If realities made in methods are multiple, then do they have to be definite and fixed in form?John Law, After Method
A few entries earlier I wrote about the fact that the term living lab refers to a rather broad set of examples of open innovation. In short, I suggested that living labs are not ontologically coherent entities.
Recently, I attended the annual AgriLink consortium meeting. There was a session on living labs, and I voiced my concerns regarding the way living labs are framed as part of the Monitoring & Evaluation Plan. However, on my way back to Latvia I started thinking – is this really a problem? Well, not necessarily.
The reason for this is simple – ontological coherence is not a prerequisite for consistency in practice. To give you a sense of what I mean, I have to refer to a study of atherosclerosis carried out by Annemarie Mol (published as The Body Multiple). She looked at the way this disease is understood and enacted in different contexts within the hospital (such as the pathology laboratory, the radiology department, the operating theatre etc.). The disease means something different and is acted upon as something different in each of these spaces. Nonetheless, it is treated as the same disease across these contexts. It is treated as it it were a distinct constituent of our reality. The conclusion that John Law draws from this is that
each of these method assemblages is producing its own version of atherosclerosis: that there are multiple atheroscleroses. But what should we make of this startling conclusion?
John Law, After Method
Indeed, this was the issue with which I have been struggling. How can you assess the fecundity of living labs if there is a sense in which actual examples of living labs are only loosely related? What is the approach that is being assessed? Hopefully the situation will become clearer after I have drafted my own monitoring & evaluation plan.