Notes for Bruno Latour Aramis, or The Love of Technology

Key concepts: scientification.

Related theorists: Madeleine Akrich, Wiebe Bijker, Geoffrey Bowker, Samuel Butler, Alberto Cambrosio, Machel Callon, John Law, Donald MacKenzie, Richard Powers.


Invitation to repeat this strange experimental science and technology studies literary narrative morality story, for example in platform studies of computing devices or industrial process control systems?

(vii) Can we unravel the tortuous history of a state-of-the-art technology from beginning to end, as a lesson to the engineers, decisionmakers, and users whose daily lives, for better or for worse, depend on such technology? Can we make the human sciences capable of comprehending the machines they view as inhuman, and thus reconcile the educated public with bodies it deems foreign to the social realm? Finally, can we turn a technological object into the central character of a narrative, restoring to literature the vast territories it should never have given up—namely, science and technology?

Butler Nowhere is current intellectual universe that eradicates interest in souls of machines.

(vii) [Samuel] Butler's Nowhere world is not a utopia. It is our own intellectual universe, from which we have in effect eradicated all technology. In this universe, people who are interested in the souls of machines are severely punished by being isolated in their own separate world, the world of engineers, technicians, and technocrats.

New literary style aimed to remove some mystery of the social bond by including objects in humanities studies, and sociology in engineering.

(viii) I have sought to offer humanists a detailed analysis of a technology sufficiently magnificent and spiritual to convince them that the machines by which they are surrounded are cultural objects worthy of their attention and respect. They'll find that if they add interpretation of machines to interpretation of texts, their culture will not fall to pieces; instead, it will take on added density. I have sought to show technicians that they cannot even conceive of a technological object without taking into account the mass of human beings with all their passions and politics and pitiful calculations, and that by becoming good sociologists and good humanists, they can become better engineers and better-informed decisionmakers. . . . Our collective is woven together out of speaking subjects, perhaps, but subjects to which poor objects, our inferior brothers, are attached at all points. By opening up to include objects, the social bond would become less mysterious.

Hybrid genre devised for task of scientification, whose tutor object is Aramis and organization RATP.

(ix) The hybrid genre I have devised for a hybrid task is what I call scientification.
(ix) For such a work, I needed a topic worthy of the task. Thanks to the Regie Autonomie des Transports Pariesiens (RATP), I was able to learn the story of the automated train system known as Aramis.

Draws heavily on sociologists of technology Akrich, Bijker, Bowker, Cambrosio, Callon, Law, MacKenzie, although too soon for Richard Powers.

(x) This book, despite its strange experimental style, draws more heavily than the footnotes might suggest on the collective work of the new sociologists of technology. Particularly relevant has been the work of Madeleine Akrich, Wiebe Bijker, Geoffrey Bowker, Alberto Cambrosio, Machel Callon, John Law, and Donald MacKenzie. Unfortunately, the book was published too soon for me to use the treasure trove of narrative resources developed by Richard Powers, the master of scientification and author of Galatea 2.2, whose Helen is Aramis' unexpected cousin.


Latour, Bruno. Aramis, or The Love of Technology. Trans. Catherine Porter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996. Print.