chapter  8
33 Pages

Reenacting Enactment

In chapter 7, we began by exploring one idea of emergence-of-organizationin-communication, which conceptualized conversation as a network of interconnected nodes characterized by feedforward and backpropagation. We found that, although it may indeed be plausible to believe that conversation, thought of this way, has properties of a collective mind (Weick & Roberts, 1993) or distributed intelligence (Hutchins, 1995), such a theory has no way to explain the ability of an organization to act. We argued that, for it to be enabled to perform the role of an actor (as it is universally assumed to do), its knowledge must undergo two transformations: first, to be textualized so that it becomes a unique representation of the (otherwise) multiply distributed understandings in the network, and second, to be voiced in the person of someone who speaks in the name of the network and its knowledge. But this latter step (to become what Callon & Latour, 1981, call a macroactor) in turn supposes another, where the voice of the network must now be recognized by the network (otherwise, it is still not an organizational, but merely an individual, text, and therefore lacking in authority). The author of the text must be demonstrated to be the network, not merely its spokesperson. The speaking and the spoken of the collective knowledge of the network are thus a product of conversation, in that they reflect its virtual understanding as the generative source. But, in transforming the network’s collective knowledge into a form susceptible to being communicated, a translation has occurred (from analog to digital), where the conversation has been successively turned into a text, and then voiced. Yet in its very voicing, the text must in turn, for it to be even recognized as text, be made a contribution to an ongoing conversation.