Monday, January 19, 2015

Devils in Details

It's annoying to hear someone say he likes me because I am nice. It's not that I don't like to be seen as nice but rather because I need more than that. Something like being able to spell my name correctly or things as simple as putting some thoughts of what I like or dislike. I have people around me who care about what I like and dislike through two different approaches. One remembered what my routines are and the other asked why I kept saying no to coffee. Earlier I like the first more than the latter. I like having someone who I can share my space with without words. But these days I prefer the latter. I like to change my mind and by asking and acknowledging the process, I can understand my self better and the other person can get the bigger picture of me.

But there are people who even don't bother to care to pay attention or to ask. No wonder there are many cliche stories of a woman break up with someone after asking a question: what is my favorite color?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Individual Agencies

"... the notion of individual agency denotes a course of action (engaging a large number of heterogeneous entities participating in the action) which is imputable to an individual since the actors themselves are led (or channelled by the arrangement) to consider the individual to be the source of the action" (Callon, 2008:37).

Callon uses the notion of individual agencies not to replace the notion of distributed agency (e.g. Callon, 1998; Callon & Law, 1995) but rather to accentuate the imputing activities by other actors. As an illustration, he uses an example of a supermarket customer where the calculation to choose a specific cheese refers to her assessment. In making the assessment, she is being affected by price tag, packaging, shopping cart, etc. These devices contribute in shaping her decision and thus, in actor-network theory terminology, they have agency (as being able to make difference to state of affairs of the customer to buy and not to buy). Individual agency refer to activity of calculating based on actors' assemblage.

So here I am as an individual agency calculating my assemblage. I get bored with revising Chapter 1 since the PhD assemblage feels far away. The good thing is that my colleague involved me in a project using system dynamics and tight schedule usually gives me a sense of order and motivation. Latour (1992? in Monsters) argues that technology is society made durable. Durability of a particular configuration is determined by the activity of loading. To make the hotel customer to follow an order to return hotel key to the receptionist, the manager 'loads' the hotel key with a metal weight. For me, this process of loading refers to debate partner to keep me entertained. Currently, I am keeping debate partner through different forums, which makes my mind even more divergent.  So I dropped this strategy.

But does it mean I don't have an individual agency since my durability to focus on something is driven mostly from my assemblage? I am going to answer this question by reflecting on my conversation with my math supervisor. When I finished my final project, I told him that probably I am not going to do math anymore. He said that I can do whatever I like as long it makes me happy. And now I am involved in system dynamics, which is closer to my math background since it is built on differential equation. Somehow, I enjoy being in this type of science again. Does it verify that I don't have any agency since even when I said I won't do math again, math continuously intersects my life?

C'est la vie

Monday, January 12, 2015


"Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ." (Fox to Little Prince, Saint-ExupĂ©ry)

People say the first three months are the hardest. And here I am still missing Eindhoven very much. On Saturday, I bought mint plant in the open market to my house. I thought it would be nice to be able to drink mint tea with honey again. But then I remembered you and our community garden, an escape space every time I fed up with writing, a sanctuary. I missed our simple talk without any digital device.

I think I miss simplicity. Using digital device for working and a small amount of television not for the life itself. And here I am in a place where people gather in one physical space but with disconnected minds.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Refleksi Tahun ke-6

Memasuki tahun keenam PhD dan mulai merasa seperti berada dalam perjalanan tanpa ujung ....

Perjalanan ini dimulai 3 Desember 2009 silam. Pada saat itu aku sudah sempat bekerja enam bulan di Jakarta. Periode yang memantapkan diriku kalau kerja kantoran bukan untukku dan mungkin Jakarta juga kota yang bisa membuatku bahagia. Dengan pemahaman itu, aku mulai berburu sekolah dan beasiswa. Saat itu pilihannya adalah Australia (biofuel dengan menggunakan ANT), Inggris (ICT4D dan ANT) dan Belanda. Dari beberapa kali iterasi email, akhirnya pilihanku jatuh pada Belanda.

Apakah PhD memiliki korelasi dengan kecerdasan? Buatku PhD lebih berkorelasi dengan passion. Sama seperti nilai-nilaiku yang seperti roller coaster kadang mendapat nilai tertinggi tapi tak jarang berada di kuartir terendah. Semuanya tergantung mood. Dan di tahun keenam PhD ini tentu saja mood-ku sudah awut-awutan ditambah pembimbing yang entah ada di mana.

Untuk menjaga mood, aku melibatkan diriku dengan beragam diskusi di internet. Tapi sisi negatifnya adalah pemikiranku jadi kian divergen.


"... What does that mean-- 'tame'?" asked the Little Prince. "It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. ...