In Aircraft Stories noted sociologist of technoscience John Law tells stories about a British attempt to build a military aircraft the TSR The intertwining of these stories demonstrates the ways in which particular technological projects can be understood in a world of complex contextsLaw works to upset the binary between the modernist concept of knowledge, subjects, and objects as having centered and concrete essences and the postmodernist notion that all is fragmented and centerless The structure and content of Aircraft Stories reflect Law s contention that knowledge, subjects, and particularly objects are fractionally coherent that is, they are drawn together without necessarily being centered In studying the process of this particular aircraft s design, construction, and eventual cancellation, Law develops a range of metaphors to describe both its fractional character and the ways its various aspects interact with each other Offering numerous insights into the way we theorize the working of systems, he explores the overlaps between singularity and multiplicity and reveals rich new meaning in such concepts as oscillation, interference, fractionality, and rhizomatic networksThe methodology and insights of Aircraft Stories will be invaluable to students in science and technology studies and will engage others who are interested in the ways that contemporary paradigms have limited our ability to see objects in their true complexity


10 thoughts on “Aircraft Stories: Decentering the Object in Technoscience

  1. Alexander Smith Alexander Smith says:

    At times, this book will lose you This book performs a lot of mystery at the level of modeling and textual goals The end game, it seems is to destroy the notion of story in favor of the idea of amodular or systemic way of thinking about stories which includes both the qualitative performances and the quantitative simplicities that this book offers us as a way to frame the many stories of aircrafts developed by British engineers of the 1950s.By way of doing this, it offers us a suggestion At times, this book will lose you This book performs a lot of mystery at the level of modeling and textual goals The end game, it seems is to destroy the notion of story in favor of the idea of amodular or systemic way of thinking about stories which includes both the qualitative performances and the quantitative simplicities that this book offers us as a way to frame the many stories of aircrafts developed by British engineers of the 1950s.By way of doing this, it offers us a suggestion of humble thought A way of disorienting our ideas of what the central object of study is Law offers a way in which even the pilot is involved in the decision processes of considering objects of interest such as wind gust Such a variable is a constant of engineering consideration But in this context, he deconstructs it to be what he deems an oscillation between the constant state and the dynamics of one s idea of a pilot.That being said, this book at times is not clear at all There are times when conclusions areobvious than the author presumes, he abuses mathematical language for rhetorical interests, and creates linguistic distinctions which are not so nuanced as he might presume the reader will believe Although a very interesting read on a methodology of deconstructing documents and the interpretations possible, there are many questions here that are not quite so answerable or useful to further study This doesn t really pave a way foruseful empirical study In some ways this was an exercise in academic methods enabled by a continental tradition that the author was privileged to be trained in However, his prior credibility in such a method does not mean that my reading it will change how I understand future methods In fact, it largely is a piecemeal effort One can only digest parts of this in practical methods One can t pedagogically consider this book as a whole and still write articles These articles are destined to fail The stability this book suggests hides things will continue to exist in practice The dynamics suggested by postmodern methodologies will continue to be incommensurable to the modern paradigm In the end, it s questionable that this book offers a solution to the dualism of these methodologies What it does, instead, is suggest that we don t understand the stories we study because of absence It just breeds a real confusion for the trained academic It isn t that one understood, and now one doesn t It just shows that we never really understood, and creates ground to be humble in the methods that already were being used.The pedagogy must be changed, but the methods and theory will not be changed