This article is part of a series of reflections on the Global Network Annual Conference. To view the previous article, click here.
As a newcomer to the field, I learned a few new things as I walked the gallery walls after the small group discussions on the history of STS. I noticed that several flip charts mentioned Cal Pava as someone who had made a significant contribution to the field. I hadn’t come across his name before, and later at the gala dinner, I found out from Carolyn who he was and why I had never heard of him. Cal Pava was a seminal influence on ‘new-STS’ theory and his work examined the impact of technology on the field. Unfortunately, he published very little and passed away at a young age. But members of the STS RT have access to this otherwise ‘hidden’ knowledge. Proof positive that there was more knowledge in the room than on the Internet!
What stood out for me in this session was the feeling of relevance. The STS past and future was the first working session of the conference. It was intimidating to join a group of STS seasoned practitioners and academics in this learning experience, questioning my relevance and what I can contribute to this wealth of knowledge. However, the process used to collect data on STS past was a reminder that even the (seemingly) insignificant knowledge is an invaluable part in the construction of the whole. This brings me to Ackoff’s reflection on the whole being more than the sum of its parts. The collective knowledge in the room was bigger, more important (and complete) than any individual piece of knowledge. However, the personal experience of every participant – new or old to STS allowed us to create a collective reality that we all shared. How can we bring this lesson into creating a shared future vision and reality, where every member of the community will feel relevant?