Dissemination Questions

From featured speaker, Celeste Condit

  • Dissemination” might presume a one-way flow, but I’m not sure that is what one can or should hope for. So, I sometimes employ terms such as interactants or partners rather than only “audiences.” Assuming that one is not operating on a naively objectivist onto-epistemology, to have the ambition to “disseminate” requires that one have a sense of what would one would like one’s work to do in some particular dimensions of “the world.” These may be fixed and definite ends or general trajectories, but there is no reason to undertake “dissemination” if one hasn’t some sense of goals. Given some set of goals, the crucial question is “with whom does one need to interact to bring about those objectives?”
  • Thinking carefully about possible sets of partners/interactants/audiences might be enhanced by thinking about different dimensions along which human identifications might be parsed: a locality vs. a global multitude, a set of bureaucrats vs. “the polis,” academic scientists vs. corporate scientists, a grant agency vs. an academic journal, a “place” vs. a group of people, an immediate change vs. a century-long shift, etc. What are the generic constraints on discourse for the target set of interactants/audiences? How rigid or malleable are these?
  • Attending to generic constraints, in the broad sense, is to be aware of rules of media selection and emotional displays, as well as permissible topics, organizational strategies, styles, and knowledge accessibilities. One can strategically violate some of these generic expectations, but if one simply operates in ignorance or opposition to them all, you’ll likely be treated as an alien body in the venue/community you enter. How can you best deploy the resources you have to create an ethos that encourages interaction with the desired partners?
  • Humbleness is not generally a sufficient choice. But you often don’t have the same markers of status that they have (you won’t be a member of the National Academy of Sciences!). How do you translate the markers of “good sense” that you have from your own field and experiences into those of this alien field? How do you display “good will” toward an enterprise you wish to critique? Can you really approximate what counts as “goodness” in this venue?
  • How do you keep open to what these usually “alien” partners have to teach you while simultaneously trying to share what you believe is important toward an important goal? Is this a question primarily of disposition or invention or?
  • How do you stay motivated for massively difficult work that can only hope to achieve humble objectives? (Here the contrast between the male “seed” model of dissemination and a female “care” model of interaction/development isn’t heartening, but it might still be instructive).

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