Situated Design

The claim for the global outreach of science and technology is criticized by Donna Haraway in her plea for 'situated knowledge': "I am arguing for politics and epistemologies of location, positioning, and situating, where partiality and not universality is the condition of being heard to make rational knowledge claims. These are claims on people's lives; the view from a body, always a complex, contradictory, structuring and structured body, versus the view from above, from nowhere, from simplicity. Only the god-trick is forbidden. Here is a criterion for deciding the science question in militarism that dream science/technology of perfect language, perfect communication, final order." (Haraway 1991, 195).

A YUTPA is concerned with situating a product or a process, and in so doing it aims to situate the knowledge (the information and communication) that is triggered or produced by the product or the process. In YUTPA the emphasis is placed on the relationships between the actor and the other person, or people, in a certain situation. A situation is defined as a specific configuration of time, place and action in order to characterize what possibility of action and feedback may be expected. Haraway emphasizes in her essay that the social and economic position of the actor/researcher has to be acknowledged to better understand what kind of knowledge can be, and will not be, produced. Even though a social economic analysis of knowledge of a product or process is very insightful and contributes to the understanding of it, it is only a first step in generating opportunities for change.

YUTPA is a concept that derives from the thinking actor and opens up possibilities for other configurations. It realises that trust and truth are the result of a negotiation and of a 'trade-off' between multiple presences. That is why unexpected uses of technologies evolve between people, who are all actors and who will always seek for the paths through the maze to support their well-being and survival. People look for the 'tactical' , for the 'cracks' in the realities offered, in which they can connect to each other to obtain certain goals. By using a certain technology people change the YUTPA that is offered by the way they use it or add other presences to make the 'trade-off' serve them better. Strategic awareness, as is suggested by Haraway's social economic analysis in her plea for situated knowledge, adds to the actor's understanding of a certain situation in which a product or process, and the technology it uses, functions. It does not explain though why people change technologies and the use of technologies the moment they touch them. The reason for this is to be found in the 'thinking actor', as is argued in chapter 5, as well as in our formulation of natural presence in chapter 2, in which I argue that the presence of other people, of another person, characterizes our own presence as well.

Michiel Schwarz, a Dutch essayist on culture and technology, proposed the notion of 'situation design', in which the 'space of places' and the 'space of flows' are designed in one coherent trajectory (Schwarz 2006). The 'space of places' is our physical world. The 'space of flows', first formulated by Manuel Castells, consists of all the streams of information and communication that can reach us anywhere (Castells, 1996). That it is of vital importance to connect these two spaces is argued by Castells as I cited in chapter 5 already. If we do not manage to connect the two than "Experience, being related to places, becomes abstracted from power, and meaning is increasingly separated from knowledge." (Castells 1996, 428). The idea of 'situation design' resonates with my plea for designing integrated learning environments in which the physical and the virtual communication are designed as one information and communication space, which I shortly discussed in chapter 2 (Nevejan 2001). In this study, which results in the proposal of the concept of YUTPA, a next step is taken towards how one could go about such a task.