Critical Making, Luker, and Learning Through Play?

Hi I’m Jessica, and I’m a first year MI in LIS, who’s toying with the idea of also getting into KMIM. So far, I’ve only had the pleasure of reading and commenting everyone else’s posts, so this is my first official post!

I enjoyed Matt Ratto’s article on critical making, I’ve never actually taken a class with him, so everything I know of critical making is second hand (sometimes garbled) information. This weeks readings definitely gave me a much better idea of what it actually is.

I have to admit I was quite skeptical for the first few pages, reading some of the descriptions for concepts behind critical making. Particularly, “Rather than being purposive or fully functional devices, prototype development is used to extend knowledge and skills in relevant technical areas as well as to provide the means for conceptual exploration” (Ratto, 2011, p. 253). So…building something that doesn’t need to have a purpose or even work, yet it’s supposed to teach you something? Right. Interesting.

I don’t think I was able to wrap my head around the idea/purpose of critical making until the section on the Flwr Pwr workshop. It was pretty compelling to read about how technology was used to facilitate discussion on human interaction, when technology is so often seen as a threat to human interaction. I immediately tied this back to Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences. One of the goals Kristin Luker (2010) outlines for her book is to demonstrate that research methods used for social and applied sciences don’t have to be in opposition, she aims to reconcile qualitative and quantitative research methods (p. 5). I think that this is something critical making does effectively. As someone who has worked with kids for years, the Flwr Pwr workshop made me consider how critical making might be like an extension or a grown up version of learning through play.

Anyway, I’m pretty excited for Matt Ratto’s guest lecture today and I’m interested in hearing everyone else’s thoughts on critical making.

Jessica S.


Luker, K. (2010). Salsa dancing into the social sciences. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ratto, M. (2011). Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life. The Information Society: An International Journal, 27(4), 252-260.


Late to the Cocktail Party

Hello everyone,

My name’s Laura and I’m a first-year MI student with a concentration in LIS.  I’m aware that I’m pretty late to the party at the moment, and I have no real excuse for that except that the last two weeks have been jam-packed with extra-curricular organization.  As a result, all of my blog entries are currently scribbled on bits of paper and I’m just getting them together now.  In order to make life easier for the people reading this, I’ll be writing out several of my overdue blog entries, rather than forcing you all to read four weeks’ worth of thoughts in one go.

Let’s start with potential research interests.  My BA is in English Literature, and I have an extra-curricular background in arts administration, with a sprinkling of sex-positive advocacy.  I’ve always been heavily involved with the latter, whether it’s operational volunteer work or self-started projects.  I also have a general interest in how people perceive themselves and their surroundings (self-described extroverts/introverts, etc).

Worryingly, I don’t really recognize any of my interests as being instantly researchable and that’s one of my main concerns for this class.  I feel as though what I do, what I study and what I want to know more about don’t mesh together as well they should (or as well as I want).

Since coming into the program, I’ve only just started to realize the potential for research in LIS, but I have no idea if my topic will have anything to do with it.  Introverts in the library?  The existence of reading addictions? (my thoughts: false) Only time will tell.

Yours in research,