Dr. Judith Igelsböck and Laura Zölzer, both working at the MCTS Post/Doc Lab Engineering Responsibly of the Technical University Munich, gathered an international group of social scientists, design researchers and a professor of digital media and performing arts in Munich for two-days to explore intervention as a mode of research. Entitled Prototyping Intervention! the workshop promised “getting to know, testing, and discussing intervention practices developed by inspiring people in and beyond STS” (call for papers and participation). Various intervention practices were presented and discussed indeed, ranging from participatory performances to participatory data design, design prototypes and ethnographic research.
A presentation by Julia Backhaus (Maastricht University) about the ENERGISE project and its ambitious goal of intervening in energy-related practices of more than 300 households across Europe was received with interest. Several participants shared inspiring suggestions for the design and approach of our ENERGISE Living Labs that are to take place in about a year’s time (in 2018). The following list summarises some of the ideas that emerged over the course of the two days we spent together:
• Never forget the importance of material objects in shaping – or even dictating – (daily) practices.
• Take seriously the notion of ‘rupture’ and think about ways how a ‘disruption’ can also bring about a better understanding of issues at stake (e.g. fragile systems, sustainability challenges, habits and routines).
• Try to assess ‘monitoring effects’ which are tied to an increased insight in personal energy use and an awareness of being part of a project with declared goals and intentions.
• Consider analogue ways of communicating levels and patterns of energy use, e.g. Lego blocks as employed in the empathy project.
• Avoid preserving the dichotomy between ‘the researcher’ and ‘the researched’ – and instead embark on a joint journey of reflection and situated understanding.