Abstract

The opening of enormous databases and the possibility offered by new tools to access the heterogeneous flows of data and information emerging from the Internet could be seen as an innovative mode also to observe and represent social complex systems. The cartography of controversies, the applied version of the Actor-Network Theory (ANT), is one of the examples of this new way of exploring and understanding these new information and knowledge domains. The cartography of controversies also aims at overcoming some of the limits of the traditional description of social issues by exploiting the potentialities of the information visualization and of the information design. In this framework visual models and diagrammatic devices are assumed as useful tools to describe the different position assumed by the actors of controversy. A distinctive feature of these, heterogeneous and non-isotopic, spaces is the absence of unique metrics to deal with them. The absence of reference points requires endowing with technical and conceptual tools for understanding and grasping the dynamics and the processes, which characterize them. Diagrams are here considered as operating devices able to describe and unveil the nested and latent connections of a system. A real case has been choose to develop and test the capability of diagrammatic models to observe and describe controversies and to show the point of view of the actors involved in it: the remote control of dangerous materials transportation in road. The research is strongly related to the development of the Turtle Project: a series of visual tools and diagrammatic devices able to explore controversies. It could be defined as an observation environment of the discursive knowledge flowing through the Internet, offering the possibility to make profit both from quantitative and qualitative research methods. Some results about the chosen controversy are discussed as well as the limit of the tools.

Keywords:

Social Complexity, Diagrams, Controversies, Actor-Network Theory, Cartography Of Controversy, Content Analysis, Discourse Analysis.

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Seeing what they Are Saying: Diagrams for Socio-technical Controversies

The opening of enormous databases and the possibility offered by new tools to access the heterogeneous flows of data and information emerging from the Internet could be seen as an innovative mode also to observe and represent social complex systems. The cartography of controversies, the applied version of the Actor-Network Theory (ANT), is one of the examples of this new way of exploring and understanding these new information and knowledge domains. The cartography of controversies also aims at overcoming some of the limits of the traditional description of social issues by exploiting the potentialities of the information visualization and of the information design. In this framework visual models and diagrammatic devices are assumed as useful tools to describe the different position assumed by the actors of controversy. A distinctive feature of these, heterogeneous and non-isotopic, spaces is the absence of unique metrics to deal with them. The absence of reference points requires endowing with technical and conceptual tools for understanding and grasping the dynamics and the processes, which characterize them. Diagrams are here considered as operating devices able to describe and unveil the nested and latent connections of a system. A real case has been choose to develop and test the capability of diagrammatic models to observe and describe controversies and to show the point of view of the actors involved in it: the remote control of dangerous materials transportation in road. The research is strongly related to the development of the Turtle Project: a series of visual tools and diagrammatic devices able to explore controversies. It could be defined as an observation environment of the discursive knowledge flowing through the Internet, offering the possibility to make profit both from quantitative and qualitative research methods. Some results about the chosen controversy are discussed as well as the limit of the tools.

 

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