In Science and Technology Studies (STS) actors are taken extremely seriously and are often the centre of attention in a study. But in STS, like in most science practices, it is emphasized that there should be a distance between the actor and the analyst for the descriptions and the thinking presented to be reliable (Kuhn 2000, Giddens 1984, Latour 1993). Even though a lot of the data that is analysed in this study is not personal at all, I will sometimes use personal experiences in which the distance between the analyst and the actor can be questioned. At this point I will seek inspiration in the work done in the Department of Innovation Studies at the University of East London where a group of scholars, who were inspired by the work of Donna Harraway, developed the idea of ‘techno–biographies’ as will be discussed below.

It has been argued by the ‘Cyborg Lives? Women’s technobiographies’ group that autobiographical texts also possess a certain distance between the analyst and the actor, as one analyses one’s former self.

In ‘Cyborg Lives? Women’s techno–biographies’ the group of scholars elaborates on their personal experiences with technology in a variety of ways (Henwood et al. 2001). Their research was motivated by the wish to achieve a better understanding of how the use of technology influences our day–to–day lives. The inspiration for the authors of ‘Cyborg Lives? Women’s techno–biographies’ was Donna Harraway’s theory of the Cyborg. Harraway argues that in a modern human being the distinction between human being and technology has disappeared and Harraway argues we have all become cyborgs because of this. By analysing small moments and objects in their lives, the authors of ‘Cyborg Lives? Women’s techno–biographies’ deconstructed the integration of technology in their identities.

They analysed how the cultural production of meaning is conveyed by the technology. They built upon a theory found in feminist politics and literature whereby ‘the personal is also political’. In the stories and essays that are presented, a confrontation between ‘objective’ material and ‘subjective’ experience is carefully described. They use personal correspondence, diary fragments, novels, media programmes, organizational structures and the use of an electrical plug, for example, as inspiration for this deconstruction of their identities. The fact that today’s perceptions and ideas colour how previous perceptions and ideas are perceived, is considered to be a challenge.

According to the authors, autobiography is as constructed as any other narrative and in that sense worthwhile analysing. It is argued that the distance in time between the analyst of the former self and the acting self in the past, ensures enough distance to generate insights that may also have value in a scientific context. From the introduction it appears that the authors who contributed to this book were involved in a debate about their work for several years. In that sense the stories that are presented in this book were academically evaluated and ameliorated from the beginning of the writing of the stories.

In this research the case studies concern networked events that took place in 1989 and 1990. In trying to understand ‘presence’ it also explores ‘hard to notice’ moments in which presence was enacted, in which meaning was produced. Multiple objective sources are used as well as personal perceptions, memories and experiences. In this study, as in ‘Cyborg Lives? Women’s techno–biographies’, the personal perception is confronted by other sources from archives, published material and theory. This research project also deals with analysing the ‘former self’ and seeking the confrontation between objective and subjective material. In this sense, it is a true techno–biography. But in the study that is presented in this dissertation, there was no such group of scholars with whom the stories could be discussed and ameliorated over the years. It was more or less a ‘solo–adventure’ in that sense, which does qualify the work as an act of parresia, but also poses a problem for the development of the stories. In the development of the stories I have used the concept of the text laboratory, which will be described below.