formed on the basis of radically new knowledge and inventions. 

Synthetic: Economic activities are based on novel combinations of existing knowledge. Occurs in response to need to solve specific problems coming up in the interaction with customers and suppliers (i.e. plant engineering, specialized advanced industrial machinery and shipbuilding). Products are “one off” or produced in small series. R&D is less important and takes the form of applied research. University-industry links are relevant, but more in the field of applied R&D than in basic research. Knowledge is created less in a deductive process or through abstraction, but more often in an inductive process of testing, experimentation, computer-based simulation or through practical work. Knowledge is partially codified and tacit knowledge is more important due to the fact that it often results from experience gained at the workplace (learning by doing, using and interacting). More concrete know-how, craft and practical skill required in knowledge production and circulation. Provided by professional and polytechnic schools or on-the-job training. Overall, this is rather incremental innovation, dominated by the modification of existing products/processes. Since this is less disruptive, innovation takes place in existing firms and spin-offs are relatively less frequent. 

Symbolic: Economic activities based on the creation of meaning and desire as well as aesthetic attributes of products, producing designs, images and symbols, and the economic use of such forms of cultural artefacts. The increasing importance of this knowledge can be seen in the development of media production (film-making, publishing, music), advertising, design, brands and fashion. This is innovation intensive (creation of new ideas and images rather than actual production processes). Competition isn’t based on the use-value but on the sign-value of brands. Input is aesthetic rather than cognitive and this demands specialized abilities in symbol interpretation and creativity than mere information processing. This knowledge is incorporated and transmitted in aesthetic symbols, images, de(signs), artefacts, sounds and narratives with strong cultural content. Tied to a deep understanding of the “everyday culture” of specific social groupings. This is essentially tacit knowledge and context specific. The acquisition of essential creative, imaginative and interpretative skills is less tied to formal qualifications and university degrees than the practice in various stages of the creative process. The process of socialization (rather than formal education) in the trade is important not only because of know-how but also know-who (potential collaborators with complementary specialization through informal interaction in the professional community).

vendredi 4 avril 2014

Étendue & Variée.

 Gang Starr feat. Nice & Smooth, DWYCK, 1992.

 Big L, Put it On, 1995.

Tu n'as guère vécu, et pourtant, tout est déjà dit, déjà fini. Tu n'as que vingt-cinq ans, mais ta route est toute tracée. Les rôles sont prêts, les étiquettes : du pot de ta première enfance au fauteuil roulant de tes vieux jours, tous les sièges sont là et attendent leur tour. Tes aventures sont si bien décrites que la révolte la plus violente ne ferait sourciller personne. Tu auras beau descendre dans la rue et envoyer dinguer les chapeaux des gens, couvrir ta tête d'immondices, aller nu-pieds, publier des manifestes, tirer des coups de revolver au passage d'un quelconque usurpateur, rien n'y fera : ton lit est déjà fait dans le dortoir de l'asile, ton couvert est mis à la table des poètes maudits. Bateau ivre, misérable miracle : le Harrar est une attraction foraine, un voyage organisé. Tout est prévu, tout est préparé dans les moindres détails : les grands élans du cœur, la froide ironie, le déchirement, la plénitude, l'exotisme, la grande aventure, le désespoir. Tu ne vendras pas ton âme au diable, tu n'iras pas, sandales aux pieds, te jeter dans l'Etna, tu ne détruiras pas la septième merveille du monde. Tout est déjà prêt pour ta mort : le boulet qui t'emportera est depuis longtemps fondu, les pleureuses sont déjà désignées pour suivre ton cercueil.

Pourquoi grimperais-tu au sommet des plus hautes collines, puisque ensuite il te faudrait redescendre, et, une fois redescendu, comment faire pour ne pas passer ta vie à raconter comment tu t'y es pris pour monter? Pourquoi ferais-tu semblant de vivre? Pourquoi continuerais-tu? N'as-tu pas déjà été tout ce que tu devais être : le digne fils de ton père et de ta mère, le brave petit scout, le bon élève qui aurait pu mieux faire, l'ami d'enfance, le lointain cousin, le beau militaire, le jeune homme pauvre? Quelques efforts, même pas quelques efforts, quelques années encore, et tu seras le cadre moyen, le cher collègue. Bon mari, bon père, bon citoyen. Ancien combattant. Un à un, comme la grenouille, tu grimperas les petits barreaux de la réussite sociale. Tu pourras choisir, dans une gamme étendue et variée, la personnalité qui convient le mieux à tes désirs, elle sera soigneusement retaillée à tes mesures : seras-tu décoré? Cultivé? Fin gourmet? Sondeur des reins et des cœurs? Ami des bêtes? Consacreras-tu des heures de loisir à massacrer sur ton piano désaccordé des sonates qui ne t'ont rien fait? Ou bien fumeras-tu la pipe dans un fauteuil à bascule en te répétant que la vie a du bon?

Non. Tu préfères être la pièce manquante du puzzle. Tu retires du jeu tes billes et tes épingles. Tu ne mets aucune chance de ton côté, aucun œuf dans ton panier. Tu mets la charrue devant les bœufs, tu jettes le manche après la cognée, tu vends la peau de l'ours, tu manges ton blé en herbe, tu bois ton fonds, tu mets la clé sous la porte, tu t'en vas sans te retourner.

Tu n'écouteras plus les bons conseils. Tu ne demanderas pas de remèdes. Tu passeras ton chemin, tu regarderas les arbres, l'eau, les pierres, le ciel, ton visage, les nuages, les plafonds, le vide.

Tu restes près de l'arbre. Tu ne demandes même pas au bruit du vent dans les feuilles de devenir oracle.

Georges Perec, Un Homme qui Dort, Editions Gallimard, coll. Folio, 1967 (1998), p.43-45.