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ANT – we’re all one

May 22, 2008

Andre asked to post some links to useful online ANT (actor network theory) sources – so here goes…

Explaining ANT through a blog post is a challenge at best and doing a dis-service to the theory at worst, but I’ll try my best. ANT is a social approach to assist with creating a framework for analyzing and understanding information system/technology. In very very basic and simple terms its a framework that has a holistic approach to analyzing the relationships between people and ‘things’ (when ‘things’ can be technology as well as ‘an idea’), when both human and non human factors are analyzed and considered equally important.

The first source to approach would be ‘from control to drift’ (Ciborra and associates) a book that analyses various theories around information systems.

ANT’s leaders are Bruno Latour, Michelle Callon and John Law.
Michelle Callon has created an article which is one of the stepping stones of the theory called “Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieuc Bay” that exemplifies how operationally fishermen became more productive once the entire ‘ecology’ of their environment was thoroughly analyzed and needs of all actors (be it the fisherman, the net, the boat or the scallop) were understood. I couldn’t find it online so sorry, no link, but to understand ANT in action you have to read it.

Latour is probably the most brilliant, funny, genius sociologist/observer/writer you will ever read! I highly recommend reading his ‘where are the missing masses’ and ‘science in action’. You can start by reading his introduction to ANT.

In essence, ANT is like an endless mindmap – everything is connected to anything and from exploring a CRM solution you can easily get to ‘children playground safety’ or something similar but which is utterly unrelated. that’s its beauty and that’s it ‘pitfall’ – it never actually ‘ends’ with any bottom line.

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