In his book The Scientific Life, Steven Shapin notes that while mid-century sociologists of science worried about the impact of teamwork on the essential virtues of the scientist, laboratory managers and scientists themselves saw the scientific team as a practical problem rather than a moral crisis of truth and individuality. Part of the reason for the discrepancy, Shapin suggests, is that the academic critics assimilated the scientific team to military command and control models, while industrial research manners were far less certain about what kind of social form it was. The team was seen not as a panacea or a tragedy, but as a practical objective characterized by normative uncertainty and demanding experiments and reflection.

As we come to the end of a “labinar” this week, I thought that we could make an effort to reflect on and document the experience of collaboration, which I suggest--at least within each of our “groups”, as we called them--largely took the form of “teamwork”. What is the best analogy for the teams or groups we worked in, is it army platoon, team of horses, sports team, scientific lab, dance troupe? How was work divided up or organized? How were statements appraised, judged, verified, disputed, responded to? What spaces were used to conduct work? What technologies were used and how did these shape the organization of the team? What emotional or affective experiences took shape and in what circumstances?

A call for analytic descriptions.