Update: we had the preparation call for the Skunkworks on 2019-06-27 as scheduled. Present:
We used the call to:
- Introduce each of us to the others, and take stock of the different skills that will be in the room in Brussels.
- Align expectations as to how we will work together during the Skunkworks.
- Sander told us of his experience in coordinating 65 researchers from disciplines ranging from theoretical physics to literature history.
We had to spend the first year relinquishing our professional identities. That is a hard thing to ask, since we did not have new ones yet, so we just waded into unknown waters. Strange things happened, and people found it hard and frustrating to even talk with each other. I remember one meeting about desertification: after hours of discussion, we realized that the English-speaking people thought we were talking of ecological collapse, and the French-speaking people thought we were talking about abandoning urban areas.
To get over the hump and into the benefits of transdisciplinarity, we agreed to be patient, give each other plenty of time to make our points, and keep expectations low. Sander also recommended lots of food and drinking. @marina and I will think of some place where we can break bread together once in Brussels.
Sander also gave us an indication as to what we are looking for in the skunkworks. We are looking for research questions that are sufficiently concrete for us to latch on to with a strategy for attempting an answer; but sufficiently abstract for people across all disciplines to supply intuitions and models (I am paraphrasing, Sander please correct me if I’m wrong).
In operational terms, the program (scroll to the top of this topic) stands. We start from the concrete problem of European populism, in the first session; then we share our ideas for a scaled-up, math-assisted ethnography, in the second one; and finally we try to superimpose the two, and see if there is a fit. We agreed that the presentations will have no set time, and people are allowed (end encouraged) to interrupt the speaker: we don’t move to the next point until we all have understood the current one.