The vast majority of research on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) continues to come from the perspectives of computer science and engineering, or supply chain management, although some researchers have recently critiqued RFID network culture.
As part of our collaborations with the Touch Project at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, this project seeks to contribute to social and cultural studies of emerging technologies through a material culture study of an RFID object collection of dozens of commercially available products and design prototypes.
As Ian Woodward puts it in his book Understanding Material Culture,
“The term ‘material culture’ emphasises how apparently inanimate things within the environment act on people, and are acted upon by people, for the purposes of carrying out social functions, regulating social relations and giving symbolic meaning to human activity … By studying culture as something created and lived through objects, we can better understand both social structures and larger systemic dimensions such as inequality and social difference, and also human action, emotion and meaning.”
We are interested in understanding how these technological artefacts shape, and are shaped by, contemporary social and cultural relations and practices of production and consumption.
The analysed collection will be exhibited online in 2011, providing a unique resource for technologists, designers, social researchers, policy makers and public stakeholders.